Welcome to Coverage Club, the weekly series where we shift our critical eye towards smaller games that deserve some attention. Each week, our review editors select two titles and provide honest first impressions in the style of our full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preferences, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here. This week, Coverage Club breaks into hot new releases as Alex gives a port report of Puyo Puyo Tetris on PC. Then, Courtney rolls around the city causing havoc in George Fan's Octogeddon.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Covered by Alex Santa Maria
Releasing onto Switch and PS4 in the West in 2017, Puyo Puyo Tetris is now spinning onto the Steam store. Despite the game being four years removed from its Japanese debut, the hybrid puzzle action on display hasn't aged a day. If you count out some nostalgic favorites, SEGA's release might just be the best Tetris game on the market. It's the biggest game to feature Puyo Puyo gameplay since Dr. Robotnik fired up a decidedly mean bean machine. While this new port may not be as polished as the console releases, it certainly does the job.
As far as gameplay goes, Puyo Puyo Tetris does what it says on the tin. You can play either of the popular franchises on their own, or mix and match via a few new modes. Playing through arcade matches and the ridiculously dense story campaign will unlock sound packs and graphical upgrades to give your blob dropping more variety. I've always enjoyed alternative modes in my Tetris games. This combination with Puyo Puyo has produced some of the most fun spins on the concept since Tetris DS.
The main new feature of this PC version is the Japanese voiceover for the game's story mode. Because of the game's prior import exclusivity, there is definitely an audience out there who prefers the original voices. Still, both dubs do their job well, and it's really a matter of personal preference. Only a subset of players are really going to do a deep dive into the story cutscenes, but it does add a bit of charm to the battle modes whenever you clear a line or get a combo going.
Unfortunately, the PC version is not the best way you can enjoy this puzzler. Simply put, this very much feels like a port of the console version. Menus flow awkwardly with anything that's not a joystick. I ran into performance issues in some of the more hectic modes. Switching between opponents during Endurance and stacking a huge combo noticeably lags the game in a way that isn't present on Switch. Considering how getting into the groove is a big part of any Tetris game, these performance hiccups make this version less than desirable.
It doesn't matter if you want to pop or drop, Puyo Puyo Tetris satisfies with a wealth of ways to play and a solid puzzle experience. If this is your only option, the game is still worth seeking out. It's easily one of the best Tetris releases on the market. However, if you have a PlayStation or especially Switch, you might want to consider picking up the game there for the smoothest possible experience.
Covered by Courtney Ehrenhofler
When I first heard of Octogeddon, I thought it was a gritty idea for a future low-budget spin-off of Sharknado, starring a washed up George Clooney in 20 years time. After I was told it was a game, I began to speculate about a post-apocalyptic Octodad with a few Mad Max elements. As it turns out, I wasn’t far off.
The latest project from Plants Vs. Zombies creator George Fan, Octogeddon is absolutely bananas. You play as an octopus who is on a mission to destroy the world after finding a sushi video on Youtube. Though the game starts you out with just two tentacles, you can get upgrades and add more as you progress through the levels. The main leveling mechanism comes from genetically modifying your octopus (I affectionately refer to mine as Chad), and adding things like crab claws, snake and penguin heads to the end of your tentacles for the maximum amount of totally destructive damage.
In terms of actual gameplay, Octogeddon is a bit difficult to describe. It’s kind of like a shoot-em-up, but at the same time, it’s not. For the underwater levels, you are your octopus and you stay in the center of the screen, simply rotating to hit enemies as they get close to you. For the levels on land, you roll along as an octopus would and again, enemies come to you as you roll along. I mean, they would, wouldn’t they? It’s not like we’d let a giant octopus steamroll through NYC without so much as a coast guard helicopter for defense.
Make no mistake, as completely ridiculous as Octogeddon is, it’s also challenging. The first few levels let you acclimate to the game but any semblance of mercy is temporary. What helps, however, is that you collect shells as you go through the levels. Save up those shells to purchase items that carry over future games after you lose. Purchases include different kinds of DNA, additional hearts and more. The game does set you up to succeed for future runs. It just sometimes takes a few tries to get there.
Octogeddon is definitely different, it’s a unique take on shoot-em-ups and introduces some fun mechanics. It’s difficult without stomping on your head and still stays fun and completely ridiculous. I mean, it’s called Octogeddon, would you expect anything else? The game can be played in short sprints or you can delve into it for a long session. All that makes it a nice game to kill time with. If that sounds good, then Octogeddon is easy to recommend, unless you're someone suffering from molluscophobia.
Octogeddon was played on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
What do you think of this week’s Coverage Club selections? Do you know of an overlooked game that deserves another glance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Steam Curator to keep up to date with all our reviews.