Games Reviews Round-up: Journey; Trials Fusion; Cricket Captain 2015

JourneyPS4, Sony, cert: E

One of 2012’s best games glides softly on to current-gen consoles. Journey is an interesting beast, a serene and ethereal antidote to a medium fixated on the fast and loud. The player takes up the role of a nameless wanderer amid the desert ruins of a once-great civilisation, able only to float around and produce mournful musical chimes. As you surf the sand dunes and drift in the breeze, sometimes you are alone and other times another singing wanderer guides your way…

Journey is a beautiful thing, an art game, and not necessarily every gamer’s idea of a good time. It’s extremely short and simply designed, even minimalist, with few puzzles to solve and monsters you can only avoid, not fight.

The PS4 upgrade makes the rippling sands and sumptuous colours all the grander – but at the same time feels unnecessary because Journey was never “about” hardware specs. It’s about emotion, wordless stories and learning to love complete strangers. That same magical, breathtaking experience remains and is as wonderful as ever. PH

Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max: 'perfect for anyone who enjoyed the original'. Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max: ‘perfect for anyone who enjoyed the original’. Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max DLC (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Ubisoft)

Downloadable packs that add new tracks to the Trials Fusion motorcycling game are nothing new. But those that switch bikes for a unicorn-riding feline? That’s something that the series’ creators have understandably saved for DLC, entitled Awesome Level Max, of course. The gameplay follows the same formula as its parent release, guiding a bike – or steed – through demanding, obstacle-strewn levels. Here, gravity rules and mastery means understanding the interplay between tyres – or hooves – and terra firma.

Fortunately, things are as elegant as ever. Mechanical simplicity and gameplay depth exist in harmony, through stages that offer puzzles to progress that are solved in the saddle. Twenty-two new levels of standard motorcycling are provided, as well as eight where the unicorn becomes available. The latter, seasoned with parodies of tropes from game culture, really stand out through the distinct way the mythical creature handles when ridden by a gun-toting cat, providing an invigorating change of gameplay approach. It is ultimately just more levels but ones that continue the high standard set by Trials Fusion and perfect for anyone who enjoyed the original. WF

Cricket Captain 2015: 'moving in the right direction'. Cricket Captain 2015: ‘moving in the right direction’. Cricket Captain 2015(PC, Childish Things, cert: 3)

The development of Cricket Captain has, on occasion, been reminiscent of a Chris Tavaré innings – slow, painstaking and sometimes difficult to endure. But this year’s iteration represents something of a leap forward after several releases that felt like little more than database updates. Certainly, there are some boundaries here. The graphics in the highlights are much improved, while the ability to manage Indian domestic teams is a nice addition. Equally, the option to coach a player’s fielding or wicketkeeping rather than just their batting or bowling is also welcome, as is the filter that shows a player’s record against different sides, meaning a lineup can be tailored to suit the opposition.

However, some easy catches have been missed too. The umpire still makes the wrong signal for byes and needlessly signals a wicket when a batsman is bowled. The lack of an option to release players before the start of the first season, making it impossible to get rid of any dead wood early, also needlessly jars. It will never challenge Football Manager but for fans of the summer game this is at least moving in the right direction. RF

Star ratings (out of five): Journey *****, Trials Fusion ****, Cricket Captain 2015 ***

  
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