As the new year truly begins to unfold and the excitement of our Christmas gaming acquisitions start to fade into obscurity, attentions are undoubtedly turning towards the coming year and all of the intriguing new games that’ll promise to ignite the depressing aura of the cold, harrowing winter months into a kaleidoscopic celebration of unadulterated gaming bliss and wonder.
Unfortunately, we are still several few weeks away from the first big-hitters of the year, a fact that is undoubtedly a disheartening one to all those who have eagerly feasted on their interactive gaming gifts over the Christmas period only to left with a niggling emptiness in their gaming lives as the post-Christmas drought continues to linger like an unwelcomed uncle at boxing day dinner.
But don’t despair brave gamer, for there is a way to satiate your irksome digital appetite before the new gaming release harvest begins. PlayStation Plus and its monthly slew of “free” gaming goodies is here to stave off your cravings for new gaming experiences. However, are these free offerings enough to tide you over until the new release schedule picks up once more, or are they but a waste of your valuable time? Well, that’s what we here at Cubed Gamers want to find out, thanks to our new monthly series that’ll evaluate whether the latest PlayStation Plus offerings are worth playing or not.
This month kicks off the new year in grand style, giving us PS4 owners two, seemingly high-quality titles: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Batman: The Telltale Series.
Before I go any further, I have to say that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is unquestionably worth downloading this month. To get such a content-rich experience for the measly monthly sum of £6.99 (£49.99 for a whole year) is, quite frankly, a ridiculously good deal, even if the game is rather lacking in certain areas, as I will now demonstrate. Now, with that all out of the way, let us take a closer look at Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
I’ll begin proceedings by proclaiming that I wasn’t initially captivated by Mankind Divided – in fact, it wasn’t until several hours later that I found myself actually enjoying the experience. I attribute this to the game’s meandering opening section, which is by insomnia-curing cutscenes that really don’t add much to the overall narrative experience Mankind Divided is trying to craft. The time taken between starting the main story and actually playing the game is ridiculous, and I found myself crying out in pained anguish as the soporific drone of Adam Jensen’s gravelly voice gradually killed off any sense of tension or excitement I had going into the game.
This meagre start is accentuated by the linearity of the game’s opening tutorial level. Mankind Divided, like its predecessor, excels when it gives players an open-ended environment full to the brim with alternative paths, plenty of side-objectives, and a multitude of hidden secrets and mysteries to discover. Unfortunately, the opening level is lacking in all the above-mentioned departments, a circumstance that will undoubtedly turn many people off.
Thankfully, after the tortuous opening section has concluded and the game opens up, it blossoms into a wonderfully intricate and thoroughly stimulating game. The near-future version of Prague is full of life and character, and is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing locations I have visited in gaming as of late. The integration of both main and side quests into the opening-ended world structure has been masterfully achieved, and the number of possible roots to your chosen objective are truly mind-boggling. I found myself soon forgetting about the lethargic opening couple of hours and instead embracing a rich and dynamic world full of brilliant gameplay/story integration, something very few games managed of successfully implement. A few dodgy narrative inconsistencies aside, Mankind Divided is definitely worth downloading this month. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Such a glowing recommendation, however, cannot be given to Batman: The Telltale Series. While the caped-crusader’s latest digital adventure is most certainly worth the £6.99 monthly price tag that comes with PS+, gameplay lovers one and all should give this one a wide berth due to game’s complete and utter lack of meaningful interactivity.
Of course, as with all Telltale games, the meat of the matter here is the story, and, by and large, Batman: The Telltale Series doesn’t disappoint here. Lovers of the brooding vigilante will adore the game’s unique premise of duality, whereby it gives you the opportunity to experience Batman’s life both in and out of the suit. No other Batman game has given us the chance to play as Bruce Wayne, and Telltale do a decent job of managing to make the intricates of Bruce’s everyday life feel just as chaotic and dramatic as his night-time escapades.
Unfortunately, the story here is not enough to satiate those looking for a highly interactive experience. As has become the norm with Telltale games, Batman is nothing more than an interactive movie, offering players little in the way of meaningful and exciting gameplay segments. Yes, you’ll be able to choose from a whole host of well-written speech options, alongside the occasional quick-time, button-mashing event, yet, for the most part, Batman is but a TV series masquerading as a videogame. It’s great to watch, and the characters and action have been well-crafted, but as a whole, Batman is but a brief distraction and struggles with realising its status as a videogame that’s mean to be played as well as experienced and watched.
Well there you have it folks. This month’s PS+ offerings are ready and raring for download. I have so say that this is one of the best months in recent memory, and I urge you all to go out a download both of this month’s PS4 titles. You won’t regret it.