This week, The Witness wows the puzzling crowds on PS4, Final Fantasy Explorers draw their weapons on Nintendo 3DS and LEGO’s Marvel Avengers bound onto Xbox One.
Elsewhere, Lost Journey and twofold inc. provide adventure and puzzle pastimes for your smartphone or tablet.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: The Witness
ASIN: N/A (PS Store download)
Witness puzzle perfection for yourself
Not your average game. Or your average puzzle experience. But once you innocently stroll onto this vibrant island and complete the first few simplistic sliding puzzle boards, you’ll be hooked. Well and truly hooked. It’s a staggering achievement that puzzles devised around similar square boards with start and end points, symbols and a few other tricks up their sleeves can create such a captivating gameplay experience. The Witness will prove to be a magnificent head-masher for gamers looking for a more cerebral challenge, and just wandering around this beautifully constructed world will suck you away from real life. The tricksy puzzles will populate your thoughts at all hours, as you rack your brains for visual clues in the environment and remind yourself of learnings from earlier challenges. All told, the hundreds of puzzles and secrets could easily put overall game time at over 70 hours, so if you’re a puzzle fiend, you owe it to yourself to make The Witness your new best friend.
Title: Final Fantasy Explorers
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
A fabulously familiar fantasy world to explore
Final Fantasy fans will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of getting stuck into the vast RPG world on offer in Explorers. There’s a strong focus on co-operative play with friends, through the use of a refined party system that allows players to master over 20 jobs, each offering unique ways to defeat or even recruit the realm’s mightiest monsters. You have the ability to call upon the powers of eidolons - phantoms - like Ifrit and Bahamut, as well as to transform into legendary characters from the Final Fantasy series via the Trance ability. The upgrade system attached to your quest success acts as a stronger draw to keep playing than the activities themselves, which will get repetitive over time. But that sense of progression and associated new weaponry options alongside monster-fusion experimentation will ensure that those who long for new Final Fantasy experiences year-on-year will not be disappointed with this handheld Explorers iteration.
Title: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers
Platform: Xbox One
A simply Marvel-lous action experience
Avengers Assemble! It’s time to experience the first console videogame featuring characters and storylines from the blockbuster film Marvel’s The Avengers and the sequel, Age Of Ultron. Yes, you get to play as the most powerful superheroes on the planet in their quest to save humanity, all delivered with the inimitable humour and action style of the LEGO games that have gone before. A staggering roster of more than 200 characters serves to show how the developers have gone absolutely all-out here to bring fans the finest LEGO outing to date, and it’s hard to argue that they haven’t achieved their goal. There’s an unbelievable amount of fun to be had in this world, even more laughs from the parodied movie cut-scenes, and even the controls when flying have been revamped to iron out one of the biggest whinges from earlier titles. If you haven’t played a LEGO game before, you clearly have been gaming under a rock the past few years, but now’s the time to clamber out and get with the Avengers programme.
Title: Lost Journey
Rediscover the pleasure of platforming
Lost Journey doesn’t quite send the platforming genre spinning into glorious new territory, but its wistful take on the well-worn game style will certainly win some fans. As a young girl traversing a series of tight little levels, you must collect memories whilst dodging spiky obstacles. To aid your progress, you can run and jump as well as flip into an alternative version of a level that puts you on the other side of environmental challenges. This flipping action will help you to navigate some puzzles and presents a range of new exploration options, too, while a basic power-up system also requires some skill to unlock or overcome certain areas. The presentation is stylish, with a nice ethereal quality to the visuals - it’s relaxing gaming without ever slipping into the realms of boredom. Some level constructions do feel a little repetitive, but for under a quid this is really nit-picking. Lost Journey is fun, not overly taxing and well worth having in your back pocket for some slick on-the-go gaming.
Title: twofold inc.
Fab fun following robot orders
Numbers and colours unite to give mobile gamers a grand challenge in twofold inc., where you’re thrown into a very odd factory and asked to fulfil requests by your robot buddy. You need to create sequences of the correct colour blobs from a grid of multi-coloured squares which, on the face of it, doesn’t sound too tricky. But you’re against the clock and under the additional pressure of a set number of moves, so things won’t always go swimmingly. However, the frustration you might feel will soon be superseded by an overwhelming desire to go back and try again, such is the pull of this innovative puzzle mechanic. It’s tough stuff, alright, so don’t expect an easy ride, even though your robotic pal is so darn cute. Gamers attracted to this week’s review of The Witness would do well to complement that purchase with this equally attractive and challenging bowlful of app-based brain food. But if your own puzzling pinnacle is the first dozen levels of Farm Heroes, you might want to think twice before taking twofold on...
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
Microsoft may be lagging behind Sony in the global next-gen console sales race, but there are still some positive stats to report. While the Xbox 360 and Xbox One creator may not be reporting sales figures for its hardware, we did recently discover that monthly users of the Xbox Live online service is now up around the 48 million mark and over Christmas, on 28 December, there were more Xbox gamers using Live than ever before.
Meanwhile in the charts this week, LEGO Marvel Avengers took the top 10 by storm, hitting the number one spot in its first week of release. Long-time top dog Call of Duty: Black Ops III fell into an unfamiliar second place as a result, while Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain re-entered the chart at eight.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. LEGO Marvel Avengers
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
3. FIFA 16
4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Siege
5. Star Wars Battlefront
6. Grand Theft Auto V
7. Just Cause 3
8. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
9. Fallout 4
10. Resident Evil Origins Collection
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2015 UKIE Ltd