Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, The Last of Us show is a success and big companies are still terrible
The Last of Us Launches to Great Fanfare
The Last of US TV adaptation launched on HBO Max in the US this week, and on Sky here in the UK, and it’s already proven to be a massive success.
It’s the second-highest launch of a HBO show since Boardwalk Empire in 2010, with only last year’s House of the Dragon beating it. Reviews are also strong, with normally game-averse critics praising it, proving that it is possible to produce a solid adaptation of a video game (although Detective Pikachu, Sonic 2 and the Castlevania anime have shown it’s possible already, but those are cartoons and for kids so clearly they don’t really count with film and TV critics).
It’s great to see though, and it being trapped on Sky here means I haven’t been able to watch it myself, but it’s great to see a brilliant video game story represented in media for those who might otherwise not have paid it any attention.
Ubisoft Go on Strike
Remember last week when Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told staff “the ball is in your court” to fix the dire financial situation at the company, shirking all responsibility of his own?
Well the employees didn’t like that and so staff in their French HQ are going on strike. The union Solidaires Informatique has confirmed a strike next week and is encouraging staff to take part, directly quoting Guillemot’s email with “The ball is in our court (but the money stays in his pocket)” and using the opportunity to argue in favour of better pay and conditions.
As always, I side with video game workers over CEOs in these situations, so I wish them well. Especially when we have a CEO who failed to address sexual misconduct within his company and is now effectively claiming that his obscene salary doesn’t also come with a vast amount of responsibility for when things go wrong.
Layoffs at Microsoft
Speaking of poor job security, Microsoft have laid off 10,000 staff members across all divisions. While this isn’t entirely video game news, it does touch on the Xbox side of things.
Video game layoffs include staff at Bethesda Game Studios and 343 Industries. One of those better off is Halo Infinite’s project lead Joseph Staten, who has left 343 to move to a position with Xbox’s publishing division. However, the situation isn’t as rosy across the board, as statements from some senior leadership who have left does not paint the company in a good light.
Patrick Wren, a former multiplayer designer on Halo Infinite, now working at Respawn, took to Twitter to voice his criticism of 343 and Microsoft, citing “incompetent leadership up top” for Infinite’s woes at launch, and stating that none of the layoffs should have happened. Similar statements were made by other former Halo devs Nicholas Bird and Tyler Owens. It’s raising concerns about the future of the Halo franchise going forward if things are this messy.
Of course, none of the C-suite at Microsoft have suffered a loss of income through Microsoft’s layoffs or problems with Xbox’s franchises. Why would they? That would be silly.
In re-releases, both Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden see releases on all modern systems this week. If you’ve not played these classic JRPGs about high school kids entering a mysterious shadow world based on human consciousness, now is the perfect time to jump on board.
Persona 4 sees a boy move to small town Japan to live with his uncle where he and his friends get involved in a supernatural murder mystery involving a creepy late night TV broadcast, while Persona 3 is about a boy (or girl) who moves into a new school dorm and quickly becomes part of a small group who are aware of an extra dark hour that occurs at midnight every night. Both are huge games where you balance high school life with dungeon crawling in an alternate world, and they are excellent.
There are no less than three management and strategy games released this week, which is kind of impressive. Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale (PC) is a turn-based ship combat game where managing your crew and fleet is just as important to your success on the seven seas. Farlanders (PC) is about building a colony on Mars, with visuals inspired by early strategy titles. And Definitely Not Fried Chicken (PC) is about managing a fast-food restaurant that acts as a front for an illicit drug business.
Fraymakers (PC) is an indie Smash Bros clone releasing in Early Access this week, featuring playable characters from indie titles like Octodad, Downwell and Bit Trip Runner, with assists from the likes of Among Us, Ape Out, I Wanna Be the Guy and more. It’s looking a bit shaky and VERY early access right now though, so be warned.
Fire Emblem: Engage (Switch) is the latest in Nintendo’s seemingly unstoppable strategy RPG franchise. Expect the usual turn-based battles and anime nonsense.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is A Space for the Unbound (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox), a point and click adventure that’s effectively a slice-of-life anime set in 1990s Indonesia.
A small-town adventure where high school sweethearts Atma and Raya navigate life in high school with all its ups and downs. Oh, and there are also superpowers involved.
This looks like a super chill time, with gorgeous detailed pixel art and a story that promises an emotional rollercoaster dealing with anxiety, depression and the usual struggles of being a teenager and figuring out your place in the world. Reviews are already saying it’s a standout, so I’m comfortable awarding it Game of the Week this week.
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