Mafia Definitive Edition (reviewed on PC)

Re-posted courtesy of Koru-Cottage.com, which I originally wrote this review for.

With the release of Mafia Definitive Edition last month, 2K’s Mafia trilogy is now complete. When I reviewed Mafia 2 in August this year, I ended my review (based mainly on the lacklustre Mafia 2 remaster) by saying: “I can’t recommend this package right now, especially given it’s incomplete until Mafia is released in August.”

Mafia Definitive Edition

Well, now that I have finished Mafia Definitive Edition, my verdict is easy: It’s definitely worth your time. Especially with the love that has been lavished in updating the original Mafia for today’s modern gamer, a game that tells the rise [then fall] of Lost Heaven (New York) taxi driver Tommy Angelo through the ranks of a feared crime family during the 1930s.

The original Mafia was released on PC in 2002 – I still own the original but since deciding to forgo a disc drive in my PC I can no longer play it. It was a great game, despite having a few frustrating missions: the infamous race car one being the main culprit.

The graphical overhaul is the most obvious change to Mafia here and the game play/mission structure has stayed the same. Mafia comes from an age when games were linear, story-driven experiences and not open world. Mafia Definitive Edition sticks to tight mission structure of the original and is so well crafted that I didn’t find playing it a chore (apart from the occasional frustrating “lose the cop” missions which crop up from time to time where it seems every police officer in the city is chasing after you).

Mafia Definitive Edition

Mafia Definitive Edition has highlighted how tightly paced the narrative was in the original game. It doesn’t distract you with a multitude of side missions: It’s story driven and unapologetic about that. This remaster also has great voice acting and a likeable main character in Tommy Angelo, even if he is a gangster doing questionable moral things.

The city of Lost Heaven feels like it’s built on a living, breathing city, too. While it’s sparse compared to open-worlds of today, it has little touches that make it feel grounded: Pedestrians yelling abuse if you drive too close, cops that will pull you over and write you a ticket for an infringement. Cars and trucks will flash their headlights if you pass just a little too close to them, your car’s radio reception breaking up as you drive through a tunnel, tail lights reflect on wet roads. Top it off with a wonderful 1930s soundtrack and you’ve got a winner written all over it in my book.

Like the previous two games included in this collection – Mafia 2 and 3 – I played Mafia Definitive Edition on PC and it frankly looks gorgeous, with highly detailed car and character models, and a much more detailed Lost Heaven than the original, especially at night when it’s undeniably beautiful as you drive around the city with neon signs reflecting off the rain-soaked streets and car tail lights glowing in the dim light.

Mafia Definitive Edition

I’m no technical genius but it seems developers Hanger 13 are using some form of software based ray tracing here that looks so good that several times I just stopped mid-drive to just soak in the surroundings. 2K recommends a Core i7-3770 or AMD FX-8350, 8Gb RAM,  and an nVidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290X. My i5 8400, 16Gb PNY XLR8 RAM and RX580 GPU handled things just fine, pushing out frame rates between 55 to 60 using the game’s high graphical settings (averaging around 56FPS).

Cut scenes, too, seemed locked at around 60FPS but I did notice drops into the mid-40s when driving through open countryside. It was certainly pushing the RX580 to its limit, that’s for sure, with temperatures sitting around the 70deg mark and it wasn’t uncommon for it to be sitting at 100% utilisation. An update seemed to lift frame rates to the high 60s – even 70s – at some points.

Mafia Definitive Edition

You’ve probably guessed by now that I loved Mafia Definitive Edition, but it’s buggy at times. One character model was missing entirely from a cutscene while the dialogue continued and the “lose the cops” missions are frustrating as hell. In the game’s favour, the infamous car race seemed more forgiving this time than when I played it on the original. Sure, the other drivers are still aggressive but I managed to win it on my second attempt.  

A new patch also lets you minimise HUD elements, which is particularly welcome when using free ride mode. Also, the game has a great free ride mode that’s unlocked after you’ve completed a particular mission meaning you can explore the city of Lost Heaven in any vehicle you’ve unlocked: It’s a good way to visit parts of the city that you don’t during some of the story drive missions.  

Mafia Definitive Edition is a remaster that has been lavished with love by developer Hanger 13. Now, all I need is someone to remaster EA’s The Godfather or Scarface on the PlayStation 2 and I’ll be happy as Larry.

