Friday 24 November 2017

Games: A world of staggering depth

Dishonored 2, (PS4/XO/PC), 5 Stars, Age: 18+

Dishonored 2
Dishonored 2
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

The numeral "2" indicates a sequel to one of the most inventive action-adventures of the past decade. But it also signals the choice of two playable protagonists for this re-entry to a seedy Dickensian world where a deposed empress and her father strive to regain her throne.

Yet it might easily have been labelled Dishonored 4 or 6 simply to denote the breadth of choices in this enthralling depiction of a crumbling steampunk empire powered by whale blubber and evil. Ex-empress Emily and dad Corvo creep, spell-cast, assassinate, shoot and bamboozle their way through a fantastic cast of nutjobs, innocents and malcontents.

Dishonored 2 imposes no single path on you, merely adjusting subtly the world's reaction to your actions. You might happily combine all such strategies in one playthrough only to revisit the storyline with a commitment to sneak unseen like a ghost through all encounters. Or to dispatch enemies by non-lethal means. Or even to spurn any of the magical powers at your disposal.

Ah, but what powers. Selecting either Emily or Corvo grants two separate trees of supernatural abilities, including teleportation, possession and conjuring of doppelgängers. Many can be experimentally combined to wildly creative effect.

Dishonored 2 begs to be played, replayed and re-replayed. It's a work of staggering depth.

Eagle Flight

(PSVR) , 4 Stars, Age: 12+

Everyone dreams of flying, and this engagingly immersive sim puts you in the body of a soaring bird of prey around a cartoonish version of an abandoned Paris.

It's as exhilarating as it is exhausting. But it invests the technical achievement more in the experience than in a story or the series of mundane tasks, with only the thinly-spread multiplayer offering much in the way of longevity.

Robinson: The Journey

(PSVR), 3 Stars, Age 12+

VR adds a fresh layer to an orthodox tale of survival as a young astronaut crash-lands on a prehistoric planet. The splendour and scale of the pretty Earth-like landscapes sustain the interest amid the rather stilted fetch quests that advance the threadbare plot.

Any game that hands you a pet dinosaur can't be all bad, and Robinson points to an exciting future to VR, just one that hasn't arrived yet.

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