Category: Gaming

It’s always nice to be surprised by a game.

I’ve known about Wildfire for a couple of years now but I just never got around to giving it a go for some reason. Even after taking home an award PAX Aus’ Indie Showcase for “excellence in art” it just felt like something that wasn’t my cup of tea. Now, after playing the most recent Alpha build, I have nothing but regret because playing Wildfire has turned out to be one of the most fun and enjoyable experiences I’ve had playing a video game in recent memory.

As the game’s protagonist you begin the game searching for a meteorite that hasn’t crashed into Earth not too far from your village. Reaching it only moments before warriors from an unknown tribe arrive you touch the stone and through it gain the power to control fire. Hiding from the enemy you return to your village to find it empty and ablaze, without a soul in sight. And thus begins your quest; find your fellow villagers, return them all safely and if possible, do so without being detected.

The game is a series of a self contained 2D platformed areas that include elements to stealthily manoeuvre behind to avoid detection as well as sections that are combustable such as grass, vines and wood. Completing a stage can be as simple as getting through it without detection, others are more complicated and you’ll need to rescue one of your fellow villagers. There’s even a unique version of an escort style mission guiding a group of your friends to safety. There’s no one way to complete the levels either. Yes they can occasionally be blundered through with blind luck and speed but more often than not you’ll spend time making use of the game’s panning feature to explore the map and meticulously plan out and ultimately stuff up your attempt before you try again.

Each stage has additional and optional objectives that can be completed too. These come in a few different varieties, the standard stealth “complete without detection” along with the more tough “complete without restarting” as well as some more unique such as “don’t touch any water”. You’ll also find every stage to have a speedrun time allotted to it, which if you manage to complete the stage faster than awards you yet another optional objective complete. The game is definitely built for replay-ability and will have you wanting to revisit stages to tick off more and more boxes.

Beneath all of that is a robust skill tree system that allows you to grow and extend your powers that you advance through the collection of “brooch” strewn about the world. For instance the fire ability you’re given at the beginning of the game can be upgraded very early on to function as a smoke bomb and then for the fire you throw to bounce off of stone, each skill advancement adding to the possibilities of solving a stage in a different way.

Visually the game is gorgeous. If you’re a pixel art fan then jump in the Wildfire train because it’s as good as it gets, it won an award for it after all. There are some animations that look to be a little clipped or perhaps still in the “to-do” basket but being an Alpha it feels remarkably complete and any quibbles I have are extremely minor.

Complimented with a a beautiful score Wildfire whisked me away. I enjoyed every minute of it and completely lost myself in its puzzle, platformer, stealthy world. I can’t recommend you give it a go enough.

For those of you not particularly interested in watching me play through an hour’s worth, the video follows the same format as other “Raj plays…” with an intro, gameplay and my final thoughts. You can of course skip directly to those should you wish, coming in at the 73 minute mark.

Wildfire is due for release this year and will be available on PC via Steam; however should you wish to get your hands on the Alpha version straight away you can do so for A$20 over here.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is the first game from Gone Home co-creator Johnnemann Nordhagenn’s new indie studio Dim Bulb. In it you play as a tasked vagrant; sent to wander the American landscape in search of stories to collect and retell.

It’s a game about story telling. With each encounter a tale is told. Beautifully narrated and wonderfully written the stories can often be interacted with adjusting their outcome and potentially what type of story it ends up being to add to your repertoire. Funny, sad, thrilling and more, with each tale you hear it slots into a category for you to later retell to the games’ NPCs.

“Tell me a story that’ll make me laugh” says Quinn, one of the game’s main NPCs upon my first encounter with them. I have none to tell though and instead regale an action packed story I was told when I first wandered the game’s large, 3D map (a vast contrast to its 2D, animated illustration interface).

Quinn’s expression is sullen and unhappy with my tale and asks for another more appropriate, which I do have and as a reward begins to open and tell me more about themselves.

