Games of the week – Journey to the Savage Planet, Gladiabots, Not Tonight: Take Back Control and Gylt
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Journey to the Savage Planet
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Humour and exploration from the final frontier
Journey to the Savage Planet has an ominous title, but your deep space destination has all the makings of a paradise. As you hoover up raw materials from the richly vibrant environments, zapping harmless locals for their sweet, sweet resources, it's hard not to think of yourself as the savage – especially among the grand ruins of an ancient alien race. There are real wonders to be explored, simple but satisfying combat to tackle, and new horizons to reach with each equipment upgrade. It may be unsophisticated but Savage Planet is a lively and authentically funny contrast to the barren expanse of larger quests like No Man's Sky.
Skip to the end: A beautifully small and intriguing interplanetary adventure.
Platform: Google Stadia
Console exclusives are usually crowd-pleasing blockbusters, so Gylt's teen-appropriate tale of bullies, monsters and missing children doesn't fit the bill. But it makes sense when Stadia's cloud-based performance relies entirely on the speed of your home broadband. For that reason, Gylt is the ideal poster-game, with undemanding visuals and a gentle pace that make it perfectly playable across the vast majority of internet connections. The actual play experience, however, is over-familiar. You guide the torch-wielding Sally through Little Nightmares-esque spooky environments, hunting for keys or solving simple puzzles while playing MGS-style hide-and-seek with sinister (but purposefully not too scary) monsters. It's charming but indebted to cartoons like Coraline or Paranorman. Gylt is a great tech demo, but an underwhelming exclusive.
Skip to the end: Proves Stadia works but not why you should be excited.
Not Tonight: Take Back Control
The Brexit Party
Not Tonight is a sledgehammer-subtle narrative imagining a Britain where leaving the EU triggers a none-more-far-right approach to immigration. Your chosen avatar's citizenship was once taken for granted, yet a French grandmother or Nordic grandfather in your family history has invalidated your right to remain overnight, tipping you into an unstable world. You survive this hand-to-mouth scenario as a bouncer, and though there's not much to enjoy about checking guest lists or fretting over fake IDs, the rounded characters you meet along the way bring admirable life and personality to Not Tonight's otherwise heavy-handed political commentary, depicting the normalised division of a country that's altogether too uncomfortable to ignore. Controls are fiddly on Switch, but the message is relevant as ever.
Skip to the end: Strong personal stories give colour to this political puzzler.
If only there was more destruction involved in learning to code, we'd all be experts. Fortunately there's Gladiabots, a robot deathmatch that also teaches you how to create Artificial Intelligence. Rather than choosing tactics, targeting enemies or launching manoeuvres, in Gladiabots you simply program your team of four to eight metalheads and launch them into battle to fend for themselves, every action driven by the instructions you've coded. Of course there's nothing simple about it, and though the exhaustive tutorial is brilliantly organised, some gamers will be bamboozled by the challenge of going hands-free, even without tackling the multiplayer option to test your best Gladiabots code against the rest. But complexity is hardly a fault, especially when it's executed so well.
Skip to the end: A serious but satisfying challenge of tactical logic.