Tripping the light fantastic

Smart lighting industry leader Nanoleaf has announced the launch of Shapes Triangles and Mini Triangles, the latest addition to the company’s Shapes line. 

The newest innovation from Nanoleaf features shape interoperability with Nanoleaf’s exclusive Connect+ technology, allowing users to connect different lighting shapes together, along with Hexagons, for the first time ever. 

“Nanoleaf’s vision for the Shapes Line is to give users the complete design freedom to create their most personal lighting experience yet. Smart lighting is about pushing the boundaries of possibility and that is exactly what we wanted to offer with our Shapes Line,” says Gimmy Chu, CEO and co-founder of Nanoleaf. 

Users will now have the modular freedom to create something simple by connecting multiples of one shape, or mix and match different shapes in new ways to create unique lighting mosaics. 

The Shapes line also has an improved snap-on mounting system for easier installation and redesign options. With Nanoleaf’s exclusive LayoutDetect Technology and over 16 million colours to choose from, users can paint their homes with organic colourways inspired by beautiful scenes of nature like the Aurora Borealis and brilliant blues of the Mediterranean sea.

Shapes Triangles and Mini Triangles have all of Nanoleaf’s classic features, including Screen Mirror, Rhythm Music Sync and touch-enabled experiences that allow you to transform your space with one single touch. The panels are wifi-controlled with the Nanoleaf App, manually with the physical controller and are also compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.

True to the company’s commitment to make ease of use a top priority, the latest addition to the Shapes line will also include an update to Nanoleaf’s signature app. A new colour picker will help take the RGB experience to the next level and the new redesign will be much more intuitive, enabling users to perform any action without barriers.

Nanoleaf Shapes Line Triangles and Mini Triangles will be available to pre-order from today at Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, JB Hifi, MightyApe and PB Tech. Kits will range from RRP $119.99 – $349.99.

Look out for a review of Nanoleaf’s Shapes on the site very soon.

Pick Up Quick! Developer interview: Tackling litter one piece at a time on the PlayStation

Pick Up Quick! features Tahunanui Beach in Nelson.

Those of you that have combed through the vast amount of user-generated content in PlayStation’s Dreams may have come across Pick Up Quick!, a game launched by Sustainable Coastlines and designed to tackle the problem of litter on New Zealand beaches and encourage players to combat the issue in real life.

Tokahaki Point on Kapiti Island and Tāhunanui Beach in Nelson were recreated in Dreams by North Canterbury school administrator Stacey Bartlett [25] and is one of first partnerships of its kind with British-based Dreams creator Media Molecule.

The aim of Pick Up Quick! is to hunt and collect as much discarded rubbish as you can within a 45 second time limit then the game compares what you collected with data gathered from real-life rubbish collection from the beaches. By mid-September, it had been played more than 3000 times in more than 50 countries, including the United States, Spain, Scotland, Canada and Singapore.

Studio director at Media Molecule Siobhan Reddy says what Stacey had achieved with Dreams was incredible. “She’s a talented creator. We’ve seen some pretty wonderful creations within Dreams and this is right up there. The community aspect of gameplay that encourages education and understanding is really impressive.”

How much litter you pick up in 45 seconds is compared to real-time collection data.

“We’ve featured it [Pick Up Quick!] on the global Dreams homepage; it shows what’s possible so we’re hoping it encourages people to get creative as well as think about their environmental impact – wherever they are.”

Thanks to PlayStation NZ, I got the chance to talk to Stacey about making the game and to Camden Howitt, co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines and the Litter Intelligence programme.

Stacey, how did you become involved in the project? Had you had any experience with Dreams – or any modeling software or game creation tools – before starting this project? 

Pick Up Quick! creator Stacey Bartlett used Dreams on the PlayStation 4 to create the game.

I was approached by PlayStation New Zealand to create Pick Up Quick!, as they were looking for a New Zealand Dreams creator and Media Molecule recommended me based on my previous Dreams work.  I have always enjoyed creating things, although I didn’t have much game development experience until Dreams was released. I was able to partake in the Dreams beta and early access, and I learned a lot about creating games in that time. 

How did the design process for the game work? Did you brainstorm about what you wanted, or did it develop fairly naturally?

I was given a brief for the game, and from there I created a design document, as well as some rough concept sketches for how I wanted the game to look. I relied on my plan a lot – I find it easier to write things down first and work from there rather than make things up as I go.