This is the game’s main loop, learning more about it’s 16 NPCs that also travel and shift their location across America’s wide landscape. By retelling the stories you’ve heard you advance your relationship with them as they let you in further in a beautiful mechanic buried deep in the ageless practice of folklore.

There are over 200 stories to collect. Each has been hand written for the game by a series of extremely talented writers. They’re beautifully brought to life as they’re retold by the game’s narrator Keythe Farley with their own hand-drawn illustration to accompany them.

The game features a “who’s who” of voice talent to further engross you in its fairytale like series of stories and interactions. Telltale’s The Walking Dead’s Lee (David Fennoy) and Clem (Melissa Hutchinson) both feature in the game as well as Mass Effect’s Ashely (Kimberly Brooks) and Firewatch’s Delilah (Cissy Jones). It’s tentpole however is none other than musician, actor and songwriter Sting who embodies the game’s antagonist.

Playing through the hour as beautiful and well done as the game’s story are I could feel myself slipping and becoming less and less interested in them and more concerned with the game’s mechanics to advance my own retelling abilities further. It’s very much an adventure for those who love to imbibe the art of story telling. I constantly felt the game reminding me of one of my favourite author’s Neil Gaiman and his love for tales and folklore but perhaps ruining it with it’s 3D map and its awkward traversal at times.

For those of you not particularly interested in watching me play through an hour’s worth, the video follows the same format as other “Raj plays…” with an intro, gameplay and my final thoughts. You can of course skip directly to those should you wish, coming in at the 70 minute mark.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is available today on Steam for US$20 on Mac, PC & Linux.

Two train rides home is all it took for me to complete what could easily be my game of the year. Florence is the first title from acclaimed Monument Valley designer Ken Wong’s new studio Mountains.

The game tells the story of a young woman, living in Melbourne, who falls in love and then follows the relationship as it moves through its stages and ultimately (spoiler alert) ends.

As the game progresses Florence experiences different stages of the relationship that we can all identify with. Chapters of the game, such as “First Dates”, “Moving In“, “Dreams” are aptly named and done so to not only encapsulate their experience but also emotionally prepare you for what you know is to come. With each chapter I felt like I was right there with her – as ridiculous as that sounds – experiencing what she was, feeling what she felt. To love is to be human and Florence’s story is one that, as humans, we are all likely to have experienced in one way or another.


It doesn’t hurt that the game is beautifully scored either. Whilst the hand-drawn aesthetic and story board nature of the visuals are stunning it’s the game’s music that really just blew me out of the water. Hauntingly beautiful classical styled pieces underpin the game’s story and perfectly capture the moment you’re experience. It’s truly fantastic stuff that deserves recognition.

The game’s not for everyone and that’s totally OK. You’re not shooting anything, there are no jelly beans of the same colour to line up and ask for your credit card to play again, it’s very much a story that has a start, a middle and an end that invites you to participate along the way.

It’s mechanics are subtle and help to progress the story. One of my favourites is the simple jigsaw puzzles that are a metaphor for the sentences we construct while talking to our partner. Initially there are many pieces and we put them together slowly or clumsily like on a first date but as you feel more comfortable it’s much easier so the pieces you have to connect grow larger and there are fewer until it’s so natural you don’t have to connect anything at all and the game uses a single piece you simply move into place.

Two train rides home is all it took for me to complete what could easily be my game of the year.

For a lot of people Florence wont be a “game”. They’ll take one look and dismiss it as a story you occasionally push a button or flick to the next page and they’re entitled to think that but I’d argue them wrong. For me, its interactive nature and subtle game mechanics very much prove it so, which because of its medium is a hundred times more emotive and engrossing than any story could be.

Florence from Mountains is available for iOS via the App Store for A$4.49 now.

I have never played Shadow of the Colossus before.

Phew… ok, it’s out now. You all know that I’ve been living a lie as a gamer and games journalist for years now and I have zero credit.

