August 19, 2022
Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a bit about some of the games we’ve found ourselves playing over the past few days. This time: eternal war, cults, and a game that summons Hungy Hungry Hippos.
If you fancy catching up on some of the previous editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.
Warhammer 40,000: Tactical, Android
Yes, it’s on the mark for me. Yes, it is a free to download mobile game with microtransactions. And yes, it is unnecessarily bloated, with more resources to collect and progression gates to go through that even the Emperor himself might have lost his patience with. But I’ve found some fun in Warhammer 40,000 Tacticus, a fast-paced turn-based strategy game in the mobile phone mold that’s scratching an itch that I’m a little depressed but no wonder it grieves me.
Perhaps it’s the promise of unlocking some of my favorite characters from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The legendary Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar, is sitting there, on my phone screen, locked away. I need 500 character shards to unlock it, I don’t have any. It’s the same dazzling routine to unlock Warmaster of Chaos himself, Abaddon the Despoiler, and Helbrecht, High Marshal of the Black Templars. There are even Death Watch characters here! Like Nurgle’s blessing whispered in my ear by a pox-riddled demon, it feels like this game of Warhammer 40,000 was made to tempt just me.
The game is basic, but fast enough to get that ‘one more round’ feeling. I am currently fighting in the Indomitus campaign, a squad of Ultramarines at my command as I take on hundreds of Necrons. There’s a story of sorts, though so far all that’s been offered is a bunch of Space Marines declaring they’re going to kill a bunch of Necrons, which, well, I guess they would.
There’s nothing too demanding here – think about your team composition and environment, as some tiles offer bonuses. Positioning my characters smartly and using their special abilities at the right time usually works. The Fall of Cadia campaign is available to purchase for the ridiculous sum of £25.99. PvP is available, but of course it’s pay-to-win. I joined a guild and we are currently working on taking down a Hive Tyrant from Tyranid Hive Fleet Gorgon. You get an idea of what kind of game this is.
And yet, I’m playing a lot. Did I spend two pounds to unlock Imperial Hero Commissar Yarrick early on, or should this be a stolen Power Klaw Ork? He is really useful in battle and can summon up to four members of the Cadian Guard who are surprisingly durable. The Emperor protects! I’m not sure about spending any more money, and I’m having a pretty decent time with the campaign. But I can also see a progression block looming over the horizon like a booming WAAAGH! closer to the front line. I think (and I’m not sure, because Warhammer 40,000: Tacticus has so many progression tracks and things to unlock and items to collect that I’ve yet to figure out how it works), that improving my characters’ stats is the true endgame, and doing so at high levels it requires items that are hard to come by.
Maybe I can buy them… for the Emperor!
Wesley Yin Poole
Cult of the Lamb, PS5
Cult of the Lamb is already off to a great start on Steam and Twitch. That’s because it’s the perfect game to stream.
The top categories on Twitch are usually high-action esports titles (Fortnite, League of Legends, Valorant, and the like), but just as important are relaxing, wholesome games that bring people together as a community.
Cult of the Lamb works live because it has both aspects. It has the laid-back base building and management workflow that allows streamers to chat and interact with viewers at their own pace. Short bursts of roguelike action against little fluffy critters and demonic bosses are then accented to keep viewers hooked. It’s a testament to the game’s interlocking systems that this all works seamlessly.
There’s also the Twitch integration, which also keeps viewers engaged: contributing to a cult’s totem pole and entering raffles to have cultists named after them. The game has a wonderful dark and macabre sense of humor that is entertaining on its own. But when a cultist in your Twitch chat suggests that another viewer is a picky eater and therefore must literally eat shit, forcing you to literally cook a bowl of steaming poop (something that happened to me), it’s infinitely more funny. Your cult is not just a collection of cute virtual animals, it’s online and very much alive.
Land of Rods, Evercade
Nature must finally be healing because in the last few weeks I have attended more in-person press events than I have in the last two years. During the Covid years, physical press events couldn’t happen, so enterprising PRs organized virtual practices using streaming and chat software.
To be fair, this was a pretty good way to get demos into the hands of gaming journalists during those tough times, but boy, did I miss getting out of the house ever.
Aside from just seeing the outside world, one of the main reasons I missed traveling to press events was because they gave me a good excuse to start playing old handheld games. It’s something I neglected while I was in lockdown, so I love the fact that I can finally fit a cart or two into a gaming system.
Which (finally) brings me to what I’ve been playing this week; the arcade classic Rod Land on the Evercade. Rod Land was a game I’ve played many times in the past on both the ZX Spectrum and Amiga, so it holds an important place in my nostalgic gaming memories.
The version of Rod Land on Evercade’s Jaleco Arcade 1 cart is one I’ve never played before: the original arcade release from 1990. Visually speaking, it looks pretty identical to what I remember the Amiga port was and that means it’s cute, bright and just an absolutely enjoyable platformer to pass the time.
And speaking of nostalgia, I also had serious flashbacks while playing it. This was especially true when facing some of the bosses, like the Hungry Hungry Hippos-esque crocodiles or the cute baby elephant boss as a button that bounces and shoots mini elephants out of its trunk.
Rod Land is probably the most fun game about smashing cute creatures with a magic wand and even today it’s still a pretty decent game. Oh, and most importantly, in the Evercade version you can add extra credits at the touch of a button, so if your aging reflexes aren’t what they used to be, you can still take Tam and Rit to the top of Maboots Tower. without too much. annoyance!