Games of the week
Platform: PC, Switch
Avoid the crush and enjoy some multiplayer madness
Scrap Rush!! is Super Bomberman without the bombs, only more fun than that sounds. Seasoned gamers will remember the bomb-hurling classic, which threw players against one another in maze-like stages for explosive (but cute) deathmatches, and Scrap Rush!! engineers the same frantic cartoonish face-offs. Here the trick is to crush your opponents with a well-timed shove of a block in order to steal the scrap they've been gathering, either to win by taking their lives or by reaching the highest scrap score. There's an inventive range of game types, special blocks and tricks in each level like arrows that fling you (or a block) across the maze, and though it doesn't have Bomberman's agile brilliance it's still a real blast.
Skip to the end: The closest thing to Bomberman's hectic excitement in years.
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka With Love
Platform: PC, Mac
Irony Curtain's lead character occasionally reaches George Stobbart levels of likeability, and if that makes sense to you then this Cold War-set point-and-clicker (and its hero, Evan Kovolski) will suit you just fine. But you don't have to be a Broken Sword veteran to enjoy the lighthearted satire or tricksy-but-never-unfair puzzles that arise once Evan is invited to the titular Matryoshka after singing its praises on American TV. Irony Curtain's rich art style and solid voice acting brings life to the absurd characters and situations you meet, while a useful in-game phone line provides hints to keep you moving. Unfortunately the fussy controls make navigating puzzles and environments awkward, spoiling what could have been an entertainingly characterful adventure.
Skip to the end: A flawed but appealingly cheerful mystery.
Empire at war
Imperator: Rome is the grand strategy game for anyone who thinks Civilisation doesn't have enough menus. Your role kicks off as Rome begins to establish itself as the Empire-building powerhouse we all know, and it's difficult to overstate the decision-making depth you'll soon be delving into – just invading a neighbouring territory can involve balancing half a dozen elements and several stages of diplomacy. It's not, however, very newbie-friendly (Rome is the latest in a long-running series) and even the tutorial feels disdainful of newcomers, making the real-time strategy even more difficult to follow. Imperator: Rome is an accomplished game, but hardly an accessible one.
Skip to the end: Overwhelmingly detailed and none-too-welcoming strategy.
Pro Cycling Manager 2019
Platform: PC, iPad/iPhone, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
On your bike
Management games are about the data. They're not designed to be easy on the eyes. But Pro Cycling Manager 2019 attempts to enhance the stat-fest with a broadcast of each race. However, poor execution disrupts the otherwise calming atmosphere that the slow-burn nature of road-bike racing brings. The camera is unnerving and almost nausea-inducing, the rider animations aren't varied enough to breathe authenticity into the movement of the peloton and it's hard not to feel that the game would have benefited from more effort invested in the management side, rather than the visuals. Meanwhile, load times are dreadful and, sadly, it's never worth the wait.
Skip to the end: Ropey race simulations ruin the management experience.