Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: 5 Games To Chase Out The Summer Blues

Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: 5 Games To Chase Out The Summer Blues

Once again, another week comes to an end and, for many of us at least, there’s time to get some gaming in. This week we’ve got a game that will maybe make you question your sense of reality (or sanity), another multiplayer title headed for imminent server shutdown, the return of a classic multiplayer, some classic arcade vibes, and more.

Let’s get goin’.

The Cycle: Frontier

Screenshot: Yager / Kotaku

Play it on: Windows (Steam Deck N/A)
Current goal: Enjoying it while it lasts

This weekend I intend to dive back into a game with numbered days. The Cycle: Frontier is sadly weeks away from seeing its servers shuttered at the time of this writing, and I’m going to miss it and the potential that’s clearly at play in this science fiction extraction shooter. That sadness will match well with the fact that I’ve basically got Alice In Chains’ “Down In A Hole” stuck on repeat lately. Harmony.

Read More: Free-To-Play Shooter Shuts Down For Good Due To Cheaters

While I did feel its gunplay was a little rigid in comparison to other shooters out there, the on-the-ground experience of The Cycle is certainly worth checking out, particularly on its first map, which well-delivers a wild, alien landscape vibe that promises beauty with the chance of danger. And like an extraction shooter, there’s danger from the wildlife, other players, and the weather.

Unlike Call of Duty’s DMZ, which only recently began shaking up its environment, The Cycle would see a pretty ravenous thunderstorm sweep through periodically, forcing players into cover. I remember camping out in a random building, looking out the window below to see if anyone was following me, while the rain beat down on the glass ceiling overhead, camping out in an underground facility with the lights out, waiting to ambush or make an alliance with whoever was likely to show up.

You can die pretty quickly from other players, who you can spot coming down in drop pods, unlike DMZ’s simultaneous deployment. Stand-offs, attempts at keeping distance, and engaging in quick, lethal, unexpected firefights across an alien landscape is a pretty intense experience that I hope to enjoy for a little bit longer before it closes.

After that, I’ll be looking forward to Bungie’s Marathon to satisfy my sci-fi extraction desires. — Claire Jackson

Drive Crazy

Screenshot: TubezGames

Play it on: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV*)
Current goal: Drive like a cool guy and not like I’ve got beer goggles on.

When I first came across a clip on Twitter of a Kei truck driving off walls while dodging giant kaiju beams, I knew I had to get my hands on this. Drive Crazy, an early-access racing game developed by TtubezGames where you drive through Japanese cityscapes in a durable AF Kei truck while aliens hunt you down. Before you ask, yes, you do in fact drive like a crazy person in Drive Crazy. So far in my playthrough, I’ve had to dodge belly-flopping kaiju bears, avoid incoming rockets, and shake giant vacuum cleaners and refrigerators, all while my unable Kei truck levels any obstacle that might be blocking off my great escape.

While I have pulled off some pop-off-worthy feats like wall-riding the side of a building so I could (with the assistance of the ever-reliable nitro button) bonk a giant kaiju in the noggin with the bumper of my cute little truck, I haven’t quite nailed the maneuver enough times to pull it off consistently. In fact, my driving skills are kinda abysmal in Drive Crazy.

I was made aware of this shameful fact early on in the game during an Outrun-esque drag race where the goal was simply to reach the finish line. No aliens, no kaiju, just vanilla-ass racing. And I was a mess. My poor driving skills had me barreling into ditches and skidding into rice fields where I should have been drifting like I in Initial D. Eventually, I realized that the game will automatically drift corners with the slight turn of the thumbstick if I’m going fast enough, which made my overreliance on the handbrake more of a hindrance in retrospect.

Now that I’ve got my wits about me, my goal this weekend is to beat my previous stage times by handling the game’s tight city corners and to come up with even cooler ways to drive off walls and wrap aliens around the bumper of my kei truck. — Isaiah Colbert

*Your mileage may vary

Lollipop Chainsaw

Image: Grasshopper Manufacture

Play it on: PS3, Xbox 360
Current goal: Solve my cognitive dissonance
Buy it from: Amazon

I borrowed my friend’s Xbox 360, and I’m playing the cult-favorite, cheerleader hack-and-slash Lollipop Chainsaw this week. I’ve never played it before—I was hoping that my first real exposure to it would be in the form of developer Dragami Games’ next-gen remake, but that got pushed to 2024. So it’s back to 2012 for me.

