INDIKA weaves a mature tale of absurdity, hypocrisy and sexual violence

This story contains discussions of sexual violence.

Multiple scenes from INDIKA are seared into my brain. A palm-sized person crawls out of a nun’s mouth and runs down her arm, frenzied, in the middle of a Catholic ritual. A man is suspended in the air, his torso impaled on a strip of curling rebar, while a guitarist gently encourages him to die. Dozens of bus-sized fish dangle on rotating spits above a blazing silo. The mangled head of a feral dog flops repeatedly against the gears of a mill, neck limp and tongue lolling. The sudden glimpse of a demon: gray skin, too many arms and joints bent the wrong way, bug-like and hulking. When I move, it moves.

Back at home in front of my PC, my skin prickles with goosebumps. INDIKA generates visceral reactions effortlessly and always with a tinge of surprise. It’s a (mostly) third-person narrative adventure set in an alternative 19th century Russia, and it stars an ostracized nun, Indika, who has the devil’s voice in her head. From this foundation, the game offers a flurry of whimsical absurdity and raw human suffering, and even as its visual and mechanical styles shift from scene to scene, everything comes together in a cohesive package. INDIKA is a masterful example of maturity in video games.

INDIKA
Odd Meter

The devil is Indika’s constant companion. As she travels from her convent to deliver a letter in another village, the voice in her head gleefully vocalizes her cruelest thoughts and points out the hypocrisies built into Catholicism, her chosen religion. The devil speaks like he’s narrating a children’s book, a Rumpelstiltskin glee dripping from every syllable as he tells Indika how weak, unloved and naive she is. Indika debates him and, at a few points, he splinters reality around her, opening deep cracks in the scenery, revealing new pathways and filling the world with a red glow. Players can hold down a button to pray, keeping his machinations at bay. To progress in these scenes, Indika has to shift between the devil’s reality and her own, inviting him in at specific moments to make use of his hellish platforms. Indika becomes more comfortable with the devil in her mind as the game progresses, and the “press X to pray” moments are just the first examples of their uneasy alliance.

As a piece of religious criticism, INDIKA plays all the hits. Its jokes about the manipulation, hypocrisy and rigid inhumanity of Catholicism are clear and sharp, though not particularly revelatory. The devil's laughing tone makes every line sound like a lullaby, and to my ears — an atheist who grew up Catholic and was extremely confused by the gaudy, culty exclusion being preached every Sunday — INDIKA is soul-soothing. The game never fully explains whether Indika is experiencing a psychotic break or is truly possessed by the devil in this world; everything exists in the gray area where both of these states meet. Psychosis or Satan, it’s all incredibly real to Indika.

INDIKA is underpinned by a delirious tension between levity and agony, and the developers at Odd Meter got the rhythm just right. Indika’s reality is a frozen hellscape filled with pain, betrayal and isolation, but it also has laugh-out-loud moments that feel more like a rom-com than a psychodrama about a sad nun. The game also slips into a lighter visual style as it delves into her past, mining memories out of pixelated platformers in sun-drenched environments. These contrast sharply against the 3D brutalism of the main scenes, and they’re incredibly engaging, offering smooth jumps with tricky timings.

INDIKA
Odd Meter

This is a game that requires an escape every now and then, and moments of reprieve are built into its progression, perfectly positioned to ease the anxiety as it reaches a fever pitch.

About a quarter of the way through the game, Indika encounters a blood-chilling scene: Through the crack of a doorway, she sees and hears a man attempting to rape a woman, scuffles and screams spilling into the hallway. Indika freezes, accidentally makes a noise, and then hides in a closet as the assaulter turns his attention toward the interruption. The devil taunts Indika — "Did you see the size of that thing?" and "Maybe you wanted to join them?" — as the man searches for her. The danger of the situation bursts through the screen, heavy and white-hot.

This is horror.

Minutes later, Indika is driving a steampunk motorcycle with a trailer full of corpses down a winding path, an unexpected friend perched on the bodies behind her, throwing out cheeky one-liners. Suddenly, it feels like the beginning of a buddy-cop movie. The shift in tone is a huge relief, and this balance of extremes is something that INDIKA does with incredible deftness, time and time again. The (first) sexual assault scene is quick and powerful, showing enough to drive home the depravity of the situation without becoming gratuitous. After I played through it, I took a deep breath, collected myself, and then dove back into the game, eager to uncover more of its commentary. The handling of this topic increased my trust in the developers’ artistic instincts and their ability to reveal the nature of true terror; it made me more invested in the rest of the game.

INDIKA
Odd Meter

Of all the memorable visuals in INDIKA, one remains particularly vibrant in my mind’s eye. Indika is kneeling in a prison cell and a guard enters alone, his intentions clear. He puts his hand on the back of Indika’s head and reality breaks like it often does in this game — but this time it’s softer, slower and all-encompassing. The screen becomes a red pool, and in the center, Indika and the devil float around each other like amoebae in a petri dish, quietly discussing the injustices of human existence. Indika dissociates while her body experiences violence, and the scene lingers on the red womb, providing space for players to absorb the situation from an artistic and philosophical distance. It’s authentic and powerful. It’s oddly calming.

INDIKA stands out for these moments of sexual violence, each so delicately handled. The video game industry in particular is built on a foundation of physical violence — guns, war, blood and murder — but there aren’t many games that broach the subject of sexual abuse. This is largely for the best, as sexual violence is a topic that we’re still learning how to talk about on a cultural scale. It’s the ugliest side of humanity, the most uncomfortable to address, yet it’s pervasive. Sexual abuse is as worthy of compassionate discussion as gun violence, but for a multitude of societal and individual reasons, it’s much harder to look at directly.

Interactive media in particular can be a powerful vessel for immersion and revelatory storytelling. Sexual violence demands empathy if it’s going to be included in any piece of entertainment media, and this is particularly true in video games, where players are acting out the events, placing themselves in the character’s shoes, getting lost in their second-to-second actions. There’s high risk in telling a story about sexual abuse in a video game, and it’s not only about alienating or offending a portion of the audience. The risk lies in the potential to literally retraumatize players. Mishandling a topic like rape can be damaging and perpetuate harmful messages about power, autonomy and self-worth in the real world.

