Broken a resolution already? Hit the wall with Dry January? Don’t sweat it! We’ve got some cracking games for you. Here’s what we’re playing this week.
Tom – Lead Writer
I Expect You To Die
- Playing on Oculus Quest 2
I continue to love my new Oculus Quest 2, which has opened up a completely new way to play games. I’ve been ending each work day by casting aside the shackles of the real world and diving into a much more fun reality; I’m now fairly convinced that Cypher was right. Much of my time this week has been spent with I Expect You To Die, a spy-themed puzzler from developer Schell Games.
If you’ve ever played an escape room, then you’ll probably get the hang of this quickly. Working for ‘The Agency’, you’re tasked with digging up information on the shadowy organisation Zoraxis. In each of the game’s locations, like a secret laboratory or a snowy cabin, you’ll hunt for clues and throw together solutions to escape from deadly traps. If you can’t quite reach an object, don’t worry: your handy telekinetic powers let you manipulate items from the comfort of your chair or sofa.
The game is clearly a loving tribute to classic Bond movies, right down to a pitch perfect opening credits sequence. With fun little details like smokeable cigars and wearable hats, there’s a real sense of verisimilitude to I Expect You To Die despite its cartoonish tone. I’ve had a blast existing in this game’s world and solving its puzzles, and I expect to play the sequel very soon.
Joe – Editor & Lead Writer
- Playing on PC Game Pass
This week I’ve finally had chance to dive into my backlog and play a couple of much talked about games from 2021. First up, Boyfriend Dungeon – part dating sim, part dungeon crawler – a seemingly odd pairing, but then, opposites attract, right?
After creating your own character, you move out of your Mum’s house to spend a summer in Verona Beach. Good old Cousin Jesse hooks you up with his rent-free apartment and a couple of potential dates, because, when in Verona, right? After a trip to the local monster-infested mall (the Dunj), you learn that some of your likely suitors can literally transform into weapons – the amusingly named ‘bae blades’.
As you navigate your way around the Verona Beach dating scene, you increase your Love level with each bae blade to unlock more powerful attacks for each dunj crawl. There are also crafting materials to collect, which you can access at your apartment’s crafting table to make gifts for your dates and boost that Love level even higher.
While the combat element of Boyfriend Dungeon is just fine, the game is bigger than the sum of its parts. At times, the story is hilarious, cute, uplifting and also firmly rooted in reality as it openly discusses themes of emotional manipulation and stalking. Not to mention it’s LGBTQ+ inclusive with a cast of queer and non-binary characters available to date.
- Playing on PC Game Pass
While unpacking irl is an absolute ball-ache, I’m pleased to report that Unpacking is not. In each level, you’re given a room or several rooms and a stack of boxes which you need to unpack. On the surface, it seems like a chilled-out, therapeutic task where organising chaos into order brings joy.
And it definitely is that.
But it also has some of the best environmental storytelling I’ve ever seen in a game.
Aside from the odd sentence in your photo album between levels, Unpacking has no words or dialogue. Instead, it let’s you use your imagination to piece together a life story based on the contents of a box. What happens when the degree you so proudly hung on the wall no longer fits in the new apartment you now seemingly share with someone? It goes under the bed or inside a wardrobe, hidden away, no longer important to who you are.
It’s a short, fiercely poignant experience that could only work in this medium, and as such, I’d say it’s a must-play for anyone who’s even remotely interested in games.