I played the Tahunanui Beach level and I recognised the distinctive seawall straight away. How easy was it to craft the real-world beaches into the game – and how long did it take until you were happy with it?

Tahunanui Beach was fun to create, as I was able to use Google Maps extensively as a reference to cover all the different angles. The challenge came in the nit-picky things – for example the waves. I spent a lot of time tweaking the animation to get it just right! I can’t say for sure how long they took me to create as it’s a bit of a blur now, but it was a fair few hours. 

How cool was it to have input from Dreams creator Media Molecule and for them to feature it on their Dreams homepage?

Very cool! I admire Media Molecule a lot, and to see them featuring something I made is quite surreal!

Camden, tell me about how this collaboration first came about? How did Media Molecule become involved?

We worked with PlayStation’s help to get the game off the ground. After approaching Stacey, our incredible creator who was super on board with the concept, PlayStation assisted in the coordination of Media Molecule who helped Stacey along the way with any design questions she had. It’s been such an exciting project for everyone, to have international support for our cause from the likes of Media Molecule was fantastic.

What’s the main aim with Pick Up Quick: What do you hope it will achieve? And are you confident that people will become more litter-aware on our beaches after playing the game or that young players will help their parents become more aware of litter on beaches?
We want to help young people to look at the issue in their area, and solve it. Us New Zealanders love our beaches but we’re a bit disconnected in some ways from the fact that we are polluting them. The aim here is to inform young players around what the issues are on our beaches. Despite our “clean and green” image, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Pick Up Quick! is available through Dreams on the PlayStation 4.

Pick Up Quick! in action. This is Nelson’s Tahunanui Beach.

D-Link AX5400 (DIR-5460) Wi-fi 6 router review

Getting constantly reliable wireless speeds seems to be a life-long mission for many – me included – so when D-Link offered to send me one of its latest wi-fi 6 routers to test out, I jumped at the chance.

Looking like an alien spider that has been flipped onto its back, D-Link says its Exo AX5400 (DIR-5460) mesh wi-fi 6 router brings next-generation wireless to your home, supporting six simultaneous streams and unleashing “lightening fast wi-fi goodness” over larger areas than before.

If you’re read previous router reviews of mine, you’ll know how my house is set up. The services box – where the fibre connection enters the house from the street – is in the garage of my, roughly, 226sq m single-storey, four bedroom house. Inside, there are a handful of wall-installed ethernet ports [one of them in a kitchen cupboard!] There is also an internal door between the router and the rest of the house.

The only device that has a permanent wired connection is my PC: Everything else – smart TV, laptops, iPads – uses wi-fi. Currently, there are four people living at home, including two young adults in their 20s, so the demand on my wi-fi is considerable with media streaming and university work.

D-Link’s DIR-X5460 supports the latest 802.11ax wireless protocol [as well as other available protocols, of course], which D-Link says improves wireless performance and allows multiples devices to connect at once without compromising on performance.

The last D-Link wi-fi 6 router I tested was the bare bones DIR-X1560 but the DIR-X5460 is fully featured, with three LAN ports (10/100/1000Mbps gigabit), an internet port, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port. It also has six antennae [four non-detachable, two-detachable], compared to its smaller sibling’s four.

The DIR-X5460 offers concurrent dual-band wireless (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)  for connections up to 5.4Gbps, six simultaneous data streams and BSS colouring which increases range and reduces interference in “noisy” wi-fi environments, apparently. It’ll set you back around $NZ540.

Bottom line for me when it comes to wi-fi is I want stable, reliable wireless that doesn’t tank during heavy downloads or buffer during extended streaming sessions of The Wire or Peaky Blinders.

Like previous D-Link routers, set-up was super simple using the mobile phone app but you can use a web browser-based set up, too. All I had to do was enter my ISP’s username and password details, the router rebooted and I was up and running. There was a firmware update during the testing period.

Long story short, the DIR-X5460 impressed me, offering reliable wi-fi out a single drop out over the past month, but what about the speeds?

The simplest way to find out how good a router is, is to test it – so that’s what I did, multiple times, using a variety of testing tools: Ookla Speedtest and and website Speedof.me.

I tested the speeds from a variety of locations around the house: Beside the router, in the main bedroom, in the lounge and in the kitchen/dining/family room [these last three are the furtherest from the router]. I tested multiple times in each of the locations then did additional speed tests on September 13 at random times during the day.

