For reasons too tedious to explore, Disco Elysium passed me by on its debut last October. This eccentric RPG went on to be anointed many critics' game of the year for its meticulous world-building, oddball characters and a swaggering deconstruction of role-playing tropes.
Now getting a Mac release and inching towards a console version pegged for later this year, Elysium reveals itself almost worthy of the hype. It's frequently quite brilliant, yet utterly convinced of its own greatness. With origins in the tabletop gaming of Dungeons & Dragons (creator Robert Kurvitz pitches it as "D&D meets 1970s cop show"), Elysium sketches a noirish city at the fulcrum of a tussle between communists and capitalists.
The opening slips into cliché - an alcoholic detective waking from a bad night with no memory - but it soon wrong-foots the player with a cavalcade of internal monologues in which you shape the character.
There's murder, mystery, devilment and self-destruction. There's a plaintive soundtrack by alt-rockers British Sea Power. There's a painterly wash to the isometric visuals. Most of all, there's a sense of a man wrestling his demons to a stalemate.
With a million-word script and a sizeable team of writers, the result isn't always cohesive or enlightening. Yet Disco Elysium provides a grimly captivating portrait of a descent into and out of madness.
XO/PS4/Sw/PC ⋆⋆⋆ Age: 3+
Supposedly one of the most stressful tasks in life, moving house seems an ideal choice for the latest entry in the couch co-op genre.
Moving Out certainly has clocked the ingredients that made the raucous chef sim Overcooked a success. You've got up to four players co-ordinating/fighting to load a movers' truck with the contents of suburban homes. Add in time pressure, slapstick humour (there's literally a slap button) plus cartoony graphics and the recipe appears derivative but tasty.
But the home layouts just aren't inventive enough (with one or two exceptions), the missions drag on too long and the controls feel just fussy enough to be annoying.
Obviously, there's zero craic to be had as a solo player and online multiplayer is not an option. The most fun comes from shouting abuse at your team on the couch beside you - which might be awkward during lockdown given they're likely to be family.