INDIKA
Odd Meter

The best outcome for creators who don’t know how to approach the topic is to leave it alone, and for the most part, video game developers have. The alternative — adding sexual violence to a game without understanding the cruelty of the act, using it for shock value or lazily turning it into a point of motivation for a separate character — will always be much more upsetting.

For example, Immortality. This is one of the few contemporary games that uses sexual violence as a plot point, and, to me, its lens feels lecherous rather than poignant. Immortality employs real-life actors and puts the abuse itself center-screen, using the guise of edgy commentary to let the camera linger on extended scenes of softly lit molestation, the woman’s body in greater focus than her pain. The sexual abuse in Immortality feels like voyeuristic fantasy.

INDIKA, on the other hand, centers the person receiving the violence and reveals the true horror of the act. INDIKA demonstrates how a video game can tell a strange and beautiful story that involves sexual abuse, and proves it can be done without overwhelming the narrative or flow. These scenes add layers of insight and emotional heft to Indika’s journey, revealing truths about her psyche and her world. It’s encouraging to see these themes explored so deftly in a piece of interactive art.

INDIKA is not solely about sexual violence. The bulk of the game is filled with puzzles, platforming and witty wordplay from the devil, and most of it plays out in engaging and ridiculous ways. Plenty of segments in INDIKA are downright jovial, with a warped sense of humor that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland (or, more appropriately, American McGee’s Alice). However, it doesn’t shy away from the dark realities of Indika’s world, where rape is as pervasive as gun violence, war and religious oppression. The assault scenes — presented alongside running themes of death, manipulation, isolation, shame, guilt and cruelty — solidify one of INDIKA’s core messages: With a world like this, how much worse can Hell really be?

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/indika-weaves-a-mature-tale-of-absurdity-hypocrisy-and-sexual-violence-182019378.html?src=rss

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II review: A series of unfortunate events

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II shoves hopeless brutality in your face and screams at you to recognize its beauty. Its landscapes are littered with disemboweled corpses and shrines of rotting flesh, and its shadows conceal monsters carrying blood-stained blades. Every chapter in Hellblade II is a parade of suffering and pain, and every scene has a backdrop of taunting whispers. After just a few minutes of playtime it can feel like you’re strapped down, trapped in Senua’s claustrophobic reality on the Icelandic coast, suffocating under the dark waves with her.

And here’s the thing — it is absolutely beautiful.

Hellblade II is a third-person narrative adventure set in Iceland in the 10th century, and it’s the sequel to Ninja Theory’s 2017 game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Senua is a young warrior who hears a cacophony of disembodied voices in her mind, judging her every move. The whispers are a critical and permanent part of Senua’s psyche — a lesson she learned in the first game, after realizing the depths of her father’s abuse when she was a child. In Hellblade II, Senua is figuring out how to live outside of her father’s influence, but his voice still rumbles in her head at inopportune times, drowning out the female whispers that she’s come to view as her allies.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
Ninja Theory

Senua regularly sees the ghosts of the warriors and civilians that have died around her, and she carries their souls as a mental shroud, fueling her intense desire to save as many oppressed people as she can. She has targets right away: Hellblade II opens with Senua and others held captive on a slave ship during a catastrophic storm. The ship is thrown ashore, scattering slavers and the enslaved on the black rocks. This is where Senua finds her sword.

She makes her way inland, where she finds companions and learns about a plague of giants terrorizing the local villages, slaughtering entire communities and destroying precious farmland. Throughout her journey, Senua fights the giants and hordes of human-sized enemies — always one at a time — with a single broadsword and a bit of magic. The whispers provide a constant soundtrack of criticism, encouragement, warnings, fear, anger and doubt, hisses slicing through the silence and interrupting moments of dialogue, inescapable.

Hellblade II is more of an extended, extremely anxious and violent vibe than a traditional adventure game. Its combat is OK, its puzzles are slightly tedious and, emotionally, it’s one-dimensional — but as an interactive brutality visualizer, Hellblade II is outstanding. Senua fights until her pores ooze blood, screaming through each swing of her sword as the whispers surround her, cuing her when to strike and telling her to ignore the pain. Every fight is close combat and one-on-one, warriors waiting in a circle of fog for their turn to rush in, punch her in the face and slice her to pieces. The sounds of flesh smacking against flesh join the whispers and the screen splatters red when Senua is hit. Hellblade II revels in physical violence.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
Ninja Theory

Outside of combat, Senua’s body is sacrificed to the elements, caught in swirling riptides and burned to ash in bursts of hellfire, pieces of broken earth floating around her. Senua steps gingerly into dark pools filled with the ghosts of the damned, shadowy figures wailing and trying to pull her down. A giant’s hand slams to the ground, smashing a body with a wet splat beneath its palm. Reality bends and shatters, and Senua is trapped in torturous, psychedelic nightmares narrated by her father’s booming voice. She burns herself at the stake. Her face fills the screen, panic spewing from her lips and horror sharp in her eyes. In every scene, the whispers persist.

Basically, it’s metal as hell.

I played Hellblade II on Xbox Series S without headphones and on a high-end gaming PC with headphones. The game is stunning in both formats, though of course the details and lighting looked a bit crisper on PC. There may be no laughter in Senua's life, but there are breathtaking landscapes dotted with delicate shrubs and rough boulders, fine red dust stretching to the horizon. There are towering cave systems lit by the soft glow of blue flames; there are beaches with roiling waves; there are snow-capped mountains backlit by a golden setting sun. The environments in Hellblade II are all phenomenally detailed, which is great news for the game's Photo Mode.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
Ninja Theory

Whether on console or PC, I encourage every Hellblade II player to wear headphones in order to fully enjoy the binaural audio. In this format, the whispers surround your head as they do Senua’s, spawning from various directions in a terrifying way. With no UI in the entire game, stellar acting from Melina Juergens as Senua, and headphones full of soft, hissing judgements, Hellblade II can get incredibly immersive.

