19th January 2023
Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we’ve been playing over the past few days. This week: creepy fish, fantasy romances, and words.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.
Dredge, PC (Steam Deck)
On a whim, my partner decided to buy a Steam Deck OLED last week. So, naturally, I’ve stolen it.
Steam Decks seem like the natural way to catch up on arresting indie games, and Dredge certainly fits the bill — a little cosmic horror fishing game from last year I missed out on at release. But it’s also so much more than that.
Dredge absolutely thrives on its moody atmosphere. Initially it’s just washed out and foggy, its painterly people looking thoroughly miserable as they drudge through their daily lives. Everything seems so wet and soggy and dreary — you can practically smell the rotting fish and taste the cool salty air. It’s lonely out at sea, though. You’re stuck on a fishing boat drifting across the ocean with just a dim bulb to hazily light the gloom and a book to read.
But are you really alone? As night falls and the fog descends into darkness, beneath the waves lie beasts and monstrosities that chase you like a fishy Mr. X. Then the paranoia kicks in. Even in daylight you spot strange shadows beneath the waves and odd shapes glisten across the surface. This is no mere fishing game but the adventures of a lonely mind lost at sea. I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m gripped by the slow drift towards insanity.
Oh, and for the record, it looks gorgeous on the new OLED screen. I think it’s mine now.
Baldur’s Gate 3, Xbox Series X
I’m finally playing Baldur’s Gate 3, months behind most. It’s been on my to-do list for a long time, but I’d been waiting for its belated Xbox Series X version to arrive — and to have some time off to really sink my teeth into it. But playing the game late has its benefits.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a brilliant, brilliant game, but I know I’m only going to experience it once. It feels like it’s going to be 100 hours long, so I’m committing to this being my main playthrough and trying to see as much as possible. And to help, I am indeed looking at guides.
There have been times where something has happened and I’ve wondered, ‘What if things could have been different?’ Is it cheating to pore over wikis and see into the alternate paths of the multiverse, and then save-scum back to a better outcome? If it is, I don’t care! This is how I’m playing the game, and I’ve replayed hours just to choose more interesting paths because of it.
Some decisions I’ve stuck to, however — moments which have felt organically surprising, or that I haven’t managed to wriggle out of because I know I’m unequipped. The death of a child was one of these: something I know I could have avoided but was such a shock for me to see play out, I felt I couldn’t erase that.
I’m 50 hours in now and plodding around the Underdark. Last night, I found — and beat — two minotaurs and it felt brilliant. Though I obviously saved right before, just in case.
Scribblenauts Mega Pack, Nintendo Switch
Do I have a few games in my library that I’ve been meaning to play? Yes I do. Did I get enticed by the New Year’s sale on Switch and buy a game I had when I was younger? Yes I did.
Scribblenauts is a series where you’re given a magic notebook that will create anything you write in it, within reason of course. You then use this notebook to solve puzzles presented to you across the different worlds you explore. The only real cap on it is your imagination, which is why I’ve spent longer than I care to admit on it.
Somehow, Scribblenauts is more entertaining for me as an adult than it was as a kid. I think it’s the sheer hilarity and absurdity of the situations you create. One moment that cemented this was a puzzle where I had to help a Doctor perform surgery. Sure, I could have chosen a scalpel or something along those lines, but my cold-ridden brain thought it’d be funny to see if I could give them a massive sparkly kitchen knife instead. And do you know what? It only went and worked! Though I must admit, I felt bad for the patient who ran off with the surgeon chasing them.
It’s precisely moments like that where things shouldn’t work, but they do, where the game’s charm lies. Your imagination is set free. You can even surprise yourself as you figure out how your own thought processes work.