Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 9th September 2018.
Overcooked! 2 (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £19.99)
THE first Overcooked! game was a blast of culinary fun and a perfect co-op game — easy to pick up but hard to master with a partner. Well, Ghost Town Games and Team 17 have dished up a second portion with Overcooked! 2, building on the solid foundations of the first. It’s an over-the-top story where you have to stop the un-bread —yes, zombie loaves — preventing you serving customers.
Starting off nice and easy, you’ll soon find yourself having to fight conveyor belt systems and kitchens built on floating rafts that split up every so often. Overall, the difficulty has been ramped up since the first game. You have more tasks from tenderising meat to chopping veg, and even doing dishes, so planning your menu is key. But fear not, as you can team up with up to three pals, offline and online, although this highlights how important communication is — bring your mic.
The game has a colourful art style, packed with charm, and a soundtrack to match. On the downside, solo action loses some fun factor, but if you’re after a blast with a pal, it’s perfect.
Dead Cells (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC, £19.99)
EVERY so often a game takes the best parts of other titles and some original ideas to make something just a little special — and that’s just what Motion Twin have done with Dead Cells. The game is a rogue-Metroidvania game at its core where you play as… well, a ball of green goo which brings a dead body back to life in a prison cell and sets about escaping. Simple, but it’s more about the journey than the destination, as you’re thrown into a fast-paced world of combat and exploration.
Expect to die a lot, but this gives you the opportunity for choices that unlock new areas. Upgrades and new weapons help keep things fresh, and the wide range of enemies will keep you sharp. With a moody pixel art style, there’s a fitting retro vibe to this. Dead Cells is a challenging title that tries to blend a lot of different ideas together and, overall, it pulls them off. If you’re not a fan of Metroidvania games it may be a short-lived adventure for you — but fans will love it from start to finish.
Strange Brigade (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £39.99)
STRANGE BRIGADE is an action-packed co-op third-person shooter that will have you hooked. This adventure across the globe with Rebellion’s latest tale is a blast from the first shoot to the last reload. The studio is best known for the Sniper Elite series of games and its DNA also runs through this game. The player takes on the role of one of four different adventurers working for a shadowy wing of the British Secret Service which deals with the occult.
The game takes place in the 1930s with the Brigade heading to Egypt after an incident at a dig site. Cue tons of action with bags of British wit and charm, and more than a splash of the supernatural, as you unearth more than you expect — and end up having to save the world from an ancient evil. The tale is a fun romp where charm and cheese stay just on the right side of the line. It’s all backed up by the games narrator who adds an extra layer of British-ness to the game as well as more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.
On the gameplay front, things are split into two main focuses. The first is simply shooting everything that moves — from mummies and zombies to huge scorpions and swarms of scarabs. The second is puzzles and, for the most part, the game strikes a good balance between them. Most of the puzzles are linked with finding bonus areas and extra loot. More often than not, the puzzles will need a healthy dose of teamwork to be completed as the hints are often on the other side of the area and you often only get three attempts to solve them before it becomes locked.
As for the gunplay? Well, it’s fun and enjoyable as you get an arsenal of firepower to choose from — such as sub-machineguns, shotguns and snipers. Each weapon has its pros and cons, so talking to your team before a mission can help you pick the right set-up. On top of that you also get a magic amulet which gives you a special attack once you have filled the meter. The attacks are OK, and while they never really hit as hard as you would have hoped, they can save your bacon in a bind. Each character has their own amulet, which create unique attacks.
Outside of the main story, there is a horde mode (where you’ll have to fight off wave after wave of nasties) and also the score attack mode (which does what it says on the tin). Visually, the game looks great at times with a nice level of detail, both in the world and on the characters — although we did get a little slow-down when things really got going. Soundtrack-wise, it all fits the tale while time frame and the voice acting are solid and really add to the game — with the narrator stealing the show.
On the downside, the biggest issue is that this is a co-op game and is great with friends but when you play it on your tod the game doesn’t give you AI back-up, so you have to go it alone. That’s great if you are looking for collectables or just want to explore the world — but it’s just not as fun. Also, there are a number of boss fights in the game which, nine times out of ten, end up feeling like a bit of a grind as they are just big bullet sponges, which is a shame. But these issues never really take away from the fun of Strange Brigade when you are in the thick of it with your friends battling the forces of evil. It’s a blast and a must-play.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…