Outside of its aesthetic and tonal merits, combat in Hellblade II is simplistic and sometimes frustrating. The game has pared-down mechanics, and Senua has just a standard and heavy sword attack, plus an evade move, a parry and a special power-up. Timing is everything in battles, and Senua moves sluggishly enough that last-second adjustments rarely land. Additionally, Senua’s special move is — dare I say — overpowered, and it basically guarantees she’ll kill whatever minion she’s fighting. Between the annoying timing structure and a too-strong power-up, it’s difficult to find a rhythm with any enemy in Hellblade II. That may indeed be a rhythm to be found in these battles, as demonstrated by the original Hellblade, but I couldn’t identify it in my initial playthrough.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
Ninja Theory

The most successful puzzles in Hellblade II involve Senua magically changing the landscape around her, focusing on specific vortices to manifest platforms where she needs them. These riddles aren’t particularly challenging and they don’t gain layers of complexity as the game progresses, but their settings are gorgeous, generally contained to cave systems that glow like the night sky. The game’s most annoying puzzles are the symbol-hunting ones, where Senua has to find pieces of an ancient language in the environment. These moments feel like filler; they don’t advance the story in any meaningful way and they make me squint at the screen uncomfortably. That last one might be because I need new glasses, but still, I could do without the symbol-seeking puzzles entirely.

Hellblade II uses a limited set of inputs — just directional, sprint, focus and interact — and portions of it are fully playable with one hand, whispers shadowing Senua’s steps. Everything that Senua does is cloaked in apocalyptic framing; every conversation she has, whether with herself or her companions, is drenched in anxiety and urgency. There is no joy in Senua’s life, no respite from the pressure to save everyone, nowhere to run from the guilt that already weighs heavily on her mind. Senua’s singular emotion is desperation, her trauma is repeated over and over, her ghosts are explained again and again.

It’s as if Ninja Theory built Hellblade II to be an art installation at a busy museum — like they expected its audience to be milling in and out of the room, paying attention for spurts at a time, and they wanted to make sure every scene told the full story. Though Senua gathers a few allies along her journey, every character in this harsh world feels transitory, and their presence lacks lasting impact. Hellblade II is stuck at 11 on the emotional scale and it doesn’t offer any opportunities for falling or rising tension, causing its climax to fall a bit flat. The final scenes are epic, like the rest of the game, but they also feel like… the rest of the game. So much so, that I was surprised when the credits started to roll.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
Ninja Theory

As a side note, I’ve never had a game trigger my phobia of crashing waves quite like Hellblade II. I had to close my eyes for half of one segment because it involved Senua getting swept up by the raging sea in regular pulses, waves repeatedly crushing her body and the camera, and it was making my stomach turn. This is far from the only deep-water horrorscape in the game, so fair warning.

Hellblade II is an impressive sensory experience interrupted every so often by tedious symbol-hunting puzzles. It’s an epic poem in video game form, violent and timeless.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II is available on Xbox Series X/S and PC, included in Game Pass.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/senuas-saga-hellblade-ii-review-a-series-of-unfortunate-events-080047631.html?src=rss

Proteus Xbox controller is an accessible gamepad made of modular cubes

Xbox is expanding its accessibility footprint with the Proteus Controller, a modular gamepad created by nascent peripheral company Byowave as part of the Designed for Xbox program. The Proteus Controller is a group of palm-sized cubes that can be connected to each other in a wide variety of configurations, with interchangeable faceplates that include standard controller buttons, analog sticks and a directional pad. This means players can set up the Proteus Controller to be used in individualized ways: in one hand, flat on a desktop, as part of a traditional gamepad with palm grips, connected to a joystick, and other setups.

The Proteus Controller is available for pre-order now at a discounted price of $255. It's expected to ship in the fall. The full kit includes two power cubes, two analogue cubes (with Hall effect sensors), one half cube and two spacers, plus the swappable peripherals. There's a D-pad, left trigger, right trigger, two single-button options, an XYAB diamond, a mini analog stick and the Xbox home grouping. It also comes with left and right handles to create a traditional gamepad, and socket and plug covers featuring Byowave's cute blue beastie. A USB-C charging cable and Bluetooth dongle are included in the package.

Byowave is selling the Proteus Controller in tiers, and it has just 150 available at the $255 VIP Price. After that, it'll have 500 kits available at $268 (Early Bird), and then 1,000 kits available at $284 (Pre-Order). The standard price of the Proteus Controller will be $300.

As evidenced by the built-in Xbox home button, the Proteus Controller was backed by Microsoft and at launch it'll work only with Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Windows 10 and 11. It will not work with PlayStation 5 or Switch — at least not at first.

"It is very important to us to be officially licensed with console companies to ensure a seamless user experience and so that we can ensure the longevity of the controller," the Proteus FAQ reads. "We would love to partner with these platforms in the future! 🤞"

The Byowave team says it can't verify that the Proteus Controller will work with Steam Deck, but they're hopeful that it will. They encourage interested players to reach out directly for more information about Steam Deck integration.

The Proteus Controller is part of the Designed by Xbox program, which means it was developed alongside Microsoft's gaming teams and should work seamlessly with the company's hardware. Companies like Razer, Turtle Beach, PowerA and Logitech also sell gadgets with the Designed by Xbox logo, but the Byowave partnership marks a new emphasis on accessibility products in this space. Microsoft today said it's accelerating and streamlining the Designed by Xbox onboarding process for hardware manufacturers focused on serving the disability community.

The announcement of the Proteus Controller is part of Xbox's recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Xbox has been a leader in accessible gaming hardware since it launched the Adaptive Controller in late 2018. The Adaptive Controller is a reimagined, deeply customizable gamepad designed in partnership with AbleGamers, Warfighter Engaged, SpecialEffect, Craig Hospital and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and it was the first piece of hardware from a major manufacturer to focus on players with disabilities. It costs just $100 and allows users to plug in their own third-party peripherals to create their ideal gaming setup.

The Adaptive Controller is also getting some love for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, as laid out on Xbox Wire: "Based on community feedback from an update impacting unauthorized accessories on our platform, we are updating the Xbox Adaptive Controller to expand support for more accessories connected via USB port. This update will better support full functionality of some accessibility peripherals."

