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Video Gaming Dystopias, Wild West villainy, cut-throat piracy. Sign me up

BEN COWLES'S fingers are twitching at the prospect of what's in store for gamers in 2018

FOR video gamers, 2018 looks set to be just as good as last year, provided not too many titles are delayed in the coming months.

That's what's happened to Compulsion Games’s We Happy Few, a first-person survival game set in a dystopian version of the 1960s which I enthused about in this column last year. Hopefully, we’ll get our thumbs around it soon.

Another game that was pushed back into this year is Rockstar Games’s open-world, Western-action Red Dead Redemption (RDR) II, a prequel to one of the best video games ever created.

Rockstar keeps its cards very close to its chest and so we don’t know much about RDR II, expect for what can be gleaned from a 90-second trailer. In it, a disreputable feller by the name of Arthur Morgan shoots his way across the Midwest, engages in fist fights, holds up a steam train with his masked gang, hunts wildlife with a bow and arrow and gets himself involved in all manner of villainous anti-hero antics.

Every aspect of 2010’s RDR — from its gameplay, gritty story, Wild West/Mexican revolution setting, absorbing character performances, beautiful period music and Texas Hold'em mini games — was phenomenal. I must have spent over 100 hours playing it and, if this spring’s RDR II is even half as good as the original, I and millions more will do the same.

I’m not really one for multiplayer games but Rare’s online pirate action game Sea of Thieves looks like it’ll be ridiculous fun when it comes out in March. The game has players teaming up in small crews who work together to sail across the oceans in search of plunder and buried treasure. Alternatively, players can just fool around playing the accordion, drinking rum, locking other players in the brig, forcing them to walk the plank or fire themselves out of a cannon. Sign me up.

With its unique blend of pixelated foregrounds and hand-painted backgrounds, indie developer Odd Tales’s The Last Night looks mesmerising. The cinematic 2D platformer is set in a neon-lit future a la Blade Runner, where machines have surpassed human labour, intellect and creativity.

Gamers play as Charlie who, because of a childhood accident, is unable to take part in humanity’s technologically augmented reality, but players will be presented with an opportunity to change everything, which will no doubt have dire ramifications.

Lead designer Tim Soret’s anti-feminist twitter history, for which he has since apologised, gives cause for concern, however. In an interview with Waypoint last June, Soret also seemed to express some rather right-wing views and I'm worried that this beautiful game could end up being all style and no substance or, worse, an Ayn Randian analogy on the follies of socialism and the power of free-market capitalism.

Two other titles gamers should keep their square eyes on are Za/Um’s mysterious point-and-click adventure game No Truce With the Furies and White Paper Games’s first-person puzzler The Occupation, both of which I previewed last autumn and are due to be launched this year.


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