The results

Ookla:

  • Kitchen: 28.6Mbps download, 27.8Mbps upload (as low as 12.9Mbps)
  • Lounge: 33.4Mpbs, 30.8Mbps
  • Bedroom: 36.9Mbps, 37.7Mbps
  • Next to router: 38.3Mbps, 55.7Mbps
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 31.5Mbps, 11.4Mbps (lounge); 26.3Mbps, 19.5Mbps (kitchen); 39.1Mbps, 22.7Mbps (main bedroom); 40Mbps, 34.6Mbps (beside router)

Speedof.me

  • Kitchen: 37.43Mbps download (max 52.18Mbps), 20.17Mbps upload
  • Lounge: 39.55Mbps (47.57Mbps), 34.63Mpbs
  • Bedroom: 41.01Mbps (max 53.5Mbps), 41.95Mbps
  • Next to router: 41.75Mbps (max 60.45Mbps), 51.66Mbps)
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 33.6Mbps, 11.74Mbps (lounge); 23.03Mbps, 7.15Mbps (kitchen); 36.87Mbps, 16.24Mbps (main bedroom); 40.14Mbps, 41.6Mbps (beside router)

For me, the DIR-X5460 delivered consistently fast wi-fi speeds right across my house without any drop outs and provided problem-free Netflix, YouTube and Neon streaming – and that’s a massive plus in my book. Obviously the wi-fi signal got weaker the further it got from the router and no doubt there are faster routers out there, but speeds were faster and more consistent with the DIR-5460 than many of the other routers I’ve used previously.

In fact, it must have been alright as I had no complaints from the two young adults currently in the house at all about wi-fi quality, given my daughter had moaned about the wi-fi strength before setting up the new router.

Being wi-fi 6 means the DIR-X5460 is future-proofed, too, meaning as the protocol becomes more commonplace, firmware updates to the router will mean it will prove useful for years to come. Two thumbs up, from me.

PNY offers Geforce RTX30 series graphics cards

Earlier today, graphics card powerhouse nVidia announced its new Geforce RTX 30 series cards and they look pretty damn good, if I don’t mind saying so myself.

I was contemplating picking up an RTX2060 or RTX2070 later this year but while nVidia for some reason hasn’t made New Zealand pricing available, it sounds like an RTX3070 will cost around $AU800 (which means closer to $NZ850, probably) so while not cheap, they seemed competitively priced when compared to the RTX2000 series cards when they were released.

The RTX3090, however, sounds like it’ll need a small mortgage to cover the cost so I suspect it’s not considered a consumer-level card.

Hot on the heels of nVidia’s announcement, memory, RAM and GPU manufacturer PNY has come out announcing its own line-up of RTX30 series cards with the XLR8 gaming series: The  RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, all powered by the all-new NVIDIA Ampere architecture.

nVidia says the new RTX 30 Series GPUs, the 2nd generation of RTX, features new RT Cores, Tensor Cores and streaming multiprocessors, bringing stunning visuals, amazingly fast frame rates and AI acceleration to games and creative applications.

In terms of overclocking and RGB customisation, PNY says its XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 30 Series is compatible with PNY’s VelocityX overclocking software which allows for the customisation and monitoring of critical stats like core clock, memory clock, core temperature, fan speed, RGB lighting and more, aiming for the perfect balance of performance and efficiency.

Here’s what PNY has to offer in the range:

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3090

    • 24GB memory
    • 3 fan
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6X
    • EPIC-X RGBTM
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3080

    • 10GB memory
    • 3 fan
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6X
    • EPIC-X RGB
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3070

    • 8GB
    • 3 fan and 2 fan variations
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6
    • EPIC-X RGB on 3 fan version
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY says its RTX3090 will be available from late-September,  the RTX3080 from mid-September and the RTX3070 from mid-October from mWave.com.au in Australia and in New Zealand from  www.pbtech.co.nz/

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020: Come fly with me

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Greetings, dear readers! It’s been a little quiet around here lately so apologies [again, that damn day job seems to get in the way]

Lately, I’ve been playing a fair bit of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020 and I love it: It’s the perfect antidote in these crazy times when there is no overseas travel in sight for some time, I think.