Each port on the Adaptive Controller will now support up to 12 buttons, a second stick and a hat switch. The update will hit Xbox Insiders first over the next few weeks and it'll go public through a controller update prompt in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/proteus-xbox-controller-is-an-accessible-gamepad-made-of-modular-cubes-180242918.html?src=rss

Proteus Xbox controller is an accessible gamepad made of modular cubes

Xbox is expanding its accessibility footprint with the Proteus Controller, a modular gamepad created by nascent peripheral company Byowave as part of the Designed for Xbox program. The Proteus Controller is a group of palm-sized cubes that can be connected to each other in a wide variety of configurations, with interchangeable faceplates that include standard controller buttons, analog sticks and a directional pad. This means players can set up the Proteus Controller to be used in individualized ways: in one hand, flat on a desktop, as part of a traditional gamepad with palm grips, connected to a joystick, and other setups.

The Proteus Controller is available for pre-order now at a discounted price of $255. It's expected to ship in the fall. The full kit includes two power cubes, two analogue cubes (with Hall effect sensors), one half cube and two spacers, plus the swappable peripherals. There's a D-pad, left trigger, right trigger, two single-button options, an XYAB diamond, a mini analog stick and the Xbox home grouping. It also comes with left and right handles to create a traditional gamepad, and socket and plug covers featuring Byowave's cute blue beastie. A USB-C charging cable and Bluetooth dongle are included in the package.

Byowave is selling the Proteus Controller in tiers, and it has just 150 available at the $255 VIP Price. After that, it'll have 500 kits available at $268 (Early Bird), and then 1,000 kits available at $284 (Pre-Order). The standard price of the Proteus Controller will be $300.

As evidenced by the built-in Xbox home button, the Proteus Controller was backed by Microsoft and at launch it'll work only with Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Windows 10 and 11. It will not work with PlayStation 5 or Switch — at least not at first.

"It is very important to us to be officially licensed with console companies to ensure a seamless user experience and so that we can ensure the longevity of the controller," the Proteus FAQ reads. "We would love to partner with these platforms in the future! 🤞"

The Byowave team says it can't verify that the Proteus Controller will work with Steam Deck, but they're hopeful that it will. They encourage interested players to reach out directly for more information about Steam Deck integration.

The Proteus Controller is part of the Designed by Xbox program, which means it was developed alongside Microsoft's gaming teams and should work seamlessly with the company's hardware. Companies like Razer, Turtle Beach, PowerA and Logitech also sell gadgets with the Designed by Xbox logo, but the Byowave partnership marks a new emphasis on accessibility products in this space. Microsoft today said it's accelerating and streamlining the Designed by Xbox onboarding process for hardware manufacturers focused on serving the disability community.

The announcement of the Proteus Controller is part of Xbox's recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Xbox has been a leader in accessible gaming hardware since it launched the Adaptive Controller in late 2018. The Adaptive Controller is a reimagined, deeply customizable gamepad designed in partnership with AbleGamers, Warfighter Engaged, SpecialEffect, Craig Hospital and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and it was the first piece of hardware from a major manufacturer to focus on players with disabilities. It costs just $100 and allows users to plug in their own third-party peripherals to create their ideal gaming setup.

The Adaptive Controller is also getting some love for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, as laid out on Xbox Wire: "Based on community feedback from an update impacting unauthorized accessories on our platform, we are updating the Xbox Adaptive Controller to expand support for more accessories connected via USB port. This update will better support full functionality of some accessibility peripherals."

Each port on the Adaptive Controller will now support up to 12 buttons, a second stick and a hat switch. The update will hit Xbox Insiders first over the next few weeks and it'll go public through a controller update prompt in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/proteus-xbox-controller-is-an-accessible-gamepad-made-of-modular-cubes-180242918.html?src=rss

Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks have been shut down

Microsoft has shuttered three ZeniMax teams: Arkane Austin, Tango Gameworks and Alpha Dog Studios. The company is also folding Roundhouse Games into Zenimax Online Studios. Arkane Austin is the home of Prey and Redfall, while Tango is responsible for The Evil Within, Ghostwire Tokyo and Hi-Fi Rush. Alpha Dog is the creator of Mighty Doom and Roundhouse was a support studio for ZeniMax projects.

In an email to employees, Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty outlined the upheaval, stating that some workers would transition to other teams under ZeniMax's purview. Most employees, however, will be let go. Here's Booty's breakdown of the layoffs for each affected studio:

Arkane Austin – This studio will close with some members of the team joining other studios to work on projects across Bethesda. Arkane Austin has a history of making impactful and innovative games and it is a pedigree that everyone should be proud of. Redfall’s previous update will be its last as we end all development on the game. The game and its servers will remain online for players to enjoy and we will provide make-good offers to players who purchased the Hero DLC.

Alpha Dog Studios – This studio will also close. We appreciate the team’s creativity in bringing Doom to new players. Mighty Doom will be sunset on August 7 and we will be turning off the ability for players to make any purchases in the game.

Tango Gameworks – Tango Gameworks will also close. We are thankful for their contributions to Bethesda and players around the world. Hi-Fi Rush will continue to be available to players on the platforms it is today.

Roundhouse Games – The team at Roundhouse Games will be joining ZeniMax Online Studios (ZOS). Roundhouse has played a key role in many of our recent game launches and bringing them into ZOS to work on The Elder Scrolls Online will mean we can do even more to grow the world that millions of players call home.

Additionally, "a small number of roles across select Bethesda publishing and corporate teams will also be eliminated," Booty's email says.

In summary, at least when it comes to the games: Redfall development has been stopped completely and people who spent $100 on the game's Bite Back edition will be eligible for a partial refund to compensate for the DLC they never received. Sign ups for the refund are right here. Hi-Fi Rush will remain playable. Mighty Doom will shut down on August 7.

The remaining studios under ZeniMax Media, which is owned by Microsoft, are Arkane Lyon, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, MachineGames, ZeniMax Online Studios, and the Bethesda publishing and corporate teams. Arkane Lyon is currently building Marvel's Blade and it's the home of Deathloop and the Dishonored franchise.

The co-creative director of Arkane Lyon, Dinga Bakaba, shared his reaction to the layoffs on X with the following thread:

This is absolutely terrible. Permission to be human : to any executive reading this, friendly reminder that video games are an entertainment/cultural industry, and your business as a corporation is to take care of your artists/entertainers and help them create value for you.

