Games of the week: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Death Stranding, Disco Elysium and Deliver Us The Moon
Take a walk on the really wild side
Death Stranding is daft, bloated and over-hyped. It's audacious, brave and extraordinary. It's destined to be the most divisive game of the decade. In simple terms, this is the story of Sam Porter Bridges (played impassively by Norman Reedus) hiking over brutal, stunning landscapes to deliver parcels in a paranormal post-apocalypse, and the environment underpinning this compelling experience of digital orienteering is the most organic-feeling ever created. But nothing is simple in Death Stranding. Mind-numbing cutscenes contort a convoluted plot beyond all meaning, stumbling over metaphors both intentional and accidental, while elements of gameplay threaten to undermine the purity of each long, atmospheric march. Hard to recommend but unthinkable to dismiss, Death Stranding is a truly unique event in gaming.
Skip to the end: Ridiculous and revolutionary in equal, conflicting parts.
None more noir
A blend of point 'n' click whodunnit and noirish RPG, you awake to Disco Elysium in a pool of vomit. But things only get more unsettling, as you attempt to piece together the shattered consciousness of your alcoholic self while solving a gruesome murder and delving into political and social conspiracy. The literal dice rolls that occasionally dictate the success of your investigations point to Elysium's table-top RPG roots, while a graphic novel-esque sharpness of tongue gives the narrative a distinct flavour (not to mention the raw art style) that complements a world of unfamiliar tribes and tribulations. Occasionally limited and unforgiving, Disco Elysium is flawed but fascinating.
Skip to the end: An arrestingly different and powerfully crafted adventure.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
The two champions of gaming consistently fail to convince us that the Olympics is anything but repetitively dreary physical exertion. In Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 there's an attempt to liven things up through a retro-styled tale of time-travel in the game's Story mode, but the actual athletic events themselves only suffer from an enforced trip down memory lane. Surely the opportunities for Sonic to turn Olympic sport on its head are limitless? Isn't there a wealth of possibility for Mario to transform a track race into something special? Unfortunately, once again, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics is too handcuffed to its official licence and the earthbound sport it represents to be anything but a trivial party game.
Skip to the end: Just another tie-in money-spinner to avoid.
Deliver Us The Moon
Platform: PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4
Deliver Us The Moon has no clever physics engine or explosive alien combat. Even so, from the very beginning the game's gentle challenge, simple but attractive visuals and lonesome yet hopeful atmosphere combine to create an intriguing adventure. There are echoes of Interstellar in this doomed Earth story – our planet is dying, and though an energy lifeline had been established on the moon, all contact has since been lost. You are sent in a last ditch attempt to re-establish the satellite power station and save mankind, only to encounter an inventive and engaging array of puzzle obstacles. It's a modest but satisfying mission to the moon.
Skip to the end: A well constructed, quietly challenging tale of space heroism