Seriously, I love Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. So much so that I’m working on finding a flight stick and throttle combination so I can get more control than the fairly old Saitek Cyborg Evo joystick that I’m using.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is the sort of game that I think is best left to pictures and videos and not long paragraphs of text so I thought I’d post a few photos that I’ve captured from the game and some captures I took of a few flights over the past week.

I’ve flown to Melbourne [and seen the crazy monolith that has sprouted up], Brisbane, New York, Wellington, Lake Tekapo and around my home town of Christchurch, NZ, this week. Where do you reckon I should head to next?

Byte-sized review: Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout (reviewed on PC)

Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout  – a game show-style Battle Royale featuring 60 colourful jellybeans that are systematically eliminated as each round unfolds – is taking the world by storm.

It seems Fall Guys is the gaming darling at the moment – I’m told it sold 2 million copies on Steam since August 4 – and from the outset, it’s not hard to see why: It’s got an undeniable charm about it with its bright colours, cute characters and bouncy music as players navigate a variety of mini-games designed to slowly eliminate players until only one remains. It’s also nice to see an Battle Royale game where there isn’t an assault rifle, rocket launcher or frying pan to be seen.

Fall Guys is an assault on the senses, too, and can be chaotic and frantic one moment then frustrating and confusing the next as you avoid rotating paddles, disappearing tiles and other players.

Sadly, my experiences with it swings more towards the frustrating, with my constant inability to progress much further than the first round, which means I can either watch the remaining rounds as a spectator or quit the game and find another one [and inevitably go through the same process].

Luckily, each round is no more than a few minutes long so it means each game is probably over within 10 minutes so you won’t need to wait that long for the next one, but for me, the frustration of constantly missing the cut just outweighed any fun I was having with it. I can see Fall Guys perfectly suited to someone who maybe just wants to play for 30 minutes or so then leave it until the next day. It’s also perfectly suited to young players as there is no violence or bad language [unless its from mum or dad cursing at being eliminated – again.]

I love that a cutesy, colourful game like this is taking the online world by storm and that so many of my online friends love it, but – and I feel kind of bad for saying this – I’ve decided it’s not for me, I’m afraid, and that’s OK.

Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventures still popular

It’s been a busy few days so here’s some news …

Price aggregation site PriceSpy tells me that Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventures claimed the top spot for as most clicked-on game for the second month in a row.

Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand country manager for PriceSpy, says:  “Over the past few months, we’ve certainly noticed more of a presence from Nintendo Switch games placing amongst the top three spots on our popularity board.

Martinvesi-Bassett says:  “Based on the total number of clicks received, despite launching in October last year, June’s most popular game was found to be Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure.

“Whilst price drops can often attract gamers to click more on older game releases, we believe this not to be the case for the rise in popularity for Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure, as the price point has remained fairly static since it first launched.

“Instead, a big contributing factor that may have led to the rise in popularity for this particular game is Covid-19 and lock down, as people had to stay in and they wanted to stay active and feel motivated.”

Martinvesi-Bassett says it was reported globally that Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure was sold out, which most likely occurred as a result of all of the lockdowns that were taking place. “Such news most probably also contributed to the increased consumer demand here in New Zealand,” she says.

PNY XLR8 RGB memory review

PNY XLR8 RGB memory review

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as buy parts for a new gaming PC, putting it all together into a nice case then powering it up and cheering when everything works just as it should. It’s a real sense of accomplishment of a “I made this” type.

I’ve build several PCs over the years but only one has had a tempered glass side panel: My current PC which is built into a Montech Air 900 mid-tower case that I won in an online competition earlier this year.

Cases only h ave tempered glass side panels for one reason: To show off the shiny, RGB-lit goodness that lives inside it.  I know RGB components aren’t for everyone but I guess it’s the PC gamer equivalent of a car enthusiast who mods and tweaks his car to show off to other enthusiasts.

The only RGB lighting in my PC when I built it came from my Sapphire RX580 graphics card – up until PNY Technologies sent across a 16Gb kit of dual channel XLR8 RGB RAM (3200Mhz) to put through its paces.

Rated at 3200MHz, the XLR8 RAM is backward compatible with 2133Mhz, 2400Mhz, 2666Mhz, 2800Mhz, 2933Mhz and 3000Mhz frequencies. It has a CAS latency of 16 [timings are 16-18-18] and it supports XMP 2.0.

EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE …

As anyone who has built a PC will know, RAM is one of the easiest things to replace and installing the PNY RAM was straightforward enough, replacing the two 8Gb sticks of vanilla Team Group RAM (rated at 2400Mhz) that were currently in my PC.