Don't throw us into gold fever gambits, don't use us as strawmen for miscalculations/blind spots, don't make our work environments darwinist jungles. You say we make you proud when we make a good game. Make us proud when times are tough. We know you can, we seen it before.

For now, great teams are sunsetting before our eyes again, and it's a fucking gut stab. Lyon is safe, but please be tactful and discerning about all this, and respect affected folks' voice and leave it room to be heard, it's their story to tell, their feelings to express.

Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media — including Bethesda, id Software, Arkane and Tango — in 2021 for $7.5 billion. The acquisition marked an escalation of Microsoft's efforts to eat the entire industry: The company acquired five mid-size teams in 2018, including Compulsion Games and Ninja Theory, and by February 2019, there were 13 studios under the Xbox Game Studios banner. The ZeniMax purchase cleared regulators in 2021, setting the stage for Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard, one of the largest game producers in the world. The Activision Blizzard acquisition was the most expensive in Microsoft's history, costing around $69 billion. After nearly two years of regulatory negotiations, the purchase was cleared in February 2023.

It's not just Microsoft making the video game industry smaller. Sony, Take-Two Interactive, Tencent, Epic Games and publishers of all sizes have been gobbling up talent in a rash of post-pandemic corporate consolidation, and this has led to an avalanche of mass layoffs in the industry. In 2023, an estimated 10,500 people in video games lost their jobs, breaking previous annual layoff records. Prior to today's studio closures, roughly 9,400 video game workers had been fired in 2024, setting a pace that should outstrip last year's figures. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/arkane-austin-and-tango-gameworks-have-been-shut-down-183913558.html?src=rss

What the heck is going on with Helldivers 2?

In the last five days, Helldivers 2 was removed from the PC market in 177 countries and the game’s Steam reviews collapsed under the weight of more than 200,000 negative ratings, dropping from Positive to Mixed. It’s now Tuesday and the Helldivers 2 Steam page is overrun with people ranting against Sony and celebrating democracy, and for anyone taking their first glance at the game, it’s all a bit confusing.

Here’s what’s going on.

Helldivers 2 is a third-person co-op shooter developed by independent team Arrowhead Game Studios and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It went live on PlayStation 5 and Steam on February 8, marking a rare instance of cross-platform parity from Sony. Immediately, Helldivers 2 was a hit on PC — it clocked more concurrent players on Steam than any other PlayStation game, beating God of War, Spider-Man Remastered, Horizon Zero Dawn and The Last of Us Part I. Helldivers 2 was so popular in its first few weeks that Arrowhead’s servers had trouble meeting demand and had to be capped at 450,000 players.

“I am completely exhausted by the success,” Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt tweeted one week post-launch. “So is the team, many, many late nights, on-calls, emergency meetings, discussions around server capacity, shards, capacity units, CPU utilization, login rates and CCU. Tired, but very, very pleased.”

Helldivers 2
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Helldivers 2 is one of the first tests of Sony’s long-term multiplatform goals. While Pilestedt was taking stock of Helldivers 2’s launch week, Sony executives were telling investors about their fresh plans to aggressively chase revenue streams on PC. Sony president Hiroki Totoki said the objective was to “proactively work on” releasing first-party games on PC alongside PlayStation, a shift from the company’s longstanding console-first approach.

Helldivers 2 isn’t a first-party Sony game, but it’s console-exclusive to PlayStation 5 and Sony has been supporting its development as its publisher. As long as Helldivers 2 has had a Steam page, it’s also had a dijon-yellow notification box alerting players that they’ll need to link up a PlayStation Network account in order to play. According to Sony, account linking is all in the name of security and cross-platform play, but of course it also helps boost the studio’s PSN monthly active user numbers.

Due to the game’s early network issues, Sony decided to postpone the account-linking requirement when Helldivers 2 went live on Steam on February 8. It hit the digital PC storefront for $40 with no notable region or account-linkage restrictions. For nearly three months, Helldivers 2 had its moment in the sun.

And then it started to burn. On Thursday, May 2, Sony announced that all Helldivers 2 Steam players would be required to log into their PSN accounts in order to continue accessing the game on PC. The requirement would go live for new players on May 6, and existing players would start seeing a mandatory login prompt at the end of the month.

“Due to technical issues at the launch of Helldivers 2, we allowed the linking requirements for Steam accounts to a PlayStation Network account to be temporarily optional,” Sony’s announcement said. “That grace period will now expire.”

Usually this wouldn’t be a massive issue, since PSN accounts are free and it’s relatively painless to link one to Steam. However, Helldivers 2 had been sold around the world, and PSN is only available in 73 countries. That would leave well over 100 countries and territories in the lurch, with those players unable to play a game they'd already paid for. Refunds were also out of the question for most players — especially the most dedicated ones — since Steam generally limits those to games that’ve been played for less than two hours. The bad reviews started pouring in.

Helldivers 2 Steam reviews
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Neither Arrowhead nor Sony seemed to know what to do next. Sony published an FAQ in the Helldivers 2 Discord that didn’t offer solutions, and instead seemed to advise affected players to create PSN accounts in different countries, a violation of the platform’s terms. It became readily apparent through tweets and Discord updates that while Sony was the driving force behind the PSN requirement, Arrowhead developers kind of hated it. They even encouraged the review riot.

“I want people to make their displeasure known in a place where it might actually make a difference, Steam reviews and refund requests will do that, angry posting in the Discord won’t,” Arrowhead associate community manager Spitz posted in the game’s Discord server on Friday. “I’m not happy about this decision either.”

Over the weekend, more than 200,000 people posted negative reviews of Helldivers 2 on Steam, tanking its overall rating. On Sunday, May 5, Sony silently removed Helldivers 2 from Steam in 177 countries and territories that don’t have access to PSN.

That same day, Arrowhead CEO Pilestedt tweeted, “We are talking solutions with PlayStation, especially for non-PSN countries. Your voice has been heard, and I am doing everything I can to speak for the community — but I don't have the final say.”

Helldivers 2
Sony Interactive Entertainment

On May 6, the day the PSN requirement was set to go live for new players, Sony backtracked. The company tweeted that its account-linking plans would “not be moving forward.” The message continued, “We’re still learning what is best for PC players and your feedback has been invaluable. Thanks again for your continued support of Helldivers 2 and we’ll keep you updated on future plans.”