Thankfully, Sony decided to enlist Japan Studio & Bluepoint to take the PS2 classic and completely recreate it from the ground up for the PS4 & PS4 Pro, meaning that I can now play it and regain what little dignity I have left.

As you’ll see in the play through the game certainly isn’t without its frustrations but it’s easy to see just how beautiful and engrossing the world is and must’ve been back when it was first released.

For those of you not particularly interested in watching me play through an hour’s worth, the video follows the same format as other “Raj plays…” with an intro, gameplay and my final thoughts. You can of course skip directly to those should you wish, coming in at the 49 minute mark.

Shadow of the Colossus is available now for PS4 & PS4Pro.

Sea of Thieves has been one of Microsoft’s tentpole showings at industry events like E3 and Gamescom for well on two years now.

Described as a “shared world” pirating adventure, you play as a pirate who’s crewed with partied friends and/or strangers of varying sizes to go on “voyages” in search of treasure.

Everyone you encounter in the game is another real world player whom you can interact with via a gesture system or proximity based audio chat similar to the likes of PUBG.

The game is beautifully rendered in a cartoonish pirate style and has a very jovial, “Pirates of the Caribbean” feel to it but it’s reliance on a co-operative based play mechanic had me slightly worried going into the recording.

In the video you’ll see me go through my first hour of the game’s closed beta and encounter a variety of locations, people, enemies and systems.

While I don’t expect anyone to watch the whole way through I do encourage you to skip around more than you might normally would to get a good understanding of the games many systems in play.

As always, should you wish, you can skip to the end where for the final eight minutes you’ll find my post-play impressions.

Sea of Thieves is available March 20th for Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.  Pre-order now at

Imagine being able to turn a simple piece of cardboard into almost anything: a motorbike, a fishing rod, a piano or whatever you can imagine!

By assembling sheets of cardboard into a variety of shapes called Toy-Con, and combining them with Nintendo Switch, you can bring them to life!

This is some bizarro Nintendo shit. It’s beautiful and magic and I love it! Despite the hot takes spreading like wild fire across the internet by “hardcore” gamers and Nintendo fans alike I have little doubt in my mind that these kits are going to sell like hot cakes and kids are going to eat them up.

Available April 20th Labo will be available in two versions. The first is called “The Variety Kit” will retail for A$99.95 and includes cardboard templates for a myriad of creations including a RC car, fishing rod, house, motorbike and piano.

The second version is slightly more expensive at A$119.95 and is a single constructible called the “Toy Con Robot”. The robot is in fact a backpack and goggles that the player wears whilst playing titles that appear to emulate being a giant robot.

Nintendo are also selling a Nintendo Labo sticker pack for A$14.95 however, as you can see in the trailer, it’s encouraged to colour and decorate your Labo creations as you please and by no means are reliant on the sticker pack.

Source: Nintendo Labo

Accounting+ is a re-release of the HTC Vive title Accounting initially released in October 2016. The new version, made specifically for PlayStation VR (PSVR), has been expanded to include some new content and in doing so now comes with the modest price tag of A$17.95.

The game is the first title from the VR focused studio Squanch Games (formerly Squanchtendo) and was developed by Crows Crows Crows. Squanch Games was founded by Ricky & Morty creator Justin Rolland and as a result any title it releases comes with very large (and probably unfair) expectations.

You play the game’s protagonist, an unnamed, new employee of a small business who, I assume, is there to do the books. It begins with the phone ringing on the desk in a warehouse like building. Picking it up your would-be employer is on the other end and instructs you to grab a copy of the accounting software, pop it in the computer and then put on the in-game VR headset to apparently crunch some numbers in three dimensions.

It’s about now things go terribly wrong and instead of loading the latest copy of MYOB VR edition you’re thrusted into a woodland environment and find yourself standing between a generator, a tree stump and a wooden phone booth.

