King Of Toilet Games: From An Expert Sitter

As a cell phone/ tablet user, you may be wondering, what exactly qualifies me to be an expert sitter? Well, since this is meant to be a short article, I'll simply show you. What? Were you actually expecting a picture of me on the toilet?

Regarding the meaning of the phrase Toilet Game I consulted Urban Dictionary to provide a definition:

"A game of any kind that may be played using one hand; therefore leaving one hand free to brace yourself, wipe, etc."

Certainly, any app game that fits this criterion would be considered a toilet game, but what is the perfect game to play while visiting 'John'? Typically it’s just a few minutes; occasionally, an individual might want to 'shoot the breeze,' contemplate the meaning of life, or what they want for dinner before returning to the task they left.

Bearing in mind that time is of the essence, I present two app games that, in my opinion, are the perfect way to spend those few minutes. Both are from the same company, King. I'm fairly certain you have a mobile device and are quite familiar with this developer and their most popular game, Candy Crush Saga. If you aren't, here is a short video on the company's history.

I love bubble pop games! I prefer Bubble Witch 3 Saga over its predecessors.  

The graphics are clean, and the theme and colors give a warm, cozy feel.   

Watching this will give you an idea of what the levels are like. 

My favorite levels are the ghost levels. Billy is the name of the little ghost that the player is helping reunite with his family by popping bubbles!  The player is also given four kittens. Each has its own magical power-up that lasts 30 mins.

via GIPHY

This article wouldn't be complete without something with Candy Crush in it. I picked  Candy Crush Friends Saga. It has all the same elements as all previous games, in a bite-size form. The player is given a friend with a special power-up; the player must collect a certain number of candies to charge up the special ability. There are 11 characters with a multitude of costumes to choose from. Each costume gives the characters a different personality. See Yeti’s victory dance as a werewolf

Both of these games not only fit within the parameters of the definition, but with all the power-ups, whether it's from cute magical kittens or the friends from Candy Crush Saga, you can power through levels and get high scores while you do business with John. Also, please don't forget to wash your hands.

You tell us. What is your favorite toilet game?

Monthly Gaming Update: June 2022

The month of June is going to be a hot one, in more ways than one! Not only will there be a slew of summer gaming news coming from all directions, like the Xbox Bethesda Showcase and Sony’s State of Play, but we have some big games dropping too!

June’s Highlights

Mario Strikers: Battle League - June 10th (Switch)

Mario Strikers is Back! Tackle, pass, and score in this action-packed sport where anything goes! Introducing Strike, a 5-on-5, soccer-like sport with no rules—do whatever it takes to win! Get gritty and try to score the most goals by tackling enemies, using items, and pulling off score-boosting Hyper Strikes. It has been 15 years since Mario Strikers Charged came out for the Wii, and it's about damn time we are getting a new entry! The Mario sports games can be hit or miss, but more often than not are still fun to play. I personally loved the original Mario Tennis on GameBoy Color, which was a deep sports RPG. I am not expecting that here, but nonetheless, I can’t wait to smash my friends’ faces with a soccer ball when I get my hands on this.

The Quarry - June 10th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC)

The Quarry is the latest horror choose your own adventure game from Supermassive Games, whose most popular game, Until Dawn, is revered by many as one of the best horror games. The Quarry looks to continue the legacy of interactive storytelling with a stellar cast including, Justice Smith and Ted Raimi. This time around, a group of teenagers have finished summer camp, and hunting season has begun, but they can’t leave yet and have to wait for help, and you guessed it, things start to go wrong. I have never been a fan of the cinematic horror games like these that feel more like watching a movie than playing a game. I may have to give The Quarry a go, though, as it looks proper scary.

Sonic Origins - June 22nd (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

The Blue Blur is everywhere now with the latest movie out and a new game on the way. So why not celebrate with a fresh collection of the original Sonic games (*cough* cause Sega’s not done that a dozen times). Sonic Origins is a collection of the original Sonic The Hedgehog 1, 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD, digitally remastered for current-generation platforms. Including the original versions and the updated Anniversary versions of the games and some slick new animation cutscenes to boot. There is some confusion over the various add-ons that will be available, but if you are a true blue Sonic fan, just get the deluxe edition for the extra $5, which includes everything!

Capcom Fighting Collection - June 24th (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

Fighting Fans rejoice for another Capcom collection. At least this one is packed with Darkstalkers, a personal favorite opposite Street Fighter. Capcom Fighting Collection features 10 arcade classics, including one of my personal favorite oddball puzzle games Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, which is like Tetris but with fighting. All of the games feature online play, quality of life updates, extra features, and a museum packed with concept art and music. Included in the collection will be Red Earth; originally released in arcades in 1996, this fighter will be making its home console debut. Bust out those fight sticks and relive the glory days or, like me, play a butt load of puzzle fighter!

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes - June 24th (Switch)

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is the follow-up to Fire Emblem Warriors that puts an action RPG spin on the classic strategy RPG series. Fans of Fire Emblem looking to take a more direct control to combat, look no further as Warriors has you on the battlefield laying waste to thousands of troops. Set in the world of Fire Emblem Three Houses, Three Hopes will have you experience compelling new storylines of the Azure Gleam, Scarlet Blaze, or Golden Wildfire. Join the characters from each house in epic real-time battles across Fódlan, develop your base camp, train, and prepare for battle.

