What we've been playing

7th of May, 2021

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we’ve found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: non-shooting shooters, endless connections, and agile break-out scrums.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What we’ve been playing,
here’s our archive.

Rebel, Vita

If my memory is correct, Rebel was a PlayStation Mobile release, which means it was dead even before Sony started thinking about killing off the Vita store. A real shame if so, because it’s a game by PomPom Games, the masters of odd arcade, and a team which serves as a reminder of the fact that when you close stores you can pretty much wipe out the work of entire developers – or so it seems, anyway.

Rebel is a beauty. A frantic shooter in which you cannot shoot. You’re on the run from Johhny Law, and you use a stick to move around a top-down landscape the size of a single screen. You collect gems, which look wonderfully chewy, and you also avoid fire from turrets and tanks and whatnot who drop in as time passes.

Here’s the thing: your enemies are just itching to be taken out by friendly fire, so while you can’t shoot them, you can encourage them to shoot each other. This beautifully simple idea reaches its zenith – am I using that right? – in a mode in which you have blue enemies and orange enemies and they can only shoot each other.

Basically, come back PomPom. 2021 needs you.

Chris Donlan

Tetris Effect: Connected, X/S

Was Tetris always like this? I don’t mean the fancy sound effects that explode like (sometimes literal) fireworks when you’re playing – I know they’re Tetris Effect, and they’re joyous. I mean the stalling-for-time shape flipping: was that always a thing? That moment after the shape drops so quickly it doesn’t even seem to descend so much as appear, and it’s all you can do to mash the button to keep it spinning while you decide on where to put it. Cheeky, isn’t it? But I wouldn’t be able to handle the top speeds without it.

Still, I’m getting better. I’m getting used to high speeds, so much so it’s actually the lower speeds that sometimes unstick me. Too much time to think, I think, which is perhaps an astute observation about life.

Bertie

Going Under, Switch

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Going Under is a satirical roguelike about start-up culture. Luckily, it’s also brilliant fun, a tense and witty scramble through office cubicles as you take out baddies and earn perks.

The joy of the game is that everything is a weapon. It’s a physics playground. There are swords and javelins, but you can also cave someone’s head in with a keyboard or a succulent. I am particularly fond of the huge drip coffee pot that shatters beautifully. Such joy in causing such havoc.

As long as their have been offices, I think, there have been people in offices hoping to get the chance to smash them up. Going Under totally understands this. And now it’s running the idea up the flagpole.

Chris Donlan