Our verdict on the kung-fu brawler Sifu, as well as Olli Olli World, Dying Light 2 and Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKS50TW headphones.
You’d think it’s almost Christmas time with the amount of games coming out at the moment, but thankfully that means if you have some spare dollars there’s a little something for everyone. That includes feeling like John Wick in Sifu, the skating platformer Olli Olli World and the indie gem Welcome to Elk.
Let’s get started…
Sifu (PS5, PC)
There’s certainly no shortage of video games offering action-packed setpeices that jam in enough explosions to make Arnold Schwarzenegger blush, yet few titles can make you feel like a total bad ass the way Sifu does. It’s kung-fu combat is fast, furious and devilishly addictive. It’s also difficult enough that you want to karate chop your controller in two, but you shouldn’t let that turn you off.
Like many classic action tales, Sifu is centred around revenge. So when a young kung-fu student’s family is murdered by a group of incredibly skilled fighters, it naturally becomes priority number one to find them and give them a serious beating in return.
But while Sifu’s story might sound cliché, it’s gameplay is anything but – each death in the game adding to a death counter that gradually ages your character to an old man or woman. Die once at age 20 and your death counter will be at 1 – meaning when you revive you will then be 21. Die again and your counter will be at 2, meaning your age will jump from 21 to 23.
It’s a fascinating mechanic that adds in a lot of pressure, especially as you toss in new skills to unlock, upgrades to work towards and parries to master. Rest assured Sifu’s difficulty curve is a steep one that won’t be for everyone. But dedicate time and effort and don’t be surprised if Sifu cements itself as an early game of the year contender.
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Olli Olli World (PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, XBO, Switch, PC)
Calling all boarders. If you’ve been looking for a new game to grind out Olli Olli World is the series’ most ambitious effort yet and it’s a bloody charming delight.
With a visual palate looks like it’s been ripped right out of Adventure Time, Olli Olli World thrusts you into the zany world of Radlandia with the ultimate goal of becoming a skate wizard. To do so you’ll take on a wealth of 2.5D side scrolling stages designed to put your skills to the test as you try to flip, grind and combo your way to a perfect run.
Previous Olli Olli games haven’t always been easy, so it’s to World’s credit that newcomers are welcomed with a much more gentle approach this time around. But long-time fans don’t need to fret either – there’s still a hell of a lot of challenge on offer that’ll see you restarting courses aplenty.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection (PS5, PC)
This ‘Legacy of Thieves Collection’ is an interesting proposition indeed – upgrading both Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy from their original PS4 releases.
If for some reason you’ve been holding out on playing either title, then this is a no-brainer of a purchase. Both games look positively stunning on the PS5, especially if you try to check out the new 120 fps options.
If you’ve already blasted your way through both adventures, on the other hand, then there’s a lot less of a reason to doll out cash for new coat of paint. Some would argue this upgrade should have been free for owners of the games in the first place, which isn’t terribly unreasonable, but at the end of the day this is an incredibly well-polished collection.
Welcome to Elk (Switch, PC)
A fascinating experiment in storytelling, Welcome to Elk is a game unlike anything you’ve likely played before. To say too much would be to ruin much of the game’s magic, but you should be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart. Though the game’s art style might look cute and light, many of the game’s stories and themes are anything but.
It all starts innocently enough as the game’s lead, Frigg, travels to Elk for an apprenticeship. Yet as you make your way through the town and get to know many of its unique characters Welcome to Elk can get incredibly heavy and confronting.
Moment-to-moment gameplay is simple enough, so if you’re prepared for something a little outside the video game norm, this is a powerful tale and a testament to what indie games can accomplish.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human (PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, XBO, PC)
Back in 2015 parkour and zombies were the bee’s knees for mainstream media, but Dying Light’s unconventional combo of the two proved to be rather successful. The good news is that this sequel brings back much of what made the first game such an enjoyable romp. Thanks to a solid traversal system that is always a joy to use, you’ll frequently be running and jumping your way around the game’s rooftops to avoid deadly brain munchers and rebellious humans up to no good.
The story might be a bit of a miss (especially towards the home stretch), but that’s hardly a deal-breaker when there’s new skills to unlock, environments to explore and combat encounters that’ll keep you smiling to the end.
It’s worth noting that when it first launched Dying Light 2 was pretty littered with bugs. To their credit Techland has been steadily working to improve the situation since then, but you should still expect the odd glitch or hitch here and there.
Hands-on with the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW Wireless In-Ear Headphones
Audio-Technica is stepping up its presence in the wireless earbud market and if the ATH-CKS50TW Wireless In-Ear Headphones are any indication, they’re very much on the rise. The ATH-CKS50TW’s biggest claim to fame is its battery life – capable of up to 15 hours continuous playback, or 20 hours with noise cancellation turned off. Add in the power of the charging case and you’ll nab a whopping 50 hours before requiring a full charge.
From our tests the buds certainly deliver on that promise and it’s downright ridiculous – around 20 hours more than the latest AirPods.
It’s worth noting that all this extra battery life does come at a small cost – size. The ATH-CKS50TW’s case is pretty darn big and will add some serious bulk to your pocket. The case is sizeably larger than that of the AirPods, and even edges out Sony’s WF-1000XM4.
If you can handle the heft you’re in for a decent audio treat though, with the ATH-CKS50TWs delivering some truly thumping bass amongst a whole range of tracks. It’s not at the expense of the rest of the audio profile, either. There’s a great amount of balance at play here that many competitors still struggle with.
We also have to commend Audio-Technica with the sheer amount of ear tips they provide. While we can occasionally struggle to fit some in-ear products, the ATH-CKS50TW offers up XS – L variations which should allow almost anyone to get a pretty decent seal. It also stopped us from worrying about either bud falling loose during our travels.
Priced at $249, Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKS50TW Wireless In-Ear Headphones do well to compete with the major players. The physical controls are a little awkwardly placed and the case size might not be for everyone, but the overall audio quality is exceptional and the battery life is an absolute game-changer.
Well worth a look.
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