Helldivers 2 is now playable in every region that has Steam, with the option to link a PSN account. Notably, it's not purchasable in the countries that were blocked by Sony on May 5. Still, the game's PC review score is slowly recovering as the rioters return to adjust their rankings, now alongside cheeky messages about the power of democracy.

On Monday, Pilestedt quoted Sony’s reversal tweet and added, “Firstly, I am impressed by the willpower of the @helldivers2 community and your ability to collaborate. Secondly I want to thank our partners and friends at @PlayStation for quickly and effectively making the decision to leave PSN linking optional. We together want to set a new standard for what a live game is, and how developers and community can support each other to create the best game experiences.”

With Helldivers 2, the account-linking issue was easily avoidable. Sony was knowingly selling a game to people who wouldn’t be able to play it — but first, it gave them a paid trial and three months of false hope. At best, it looks like Sony was completely unaware of the logistics that would support its bold new PC strategy. At worst, it all feels mildly diabolical.

Helldivers 2 Steam reviews
Sony Interactive Entertainment

It’s unclear what the 2024 Helldivers 2 Steam riots will mean for future Sony games on PC, but there’s another test coming up soon with the release of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut on May 16. Just like Helldivers 2, the game’s Steam page contains a little yellow rectangle warning players that it requires a PSN account for online multiplayer and the PlayStation overlay. According to SteamDB, Ghost of Tsushima is currently on sale in a handful of countries that don’t have PSN. 

As the Helldivers 2 drama began to kick off on May 3, Ghost of Tsushima developer Sucker Punch Productions responded to a concerned fan on X with the following account-linking clarification: "Just so you are aware, A PSN account is required for Legends online multiplayer mode and to use PlayStation overlay. It is not required to play the singleplayer game."

As long as the terms of engagement are clear and Sony doesn't attempt to pull the rug out from under players three months after the game comes out, that all sounds just fine. Account linking isn't a new or even rare scenario in gaming — Microsoft (including Activision Blizzard), Ubisoft, Riot, EA and most other major video game studios require a proprietary sign-in to access their games on Steam and other third-party storefronts. The issue with Helldivers 2 wasn't account linking. The issue was Sony's short-sighted execution of a high-profile PC rollout and its poor communication with upset players after the fact.

Most gaming fans want to see PlayStation titles on PC, and Sony wants to wring as much money out of its core franchises as possible by putting them on additional platforms — this plan should be win-win. With Helldivers 2, it's been more like win-lose-win, but at least we got there in the end.

Update, May 7, 3PM ET: This article previously stated that Helldivers 2 was available to purchase on Steam regardless of region, but at publication, it is still delisted in countries without PSN.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/what-the-heck-is-going-on-with-helldivers-2-163829512.html?src=rss

Take-Two is shutting down the studios behind Rollerdrome and Kerbal Space Program 2

This one's a bummer. Mega-publisher Take-Two Interactive is shuttering Rollerdrome studio Roll7 and Kerbal Space Program 2 team Intercept Games, according to paperwork seen by Bloomberg.

Roll7 is based in London, and was founded in 2008 by lifelong friends Tom Hegarty and Simon Bennett. Roll7 is the studio behind OlliOlli, OlliOlli World and Rollerdrome, all fantastic games with wheel-based mechanics. OlliOlli was a Vita hit in 2014 and World landed in early 2022 — they're both great, and the latter in particular is a flow-state-inducing skateboarding platformer with an adorable art style. Rollerdrome was one of our favorite games of 2022; it's a luscious third-person rollerskating-and-gunplay title that looks like a slice of 1970s dystopian sci-fi

Roll7 has picked up multiple prestigious awards over the years, including recent wins at BAFTA and DICE. As the studio name implies, Roll7 developers know how to make incredibly smooth action games.

Take-Two purchased Roll7 in November 2021 and made it a subsidiary of Private Division, the company's label for small- and mid-size publishing deals. According to Bloomberg, Take-Two plans to close Roll7 and will offer severance packages to staff.

Intercept Games is based in Seattle and is responsible for Kerbal Space Program 2, a popular flight-simulation title that's still technically in early access on Steam. Take-Two founded Intercept in 2020 specifically to manage Kerbal Space Program 2, and the game has been receiving updates since going live in February 2023.

Take-Two has yet to confirm that it's closing Intercept Games — but it hasn't said it isn't, either. The company filed a notice in Washington on Monday outlining plans to lay off 70 people in the state and permanently close their place of business, and some Kerbal developers have confirmed their recent departures. Private Division will continue to update Kerbal Space Program 2, Take-Two said in a statement.

Take-Two is one of the largest video game companies around, reporting $5.3 billion in revenue last year. It's the owner of Grand Theft Auto and the parent company of Rockstar Games, 2K, Private Division, Zynga and — very recently — Gearbox Software. Take-Two purchased Borderlands studio Gearbox in March for $460 million. Grand Theft Auto VI, arguably the most anticipated game of the decade, is due to add billions to Take-Two's bottom line in 2025.

In April, Take-Two announced plans to lay off 5 percent of its employees, or roughly 600 people, by the end of 2024. It also canceled some in-development projects. When news of the planned firings broke last month, Take-Two didn't identify which studios would take the hit, but now we know it includes Roll7 and Intercept. The company laid off some Private Division workers in 2023 as well.

An estimated 9,400 people have been laid off in the video game industry so far in 2024, and a total of 10,500 workers were let go in 2023. Sony, Microsoft and Riot Games have fired a combined 3,300 employees this year alone, and the fallout from Embracer Group's funding implosion keeps spreading, with numerous shuttered studios and more than 1,400 displaced workers.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/take-two-is-shutting-down-the-studios-behind-rollerdrome-and-kerbal-space-program-2-000253545.html?src=rss

Explore Starfield’s barren planets at 60 fps on Xbox Series X starting this month

Starfield, the excellent Digipick puzzle game surrounded by 80 hours of sci-fi mediocrity, is getting a performance update on Xbox Series X that unlocks frame rates above 30 fps. Starfield's May update adds the option to target 30 fps, 40 fps, 60 fps or an uncapped frame rate — for displays that support VRR running at 120hz. Displays without VRR will have the choice of 30 fps or 60 fps. 