June 2022’s Release Schedule

Samurai Riot - June 1st (Switch)

Loopers - June 2nd (Switch)

Wonder Boy Collection -  June 3rd (Switch)

SpellForce 3 Reforced - June 7th (PS4, Xbox, PC)

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles - June 10th (Switch)

Mario Strikers: Battle League - June 10th (Switch)

Metal Max Xeno Reborn - June 10th (PS4, Switch)

The Quarry - June 10th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC)

The House of the Dead: Remake - Limidead Edition - June 14th (Switch)

The Hand of Merlin - June 14th (Switch. PC)

Zorro the Chronicles - June 14th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch)

Horgihugh and Friends - June 16th (Switch)

Final Vendetta - June 17th (Xbox, Switch)

Omori - June 17th (PS4, Switch)

Fall Guys - June 21st (Xbox, Switch)

The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle - June 21st (PS4, Xbox)

Shadowrun Trilogy - June 21st (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Wreckfest - June 21st (Switch)

Sonic Origins - June 22nd (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative - June 24th (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

Capcom Fighting Collection - June 24th (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes - June 24th (Switch)

Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei - June 28th (Switch)

Disgaea 6: Complete -  June 28th (PS4, PS5)

DNF Duel - June 28th (PS4, PS5)

F1 22 - June 28th (PS5, Xbox)

MX vs ATV Legends - June 28th (PS4, PS5, Xbox)

Oxide Room 104 - June 28th (PS4)

Squish - June 28th (Switch)

Tour de France 2022 - June 28th (PS4, PS5, Xbox)

Fobia - St. Dinfna Hotel - June 30th (PS4, PS5, Xbox)

My Universe: Green Adventure Farmer Friends - June 30th (Switch)

Outriders: Worldslayer - June 30th (PS4, PS5, Xbox)

Rabbids Part of Legends - June 30th (PS4, Xbox, Switch, Stadia)

WWI Isonzo: Italian Front - June 30th (PS4, PS5, Xbox)

Miss last month's update? Check out May 2022’s releases right here!

What will you be playing this month?

Kirby and the Forgotten Land Constructs a World of Liminal Space

“Liminal space” is a sort of niche, pseudo-architectural terminology frequently associated with creepy shit on the Internet. If you enjoy looking at weird Photoshop creations online (think Trevor Henderson), pictures of strange or “dying” places, or have a passing familiarity with, say, “The Backrooms” lore, you might already have some sort of idea about what a liminal space is.

The very concept of liminal spaces might be confusing to the uninitiated–but that’s kind of the whole point. According to good ol’ Merriam-Webster.com, the state of liminality is a descriptor for “an intermediate state, phase, or condition.” Liminality defines a state between states. It’s a snapshot of a longer, as-of-yet-incomplete metamorphosis.

Liminal spaces occur where physical locations have outlived their utility. Derelict and decrepit, these places still echo stories from when they were bustling with human activity. Even still, there’s an eerie otherworldliness to liminal spaces. Though these environments may be empty now, a truly liminal space feels ready to teem with new life, to embody a new existence entirely. In this way, the exploration of these spaces is equal parts awe-inspiring and disconcerting.

Green, murky water fills this dark and unused pool. It embodies the “state between states.”

It might be strange to associate liminal space with a character as cute as Kirby. He’s a powerful little pink puffball full of carefree whimsy! But avid Kirby fans know that the series has a dark side. Allies frequently betray the titular hero, final bosses often warp into eldritch horrors, and everything is never as it seems on Planet Popstar and the space it inhabits.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land continues the tradition of placing its namesake in mind-bending, horrific scenarios. In fact, this might be the darkest entry of the Kirby franchise to date. I don’t want to spoil the game for anyone who hasn’t given it a go yet, but Forgotten Land’s plot vaguely echoes a couple of story beats from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (yes, really).

This game builds a sense of dread throughout the world that the player has to traverse on the way to the end–where the true horrors lay in wait. The Forgotten Land is a world in flux, and the player has no choice but to confront the past through the struggles of the present. Every section of the world is trapped in its own unique in-between state, a singular snapshot in a history the player isn’t privy to.

The second set of levels in the game crosses industrialization with a beachside bay, leading out to the ocean.

The game guides the player through several familiar themes, warping them in ways that make them feel like distant pipe dreams. Towering cities are trellised with plant life, looking like a cartoonish rendition of something that might be seen in The Last of Us Part II. The oceans have swallowed up heavy-duty industrial equipment, leaving only the very tops of cranes and half-constructed platforms for Kirby to travel across. An entire gothic city is frozen over, pockmarked with flooded subways and frigid, wind-blasted skyscrapers straight out of The Day After Tomorrow.

All of these disparate vignettes are tied together under one common throughline: this land has been abandoned by the humans that left these structures behind, and Mother Nature is taking it back. Every liminal space in the Forgotten Land is a twisted amalgamation of the manmade and the natural.

The fourth set of levels includes a frigid, flooded train station. The contrast of the more cartoonish elements with the environment adds to the game’s bizarre feel.

The liminality of these spaces is indicative of Kirby’s journey through the Forgotten Land, too. The lil pink poyo was just ripped from his home planet, and all of his friends, the Waddle Dees, were taken captive right before his eyes. He suffers from a broken past and an uncertain future, much like the Forgotten Land itself.

The beautiful thing about Kirby and the Forgotten Land, of course, is that the player can always rest assured that Kirby will eke out a win by the end of the game. The haunting liminality of both the physical world and Kirby’s predicament is predetermined to be resolved when all is said and done, making it much easier to enjoy the bizarre atmosphere as the game builds up. After all, the player is supposed to feel good by the time they put the smackdown on the final boss. It’s a “kids’ game!” That’s sort of their whole M.O.

I love that HAL Laboratory, Inc. is always willing to take risks when designing Kirby games. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a joy to explore, fun to ponder over, and an absolute blast in general. I can only hope that we get a sequel jam-packed with just as much chillingly beautiful environmental design as this entry into the series!

These haunting transitory spaces can make all the difference in how memorable a game is to a player. Do any games you love implement liminal space into their environmental design? Let me know in the comments down below! I’d love to hear all about them!  

Is a New Sly Cooper Game ACTUALLY Confirmed?!

by: Lizabeth Phoenix

Fans of Sly Cooper have been waiting for another installment in their favorite franchise for nearly a decade, and it looks like their loyalty is about to be rewarded! Recent leaks suggest that a new game could be revealed as early as this year! 

If you’re not familiar with Sly Cooper, Sucker Punch’s original trilogy follows Sly, a suave raccoon thief, after his father’s brutal murder by the notorious Fiendish Five. As he discovers more about Cooper's legacy, he faces his family’s villains head-on.

A descendant of master thieves, Sly learns to treasure what is truly valuable – both his friendship with his gang, Bentley and Murray, and his relationship with Inspector Carmelita Fox–over his family’s untold wealth.

