Games of the week – Monster Hunter Rise, Mundaun, Hunting Simulator 2 and Cozy Grove
Get the Inverness Courier sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
Monster Hunter Rise
Genre: Role-playing game
Age rating: 12+
A beast of a game
The peaceful village of Kamura is threatened by a wave of chaotic monsters and it is your job to keep the onslaught at bay, with the help of the village elder, local residents and your trusty pet sidekicks. This is the sixth main instalment in the series, which stays true to its roots for fans but is also inviting to newcomers. There is definitely plenty of excitement when battling huge monsters, with a good balance of pace and skill required to progress. Among the new features is the Wirebug, which acts as a grapple hook to climb but crucially allows you to ride creatures and control them when battling other foes. The sheer choice of weapons and unlockable customisations keep the game fresh and fiery. Plus, there is a rampage mode, essentially a tower defence side game where you have to blast a horde of creatures breaking into the village, also playable with friends online.
Skip to the end: Monster Hunter Rise has found the right balance of variety to deliver a truly flexible and enjoyable adventure title.
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC
Genre: Psychological horror
Price: From £13.99
Age rating: 18+
This horror title will take you to a secluded valley of the Alps, as you seek to find out the truth behind your grandfather’s death, who apparently died in a fire. Refusing to buy that version of events, you explore the freaky area of Mundaun, where a series of challenges are thrown your way. But residents are acting weird, and there are a host of odd goings on, as well as supernatural beings, which will leave you a little jittery. The beautiful hand-drawn pencil art style adds to the freakishness – in the same way that a vintage horror movie feels a tad scarier for being black and white – coupled with a suitably sombre soundtrack and spot-on voice acting. The animations are a little ropey sometimes, which takes the scary edge off. The puzzles are quite average and the direction is sometimes confusing.
Skip to the end: Gameplay rides along as the gel between a decent horror story, meaning the puzzles are so-so but successfully hold the wider story together nicely.
Hunting Simulator 2
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation
Age rating: 16+
A worthwhile upgrade?
We are seeing a load of existing games being upgraded for the new PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles, and Hunting Simulator 2 is just one of them to make the jump – sadly it is not free for those who already bought it on PS4 or Xbox One. Despite the nature of this title, there is something serene about taking in the six beautiful environments, which glisten on the next-gen consoles. Plus, you have a trusty dog that you can pet – be sure to choose the right dog for the right job, though. This is not just a game about killing, it is about planning and real-life simulation, so it would not be complete with a choice of rifles – including licensed apparel – gear, binoculars and even scent lures. Patience is the real key to being rewarded. A story mode is being made available as a download later, so we did not get a chance to test this part, which seems an odd choice for a title which is supposed to serve as an upgrade in its own right.
Skip to the end: Despite stunning graphics, Hunting Simulator 2 does not currently offer enough to justify the upgrade on PS5/Xbox Series X, so we will have to see with the story mode.
Genre: Role playing game
Price: From £4.99 per month with Apple Arcade
Age rating: 12+
Cozy Grove takes you onto a small ever-changing island, where you uncover secrets and help ghosts, in your role as Spirit Scout. There is something very Animal Crossing in Cozy Grove’s nature, in that you are collecting small, seemingly-useless items and making them something worthwhile. It is an easy enough life-sim title to follow – nothing too pacey or stressful, ideal for kicking back and taking it easy, along with the soothing guitar track. There are rewards to keep you coming back for more too.
Skip to the end: A calming game, where there is no pressure and tasks are pretty straightforward to follow.