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Games of the week

By Features Reporter

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Astroneer. Picture: Handout/PA
Astroneer. Picture: Handout/PA


Platform: PC, Xbox One

Genre: Survival

Price: £24.99

Launch into a deep space chill out

In Astroneer, you roam across bright, cheerful planets beneath cartoonish skies, hoovering up resources using a giant vacuum cleaner, while ambient music pootles on. Even the many craftable machines make pleasing sounds. It lacks the precision of Minecraft but Astroneer is really about wandering, not building – your 'hoover-thing' can mould the landscape, opening up the ground or creating bridges, while the illuminated strings of life-support 'tethers' you must weave while exploring (or else you'll suffocate) cleverly blend a risk/reward tension with useful navigation. It can feel samey, especially underground, but Astroneer is a uncommonly calming adventure that becomes still more enthralling in four-player multiplayer.

Skip to the end: A wonderfully distinctive and charmingly playful space odyssey.

Score: 8/10

Dead Or Alive 6. Picture: Handout/PA
Dead Or Alive 6. Picture: Handout/PA

Dead or Alive 6

Platform: Xbox One, PS4

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Price: £42.99

Turn off

Dead or Alive has made a brand out of its heavily sexualised female fighters. Which is a shame, given that ignoring the game's infantile and blatantly sexist personality reveals Dead or Alive 6 as a commendably newbie-friendly fighter, with a detailed interactive tutorial, straightforward controls that still allow for tactical flair, and an interface that encourages newcomers via forgiving combo timing, rather than humiliate them for committing minute errors. Except, of course, you can't ignore it. Rather than tempt a new generation of possible beat-'em-up fans to get involved, the odious, fetishised character design of Dead or Alive 6 is likely to drive them from the genre entirely in sheer embarrassment.

Skip to the end: Accessible fighting that still hasn't got through puberty.

Score: 4/10

Observer. Picture: Handout/PA
Observer. Picture: Handout/PA


Platform: Switch

Genre: Adventure

Price: £26.99

View to a kill

Observer is set in a Polish digital dystopia that reeks of cyberpunk icons like Tron, Neuromancer and Blade Runner. Especially Blade Runner, as tech-augmented detective Daniel Lazarski is given life by the brilliant Rutger Hauer, whose crushed glass vocals lend valuable atmosphere to Observer's oppressive environments. There's no combat, only a series of investigations within a down-at-heel apartment block, where Daniel hopes to find his estranged son. Bio and tech vision aid the hunt for clues, branching dialogue opens up info from fellow residents, and suspects can be interrogated by hacking their brains, plunging you into wild, dreamlike scenarios. Observer's visuals are engaging and evocative, as are the investigations, though the intensity and glacial pace can be overwhelming.

Skip to the end: A slow-burning but solid cybergumshoe drama.

Score: 8/10

Fimbul. Picture: Handout/PA
Fimbul. Picture: Handout/PA


Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch

Genre: Action

Price: £14.99

Winter is coming

Before the dawning of Ragnarok, the Fimbulwinter will freeze the Earth. These chilly circumstances are only the beginning for Norse-inspired Fimbul's hack-n-slash action, while your ultimate goal as the berserker Kveldulver is to prevent the end of the world from happening at all. This means carving your way through a host of enemies across the snow-blasted wilderness, from the mercenary bands of your murderous brother, to the crazed armies besieging a nearby settlement or the giant frost trolls of the rampaging Jotunn. The combat is simple, rarely advancing beyond button-tapping tactics – but, though the fixed viewpoint can result in you getting snagged by hidden scenery or losing sight of attackers, Fimbul is a snappy and enjoyably challenging battler.

Skip to the end: A sparse and sombre slashfest with decent combat.

Score: 7/10

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