Thursday 14 December 2017

Think inside the box to find a relaxing space

Gnog (PSVR/PS4) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

Gnog for PlayStation 4
Gnog for PlayStation 4
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Reawaken your inner child. Revisit your toddler years. Unwind into a relaxing play space. If nothing else, Gnog pushes gaming's competitive drive into the background and encourages hours of tinkering, messing and pottering about. We need more of that.

Gnog doesn't come with a manual or the hint of a tutorial. Instead, it simply plonks you in front of a series of whimsical boxes that can be rotated, prodded and poked, their levers pulled, their buttons pressed. In VR mode, it's even more involving. Yes, there is an overarching goal - to uncover the secret at each box's core, a diorama telling its own story. But Gnog encourages playful experimentation, as a child might when handed a new toy. What does it do? What if I push this? Where does this bit go?

The puzzles range from oblique to blindingly obvious, but almost every action triggers a pleasing response - maybe a parping tune, flashing neon or cute animation - as you peel off the layers of each box. Lovingly crafted to coax a stream of smiles from the player, Gnog may not have longevity on its side but its fleeting beauty possesses a rare charm.

Injustice 2

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★★ Age: 16+

When superheroes go to war, Injustice 2 is the logical result. The follow-up to the 2013 fighter pitting Batman vs Superman and many more from the DC Universe besides, Injustice 2 doubles the roster, beefs up the single-player story mode and adds a ton of character customisation.

Each of those enhancements alone could have sufficed in lesser hands, but developer NetherRealm always goes the extra mile. With Injustice 2, it has produced a supremely polished fighter featuring iconic figures and cult favourites, all with their own special moves.

Bar the sulphurous whiff of microtransactions (for cosmetic items only, thankfully), this sequel raises the ante in almost every department - visually, narratively and content-wise. Yet the core strength remains the fighting - now with a dizzying array of specials, unique supers and (helpfully for newbies) a handful of easy escape moves.

Not for nothing has Injustice 2 inaugurated its own global eSports tournament (with Dublin a stop on the tour in September).

Arkanoid vs Space Invaders

(iOS) ★★★ Age: 7+

Two classic properties merge for a modern audience - the ball-vs-bricks style of Arkanoid mashed to the marching aliens of Space Invaders. Early impressions won't sit well with nostalgic fans of either, each level lasting 20 seconds or less, with death an impossibility.

But slowly A vs SI unrolls its appeal as a tactical puzzler, the bat at the bottom of the screen returning the aliens' fire with interest as you attempt to break down a wall of bricks.

Time becomes the real enemy as you wrangle the angle of the projectiles to take out all the targets. A generous 150 levels provide a sustained challenge but few of them prove truly memorable.

Indo Review

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