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PlayStation Plus November Free Games Roundup (PS4)

"Two free sci-fi games for you to (maybe) enjoy!"

The Tower of Deadly Monsters

Developer: ACE Team
Publisher: Atlus
Released: January 19, 2016

The Tower of Deadly Monsters is a top-down action game that takes us into a sci-fi cult classic film from the 1970s. The movie… er, game has three main protagonists: the space explorer Dick Starspeed, the evil emperor’s daughter Scarlet Nova, and Robot the robot. Together the characters climb the tower to overthrow Scarlet Nova’s evil father and restore peace to the island. However, you also play alongside the film’s director, who provides commentary about the films production. But will today’s audience find this game as thrilling as the film’s audience did back in the day?

The game certainly captures the B-movie atmosphere. From the script, to the character design, to the stop-motion dinosaurs, you truly feel as if you’ve been plopped into a low budget sci-fi film. Fans of these films will love all of the game’s references and tone. But while Deadly scratches that nostalgia itch, it’s questionable whether the game accomplishes any more than that.

The Past Should Be the Past

Similar to action scenes in these old sci-fi films, the gameplay in Deadly feels a bit dull. The game provides ranged and melee weapons, along with special abilities to switch between in order to take down your foes. However, variety doesn’t really help make the combat more interesting. You essentially hack-n’-slash your way up the tower, and occasionally have to shoot enemies. You can also upgrade these weapons by collecting cogs and coins, but I didn’t really understand why that was necessary. This isn’t the kind of game that I want to worry about upgrading my weapons. Also the game is supposed to be a movie, so that element doesn’t really make sense within the context of a film. It only slows down the game.

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However, I think the root cause of the games slowness is Dan Smith. Dan Smith is the director, whose commentary isn’t really all the funny or interesting. I really just wanted him to shut up so I could just enjoy the game. His commentary also adds nothing narratively, other than the displeasure of being talked at. Smith points out the obvious (such as the silliness of collecting gold coins), but the game does nothing to actually subvert those things. Why not make a game that actually changes mechanics rather than purposely make a game full of them and then call them out??

Luckily The Tower of Deadly Monsters is free this month, because there are certainly better games to buy for $14.99. However, the world is very well designed and it is a solid game. But solid doesn’t mean good.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Developer: The Chinese Room
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: August 11, 2015

From the creators of Dear Esther comes this month’s other free game, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Fans of the often derogatorily termed “walking simulators” have probably all already played this game. However, for those of you who can’t fathom paying $19.99 for a game that you literally just walk around, now you don’t have to. But I suppose the more important question is whether it’s worth walking around the small village of Yaughton for five or so hours. Hopefully this will help you decide.

Going towards the Light

Rapture is a first-person exploration game that starts at the end of the world. As the player, you walk around piecing together how that happened. It is never made perfectly clear as to who you’re walking around as, but chances are it’s Dr. Katherine “Kate” Collins. Kate is an American scientist married to Stephen Appleton, an English scientist. They are also the two main characters of the story. Kate discovers a strange light pattern in the sky, which triggers the events in Rapture. Essentially, the light pattern ends up being some sort of life form. As Kate tries to communicate with it inside the observatory, Stephen goes outside to see how it’s affecting the town.

Unfortunately, discussing the story any further will only spoils things. However, while Kate and Stephen make up the main story, as you walk around the village, you uncover sub-stories about each of the other inhabitants. The game is also split into 6 parts, each named after the resident that part primarily follows. By interacting with the remaining light orbs, radios, and phones, you unlock tidbits of conversations and learn about the town’s final moments. There is a lot to discover, and every single storyline is interesting. While some might complain about the game’s slow and minimal gameplay, it allows you to really understand all the different narratives at play within the larger context of the game. The slow pace helps seamlessly blend the abstract story of “The Event” with the more concrete stories of the villagers.

Walking is Fun?

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While the story of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is very well told, I won’t deny this game takes a bit of effort to get through. You will be walking around for five hours. There is no run nor walk-faster button. Rapture is definitely a game played for the story rather than gameplay. The game is also non-linear and leans towards an open-world feel, meaning the game isn’t holding your hand. This can get frustrating at times. You want to uncover everything, but the game is so slow. You often just want to move on with the main story.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you’ve been meaning to try a game like this after hearing about Dear Esther and Gone Home, now’s your chance. And it’s free!

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