However, I did have to remove my RX580 GPU and disconnect my case fans header to fit the sticks in as clearances on my PC’s Asus mATX B365M-K motherboard were pretty tight. It just meant I had to manage the cables a little better, too.

PNY’s RAM draws 1.35v of power and the RGB lighting is powered via the RAM slot on your motherboard so you don’t need an RGB header on the motherboard to connect it to, which is nice for those of us with motherboards like mine that don’t have the aforementioned header. The RGB lights – consisting of five LEDs within a frosted lens – sit on top of the two aluminum heat spreaders.

TRIPPING THE [RGB] LIGHT FANTASTIC …

The memory supports a number of lighting control software such as Asus’ Aura Sync, MSi’s  Mystic Light Sync and ASrock’s Polychrome sync but unfortunately, my Asus motherboard doesn’t support RGB control so I couldn’t control the light patterns, instead just letting it “do its own thing”, which still looked nice. My motherboard is also restricted to 2666Mhz frequency RAM, so that’s what I set the frequency to in my motherboard’s BIOS.

PNY’s XLR8 RAM does what it says on the tin: Lights up your windowed PC case with undulating displays of neon colours – and I quite like that.

Look, RGB inside your PC won’t make it run any faster: It’s purely for aesthetics and a nice addition to someone who has a case with a side window and wants to show off the PC they spent countless hours tinkering on and getting just right.

As I said earlier, RGB components aren’t for every PC owner but if it is, PNY’s RGB XLR8 RAM is a good starting point to begin that RGB journey.

PNY’s  XLR8 RAM is available from PB Tech in New Zealand and mWave in Australia and available as a 32GB kit (2x16GB) and 16Gb kit (2 x 8Gb) or a 16Gb single channel stick and an 8Gb single channel stick.

Carrion (Nintendo Switch) review

Carrion is a horror game with a twist: You are the monster in the dark, hunting the humans – not the other way around.

In what has been described by its creators as a “reverse horror”, you control a red amorphous tentacled blob that escapes confinement in a secret research facility and must escape.

The publisher behind Carrion is Devolver Digital, a breath of fresh air in the games industry that is, to be honest,  groaning under the weight of companies like EA and Ubisoft who trot out the same formulaic games time and time again.

Devolver champions the indie [independent] developer, like Phobia Game Studios the team behind Carrion, allowing them to release their games to an audience that they might not otherwise have had access to – it’s smart business practice and Devolver’s actions have paid dividends for both gamers and it alike.

Carrion is Metroidvania in style, with the monster having to unlock doors to progress to the next location and that often involves backtracking to locations you’ve visited before and pulling levers that will unlock chambers in another area.

Sometimes the monster will have to deposit some of its biomass into watery pools so that it reduces in size, allowing it to squeeze ever so slightly through panels that are too tight for a large mass of gelatinous goo to fit through so it can fire sticky webs to hard-to-reach switches and levers.

Throughout the research facility are terrified scientists and armed soldiers that the monster can taunt with its roar – then devour, with some of them helping him grow in size. It’s not all beer and skittles, though, with later locations having tougher foes that require a bit of tactical nouse to outwit [here’s a tip: doors ripped off from their hinges are a great help in taking our unsuspecting enemies.] The monster also has echolocation that helps locate other deposits of biomass, which acts as save points.

Carrion loses a little momentum sometimes, especially in flashback sequences where the monster has visions of the scientists that originally found it, but overall, I enjoyed my time immensely – with one caveat: It frustrated me more than once that there wasn’t some form of in-game map [albeit an optional small one.]

I get that the developers were wanting you to feel like you were an evolving blob, not sure where you are, so having a map to find your next goal would break that immersion, but I found myself getting lost numerous times, unsure where to go.

I eventually had to resort to watching a YouTube play through just so I could see what I had to do to solve the section I was stuck on. It also required some serious back tracking to previous locations to find a switch that I should have flicked or a containment area I should have breached to gain the ability to become invisible and pass through security lasers\.

Bottom line is I had a great time with Carrion – the no-map frustrations aside. It’s also perfectly suited for the Switch and was a nice antidote to a busy day in the office.

For gamers always wanting to be the ‘bad monster”, Carrion is your chance to be that monster.  Go forth and chomp, blobs.