When his thieving ways fail to provide true fulfillment, he chooses what life’s really about. Plus, there’s plenty of smooth-talking, cane-wielding cops and robbers gameplay to keep you hooked from start to finish. See what I did there? “Hooked.” ‘Cause of the cane? No? Fine.

All of my terrible puns aside, Sly Cooper is a resonant story that isn't afraid to lean into thought-provoking themes and give gamers a complex, character-rich plot. Not to mention, the last installment ended on a cliffhanger that fans are eager to see resolved!

If you’ve been following my articles (or recent gaming news!), you’ll know that Sly’s long-awaited return has been in the works for quite a while now. When an easter egg appeared in the 2021 PlayStation Showcase, hope exploded.

Since then, several tweets have claimed that the new Sly Cooper game is in development. Some of these leaks have been taken down, but luckily, we have pictures, thanks to my super-secret Sly source! One particular tweet by noteworthy leaker AccountNGT corroborates that a Sly Cooper game and a new Infamous are both in development.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Quite a few leaks have popped up online asserting that gamers can expect a Sly reveal sometime in the second half of 2022. As Sly’s 20th anniversary is September 23, 2022, it would make perfect sense to tease the new title and honor the beloved franchise. 

Additionally, @Shpeshal_Nick tweeted that he’d been given permission by an anonymous source to share that PixelOpus, the developer that made Concrete Genie, is suspected to be developing the game in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation. If PixelOpus is the developer, there's a lot of pressure on them to uphold the Cooper legacy and deliver a title that not just meets fan expectations after all this time but also brings something new and canon-faithful to the table. 

Also, surprise: Sony Pictures Animation is rumored to still be working on the Sly Cooper animated series that’s been in development for several years. Again, none of this is for certain. But it’s all very exciting, nonetheless! With video game adaptations like Arcane (based on League of Legends) performing so well, I can only imagine the excellence they could achieve with Sly's wisecracking persona. I appreciate animated series with grit and heart, so I'm overjoyed Sony recognizes Sly's unlimited potential.

WHY IS THIS CREDIBLE?

Despite the lack of official confirmation from Sony or Sucker Punch, both AccountNGT and Shpeshal_Nick have previously shared reliable information. AccountNGT accurately shared a few images from the Star Wars: Eclipse trailer before it had even been released. Shpeshal_Nick is a well-known and reliable leaker in the online community- and has accurately shared information on many PS Plus games. 

On top of that, notable gaming news outlets such as Screenrant, Gamerant, and Comicbook have all covered these new developments. If that isn’t enough to convince you, Sly Cooper’s domain name has been revived. 

One Twitter user even shared screenshots from AccountNGT’s Discord server, anticipating that it won’t be a remake and might be expected sometime in 2023.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time left fans with a major cliffhanger in 2013, and they’ve been waiting to see what would happen to their favorite thief ever since. How dare they leave Sly out there in the desert all alone! I'm personally offended by this, and if Sly doesn't come back as the badass he is, someone is getting a very strongly worded letter from me. Who, I have no idea, but someone….

Why? Because people genuinely can't wait for Cooper's revival. Many in the Sly community have been replaying The Sly Trilogy and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time on PS Now (now PlayStation Plus) in anticipation. It's amazing seeing everyone rally around the latest news and share their excitement, including skyrocketing Sly's popularity by making him trend on Twitter. With such credible gaming news platforms sharing their thoughts on these rumors, I think it’s safe to say fans can get their hopes up for Sly’s return.

Cautiously, of course. The industry regularly experiences delays due to unforeseen circumstances and development complications, so there are no concrete promises. However the number of credible recent leaks and news coverage is enough to make even the most skeptical of Sly supporters raise an eyebrow…. 

If you want to hear even more evidence supporting Sly's return, check out this video by Canadian Guy Eh talking about how Sly 5 might use Unreal Engine 5!

Until Sony announces it for real, I vote we do like Murray and grab a donut or two while the fans wait for more news!

Shrunken kids, giant bugs, and surviving the backyard: Here's why you should try Grounded

Obsidian Entertainment has proved several times over that they are very good at what they do. You might know them as the developers of Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, The Outer Worlds, or, more recently, Grounded. Grounded is their first foray into the survival genre, and the game is currently still classified as a game preview, available on Xbox and Microsoft Windows. So far, I’m having so much fun playing this game! I’ve never felt such anticipation for a video game’s updates before as me and my friends await the next area to open up on the map. Although the exact release date is yet to be confirmed, Obsidian has announced it for 2022. I can’t give a full review of the game yet since it’s not quite finished, but here's an overview of the gameplay and a list of reasons why you absolutely need to try this game. 

If you’ve seen Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; then you already know the basic premise of Grounded. Four kids reduced to the size of an ant now have to face the backyard and all of the dangers that come with it, including a plethora of bugs that are now three times your size! On top of that, there are environmental dangers around every corner and even some unexpected enemies. It’s your job to survive, build your fortress and ultimately determine how you ended up in this situation.

Willow, Max, Hoops and Pete hiding behind the camera.

One of my favorite things about Grounded is the co-op. Two of my friends and I have been playing since it became available in July 2020, and we’ve been addicted ever since. We have a member of the party who loves building and another who is great at organizing us and getting stuff done. And then there’s me, who just loves being involved. I think we make a great team! Having friends to share in the journey can make some of the more difficult game elements feel a bit more bearable. Enemies are easier to take down, and building is faster when you have multiple people helping out. 

If you’ve ever played a survival game before, then you will already have a good idea of how Grounded works. Aside from a few quick tutorial bits at the start of the game, you’re largely thrown in blind and expected to figure it out. This isn’t a quick process. There is a lot to this game, and as you progress, new things will become available to you. It’s a constant learning curve of how best to survive each new threat using the new equipment available to you. 

Not only have you got the treacherous back garden to contend with, but you’ve also got thirst and hunger meters to keep track of. Water can be found in dewdrops hanging from blades of grass high above you. You need to find them, knock them off the grass, and, yep, you’ve guessed it, slurp it straight off the dirt floor. Delicious! Food is a bit more complicated because it's harder to find. My friends and I spent the first few months playing the game frantically searching for mushrooms since they can be picked and eaten right away. It took us far longer than I’d like to admit to realize that you can build a roasting spit and cook various small bugs, which are much more filling.