I’ve only cleared one stage so far, but I’m already mildly obsessed with the game’s guts and glitter. Its American Pie sense of humor can be grating at best and genuinely offensive at worst (I’m not a fan of men using “bitch” or “slut” as gender-based insults, and the zombies in Lollipop Chainsaw aren’t reluctant about using those words like knives). Even still, I’ve become convinced that this is a certified Girl Game that got deformed by all the weird guys trying to look up protagonist Juliet’s skirt.

There are cloying levels of hot pink, rainbow, and sparkle vomit, and Juliet carries a massive chainsaw to school, just in case. She cut her boyfriend’s head off without hesitation. Sleigh Bells is on the soundtrack. Like…this shit is for girls. — Ashley Bardhan

Quake II: Call of the Machine (Rerelease)

Screenshot: MachineGames / Kotaku

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, Windows
Current goal: Muster up sustained interest

I’ve never been a huge fan of id Software’s classic first-person shooter Quake II, and not for lack of trying. I was such an OG Quake-head that I drove over an hour to secure a copy of this highly anticipated follow-up on its release day. While I got my money’s worth, I ultimately felt Quake II was clunkier and blander than both the first game and its 1999 sequel, Quake III Arena.

Even so, the surprise launch of a sorta remastered, definitely tweaked and expanded new version last week offers a great opportunity to revisit and reassess. As is typical of Nightdive Studios, the revamp is fairly well-considered in its changes and updates, mostly respecting the original’s vision but deviating in a few ways to better satisfy modern sensibilities…or occasionally, because the studio’s proprietary “Kex” engine can’t perfectly reproduce the original’s quirks.

The latter point really bothers me in the studio’s prior Quake rerelease. But with Quake II, all I can say is that character movement feels faster and snappier. And since vanilla Quake II controlled like mud, any improvement there suits me just fine, accuracy be damned. In fact, the only differences I take issue with are Nightdive’s objectively bad decision to nerf single-player railgun damage from 150 to 100 (you can fix that with a mod) and one enemy’s busted new AoE pounce attack (here’s a fan fix).

There’s so much…stuff! You can play the original Quake II campaign, the two official mission packs, all their associated deathmatch and capture the flag maps—a bunch of extra maps beyond those—a conversion of the Nintendo 64 version’s campaign, and most intriguing, a sprawling new, just-created campaign from MachineGames that pushes the engine harder and takes some liberties with series lore. There’s no denying Quake II’s rerelease gives you a lot of game for $10 (or zero dollars, if you already owned Quake II digitally on certain stores).

All the new jank fixes and quality-of-life changes are really quite appreciated. But playing the new campaign, I am, alas, still left fairly cold by Quake II as a first-person shooter. It’s perfectly playable, but mid as all get out. I’m a few hours in and just not having an abundance of fun navigating the nice-looking new environments and gibbing the excessively stupid cyborgs. Turns out, Quake II remains a known quantity for me, and this is definitely a big ole crate of Quake II.

Even so, I find myself low-key wanting to go back and play some more, to push further into the new expansion, and to just sort of sample the incredible amount of 1998 id-ness compiled here. Love it or leave it, Quake II is a pretty important id Software milestone, and it’s never been more accessible or friendly as in this new package. Lukewarm I remain, but If you’re a Quake II enjoyer, I love this for you. — Alexandra Hall

Arcade Paradise

Screenshot: Nosebleed Interactive

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, Windows (Steam Deck OK)
Current goal: Save enough to afford the “Communists From Mars” cabinet.
Buy it from: Amazon

Arcade Paradise looked like it would be right up my alley when it came out last August. It’s a work sim about managing a laundromat-turned-arcade full of early ‘90s references and vaporwave vibes. Say no more! But then, I just…never got around to it. And in my mind, it kept getting built up into something harder to get into and more time-consuming than it actually was. Earlier this week, I finally dug my heels in and got down to business turning my in-game uncle’s small business into a thriving, coin-operated mecca of retro nostalgia.

Nosebleed Interactive’s first-person adventure through the nine-to-five grind has you juggle drudgery like swapping laundry between the washer and dryer and taking out the garbage with ordering fictional arcade cabinets inspired by real-life games (“Knuckles and Knees” is a riff on Streets of Rage) and stealing time off the clock to daydream inside of them. It’s a simple concept executed with precision and beauty that nails the feeling of finding little epiphanies while slacking off. Digital Trends’ Giovanni Colantonio called it one of 2022’s most underrated games, and he was right. Being on Game Pass right now should hopefully fix that. — Ethan Gach

And that’s it for our games this time around. What are you playing this weekend?

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *