Styled after Nintendo’s new Switch Lite, the 8BitDo Lite is a controller so ultra-portable that it’s got two directional pads instead of analog sticks to keep it as thin as possible.
The 8BitDo Lite features all the functionality of a full-sized Nintendo Switch controller, only instead of analog sticks, it has D-pads. That means these should take the place of analog sticks, perfect for games that don’t actually have analog control anyway (and probably not the best for those that do). Unlike the Switch Lite itself, the D-pad isn’t replacing the four-button array on the left side, which is still there. It’s a weird-looking controller for sure.
Though obviously designed to match the more colorful variations of the Switch Lite, the $25 controllers, available for preorder now and shipping October 30, also work with PC, MacOS, Android, and more, with a switch on top that swaps between Switch and Xbox-compatible functionality They connect via USB-C cable or Bluetooth, and they feature a programmable turbo function, in case one needs a button to be pressed repeatedly in rapid fashion.
It looks weird, but also pretty damn cool. I can’t look at pictures of these for too long without the overwhelming urge to bite into them. I’m thinking the turquoise tastes like spearmint.
And the yellow one probably tastes like lemon meltaway candy.
Another possible outcome is they both probably taste like plastic. Even so, I am curious to test the accessibility of those R2 and L2 buttons, situated as they are along the top of the controller instead of behind the triggers or on the back.
Consider me intrigued. I own a couple of 8BitDo controllers for my Analogue retro Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles, and they have yet to let me down. Looking forward to getting my large hands on these odd-yet-pretty things later this year.
The Avengers, their friends and some of their foes are hitting the Switch this week with the release of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Pick your favorite hero and argue with your friends who is getting stuck playing with the right Joycon.
I really loved that first Ultimate Alliance game. Played a lot of it back in the day on 360. Never really got into the second game as much, for whatever reason. But that first game was great. Do you remember that section where you play classic Activision games, like Pitfall? And all the different endings and Easter eggs. Hope this new game is as fun as that first one.
For fans of European truck racing, lucky you. FIA European Truck Racing Championship is coming out later next week for multiple platforms.
Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:
Monday, July 15
Break The Game | PC
Kim Shooter | PC
Aura | PC
C64 & AMIGA Classix Remakes Sixpack 3 | PC
Tuesday, July 16
Must Dash Amigos | Xbox One
LOST ORBIT: Terminal Velocity | Xbox One, PC
Distrust | Switch
Let’s Sing 2019 | Switch, PC
Forklift – The Simulation | Switch
Defend The Keep | PC
Shrine Of The God-Ape | PC
ATRIUM | PC, Mac
Killsquad | PC
The Last Aura | PC, Mac
Moi Mei | PC
Nightmare Reaper | PC
Summer Catchers | PC
Wednesday, July 17
Initial2: New Stage | Xbox One
Night Call | PC, Mac
Let’s Go Nuts | Switch
8bit Pigeon Hunter | PC
Grizzland | PC
Thursday, July 18
Growtopia | Xbox One
Gabbuchi | PS4, Switch, PC
Etherborn | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Warlocks 2: God Slayers | PC
FIA European Truck Racing Championship | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Caladrius Blaze | Switch
Royal Roads | Switch
World Cruise Story | Switch
Battle & Crash | Switch
Tarot Readings Premium | Switch
Archlion Saga | Switch
Golf Defied | PC
Friday, July 19
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order | Switch
Redeemer: Enhanced Edition | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
If you chat with all your friends who game via Discord, it makes a lot of sense to show off what you’re playing. It’s a conversation starter, it tells your friends what console you’re using and maybe even gives them a sense of your mood. (Everybody has their own comfort games).
If you’re playing on PC or Xbox One, sharing your activity on Discord is as easy as downloading an app and signing in. On PlayStation 4 it’s a bit trickier: PS4 does not have official Discord integration, but a third-party developer has created a Discord app that will show your PS4 activity, similar to how Discord does it on its own platform.
To use it, download the PlayStationDiscord app on your computer. There are buttons for the Windows and Mac versions on the site. Once you’ve installed it, open the app and sign in with your PSN account. (As Windows Central points out, the app signs into PSN using an OAuth login, so it does not store any login info). Once you’re logged in, make sure “rich presence” has been enabled.
Tustin, the developer, put up a full video breakdown on YouTube, in case you want to see the whole process and what each screen looks like.
In case you’re wondering, Rich Presence is an API feature that allows third-party developers to create apps that independently surface information to users’ Discord accounts. There are third-party apps that use it to let Discord show people what you’re listening to on iTunes and watching on Netflix, among other things.
There is one downside to Rich Presence apps, including PlayStationDiscord—they only run so long as your computer is on and the app is running. Presumably, this isn’t a problem if you are actively using Discord while you’re playing, but if you’re playing PS4 without the app open, or if you were planning to use Discord on your phone, the information will not show up unless you leave the app on in the background.
Another week, another list of games coming out. The big one this week is Rage 2, which is a sequel that I really wanted but I doubt many others wanted. It is really nice of Bethesda, Id and Avalanche Studios to make a game for me and like 12 other people. Thanks!
I really loved the first Rage. Yeah, it ain’t perfect, but it has John Goodman in it, lets you kill people with a boomerang and looked amazing at the time. A bigger, more action-packed sequel with better vehicle gameplay sounds perfect.
Beyond Rage 2, there is a smattering of console and PC games releasing throughout the week. For some reason, we are getting another Bubsy game. I don’t know who bought the last one, but I blame them. The colorful world of Steven Universe comes to the Switch later this week in Steven Universe Save The Light.
Other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:
Monday May 13
Thea 2: The Shattering | PC
Bone Voyage | PC
Deadly Path | PC
Tuesday May 14
Cytus Alpha | Switch
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
A Plague Tale: Innocence | PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rage 2 | PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rock Of Ages II: Bigger And Boulder | Switch
Figment | PS4
Blades Of Time | Switch
Darkwood | PS4
Redout | Switch
Feudal Alloy | PS4
Evil Defenders | Switch
Risk System | PC, Mac
Sumatra: Fate Of Yandi | PC
Board Quizz Adventure | PC
Wednesday May 15
Undead Horde | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Quar: Infernal Machines | PS4
Feudal Alloy | Xbox One
Delivered! | PC
Iron Marines | PC, Mac
Necrolance | PC
Crimson Souls | PC
Thursday May 16
Darkwood | Switch
Bubsy: Paws On Fire! | PS4, PC
Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz | PS4, Switch, PC
Surviving Mars: Green Planet | PC
Castlevania Anniversary Collection | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Project Nimbus: Code Mirai | Switch
Dark Future: Blood Red States | PC
Octogeddon | Switch
39 Days To Mars | Switch
The Padre | PS4
Guilty Gear | PS4
Koral | Switch
GUILTY GEAR XX ACCENT CORE PLUS R | Switch
Thief Simulator | Switch
Pocket League Story | Switch
Flux | PC
DISONANTE | PC
The Fifth Horseman | PC
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka With Love | PC, Mac
Tubetastic World Splashfest | PC
Adventure Cop | PC
Friday May 17
Darkwood | Xbox One
Akane | Switch
Dragon’s Lair Trilogy | Xbox One
Steven Universe Save The Light & OK K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes Combo | Switch
Ritual of the Moon technically takes 28 days to play. The story is broken up into five to ten minute segments; you can play one of these per day. Small decisions stack to create a unique narrative, and each brief moment on the moon holds magic and self-reflection. It’s a tricky experiment, but one I’ve enjoyed playing.
In Ritual of the Moon, which is available now on PC and Mac, you play as a witch exiled to the moon after her magical powers are discovered. There, she engages in meditation and draws magical symbols as she reflects on her current state. These moments are relaxing, and the narrative setup of daily rituals encourages you to return each day for a new small burst of gameplay. However, what makes Ritual of the Moon stand out is the way that individual choices slowly guide the player to one of many possible endings.
For instance, the first day on the moon is mostly defined by wandering. You look at the stars, trace magical runes and think about what brought you here. Is it better to be alone? Should the witch feel angry? These are the kinds of choices that you can make. This quick initial gameplay session culminates in a choice to protect Earth from an encroaching meteor. It is so very easy to stand by and do nothing, but I chose to use my magic to protect the planet. It’s an understated moment, not a huge Telltale adventure decision. Instead, it’s just a choice: do something or do nothing.
Doing nothing is entirely valid in Ritual of the Moon, and as I’ve continued to play over the last few days, I’ve compared my progress to that of Alice Bell at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Her experience stressed the idea that doing nothing is valid; having skipped a day, Bell realized that the game progresses without the player. Missing your daily ritual, not finding the five minutes to continue the story, still leaves a mark.
I wouldn’t have realized that on my own, and it’s turned Ritual of the Moon into a mixture of a daily reflection for myself and also a social event when I hear about how other players have chosen to spend their time. Its handcrafted artwork and stark style have drawn me in and made me wonder what choices I will need to make, and what my continued isolation might drive me to do (or not do). I’ve still many days to go, so far, Ritual of the Moon is one of the most memorable games I’ve played all year. It’s a refreshing contrast to the hectic carnage of battle royales and live-service triple-A worlds that I also play, instead offering me a brief but magical moment each day.
Before I moved to New York, I used to walk in the woods a lot. Sometimes, I’d drive with friends to mountains or parks and explore off the beaten path. A Short Hike, which is available for PC and Mac in this month’s Humble Bundle, captures the playful joy of walking on winding paths and meeting folks along the way.
Created by Adam Robinson-Yu, A Short Hike focuses on a sassy bird named Claire who explores the woods and tries to scale a nearby peak to get some cellphone reception. Everything takes place from a nearly top down perspective where the world twists and turns to show new paths. The park and surrounding summer camp feel ripped from overworld adventure games like The Legend of Zelda.
There are treasures to dig up, quests to complete for strangers, and tons of hidden areas. That might mean wandering up a path to find a lake or leaping off a high peak and gliding down to a ship docked near the ocean shore. Most of the quests are fetch-quests to find items and return them to owners, but the world is much larger than it seems at first glance, and there’s plenty to explore.
A Short Hike’s bright art style and snappy writing do a lot for the game. There’s a quirky pace to everything. You’ll encounter over-enthusiastic runners handing out free shoes and low-key turtle folk making sandcastle. It’s worthwhile to talk with everyone, both to unlock quests and to get a nice blast of humor. When I look for indie games, I often want puzzling platformers or other ways to unwind adjacent to my diet of hardcore action like Sekiro or Devil May Cry. A Short Hike fits the mold, and I’m eager to collect more items and climb to greater heights. A Short Hike is currently only available through Humble but will come to Steam later this summer.
In The World Next Door, a group of plucky high school students harness the power of magic to help a visitor from another world get home. The use of magic plays out through action-packed match puzzles, and also, the students are monsters. The game as a whole is a heck of a lot of fun.
Developed by Rose City Games and available now for PC and Nintendo Switch, The World Next Door is the story of Jun, a rebellious young teen who has spent her young life dreaming about visiting Emrys, a magic-fueled world that exists in a dimension parallel to Earth. The good news is Jun is chosen as one of a handful of humans to cross over into Emrys during a rare convergence. The bad news is the convergence only lasts a day, and Jun doesn’t make it back to the portal home in time. Trapped in a dimension dangerous to humans, Jun and her growing group of magic friends must find a means to re-open the portal that will return the teen to regular, boring Earth.
That last part is the only problem with the premise of The World Next Door. Emrys, at least the parts Jun and her friends visit, is an amazing place, and I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. It’s a gorgeous, colorful world, populated by lovely anime-inspired characters created by artist Lord Gris. There’s Liza, Jun’s purple-haired demonic penpal. Rainy is a timid merboy. Horace is a brash and obnoxious skull with teeth and horns. Cerisse is an alicorn, which is a hybrid of pegasus and unicorn. It’s like a grown-up Monster High.
It’s part magical adventure, part teen drama, with compelling characters who grow and change as the story progresses. Rainy the merboy starts to assert himself a little more and eventually stands up to the teasing of Horace, who turns out to be more sensitive than he looks. New characters join the group, adding layers to the narrative and complexity to existing relationships. It’s a good group of kids.
Jun and her spoopy friends learn that the key to opening the portal back to Earth involves traveling to Emrys’ off-limits magical temples. Defeating each temple’s guards and guardian involves matching runes and casting spells, two of my favorite things.
Jun freely roams grid-based battlegrounds, looking for matching runes. If three or more of the same type of rune are connected, she can activate a spell that damages her foes. Fire runes cast fireballs. Lighting runes transform the spaces they’re on into electrical traps that shock pursuing enemies. The purple runes on the board generate a slow-moving projectile, so they work best in concert with the lighting runes, slowing down enemies for a big hit. Should the bad guys get the better of Jun, green runes are what she can use to heal her hit points.
Jun is not strictly at the mercy of chance. She possesses the power to pick up runes and swap them into new spots. Using this power, she can create massive fireballs, string together spells, or pull off some clutch healing when in a jam. Jun can also call on her friends by creating special shapes with white gems. Each friend sports their own unique special ability, but not everyone can come with Jun into a temple, so players must choose Jun’s friends wisely.
(Jun’s busted cellphone not only works in the magical world, it also acts as an in-game menu.)
I wasn’t sure The World Next Door’s disparate elements would work well together. Turns out it’s a perfect combination. It’s a visual novel with puzzle battles. It’s a frantic puzzle game with a strong narrative. It’s the best of two things I enjoy a lot, with wonderful art and music. It’s an excellent challenge for arcade puzzle fans, and there’s even an option to turn off damage for players who just want to enjoy the story stress-free.
The World Next Door is the first game published by manga and anime distributor Viz Media. I’d say they’re off to a good start. More like this, please.
I like free games. And I’m not just talking about freeware or open-source titles that are either maddeningly complex or of occasionally suspicious quality. Triple-A titles, when discounted to the low price of zero, are great.
To clarify: I’m not against paying developers for their incredible work. I am, instead, completely in favor of taking advantage of any promotions that get you today’s top games for absolutely nothing. They’re out there. You just have to be diligent about finding and responding to them, or else your gaming gravy train will pass right on by.
Here’s a brief look at the places I go to for free games. If I’ve left any out, let me know in the comments and I’ll update this post with your recommendations.
One of the best resources for free games (and free goodies for your games) is Twitch, but with a caveat. In order to take advantage of Twitch’s frequent giveaways, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. That gets you Twitch Prime, and Twitch Prime gets you free stuff.
If you’re a teenager, you don’t even need your own costly Amazon Prime account. If your parents have Amazon Prime, you can take advantage of that by linking your “Teen login” to their account. You’ll get Twitch Prime, they’ll get their usual Amazon Prime bill, and all will be well with the world.
To keep tabs on Twitch’s offers, I bookmark Twitch’s handy hub. There, you’ll see the full, free games you can add to your account and play forever. You’ll typically get new titles once a month, but I like to check back every other week or so just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. (You could also subscribe to Twitch’s various social feeds to receive announcements when Twitch adds new titles.)
Additionally, Twitch also gives you free add-on bundles for games you might be playing—typically skins, loot boxes, mounts, virtual currency, et cetera. These just tend to appear on Twitch Prime whenever, so you’ll want to make sure you’re visiting the site decently enough (at least once a month) to catch them.
One of the newest digital distribution services on the block, Epic Games’ online store has a sweet setup for the frugal: You get one free game every two weeks. Simple. Check back every two weeks—it’s worth making a recurring calendar reminder given the quality of the offered titles—and you’ll be able to add a new game to your account.
The newsletter, as well as GOG.com’s social feeds, is the best place to hear about any one-off free games the service offers from time to time, which has included titles like Shadow Warrior 2, Full Throttle Remastered, and the ever-creepy SOMA.
You can also bookmark GOG’s search results for free games on its service and revisit that regularly. And there’s also the sprawling “free games” thread on GOG’s forums that’s worth checking.
Though primarily a storefront for all sorts of deep discounts on packages of games, Humble Bundle will occasionally toss out a free title as part of its limited-time sales (or as a solo offering). You typically have a tiny window to claim some of these free titles, so it’s worth signing up for Humble Bundle’s newsletter, following its social feeds, or checking out a simple Google search every now and then to make sure you don’t miss any awesome, free games.
