June Review Round-Up: Mighty Goose, Until We Die, Promesa And More
Keen to play dress up as a mighty goose with guns for arms in an old school, run-and-gun shooter, or defend your shabby base against hordes of blood-thirsty mutants? We got you covered right here.
Plenty to honk about
The sleek, retro veneer of Mighty Goose and its recontexualing of Contra-style shooters as a barnyard of animal supersoldiers mostly demonstrate one thing: it is, at its heart, a loving homage and a side-scroller shooter moulded in the punishing run-and-gun arcade games of yesteryears.
As a monosyllabic goose who prefers to let your guns–be it machine guns or rocket launchers–do the talking, you’ll be traversing across planets, dodging gunfire and bulldozing legions of robots and bugs with a flurry of bullets sprayed all over the screen. There’s no poetic justice to be meted out, no truly dastardly plot to raze the universe to the ground, and no tearjerker or heroic moments: just the opportunity to enact scenes of pure, exhilarating carnage.
[Reviewed on PC]
I don’t really know what’s going on
On the surface, Garbage is a homeless fighting simulator that carries parallels to Punch Club: train hard, win fights, and take showers–the only twist being that you’re a homeless man who now has to live next to the dumpster. But take a closer look beyond its hood, and you’ll find that Garbage is a game that is barely serviceable.
After being thrown into a tutorial with remarkably vague instructions, you’ll spend a couple of befuddling minutes wondering what’s going on, before being told that you’ll be encountering a “garbage invasion”. It’s a declaration that makes so little sense until you realise it’s just a fisticuffs session with another homeless guy, who will be absent-mindedly wandering into your less-than-humble abode for a fight. The idea, in subsequent hours, is that you’ll soon be leading a team of homeless folks that will eventually lead to a bigger uprising against the tyranny of the local police force. I’m not too sure actually, and it’s probably impossible to know at this rate, since I couldn’t spend more than half an hour on this title.
[Reviewed on PC]
Shoots like raindrops
Even among the most unimaginative of blockbuster games and first-person shooters, it’s usually their elaborate, even needlessly sophisticated gunplay that stands out, as well as the ridiculous variety of ways you can snipe the tiny heads off your enemies. You can probably modify your firearms with countless upgrades, cobble together your own rifles from spare parts, and even admire the intricate wood grains of a pistol’s grip if it so pleases you. For many of these games, the shooting and sniping and blasting of your fleshy foes is the point; story, morality and anything else be damned.
Which is why it’s so perplexing that RAZE 2070, an arena shooter in the vein of popular fare like Doom and Unreal Tournament, makes shooting feel so limp. Rather than a full-bodied explosion, every gunshot is instead akin to the gentle patter of raindrops on concrete pavements–an almost maudlin description that’s probably the furthest thing RAZE 2070 wants to be known for. Much less can be said about its android enemies, which more closely resemble crash test dummies than the high tech cyborgs of sci-fi shooters. Then there is its introduction video–a snapshot into RAZE 2070’s intergalactic setting–which is made up of mostly stock footage of space from sites like Getty Images. Probably.
[Reviewed on PC]
Until We Die
A sombre base defense game
Until We Die is exactly what it says on the box: you have to defend your base until you’re deceased. Stuck in an underground station with only a few workers, you’ll need to gather resources like gears and food, while fortifying your base with barricades and other necessities, such as equipment like shovels and spanners that lets your workers carry out their tasks more efficiently. Every few hours or so, mutants will try to overwhelm your base, and one day they’ll most probably succeed.
There’s a fatalistic element to this setup, a sense that whatever fortifications you’ve put up is only temporary and can only stem the tide of attacks for only so long. Your workers are also not soldiers; they’re merely workers looking for a space to bunk over, and can mostly only prod at the beasts to fend them away. It’s a base defense strategy game that dabbles in realism rather than pointless commotion, and it’s a very captivating one. There are minor issues, such as the need for more precise controls (you can’t choose which worker you wish to station at every barricade), but aside from a few frustrating moments, these mostly don’t detract from its strengths.
[Reviewed on PC]
Not very alive
There’s plenty to scrutinise about virtual spaces, and the unspoken tales of the people and past events that inhabit them, whether these are cluttered with artefacts or bereft of any human life or presence. Take for instance an eerily empty kitchen with a still-whistling kettle, as well as utensils neatly laid out on the dining table–a place that may seem macabre and out-of-sorts within an otherwise ordinary home.
In this sense, Promesa attempts to convey a moving, intergenerational tale through its spaces, as it shuttles the player to various locales, interspersing these journeys with quotes shared by a grandfather to his grandchild. You don’t really need to do much; you just walk until you can’t anymore, and then you’ll be transported to the next place. But these spaces are also mostly devoid of meaningful context; I wasn’t even aware I was reading a familial conversation until I read the synopsis on a website. Then there are the purportedly haunting and surreal spaces, which are as sparse and lifeless as the memories you’re supposedly traversing through, having been mostly constructed with far too little subtleties to pique my curiosity. Compounded by the absolutely glacial speed I was travelling at, and I found myself making an early exit.
[Reviewed on Switch]