Our little lounge corner - complete with berry chair and roasting spit.

Above all else, of course, Grounded is about survival. Making the most of the game’s crafting system is absolutely crucial for surviving amongst the garden of chaos. You begin the game only able to craft very basic items. Each time you discover a new item or material, you are able to analyze it at one of the game’s many Field Stations. This then unlocks any crafting recipes related to this item. Eventually, you will build up a huge catalog of items that you can craft. Even after months of playing and leveling up, my friends and I still have so much yet to discover and craft. Every time you discover a new bug, its parts will allow you to create a brand new weapon and armor set. Each new bug will produce stronger sets. 

These combat upgrades are just one small part of the crafting system. The bulk of crafting is settlement building. Like in many good survival games, you can build yourself and your friends a little home to live in. One member of my little co-op team is big into the building elements of video games, and they have had an absolute blast building a few little homes for us. Our main house is on the edge of the pond and is kitted out with all of our crafting machines, a lounge area, a tower, and an extension solely for item storage. We’ve also built a mushroom fortress, a hobbit hole under the ground and a staircase, and a few rest stops spread across the map. The possibilities are literally endless with Grounded’s crafting system.

Our pond-side home with a tower, a zip line and a cute little bug home.

Outside of the wholesome co-op fun that makes up a lot of Grounded, the game can be very cruel when it wants to be. The map is covered in threats, and 90% of them are, much to my dismay, bugs. The worst of them are the spiders: not only are they horrifying to look at, but they make the most awful slurping sound. I have no idea who decided that spiders slurp, but I am absolutely not a fan. Obsidian must know how awful the spiders in Grounded are because they added an arachnophobia mode that turns the spiders into various blob formations, depending on how unspiderlike you would like them to be. So if you do happen to suffer from arachnophobia, you can hopefully still enjoy Grounded.

Ladybugs are friendly unless provoked, but that beetle in the background does not mess around.

Alongside the constantly looming bug threat is a multitude of environmental threats that make traversing the garden so much harder. If you’re not breaking your legs from fall damage, or drowning because you stayed under the water too long, then you’re sizzling to death in the sandpit or, even worse, suffocating in the haze. 

Grounded certainly makes you work for your survival, and I’ll be the first to admit that I completely underestimated the challenge level that this game would deliver. You’ll find that, sometimes, running into danger head-on is actually the best course of action. How else will you figure out the consequences and how to combat them? It can sometimes be a drawn-out process figuring out how to enter an area and having to find the parts needed to craft the gear you need to enter it safely. But it makes it all the more satisfying when you’re finally able to properly explore an area. And there’s a lot to explore - Grounded’s map is absolutely huge and still growing!

Just one huge corner of this colossal backyard.

As it exists currently, Grounded includes a lot of amazing stuff, and this isn’t even the full release! There are areas of the map that are yet to be filled, and there are definitely some interesting structures on the map that we don’t yet have access to. Obsidian is constantly updating the game with fixes and completely new areas for you to explore and, presumably, there are some things they’re keeping under wraps for the full release. I’ve reached out to Grounded’s official Twitter to find out if progress you make during Early Access carries over to the final release, but they haven’t been able to get back to me yet. Hopefully this will be confirmed in the lead up to the release. 

One thing that I’m hoping comes in the final version of the game is the continuation of the story missions and a deeper story for players to delve into. The game begins with a few story missions; that said, they act as a tutorial more than anything else. I’m desperate to learn more about these characters and how they came to be in this awful situation. I personally can’t wait for this game to be fully out in the world and to find an even bigger audience of people.

Let's Cook Together Review from the Co-op Couch

Over the ten years that my wife Taylor and I have been together, I would like to believe that we have always shared a respectful and supportive relationship. In other words, we never fight, we never insult or yell at one another, and we don't let anything stand in our way. One could say that is the perfect relationship—that was until we threw on our aprons and stepped into Hell's kitchen itself in Let's Cook Together, where everything I just mentioned above went completely out the window.

Let's Cook Together is an indie game developed by Yellow Dot and released on April 4, 2020. If you have ever played the popular game Overcooked, then you will have an understanding of how this game works. The game thrusts you and another player into the role of the fruit or vegetable of your choosing on a studio TV show where you are frantically racing against the clock to scrounge up the necessary ingredients to complete orders that have been placed in front of you. Two players are required to play this local co-op game, so you must find someone who is willing to share an adventure with you.

Screenshot of Gordon Ramsay yelling during his cooking show with the text "Where's the lamb sauce!!!"

Teamwork is key in Let's Cook Together. If you don't have it, you can kiss your three-star rating chances goodbye. The kitchen is divided between you and your partner by a table, and each of you has a unique set of ingredients and tools that the other will rely on to finish their orders in time. Although you may have potatoes on your side of the table, your partner could have the fryer needed to prepare them so that you can get your order of fries. We ran into several stressful situations during which time was ticking away and Taylor and I were frantically yelling at one another to make sure we had our orders in. We were almost at each other's throats! There is, however, no greater feeling than the one we both felt when we completed our orders at the last possible moment, sending us into a wave of excitement.

Here's a clip of us making burgers and fries, complete with our spicy commentary:

Your goal is to get that three-star rating with every episode. If you want to accomplish this, you must collect coins. Earn coins by making sure no orders expire, not wasting any food, or delivering orders in a rapid succession in order to achieve combos. You can use these coins to purchase several upgrades from the shop that will help you improve your cooking experience. For example, you can upgrade your appliances to provide faster performance so you don't have to wait so long for food to cook. Also, you can speed up the process of chopping potatoes and tomatoes. In addition to the upgrade options, you will also be able to purchase your favorite character skins to satisfy your inner chef.

