Dear Esther

Sumo has bought The Chinese Room.

The Crackdown 3 developer said it had acquired The Chinese Room, the studio behind Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther, from founders Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry.

Brighton-based Pinchbeck is on board as creative director of The Chinese Room, while Curry will continue her career independently as a composer, Sumo said. Pinchbeck added he's now working on new concepts. In a blog post, he said The Chinese Room is talking to potential partners about a new game, "something bigger"... "something that takes a more traditional game genre - no, you don't get to know what just yet - and lets us spin our worlds and stories on top of that. It's going to be very, very exciting."

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Valkyria Chronicles 4

Ten years have passed since the very first Valkyria Chronicles, but it could have been so much longer ago - or much more recently, really. There's something ageless about Sega's original PlayStation 3 tactical shooter, something in its washed out lo-fantasy take on World War 2 that feels like it transcends time. That's another of the strange things about Valkyria Chronicles - it's a game that's constantly pined for, and yet one that's never really been away all that long.

Maybe it's because so many of the games in those intervening years never really scratched the itch left by the original - or weren't properly given the chance to, anyway. A sequel came out for PSP back in 2010, taking the turn-based formula back to school in a slightly discordant but still enjoyable outing, followed up quickly by a third instalment that, while brilliant, never made its way out of Japan. A five year lull ensued, the silence broken by Valkyria Revolution's dismal fanfare - a spin-off that bungled a handful of the series' tropes into an anaemic action game. It was a definite nadir of Valkyria Chronicle's decade of existence.

So how lovely it is to have such a concerted bounce back so soon after the Valkyria games had hit rock bottom - and what a bounce back it is. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a full-blooded, big-hearted throwback to everything that made the original shine, a return to the strategic action as well as to the whimsical fantasy take on World War 2. After the turbulence and disappointment of Valkyria Revolution, there's something warming about going back to it all and finding everything in its right place.

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Publisher Devolver Digital has announced that SCUM, its insanely detailed multiplayer survival game, will be available in Steam early access from August 29th.

Developed by Gamempires and Croteam, SCUM is a ridiculously ambitious, although still somewhat evasive, mix of open-world survival simulation and more traditional game-like multiplayer murder-shenanigans.

Broadly though, the idea is that 64 players are dropped onto the prison island of Bagne de Cayenne, with an immediate goal of survival (by staying sufficiently nourished and suitably alive), and a secondary objective of eventual escape.

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Grasshopper Manufacture has announced that its off-kilter, formerly PS4-exclusive hack-and-slasher Let It Die will be making its way to PC this autumn.

Let It Die, which released on PS4 back in 2016, unfolds in a Japan of the not-too-distant future. Significant seismic activity has caused South Western Tokyo to float off into the ocean, becoming skewered on a huge spire from the depths of the earth. The result is the Tower of Barbs, a lovely bit of visual design which sees the city's tangle of buildings and skyscrapers awkwardly piled atop one another, all the way to the tip.

It's in this impossible edifice that Let It Die's idiosyncratic blend of rogue-like dungeon-crawling and hack-and-slash combat occurs, with players tasked (by a skateboarding skeleton known as Uncle Death, no less) to reach the top of the tower, one floor at a time. A new district awaits every ten floors or so, each themed around specific types of enemies and weapons, and the going inevitably gets tougher the higher you climb.

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2016's Doom and the original Rage are now both available via Xbox Games Pass - their arrivals timed to coincide with this weekend's QuakeCon 2018 festivities.

It's especially well-timed as publisher Bethesda and developer id Software have spent the weekend chatting about both games' upcoming sequels: Doom Eternal and Rage 2.

This weekend we learned Rage 2 won't have multiplayer but will have "a social component", then saw our first look at Doom Eternal gameplay and found out it would also launch for Nintendo Switch.

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A big Forza Horizon 4 leak has revealed the game has a mission inspired by famous Halo campaign level The Silent Cartographer.

Over the weekend, an image dump on Imgur (via reddit) included a raft of images of an early version of the game, showcasing themed events, cars and the Warthog from Halo.

Halo's Warthog is no stranger to the Forza series, but what's interesting about the image, below, is it shows the Warthog racing on a beach area, a Covenant spaceship in the sky and a Halo ring in the distance.

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Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege - Amethyst Weapon Skin

True to its name, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege is currently the sixth most-played game on Steam. But those numbers could soon be pumped up, as the game is having another free weekend to attract new players.

The trial period, which will give players access to "all of the maps, modes, and Operators present in the full version", will be available on all platforms from the 16th to 20th of August.

Rainbow Six's free weekend rolls out at slightly different times depending on your platform of choice: Xbox One will have first dibs at 8.01am, followed by Playstation 4 at 2pm, and finally PC at 6pm (all times UK). PS4 and PC players, however, will be able to preload the game from the 14th August to maximise playtime over the free weekend.

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Dead Cells

Not to brag, but I have one hell of a Biro on the go at the moment. You know the kind of thing, right? Cheap disposable pens tend to have their own characters - the grindy one, the gritty one, the one that you're forever trying to coax back to life with mad eddies and whorls. This one, though, this one is the one you dream about. Oh man, it is glorious. A thick black line that just flows out onto the page. So smooth! Strangely rich. I feel like I could take that line anywhere, even if I'm just writing a shopping list or a phone number. The line makes me feel like writing. I am already starting to mourn this Biro a little, because I know it cannot last forever.

And - grinding sound - this sort of puts me in mind of Dead Cells, which I have been playing, it seems, for a good half of my magical Biro's lifespan. Honestly, this is not the miserable reach that I have made it sound like. Dead Cells is a hard game. How hard? The main menu says "Continue", even when you have actually died in a run, because life and death is all the same in a game like this. You die, but hopefully you unlocked a few more permanent perks for your next life. You will die again, of course, the predictable enemies swarming and overwhelming, the procedural tunnels and ramparts forcing you to lose your bearings. No matter, the game says: the line, as it were, makes you feel like you can take it anywhere.

I felt it instantly, too. My first steps into this game's deeply inhospitable world. People - including the people who made it - would like you to believe that Dead Cells is a bit like Dark Souls, and it is, it is, in a hundred different ways. But there's one way it's very different. When I started Dark Souls, I found myself cringing, retreating into a more compact version of myself, weighed down by the sense of all the awful things that lay ahead and deeply aware - this is the thing of it - of my complete and obvious inadequacy when it came to dealing with them.

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Yesterday I sat down with Doom Eternal duo Marty Stratton (executive producer) and Hugo Martin (creative director) and rattled through a list of questions I had about the freshly unveiled game.

Excitingly, there's a suggestion Doom Eternal may take us up to Heaven as well as down to Hell. That bluey-grey fantastic city we flew through in the trailer? That could be it - that could be Heaven.

id Software is also working on a new kind of multiplayer experience in addition to the Souls-like Invasions - where players play demons in other people's games - for the game, and id is making it internally.

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No Man's Sky

Hello Games has detailed what's been resolved in the latest No Man's Sky patch.

In an update on the official website, the post confirmed update 1.55 has now rolled out across PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and includes fixes for a UI memory leak, a number of crashes triggered by plants, freighters, and by creating a race track in a borrowed Exocraft, as well as a number of other performance and gameplay improvements.

The patch also resolves issues where players would get stuck in The Purge and Ghost in the Machine missions, as well as a specific bug in which Sentinels would endlessly chase players unless they'd completed the final Weapon Specialist mission.

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