The May update also includes the ability to prioritize visuals or performance at each frame rate target. Visuals mode means the game will do its best to maintain a high resolution and full detail in lighting, special effects and NPCs, while performance lowers the resolution and clarity of those same details. Of course, both modes adjust the game's base resolution alongside heavy on-screen action. 

Bethesda recommends performance mode when playing at 60 fps and above. For Xbox Series X players with 120hz VRR displays, Starfield's settings now default to 40 fps, prioritizing visuals.

The May 1 display updates bring the Xbox Series X version of Starfield closer to its PC counterpart in terms of customization options. The Xbox Series S edition remains capped at 30 fps. This is the version I played when I reviewed Starfield last year, and while a frame rate upgrade won't make the game less bland, its combat scenes would definitely benefit from a boost to 40 fps, at least. It's a shame that the most popular Xbox Series console isn't seeing any frame rate love in today's update.

Additionally in the May update, Starfield's surface maps have been overhauled in order to increase legibility on all platforms. The new design shows top-down 3D images of terrain, buildings, and objects like trees and rocks, which makes a lot of sense for, you know, a map. The original surface map tries to make landscapes out of white dots on a bright blue background, so this is a welcome improvement. The update also allows players to customize their difficulty options on the ground and in ship battles, and it adds navigation markers to the environment when walking around a planet.

This is Bethesda's fourth and largest Starfield update since the game came out in September 2023. It's all scheduled to go live by May 15.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/explore-starfields-barren-planets-at-60-fps-on-xbox-series-x-starting-this-month-185653374.html?src=rss

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes preview: This may be my GOTY

I found myself in a variety of odd situations while solving puzzles in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. I spent some time staring at a mid-century movie poster for a documentary about a decomposing cat, wondering if I should focus on the runtime or the date it came out. I pulled up old hotel blueprints and deciphered the math of dead architects. I played a handful of ASCII-style PC games to receive messages from a 19th-century magician who calls me his sister. I found some toy blocks and shoved them into the walls of a secret cathedral. I slipped between realities and traversed a maze that shattered under my feet. I watched a woman fall to her death. I wondered if that woman was me.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a third-person noir detective game set in a haunted hotel with impossible architecture and a gruesome history. Its hallways are dense with logic-melting puzzles about magicians, mazes, astrology, filmmaking, mausoleums and physics, and it isn’t even clear why the protagonist is there in the first place. With artifacts from the 1800s, set pieces from the 1960s and technology out of the 2010s, it’s barely clear when she’s there. Lack of direction is a key tenet of the game, resulting in a sense of solitude that’s oppressive and supremely unsettling.

It’s also empowering. The hotel in Lorelei is a playground of secrets with no set path for players, and there’s a rich density of riddles and lore to untangle in every scene. Though I still have no idea where I’m heading in the game, I’ve rarely felt lost. It's kind of like Tunic in that regard, but it also feels like something directed by David Lynch, and visually, the game resembles Kentucky Route Zero or Sin City. There’s really no direct comparison for Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. Playing it feels like nothing I’ve experienced before.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Simogo

The actual gameplay in Lorelei is straightforward: Walk around and press a button (on a gamepad, literally any button) to interact with objects that glow when you’re near. Otherwise, pressing a button pulls up a menu with the protagonist’s stats, inventory, reference materials, unsolved puzzles and handheld gaming system. Her stats include caffeine, stress, temperature, cash and bladder trackers, her inventory comes with a tampon and the hotel provides both coffee machines and bathrooms that she can actually use. I haven’t discovered a gameplay reason for the bathrooms or the tampon yet, but I’ve enjoyed the fact that they exist, and I will keep trying to insert the tampon into every statue and keyhole until it finally works. If it ever does. With Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, you just don’t know until you know.

Lorelei’s world is built on Roman numerals, Greek letters, zodiac signs and 24-hour clocks, and it’s filled with puzzle boxes, keypad codes, logic riddles, mazes, image reconstructions, memory tests and other ultra-satisfying mystery-solving mechanics. Even then, part of the game’s genius lies in the actions that take place off-screen. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is meant to be played with a notebook and pen close by, and I do not suggest starting without these tools. Yes, even you, the person who just scoffed and thought, “I won’t need to write anything down.” I promise, you will.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Simogo

Lorelei definitely has puzzles with straightforward solutions, but the bulk of its queries are challenging, relying on previous answers, significant amounts of reading, object manipulation, deduction and creative thinking. The simple riddles supply a steady cadence of endorphin hits, especially in the early game. They also provide a guide for approaching the trickier puzzles: Trust your instincts. If you think of something, try it, no matter how outlandish it may seem. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes rewards curiosity and the game is incredibly adept at planting the seeds of concepts that’ll be useful hours later.

I hit my first mental wall around hour seven, and that’s when Lorelei’s pacing shifted downward for a spell. I went from consistently — but not effortlessly — solving puzzles and unlocking new areas of the hotel, to lingering on a handful of rooms I simply couldn’t figure out, pacing among them and scouring my notes for hidden clues. After 45 minutes or so, I remembered I still had a simple puzzle from my first hour waiting to be solved; I returned to it, completed it, and the game expanded beautifully in response, offering up an entirely new area of the hotel to explore and increasing the tempo once again.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Simogo

Each eureka moment in Lorelei introduces more questions, and the secrets pile up as a grand, overarching narrative elegantly unfurls around the protagonist. There are classic horror elements here: children in owl masks giving advice from beyond the grave, hell-dark hallways, spooky phonograph music, ghosts with no eyes. A man with a maze for a head floating right behind you, reaching for the back of your neck. The game seamlessly introduces various visual styles at regular intervals, breaking its own reality in perfectly orchestrated ways.

All of this weirdness forms a cohesive experience because Simogo knows how to make a damn fine puzzle game. This is the studio behind Device 6, an iOS title that played with text and physical input methods in trippy ways, and Year Walk, a haunting adventure about Swedish mythology and death. Lorelei feels like a magnum opus for Simogo, an atmospheric powerhouse of a puzzle game that proves how deeply its developers understand these systems, and pushes the genre into strange and unchartered territory.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a rat king of riddles. It’s a game composed entirely of mysteries, with each puzzle twisted around the previous one and strangling the next, solutions knotted with concealed information. Mark my words, the game guides for this thing are going to look like House of Leaves.

