Games: Force is strong with latest Star Trek while Rime is a load of symbolics
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (PS4 VR)
CONSIDERING Trek is the biggest cultural juggernaut to leave its mark on the sci-fi industry, its spin-off games are often the proverbial captain's log, stretching the patience of fans like Shatner's girdle.
The latest, however, boldly goes where no game has gone before, inviting players to slip ‘neath the virtual velour of a Star Trek crew member on board the continuing voyages of the USS Aegis. It's Star Trek, Jim, but not as we know it.
A cooperative virtual reality extravaganza that calls on four distinct bridge positions to work together, Helm steers the ship, handles acceleration and can plot warps while Engineering keeps a bead on engine power and repairs critical systems. Tactical is the most attractive prospect, handling a limited supply of phasers, torpedoes, shields and beaming people up, while Captain conducts the entire sci-fi symphony.
Working as part of a team of real people, you'll defeat a Klingon menace, hunt fugitives, save colonists and find new planets, largely through voice chat and flailing your virtual arms, used to slide cursors and yank levers.
If you can't assemble a crew, competent AIs will warm the seats or you can jump from role to role at critical points. Bridge Crew is at its best, however, with four corporeal compadres barely resisting the urge to Chekov the Trek one-liners and attempt borderline racist accents.
The main campaign's six missions last around half an hour each, or you can jump ship to the original USS Enterprise (lavished with period details and swapping touchscreens with big 60s buttons) for Ongoing Missions.
The ship hits the fans with Bridge Crew, and what could have been a lowly Final Frontier is instead a glorious Wrath of Khan. The Force is strong with this one. Yes, I know.
By: Grey Box Games
IT'S been a long Rime coming, but Spanish indie studio Tequila Works' labour of love finally sees the light of day, a mere four years since its first reveal. A first-cousin of Ico and Journey, more ethereal chin-stroking and artsy fartsiness abounds in a wordless fantasia as players figure out just what the hell is going on.
After coming a cropper on a storm-ravaged boat, our young protagonist finds himself washed ashore on an abandoned island with nothing but his wits and surprisingly agile limbs to rely on.
Over Rime's lean five hours, players will fetch items, flick switches and engage in some gymnastic clambering as they follow their spirit fox through a bizarre world – though canny players will quickly cotton on to its heavy-handed metaphor.
The initial illusion of freedom gives way to a tightly engineered series of linear brain-ticklers, and the earlier “well, duh” moments are soon lavished with bone-meat for some intricate shadow-casting and perspective puzzles.
It's also no technical slouch, with a gorgeous cartoon art style in the vein of Wind Waker and a sweeping orchestral score from Silent Hill legend Akira Yamaoka. Visually stunning, aurally sublime and mechanically sound, Rime doesn't hide its many influences. But though the stitching shows, the resulting patchwork is well worth your time – even if it's all a load of symbolics.