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What we've been playing

The digital card game Marvel Snap. A special power damages the playing surface, where the cards lie.

28th of October, 2022

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games weve found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: bricks, dungeons, and cards.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What Weve Been Playing,
heres our archive.

Lego Bricktales, PC

Watch on YouTube

Lego Bricktales trailer.

Ive been itching to play Lego Bricktales ever since I read Toms review: a Lego game in which you actually use Lego bricks to make things! Solve problems, build bridges and vehicles and all sorts. And then your jumbled solutions appear in the world. Nice.

Ive put a few hours in so far, and Ive mainly been in awe of how good everything feels. Building Lego inside a computer has sounded like a bit of a fudge ever since that Douglas Coupland book JPod. Or was it Microserfs? Anyway its nothing like a fudge here: one brick at a time, simple controls to rotate and raise and lower the piece in space, and a lovely sense of connection.

In terms of real Lego bricks, this is called Clutch Power, incidentally: the matter of how nicely one brick sticks to another. Lego has it, and the competitors often dont. Bricktales has it too. Now Im off to build a bridge.

Chris Donlan

Phantom Abyss, Xbox

Phantom Abyss trailer.

I played Phantom Abyss when it was first out as an early access game on PC. Now its an early access game on Game Pass. It feels good to play it on the sofa, but theres an added bonus: so many new players to adventure alongside!

Phantom Abyss is clever stuff. You explore a procedurally generated dungeon in first person, avoiding traps and collecting loot, all while being chased by a terrifying dungeon guardian. The twist is that people all over the world are served the same dungeon until someone survives all the way to the end. You play alongside the ghosts of people who have tried and failed before you. Thats unnerving. But the glory of it! If you reach the end you will be the only person who ever completed this dungeon.

That premise works if the dungeons feel distinct, and while they dont fully hit that mark at the moment, theyre well built with nice set-piece rooms that give a touch of authorship to proceedings. To distract you elsewhere is lovely movement: I dig the slide move, but I adore the way I can leap across huge gaps with the whip.

I loaded up earlier this week and it suddenly felt like there were a lot more ghosts alongside me in the dungeon. Thats Game Pass I guess: a boost in player numbers. Then I died, quite quickly, and I became a ghost just like all the others.

Chris Donlan

Marvel Snap, iOS

Watch on YouTube

Marvel Snap trailer.

Apologies – I know weve already had one Marvel Snap piece this week, but its the main thing Ive been playing outside of stuff for review, and its also reminded me what a magical time for card games the first few weeks can be.

Yes, for one thing its because not everybody you play is an absolute master just yet – the meta isnt punishing you and you arent up against people who have already spent thousands of pounds on cards and learned hundreds of hours of lessons. Its a pleasure for sure to play a new game when everyones learning.

More than that, though, Im just really enjoying the cards – and enjoying not knowing all the cards and what they can do. This means that every other game someone plays a card Ive never seen before, or a card that works in a way I couldnt imagine. Hulk Buster! Just saw that card for the first time and it properly dazzled me. I lost, obv, but it was worth it just to see some Hulk Busting on display.

Honestly, every other game is like this at the moment – something Ive never seen, something I have seen used in a way I could not have predicted. Marvel Snap is a bit of a melancholy experience I suspect: I play it knowing that soon there will come a day when the game has just evolved away from me. But until then, what a thing this is.

Chris Donlan

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