I’m ten hours in and plenty of mysteries remain. There’s a six-handed clock with zodiac signs and Roman numerals in the west wing that I still can’t figure out, and there’s a journal with a lock based on moon phases that’s been slowly driving me batty. More than a dozen puzzles are waiting to be solved in my character’s on-screen scratchpad. In real life, the pages of my notebook look similar, covered in hastily scribbled numbers, letters, dates, arrows and symbols, solutions sprinkled among the chaos.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is due to hit Steam and Switch on May 16.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lorelei-and-the-laser-eyes-preview-this-may-be-my-goty-140030011.html?src=rss

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes preview: This may be my GOTY

I found myself in a variety of odd situations while solving puzzles in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. I spent some time staring at a mid-century movie poster for a documentary about a decomposing cat, wondering if I should focus on the runtime or the date it came out. I pulled up old hotel blueprints and deciphered the math of dead architects. I played a handful of ASCII-style PC games to receive messages from a 19th-century magician who calls me his sister. I found some toy blocks and shoved them into the walls of a secret cathedral. I slipped between realities and traversed a maze that shattered under my feet. I watched a woman fall to her death. I wondered if that woman was me.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a third-person noir detective game set in a haunted hotel with impossible architecture and a gruesome history. Its hallways are dense with logic-melting puzzles about magicians, mazes, astrology, filmmaking, mausoleums and physics, and it isn’t even clear why the protagonist is there in the first place. With artifacts from the 1800s, set pieces from the 1960s and technology out of the 2010s, it’s barely clear when she’s there. Lack of direction is a key tenet of the game, resulting in a sense of solitude that’s oppressive and supremely unsettling.

It’s also empowering. The hotel in Lorelei is a playground of secrets with no set path for players, and there’s a rich density of riddles and lore to untangle in every scene. Though I still have no idea where I’m heading in the game, I’ve rarely felt lost. It's kind of like Tunic in that regard, but it also feels like something directed by David Lynch, and visually, the game resembles Kentucky Route Zero or Sin City. There’s really no direct comparison for Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. Playing it feels like nothing I’ve experienced before.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Simogo

The actual gameplay in Lorelei is straightforward: Walk around and press a button (on a gamepad, literally any button) to interact with objects that glow when you’re near. Otherwise, pressing a button pulls up a menu with the protagonist’s stats, inventory, reference materials, unsolved puzzles and handheld gaming system. Her stats include caffeine, stress, temperature, cash and bladder trackers, her inventory comes with a tampon and the hotel provides both coffee machines and bathrooms that she can actually use. I haven’t discovered a gameplay reason for the bathrooms or the tampon yet, but I’ve enjoyed the fact that they exist, and I will keep trying to insert the tampon into every statue and keyhole until it finally works. If it ever does. With Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, you just don’t know until you know.

Lorelei’s world is built on Roman numerals, Greek letters, zodiac signs and 24-hour clocks, and it’s filled with puzzle boxes, keypad codes, logic riddles, mazes, image reconstructions, memory tests and other ultra-satisfying mystery-solving mechanics. Even then, part of the game’s genius lies in the actions that take place off-screen. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is meant to be played with a notebook and pen close by, and I do not suggest starting without these tools. Yes, even you, the person who just scoffed and thought, “I won’t need to write anything down.” I promise, you will.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Simogo

Lorelei definitely has puzzles with straightforward solutions, but the bulk of its queries are challenging, relying on previous answers, significant amounts of reading, object manipulation, deduction and creative thinking. The simple riddles supply a steady cadence of endorphin hits, especially in the early game. They also provide a guide for approaching the trickier puzzles: Trust your instincts. If you think of something, try it, no matter how outlandish it may seem. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes rewards curiosity and the game is incredibly adept at planting the seeds of concepts that’ll be useful hours later.

I hit my first mental wall around hour seven, and that’s when Lorelei’s pacing shifted downward for a spell. I went from consistently — but not effortlessly — solving puzzles and unlocking new areas of the hotel, to lingering on a handful of rooms I simply couldn’t figure out, pacing among them and scouring my notes for hidden clues. After 45 minutes or so, I remembered I still had a simple puzzle from my first hour waiting to be solved; I returned to it, completed it, and the game expanded beautifully in response, offering up an entirely new area of the hotel to explore and increasing the tempo once again.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Simogo

Each eureka moment in Lorelei introduces more questions, and the secrets pile up as a grand, overarching narrative elegantly unfurls around the protagonist. There are classic horror elements here: children in owl masks giving advice from beyond the grave, hell-dark hallways, spooky phonograph music, ghosts with no eyes. A man with a maze for a head floating right behind you, reaching for the back of your neck. The game seamlessly introduces various visual styles at regular intervals, breaking its own reality in perfectly orchestrated ways.

All of this weirdness forms a cohesive experience because Simogo knows how to make a damn fine puzzle game. This is the studio behind Device 6, an iOS title that played with text and physical input methods in trippy ways, and Year Walk, a haunting adventure about Swedish mythology and death. Lorelei feels like a magnum opus for Simogo, an atmospheric powerhouse of a puzzle game that proves how deeply its developers understand these systems, and pushes the genre into strange and unchartered territory.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a rat king of riddles. It’s a game composed entirely of mysteries, with each puzzle twisted around the previous one and strangling the next, solutions knotted with concealed information. Mark my words, the game guides for this thing are going to look like House of Leaves.

I’m ten hours in and plenty of mysteries remain. There’s a six-handed clock with zodiac signs and Roman numerals in the west wing that I still can’t figure out, and there’s a journal with a lock based on moon phases that’s been slowly driving me batty. More than a dozen puzzles are waiting to be solved in my character’s on-screen scratchpad. In real life, the pages of my notebook look similar, covered in hastily scribbled numbers, letters, dates, arrows and symbols, solutions sprinkled among the chaos.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is due to hit Steam and Switch on May 16.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lorelei-and-the-laser-eyes-preview-this-may-be-my-goty-140030011.html?src=rss