It’s tough to keep track of every free game that drops on these services (and others). Thankfully, there are plenty of people willing to put in the legwork so you don’t miss out on anything free—be it the latest Assassin’s Creed game or some random indie title you’ve never heard of before. I recommend following these subreddits (or this multireddit) for all your free gaming needs:
Bioware’s latest game finally arrives this week. Anthem is out for everyone this Friday, regardless of your platform or if you have EA Access. I played a few hours of the beta and had a good time. But I’m also way too busy with like four other games so I won’t be picking Anthem up this week.
I still get a kick out of the fact that the player characters in Anthem are called Freelancers. As a fellow freelancer, I too spend most of my day flying around in a giant robot suit killing enemies. That was a lie. Most of my day as a freelancer is split between sending emails and waiting for emails. Sometimes I write stuff!
The week is also filled with a ton of Switch releases. If you’ve been wanting more Switch games, well then you haven’t been paying attention to how many Switch games are released every month. But also, you got even more options this week! Snakebird Primer on PC looks like a colorful puzzle game about cartoon snakes. Finally, Yakuza Kiwami arrives on PC this week, so you criminals out there can go beat up other criminals.
Plus other stuff! Check out the list below:
Monday Feb 18
Trine 2: Complete Story | Switch
Hellink | PC, Mac
Tanks On The Eastern Front | PC
Snakebird Primer | PC, Mac
Tetrotron VR | Steam VR, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality
VICCP | PC
Tuesday Feb 19
Almost There: The Platformer | Xbox One, PS4
Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption | PC
Steins;Gate Elite | PC, PS4, Switch
Death end re;Quest | PS4
Yakuza Kiwami | PC
Unexplored: Unlocked Edition |PS4
Pode | PS4
HackyZack | PS4
Rym 9000 | PS4
Castle Break | PC
BlazeRush | Switch
Wednesday Feb 20
Farm Together | PS4
CLASH – Battle Arena! | PC
I Wanna Fly | Switch
Thursday Feb 21
Almost There: The Platformer | Switch
SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy | PC
Yume Nikki: Dream Diary | Switch
Q.U.B.E. 2 | Switch
Devil Engine | PC, Switch
Dragons – Dawn of New Riders | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Like many kids, I used to explore the woods and get into all kinds of make-believe adventures. Often, that meant picking up a stick and questing for imaginary treasures. Brume is a low-fi adventure game that takes Dark Souls’ tough combat and adds a touch of whimsical exploration.
Created by Sokpop Collective,Brume is an adventure game for PC and Mac “inspired by Dark Souls, stories by Tolkien, and Irish castles.” The player explores a mysterious island full of swamps, forests, and other locations teeming with giant leeches and tough warriors. If you die, you quickly respawn at the last camp you encountered. It’s a familiar format, seen in games like Below and Ashen. What makes Brume fun is how it keeps the experience straightforward. There aren’t any gimmicks like branching quest chains or big boss fights here, and you’re not going to drown in lore. Instead, you have a sword, shield, and a world to explore. In that way, it takes more inspiration from the lighthearted exploration that inspired The Legend of Zelda.
Brume is a difficult game. The combat shifts between fighting somewhat easy enemies and intense one-on-one duels with random fighters. It’s straightforward to fight off ticks and slugs, as they give ample telegraphing whenever they attack. Holding up your shield or circle strafing usually does the trick. It gets more complicated when you find another adventurer enemy. Many of them are adept at blocking your attacks, and some have massive weapons like hard-hitting clubs that sweep wider than you’d expect. In the best cases, these fights can feel like a tricky bit of dodging and attacking. In the worst cases, you’ll sometimes get smacked with an overwhelmingly powerful attack.
“It’s supposed to be quite hard, so please don’t get angry,” a video message from the developer states.
That’s made much easier thanks to Brume’s art style, a low-detail world full of hazy greens and bright beaches. The main drive in Brume is simply to move forward and see more of its wonderful sights. Even if you fail, there’s an impulse to press on and retry. Brume isn’t about finding items or beating difficult enemies to level up, although you can do that. It’s about the joy of exploration for its own sake.