If you are looking for plenty of content, then this game for sure has you covered. Yellow Dot has delivered a total of 168 levels through three seasons, each with 56 episodes. The game alone will provide countless hours of chaotic fun, especially if you're a completionist like me who can't be satisfied unless you earn three stars on every level. Additionally, there is an endless mode you can unlock that lets you play indefinitely as long as you don't miss an order or drop any ingredients. There is also a battle mode where two players face off against each other to see who can get the most points. The game is also ideal for people who don't have time to sit and play for hours because each level only takes around five to ten minutes to complete. These shorter rounds make it more accessible to players with limited time.

Here we are again pushing our score up to three stars:

If you want to be successful at Let's Cook Together, it is imperative that you remain calm. In many situations, I find myself paying attention to everything on the screen that is going on, and I literally drive myself nuts as a result. You and your partner could easily be distracted by the slightest error, and next thing you know you are engaging in a food fight with one another. It is a game where you are always on the move with very little time to stop for a breather. Your attention is constantly focused on what orders are coming your way, making sure your burgers don't burn, and making sure you gather ingredients in the proper order. When there are so many things going on, there are times when I get so overwhelmed and confused that I just quit moving and go completely blank. In other situations, I feel like I'm a true god of food, moving from one end of the kitchen to the other tossing ingredients to Taylor and completing my orders with time to spare, almost like I had a little rat in my chef hat controlling everything I did.

The only issue I had while playing the game is the lack of online cooperative play. Although I had no problem playing with Taylor who sat next to me, if I wanted to play with a friend living six hours away, it would be impossible. The fact that we still see games like this made, where you can create memories with your friends sitting on the couch through couch co-op, is great. But I would also like to see the option to play online with other players.

Here's one of our more chaotic and colorful rounds with even spicier commentary… "MY TOMATOES!":

Overall, Lets Cook Together delivers on providing players with a hilariously fun yet chaotic experience that will keep anyone entertained for hours. I don't know if I have ever played a game where Taylor and I would bicker over the dumbest thing one second then bump fists and shout through the house with excitement the next. My wife and I know, without a doubt, that this is a game we'll continue to play for quite some time to come.

Lets Cook Together is now available for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and Steam. You should grab a friend or loved one and join in on the kitchen madness that is sure to occur. 

Have you played it? Think you'll give it a try?

The Planet is the Main Character (aka Why You Need to Play Deep Rock Galactic)

When I first started playing Deep Rock Galactic from Ghost Ship Games, I have to admit that the game confused the hell out of me. There's a quick tutorial that teaches you three key things: how to mine, how to shoot the alien bugs intent on tearing you limb-from-limb, and how to run for your life when you run out of the ammunition meant for shooting the alien bugs intent on tearing you limb-from-limb.

And after the tutorial is wrapped up? You're dumped into the industrial space station that serves as the hub for queuing up missions. That's it – no more hand-holding for you, pal. It's time to go mano a mano with the hostile flora and fauna that inhabit this planet, Hoxxes IV.

The industrial space station that serves as your hub is hi-tech but dingy… It kinda carries an “Alien” vibe.

That being said, there's a sort of wonder and awe that's intrinsically built into the world of Deep Rock Galactic. I frequently find myself left with my thoughts in a mission loading screen, as I watch the dwarven drop pod that is soon to deposit me beneath the planet's crust zip through the cold, uncaring vacuum of space.

Knowing that I could switch on co-op mode and drop into a mission with up to three other players never truly made me feel any safer. Don't get me wrong, I always feel a sense of camaraderie with my fellow dwarves, and I rest easier knowing that they'll revive me if I make a costly misstep. But we're still all venturing into the great unknown, relentlessly carving out paths towards the dangers that lie in wait closer to Hoxxes' core.

There are four “classes” of dwarves in Deep Rock Galactic. A full co-op lobby can play like a well-oiled machine.

The game really shines when you play it alone, though. When you're dropping in solo, you get a little robot buddy, Bosco, to make up for your lack of companions. But the atmosphere is still far more isolating when you know there are no other real players that you can count on. Certainly, the dangers of Deep Rock Galactic are magnified when you drop into a mission by yourself – but the true nature of the game surfaces during these missions as well.

Glyphid Swarmers are ankle-biting nasties found deep in Hoxxes… but this many of them can do a real number on you if you aren't careful!

Left with only the sounds of the local wildlife and a pickaxe breaking apart shiny minerals, a solo player has no choice but to take in just how damn beautiful the planet of Hoxxes IV really is. I don't play missions across the game's different biomes just for the region-specific resources. I play them because each and every one of them is a unique visual feast.

While the actual twists and turns of the game's missions are randomly generated, the assets inherent to each region are unique. They build a strangely wonderful atmosphere, laying the groundwork for a distinct identity that you'll never be able to find in another game. When it comes down to it, Hoxxes IV isn't just the setting of the game, it's a character in and of itself. It is a living, breathing organism, and getting the chance to explore every part of it is a real treat.

Let’s delve into some of the best locations Hoxxes has to offer together, miner. We’ll explore just what it is that makes them so special!

A Dreadnought egg signals that you're gonna need a bigger Drop Pod in one of the underground forests of Deep Rock Galactic.

The "Crystalline Caverns" are a gem-lover's dream, filled with sparkling green and blue hues that are sure to catch your eye. The "Fungus Bogs" are stinky, slimy, and sure to gross you out with their puke-green haze. The floor is sticky, the bugs shoot bile, and you’ll have a nasty experience stepping foot down there. "Hollow Bough" is a place where even the plants are out to get you, featuring killer vines that see you as nothing more than a pint-sized pincushion. The "Salt Pits" and "Sandblasted Corridors" might appeal to you if you like the beach—well, as long as you’re ok with the beach featuring land sharks and absolutely no water. And the "Azure Weald" just might be the place for you if you fancy yourself a fantasy lover. It features mystical, faerie-like creatures who shimmer and dart around the caverns. Don’t let your guard down, though, because the planet certainly doesn’t stop trying to kill you here, either.

And Hoxxes IV only gets more dangerous from there! The most beautiful locales the game has to offer are also the deadliest (because of course they are). The "Glacial Strata" is a realm of ice… clear ice, black ice, and blizzards as far as the eye can see. You're quite literally liable to be frozen solid when plumbing these depths. At the other extreme, there's the toasty “Magma Core,” which sees you navigating lava plumes and burning-hot terrain while still dealing with the many nasties that would love nothing more than to make a meal of a dwarf. Finally, there's the “Radioactive Exclusion Zone,” filled with spore-like dust in the air and beautiful green crystals that emit lethal levels of radiation. Even the bugs here carry an aura of sickness; every step around an enemy is crucial here.

