Games of the week
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Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
A tour of dreams and nightmares
Control wants to confuse. In the first minutes, you enter a building that nobody can see, meet a janitor who may also be a Scandinavian deity, and become the new director of the Bureau of Control in an alternate-universe USA. Even your quest within the madness is not immediately fleshed out. At first, this woozily weird atmosphere clashes against some unexceptional gunplay, as you button-bash your way through trans-dimensional demons with a magical shape-shifting weapon. However, once you begin harvesting new and exotic special powers, the excitement levels increase very quickly. It's bonkers, but there should be no confusion – Control is a work of brilliance.
Skip to the end: Often utterly ridiculous but consistently thrilling action.
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Old dirt road
WRC 8 is a serious, take-no-prisoners sort of racing sim, which is entirely in keeping with the ludicrously difficult sport it digitises. There are driving assists available to help your progress over more than 100 twisting stages, but to truly appreciate the finely-tuned handling you need to be just as serious about committing to a full gamewheel and pedal set-up, as a gamepad simply doesn't do the game justice. Yet, while the visuals are a definite high point for the long-running series, the stages and environmental effects leave plenty to be desired – unbelievably immovable obstacles, say, or the immediacy with which you teleport back onto the track during a crash. WRC 8 is authentic, but that doesn't make it essential.
Skip to the end: Huge depth and official licence but not much heart.
Platform: PS4, Switch
Songbird Symphony begins with your birth. Or, at least, the first moments of the game's avian adventurer, Birb. As an unseen bird warbles a simple tune somewhere in the dark, you tap it out in response, matching button presses to the timing (as with every rhythm action game, ever). Once you finally escape into the light, it's revealed that you've been tapping on the inside of your own egg. But the unexpected charm of this opening episode is a one-off, and Songbird Symphony fails to drum up much else worth remembering. Platforming is simplistic and unchallenging, as are the environmental puzzles required to harvest the inevitable collectibles. Despite the appealing musical interludes, Birb's quest is an all too repetitive refrain.
Skip to the end: Cute visuals and neat tunes drowned out by poor gameplay.
While True: Learn()
Platform: PC, iPad/iPhone, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
What if your cat could code? That's the daft but intriguing idea behind While True: Learn(), a game that aims to teach you the basic (and not-so-basic) concepts of programming as you pursue the fantastic ambition of building a cat-to-human translator, so you can finally ask your feline how he learned to hack. A series of challenges introduces levels of algorithmic thinking, from routines that identify cat photos to programmes aiding a study into the Illuminati, and a drag-and-drop interface makes constructing each block of code an accessible task. While True: Learn() won't grant you any real coding skills, but the endearingly silly plot and straightforward system makes for a fascinating exploration of the history and process of programming.
Skip to the end: Funny, geeky and user-friendly puzzler.
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