With August coming to a close, we check out some of the month’s biggest video games on both PS5 and Xbox Series X that are worth your money.
We also went hands-on with one of the best controllers for iPhone devices – the Backbone One. Get amongst it.
Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut (PS5, PS4)
When we reviewed the original version of Ghost of Tsushima last year we claimed it to be a great solution to never-ending iso. Well, some unfortunately coincidental timing means this sentiment is shared once again for Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut. And now that it has an officially native version for PS5, there’s no better time to jump on one of PlayStation’s best new franchises.
Director’s Cut proper move to the PS5 enjoys the usual benefits of a crisp 4K resolution and 60fps, but those who played the PS4 upgrade might not notice too much of a dramatic difference outside of some nicer animations. Where this product really shines is the Iki Island expansion, which has a lot more meat on the bones than you might originally expect – especially if you want to clear out the whole island.
The implementation of PS5 tech is also a highlight. Haptic feedback in particular is worth shouting out, which adds a level of immersion during every fight or any time you start galloping around on your horse. Subtle, sure, but continues to prove the power of the DualSense for sure.
All these new additions make Director’s Cut a tantalising package for newcomers and a worthy upgrade for existing owners.
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Psychonauts 2 (Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PC)
16 years after its debut, Psychonauts finally has a sequel in the wild and it has thankfully very much lived up to the hype. Picking up shortly after the events of the first game, you’ll once again jump into the psychic shoes of Razputin “Raz” Aquato as he is finally joins te ranks of the Psychonauts – an international psychic espionage organisation. Just not exactly how he might’ve first thought.
It’s a creative and quirky story well worth experiencing on your own, but rest assured it’s weird and wonderful in all the best ways. And if you’ve never touched, or heard of Psychonauts, a handy recap video will bring you up to speed pretty well.
At its heart though, Psychonauts 2 delivers charming platforming antics the likes of which we don’t really see as much anymore. Especially as you delve into the minds of some truly bonkers characters. It’s funny, charming and just what the doctor ordered with much of the country stuck in lockdown.
If you’re an Xbox gamer, Psychonauts 2 is free on Xbox Game Pass as well, which is an absolute steal if you ask us. For the rest of you, it’s well worth your hard-earned cash.
*Review code provided by Xbox
12 Minutes (Xbox Series X/S, PC)
Pretty early on it’s evident that 12 Minutes will be a polarising experience for those who choose to pick it up. A point-and-click style strategy title, its big hook is its groundhog day-inspired premise, focusing on a romantic evening that goes tits up when a cop busts into your apartment accuses your wife of murder and beats you to death.
Each consecutive ‘loop’ will see you try to experiment with the game’s world and uncover new information that will open up new dialogue options and some pretty bonkers discoveries. But how far you delve into the mystery will depend on how prepared you are to embrace 12 Minutes’ inconsistencies. The controls, for example, are clunky at best with a controller, while the solutions for some scenarios are kept pretty hazy. Even the performances are surprisingly mediocre considering there is some incredible talent at play here including Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe.
Yet despite these inconsistencies we still had a fun time with 12 Minutes and got suckered all the way to its conclusion. Worth a shot if you’re prepared for some rough edges,
The Forgotten City (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, PC)
You mightn’t know it, but The Forgotten City actually started its life as an incredibly popular Skyrim mod. Since then the Melbourne-based team at Modern Storyteller have spun off the project into its own full-fledged game and the result is something special indeed.
Much like 12 Minutes, The Forgotten City deals with another dastardly time loop. This time you’ll find yourself in an ancient Roman settlement the day of a government election. The catch is, the community is governed by the Golden Rule – meaning if anybody commits a crime, everybody dies and turns to solid gold.
So forget Crime Stoppers, with the community leader suspecting somebody is about to sin it’s your job to work out who, when and why. Thankfully though if anybody does sin, you’re able to jump back in time and reset the village with new information that’ll help get you closer to the truth.
It’s an engaging premise backed up by even more engaging writing. Sure some of the character models could do with a bit more work or budget, but you’ll hardly cared once you are completely sucked into the narrative.
Maybe this is our own Aussie bias, but keep an eye out for this one during Game of the Year chat, because we think it’s a real contender!
Hands-on with the Backbone One
We’ll be blunt. When it comes to gaming on our mobile, we’ve mostly hated it. From gimmicky suction sticks to countless attachments, there’s rarely been a smooth way to do it outside of utilising a console controller and delicately balancing your phone in order to see the damn screen.
Then came the Backbone One and it blew our socks off.
But let’s back up. At first glance, the Backbone might look like countless other iPhone controller contraptions, but where it succeeds is its unrivalled simplicity and effectiveness. Designed to fit pretty much any modern iPhone, the Backbone One is incredibly easy to get started. Just stretch out the flexible frame, hook your phone up to the lightning connector and away you go.
The compact design doesn’t swallow up your phone and is incredibly comfy in the hands – each side of the device about the size of a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con.
Even the analogue sticks and buttons feel great, with the perfect amount of spring and no annoying sponginess to report.
But it’s once you boot up the Backbone One’s own app that the device really starts to shine. By functioning as a pseudo operating system, the Backbone app collates not only the games compatible with the device, but any relevant apps as well.
Most of the major players are accounted for here: from Call of Duty Mobile to Genshin Impact to Grand Theft Auto. You can even get PlayStation or Xbox remote play up and running pretty quickly.
If you’re into the social aspect, Backbone allows the creation of video clips or screenshots, parties and even voice chat independent of your game, which is all rather impressive if you’re prepared to dive into a new ecosystem.
But the biggest compliment for Backbone is that it just bloody works. Everything looks great, feels great and plays great. Our only real gripe is that we had to take off our phone case anytime we wanted to use it, but it’s a small price to pay for the experience and convenience.
Fingers crossed Android gamers will be able to join the party eventually, too.
You can grab a Backbone One for US$99.99 from their website.
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