Both the alien eggs and the stalagmites in the Radioactive Exclusion Zone pulse with dangerous life.

All of these parts make up the whole of Hoxxes. As I got used to it, I found the planet itself to be strangely charming. Sure, each and every room has the potential for danger - but you learn what those potential dangers might be and the patterns of these environments. Hoxxes IV is, quite simply, an amalgamation of pure imagination. It's all the bombastic set pieces that you think sound rad packaged up in one.

I love exploring these places, seeing unique locations and events, and encountering rare enemies that want nothing more than to poke me full of holes and slurp up my innards! The world of Deep Rock Galactic feels epic in scale, brimming with life, which is something you can't always say about a randomly-generated, sandbox-y game.

If I can't sell you on the experience based on the environment and “feeling” that Deep Rock has to offer you, don't let that stop you from giving the game a go. The developers over at Ghost Ship Games are doing awesome things with the game even now! Deep Rock Galactic just turned 4 years old, but the first ever "seasonal" update only launched in November of 2021.

That update brought loads of content to the game, and you don't have to pay a dime for any of it. There's a new weapon for each character - introducing homing missiles, plasma rifles, a “smart gun,” and a corrosive sludge slinger into the game. There's a whole new faction of enemies, robotic drones, with new randomly generated events and a new mission type that lets you square off against them. And there's a bitchin' cosmetic battle pass that you can complete just for playing the game like you'd usually do.

The developers have just started teasing some sneak peeks at what season 2 will bring. They're working on some really awesome (and really wacky) stuff, like a wallhack gun and a microwave radiation gauntlet—three words I can guarantee you didn't think you were going to see put together today!If anything I've just said sounds interesting to you, I once more implore you to give the game a try. You can really feel how passionate the devs are about this game. It has heart, and we as gamers need to reward people that set out to make unique experiences within this medium.

GTFO: A Breakdown and How to Prevent Yourself From Throwing the Keyboard

Ok, where do I even begin to describe a game like this!? GTFO is a 4-player co-op from 10 Chambers, available on Steam, that puts you into the most extreme situations. I feel with a title that implies you need to get the fuck out, you've got all you need to know about what kind of game this is. If you haven't heard of this game, then let me enlighten you on what you will find in this scary, difficult, break-your-keyboard type game.

To start, I want to state that when playing GTFO I noticed that the atmosphere was so goddamn chilling and made me feel very uneasy. Atmosphere is key with any horror video game, and these devs have nailed it!

GTFO has a heavy focus on PvE and teamwork. To set the context, you play as a prisoner that has to descend down a very big and long hole by a person (or entity?) that GTFO calls "The Warden." Not much is said about The Warden, only that prisoners are forced to do missions that don't really make sense or have much of a purpose.

During the time in early access, you could not solo this game without a team of players helping you. Now, the game has officially been released along with a major update to boot! You will definitely find this game fun, but extremely irritating!

Lobby/Loadout

While GTFO was in early access, playing solo would have been difficult due to the lack of teammates and the intensity of the fights. You could either matchmake, which was still in alpha testing, or you could get your friends together and play. One of the things I noticed right off the bat when starting a lobby and going solo was that the developers had added bots as your teammates. I was blown away by this sudden change because during early access you never had that option. During this new solo run with bots, I found that you can edit their loadout and gear, which turned out to be vital when playing.

Tools

I'll start with what tools I've found that work best for the team. Here's what you can take with you:

I found it best to have 2 people carry turrets (usually 1 Auto and 1 Burst works best for me) and the other 2 carry C-Foam launchers.

Weapons

There are a lot of weapons, so I won't go through them all, but I can give you a little info on the ones I found useful. The game breaks this down into two slots for guns and one slot for melee weapons. For guns, you get one main weapon and one heavy weapon as a backup. Here are some of your choices in each slot:

Main weapons:

Heavy weapons:

Melee weapons: Sledgehammer, Knife, and Spear

I feel that when it comes to choosing weapons, it's really more about preference rather than matching up to what the mission needs. There are a lot of enemies, and some are really big ones, too, which can be tough to take down. However, with the right tools and teamwork, you might just get out alive and not chuck your keyboard out the window.

Boosters

Boosters are a new mechanic in GTFO. On the game's release out of early access, the developers added boosters to help your chances of surviving. You collect boosters throughout the levels when playing GTFO. There are three main boosters: Muted, Bold and Aggressive. Each of these boosters offer unique abilities that can help you get through the rundown a little bit easier (more about the rundown coming up). I won't try to explain this because I'm just starting this game again and I’m just collecting all I can while I figure this out. All I can say is that one booster can help with hacking doors while another can help with damage resistance. You can use all three main boosters in a single loadout. So keep that in mind when going through the rundown.

The Rundown

The rundown is your level selection. You have to start from the top and work your way down. The starting level is labeled "A1," and with each level you complete, you may run into different sectors with higher difficulty. The game breaks this down into "Main Sectors" (basically your storyline, "Secondary Sectors," and "Overload Sectors." I highly recommend that you play with friends, or at least with actual human players, and not bots.

Solo Gameplay

Once I got my team's loadout ready, I began to descend down the rabbit hole of horror. After the descent, and being able to get a good look at the level as I started to play, I found a cool dialogue mechanic where you can both communicate with actual people and direct bots on what to do in certain situations.

Since I was rolling with bots, I found that they are quite useful in different situations. They can take medkits, ammo, and tool refill kits and distribute it out to either me, themselves or to other bots, depending on how low they are. You can also make them carry a key item for an objective while you go on ahead and plan and take down enemies.

Before I go on, I also want to point out that the devs had put out a small update to the game after launch and were able to make the AI teammates smarter! For example, your AI team can drop objective items and help fight. They can also avoid the team's turrets since friendly fire is another heavy component when playing GTFO and players and bots alike have got to have trigger discipline. 