From here it’s a series of mishaps, disembowelments and general Ricky & Morty like adventure as you progress deeper and deeper into the VR world, virtually putting on another headset to escape the horrors of the one you find yourself in. Think of it as Inception but with VR headsets and little toy lawyers that pop out of a box and look like eggs with legs.

The game itself is largely an on-rails-experience more than what most would consider a “game”. Each world you visit is relatively small and movement is limited to only a small number of teleportation points. It’s the writing or comedy of the game that makes it an enjoyable experience and while there are small puzzles to solve they’re more a part of the story telling mechanic than a brain teaser.

It’s narrative, whilst the best part of the game, is also it’s biggest set back too in that as it relies on it so heavily for momentum and comic relief it can often seem quite slow and paced poorly with large gaps between dialogue and progression. It’s certainly doesn’t ruin the play through and Ricky & Morty fans will certainly not be disappointed but you can’t help but want a little more freedom and for things to move much faster than they do.

It also falls victim to the same problem many Hollywood films have today. Watching the trailer for the game essentially shows most, if not all, of the game’s interesting characters and their interactions.

The PSVR handles the game with no problems. It does (and always will) fall victim to some tracking issues on the archaic Move controllers but that’s not the fault of the developers at all, that’s on Sony. I played through on an original PS4 and had no issues with frame rates, tearing or otherwise.

All in all Accounting+ is a fun way to spend a couple of hours inside your headset exploring and interacting with some interesting, oddball characters. Rolland’s voice and talents can be clearly seen throughout the whole thing but if I’m being honest it’s The Mighty Boosh’s Rich Fuller that steals the show and made it worth the $18.

Accounting+ is available now exclusively on the PlayStation Store.

Bethesda’s rebooted Wolfenstein series was somewhat of a sleeper hit when it was first released a couple of years ago. Critically acclaimed the overhauled title surprised everyone with it’s intriguing story, amazing graphics and solid gameplay mechanics.

Now, the second title in the new generation’s series, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus comes weighted with some heavy expectations to live up to (and hopefully succeed) from its predecessor.

This week I finally had the chance to dedicate some proper play time to it and dove in to play through its first hour, which I invite you to join me for!

It’s the second of these “Raj plays” videos that I’ve done and with the original receiving some kind words, something I plan on doing more often.

For those of you after my post hands-on impressions you’ll find those towards the end of the video but I encourage to watch through at least some of the gameplay to see exactly how seriously freaking good this game looks!

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is available now for PC, Xbox One and PS4.

If you’d told me a week ago that the most exciting thing I was going to see at PAX Australia was a bunch of laptops I would’ve told you to piss off.

Quite possibly the last thing that comes to my mind when someone says the word “gaming” is to then follow it with “laptop”. Laptops throughout history have been notoriously underpowered or outdated in comparison to their desktop counterparts. Attempts to bridge the gap in the past have been largely farcical producing laptops so thick and heavy they’re ultimately just as immobile as a desktop anyway.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into a closed briefing where on display is not one but three NVIDIA MAX-Q branded laptops and I’m told by their Senior PR Manager, Bryan Del Rizzo, that “Today; more gaming laptops are sold than PlayStations and Xboxs combined”.

Get the fudge outta town! Continue reading

The Evil Within 2 is a frickin’ laser beam scary game. Writing about it and reviewing it in the more conventional manner just wasn’t going to do it justice. I don’t think I could convey just how easily I get freaked out by spooky/horror stuff so I figured let’s try something new and just film me playing through the first hour.

Despite scaring the living crap out of me the game is extremely well put together with beautiful albeit disturbing imagery and haunting sound direction. I am not a horror person but for those of you that are, this game is going to be right up your alley I assure you!

I’m old and not a part of the streaming generation so I’m not sure who, if anyone, wants to watch me play through an hour of any game but we’ll give it a crack and if people like it we’ll do more!

The Evil Within 2 is available now for PC, Xbox One and PS4.