Influential brawler Dark Souls spawned a whole genre with its uncompromising brand of murky medieval melee in a land of the undead. Now its serpentine design gains a new groupie on mobile with Pascal's Wager, a doppelgänger of such high production values that Apple was impressed enough to give it a preview slot at the iPhone 11 launch last year.
It's a measure of the power of the latest mobile tech that a role-playing title of such depth and maturity translates relatively painlessly to iOS. But Pascal's Wager does come with some caveats. Don't bother playing it without a Bluetooth controller unless you want to smash your touchscreen in frustration. And even the biggest iPhone screen feels too crowded for its challenging gameplay - so consider an iPad instead.
Pascal's Wager effectively emulates the macabre Souls ambiance with its slick combat, menagerie of groaning, growling ghouls and eerie landscapes. Nonetheless, it cannot match the bravura design of its inspiration. Yet for aiming so high and coming so near, it deserves an audience, not least because it tones down the notorious Dark Souls difficulty to accommodate mere mortals.
(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★ Age: 18+
Remember the first three chapters of Zombie Army? Me neither but this Sniper Elite spin-off has still made it to a fourth outing. ZA4:DW is a schlocky shooter that turns up the absurdity to 11.
Hordes of Nazi undead (don't ask) obligingly shamble up to be slain by up to four players in co-op, such that it frequently resembles a turkey shoot. But there's more intelligence at work here than first meets the eye.
A multilayered system of weapon upgrades and skill perks bestows players with a flexible hand in how they approach their gruesome task. My favourite enhancement chains lightning between the shuffling zombies with every shot. You'd almost feel sorry for them.
ZA4:DW is not a game to be taken seriously, its Horde mode echoing the campy bloodbath in Call of Duty's Zombies campaign. It lacks that game's monstrous budget - no celebrity cameos here - but through a mix of morbid humour and relentless demon-slaying does just enough to justify its fourth instalment of dumb fun.