Another important mechanic I found is the computer terminals. If you want to look for more ammo packs, medkits, and so forth, you can use the terminal to locate them. In some instances, you will need to figure out where to find an objective item by using the query function. You can also ping its location, but you would have to be in the same zone in order for that ping to work.

While going through the different expeditions, I found myself being on the defensive quite often, especially when it comes to the security doors. The best way that I found was to utilize the terminals to find more supplies BEFORE activating the security doors. When it comes to the security doors, you will need teamwork to shut down the security system in that area. I don't want to divulge much because part of the game is figuring out what to do, but I will say this: without preparation, you will get swarmed instantly, so prepare when you can before starting each level. Check out my recent gameplay in this video if you want to get a good idea of what I'm talking about:

Multiplayer

When I was playing multiplayer with some friends on GTFO, communication was a key component. I do recommend using a mic if you have one, but if you don't, the dialogue prompts in the game should also suffice. The developers even put in a countdown option so everyone in my team was synced up just in case someone didn't have a mic. Whenever I tried playing with random people, everyone would just bounce out midway into the level, so I can't really give an accurate review on the multiplayer side with random players. If you get your friends to play with you, then that's a different story altogether, one that would either be fun or raging!

With all that said, I highly recommend checking this game out if you are into shooters, horror, and cooperative gameplay. If so, this game is right up your alley! Good luck playing this game, and remember the mantra, "Work Together Or Die Together."

Have you played GTFO? What are your impressions so far? Share your thoughts and any additional recommendations you have in the comments below.

Spaceflight Simulator Review: The Final Frontier? Not Quite.

When Drew and the Couch Soup Crew (Crewtons? Crewshions?) flicked across the early access code and press kit for Štefo Mai Morojna's space-faring rocket building simulator Spacflight Simulator, it's fair to say I was unsure whether I was going to enjoy this game.

The press kit makes the game seem like something that would interest me at its face value. I enjoyed messing around in Kerbal Space Program and did physics as my "fun" subject in year 12 (mistake), and this game purports to be a realistic simulation of space travel.

However, I'm always hesitant about reviewing or talking about games that are in early access. Not only do you get to be an unofficial QA tester with all the perks (I'll let you know when I think of some) without that pesky issue of being fairly compensated for your work, any criticism of the game could end up being invalid once the game releases.

Before I started playing, I did a bit of a dig around about the mobile versions of the game, and my gut feeling was that the game looks a little light on features and not worth playing.

I've spent a couple hours with the game so far. And you know what? Sometimes you should totally trust your gut feeling.

Screenshot of Spaceflight Simulator game settings
Welcome to all those Independence Day fans.

First thing to address with this game is that a whole bunch of features that are listed on the menu and game options just simply aren't there right now. Career mode? Listed but not there. Sandbox mode? Listed, not there. Different types of solar systems? Absent.

So yeah, there are not a lot of options to play at the moment, but again it's good old early access. Credit where it’s due, the game does have some pretty good tutorials that walk you through orbiting, docking and the moon quite well.

Screenshot of Spaceflight Simulator tutorial menu choices
The only tutorials the game has... and non to help you actually launch off the ground.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing to help you get off the ground. I had to look up a YouTube tutorial on how to turn the engines - never a good sign for any game where the player needs to resort to YouTube to find out how to start playing.

Early access stumbles aside, is the game worth your time and money? Well, let's dive in further.

Visually, it's not too impressive, but the simple graphics and textures create a nice underdog fledgling rocket scientist feel to it. I'm not going to kick the game's teeth in because it's not running 4K, 60 frames per second. I'm more interested in the nuts and bolts of the gameplay mechanics.

The gameplay is split into two distinctive parts: the building of the rocket and the launching of the rocket. If you’re anything like me most of your early launches are going to be an exciting start and ending with a fiery crash resulting in yet another budding astronaut life snuffed out.

Image from meme from the Simpsons showing a distraught crowd pointing with the caption 'He's already dead'
The other astronauts watching one of my launches.

At the building stage for the rocket, the building tools are pretty basic. Don't get me wrong, they’ve got an extensive range of little bits and bobs to stick on your rocket, and it’s relatively easy to cobble something together. The grid and symmetry tool are both welcome and useful to help construct the rocket of your dreams.

However, the components you're using to build this astronaut execution device only have a little text description when you hover over the part. There's no clear explanation for what they do, although some are obvious (fuel tanks, engines, etc.). Some could really benefit from a bit more explanation of when and how these parts are used.

For the launch, once I figured out how to actually launch the thing, the controls are relatively straightforward and easy to use. Press a couple of buttons, toggle a key switches and you are flying a rocket my friend. The map screen is a great tool to plan your journey across the stars using the projected trajectory. In my case it was good to plan where I’d be sending the (hypothetical) salvage crews once the rocket smashed into the Earth.

Screenshot from Spaceflight Simulator showing Mars and the orbits of the rocket and Phobos.

Also, there's something incredibly therapeutic about scrolling out and getting a true sense of the relative size of the planets compared to the vast expansive solar system itself. Brings a bit of perspective to compare the insignificance of the rocket with the grand scope of everything. A little bit of existential dread about our place in the world as well but who hasn’t had that from time to time?

Unfortunately, the game isn't all peaks. There's one undeniable fact that the game can't hide from even, in the depths of deep space: this game just doesn’t make me feel anything when I play it. The menus are bland, the art is basic—the entire presentation for this game just falls flat. Nothing the game did was presented in a way that conveyed the inherent wonder of space travel.

This is space we’re talking about, something our best minds understand very little about. It’s vast and majestic and goddamn terrifying in its scope and none of that comes across when I’m travelling through it in this game.

In Spaceflight Simulator, there's just no outer context to keep me invested in the success or failure of these rockets. No goals like colonising the Moon, or reaching the next solar system or even just not killing your astronauts. We never get to see the engineers or astronauts we're working with, and there are no buildings to upgrade or research to do.

It's pretty much summed up like this: I built this rocket with as much fuel and thrusters as I could and launched it. I reached space, saw on the map all the far flung planets that looked identical that I would maybe reach one day and just couldn't see the point.

Image of two astronauts and their rocket in space in the game Kerbal Space Program.
Kerbal Space Program is Spaceflight Simulator's main competition.

No game is released in a vacuum, and we really have to look at the other competition on the market in order to make an informed recommendation. Obviously, the colossus blotting out the sun on the horizon is Kerbal Space Program. Some of you would say this is an unfair comparison considering the sizes of the development teams. However, Kerbal has pretty much everything Spaceflight is missing and it’s only $30 more.

There's an early access roadmap where the developers could have shown how they plan to build up the game to rival Kerbal. Unfortunately, they should rechristen it in memory of the Talking Heads because it's pretty much a road to nowhere.

It's a little concerning for me because if I had bought this game at early access (regardless the price), I'd want to know the developer has a plan to get the game from early access to a full blooded release. 

Marketing image promoting the release and updates to BioWare's Anthem.
Totally unrelated picture of the ultra successful MMO Anthem that's totally still playable.

Although even the best laid plans can go awry as Bioware has taught us time and time again.

Overall, Spaceflight Simulator is a competently made game, but there was just nothing the game put in front of me that made me want to keep playing. It didn’t hook me in and in the face of such strong offerings from its competitors, mainly Kerbal Space Program, I just can't recommend this game at its current state.

But, again, this is early access, so who knows? By the time the game actually releases it could be about you building a rocket to escape the Mecha-Stalin v. Mothra global war and gathering the best glam rock legends of the galaxy to free the Earth… hold on I'd better write that down. 

What keeps you invested in games like Spaceflight Simulator and Kerbal Space Program? Let's chat in the comments about what makes a truly great rocket-building game.

Quickies on the Couch: Destiny 2, The Witch Queen Expansion

My partner, Hoot, and I practice one religion these days: Destiny 2. After every Tuesday reset, we spend what time we can throughout the week checking off the Seasonal Challenges, completing some daily bounties, running Gambit matches, and more. We're also heavy into the game's story and subscribe to YouTuber My name is Byf who assembles the game's lore into complete, well-produced narratives for characters and storylines. 

As you might expect, we've been hyped for months about the new expansion, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, which dropped on February 22. After 4 and a half years of this game, was Bungie going to keep upping their game? Or was this expansion going to fall flat compared to its compelling predecessors?

So far, we're enjoying it. Sure, the story isn't as emotionally compelling as Forsaken, but I don't think anything ever will. That said, the opening missions did hit us with a major WTF moment that left Hoot and I both traumatized (What the shit just happened? Did I really just DO that?) and intrigued (Well, that's new. Let's see what's next!). As the story plays out each week and through the 2022 seasons, I have a feeling we're going to be more than ready to see Hive Queen Savathûn join her brother Oryx in oblivion!

The gameplay is mostly what we'd expected, but with some nice additions. As per usual with Destiny, we're seeing variations on the same old familiar enemies around every corner. But some of those enemies now have new abilities, and we've also got some new abilities and weapons to fight them. That's what keeps Destiny 2 just fresh enough for people to keep going. That… and getting a fireteam of friends together to play!

Speaking of which, Hoot and I have enjoyed experiencing this new release on fireteams with my fellow Couch Soup contributors Michelle Holstine and Erika Aundawyn. Let's see what their reactions have been so far.

Screenshot of Michelle Holstine's Warlock character in Destiny 2
Michelle's Warlock.

Michelle is hyped for all the new stuff

It is Friday and I am sitting at my computer wanting nothing more but to go turn on my PlayStation and continue the campaign for Witch Queen that came out on Tuesday, 2/22/22. Hehe, well played, Bungie. I have only been able to dive in a couple of times so far, but let me tell you, they did the damn thing with this campaign! It has been SO FUN! There are new emotes, new weapons, new ways to FORGE weapons, new maps, new menus, new EVERYTHING!

The new "Throne World" itself is stunning and has so much to offer in what to see and do. They upped the difficulty to include a Legendary format in the first playthrough of the story. So, players who want to rage quit every 15 minutes can have that option. (It's me, I'm "players.") Even though it is difficult, it draws you right back in with the beauty, the puzzles, and the captivating story. Suffice it to say, I am so excited to keep playing and get through the entire campaign story to see where it takes us!

Screenshot of Erika Aundawyn's Titan from Destiny 2
Erika's Titan.

Erika takes on the big challenges

I went into the DLC avoiding spoilers about what may be happening, even in regards to quality-of-life updates. That gave me a pleasant surprise that I didn't need to struggle to get to Light Level 1300 (yes, I know it's called Power now). The game bumped me to 1350 on all characters and equipment! 

Going in, I had the option to do Legendary difficulty (with the same recommended level of 1350 as Story mode), and I figured, Why not? I'll try Legendary solo. It took me about 3 hours to get through the first part of the story, but it was worth every death! I left the story missions being nearly 1400 Light and confident in myself and my PvE talent. The story so far has been very intriguing and less linear than before. This is great for my ADHD brain: when I need a change, I can do other side missions that relate to the main mission. Really excited for what the rest of the DLC holds!

Screenshot of Stef Watson's Hunter from Destiny 2 in a pose showing off a building in Savathûn's Throne World.
Stef's Hunter showing off some of Savathûn's Throne World.

Stef keeps the Destiny 2 church service going

Testify! I echo 100% everything Michelle and Erika said. I'm loving the new weapon type, the glaive, though I have to get used to how it changes up my attack patterns. The new class system introduced with Stasis is now implemented for Void, too, which means I should probably stop avoiding it (my beloved Solar classes will be right around the corner). But the thing I think is going to make this expansion stand out is this new weapon-building system, which seems to be an improvement over the Black Armory from 2018. It's going to take a while for me to wrap my head around it, but I know Hoot will pick it up quickly and share what he learns.

Destiny 2 keeps people coming back with a story that develops in small increments, week-to-week challenges, special events, and a plethora of Triumphs to achieve. I think we'll keep powering through the end-game experience as this crazy new story unfolds!

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Have you played the new Witch Queen expansion yet? How's your fireteam adjusting to the new stuff? Let's break it down in the comments!

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