Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: Eight Eclectic Games We Love

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Yuffie, a cruptic object from Riven, and Jade are arranged in a collage.

How are we at the end of June already? Can time slow down? No? Okay. Fine. Well, at least we’re at the weekend, so that means (hopefully) you have some free time to spend on video games. This week we’ve rounded up an eclectic mix of eight games worth checking out as you shelter from the heat (assuming it’s hot where you are. If not, well, aren’t you lucky? Unless it’s too cold. Look, you can manage your own weather).

A big monster looks down at someone off camera.

Play it on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Windows (Steam Deck: YMMV)
Buy it from: Humble Bundle
Current goal: Finish the post-Endwalker patches before Dawntrail releases

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After putting it off for as long as I possibly could, I finally finished Endwalker literally hours before Final Fantasy 14’s servers went down for maintenance. Sadly, my journey isn’t over yet, as I still have a little under 50 quests to complete as part of the post-Endwalker patches standing between me and Dawntrail. Even with the uneven pacing of Endwalker, I still grew to love the expansion in the end, and it reaffirmed why I keep coming back to F14, so I am re-energized to dive in for more.

That being said, post-expansion patches are often a major slog and I can’t help but worry I’m in for some tedious questing. I do know that there are some things to look forward to: namely meeting Zero and tackling the Myths of the Realm raid series. Whatever the case, I only have this weekend to marathon through the remaining quests ahead of Dawntrail’s wide release on July 2. I’m gonna be optimistic and say I can get it done with time to spare. — Willa Rowe

The protagonist of Beyond Good & Evil sneaks around a corner.

Play it on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, Windows (Steam Deck: YMMV)
Buy it from: Ubisoft
Current goal: Just be. Goals are pressure.

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Every time I replay Beyond Good & Evil, I forget how it starts. In my memory, it’s a game that begins with heroine Jade on her lovely, idyllic island, running around taking photographs of all the various beasties, and then, eventually, attacks rain from the skies. So I’m bemused, each time, when it’s the other way around.

I’m pretty disappointed by the state of the Steam release of the game. For no good reason you have to play it through an Ubisoft Connect account, and it lacks basic PC options like a way to play in a window on my ultra-widescreen monitor. (It even overrides Steam launch settings to force this!) Also, other people on Steam are so VERY mad that it doesn’t have the promised achievements. It’s not an auspicious launch. But it’s still BG&E, a game that I seem to replay every five or so years. So much so that honestly, I don’t want a sequel. I certainly don’t want a sequel that looks like anything in any of the bullshit trailers that have appeared over the years, pretending to be from a game that exists. The original is plenty. — John Walker

This Game Teaches You How To Use A Synthesizer IRL

This Game Teaches You How To Use A Synthesizer IRL

Play it on: Windows (Steam Deck: YMMV)
Buy it from: Steam
Current goal: Develop a better understanding of control voltage

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I do love video games, but I probably love making music even more. And over the past five years, I’ve only developed a greater appetite for and interest in synthesis—particularly modular synthesis, as I’m no keyboard player. But not only am I not a keyboard player, I’m also a guitarist (the horror), so I come to synths with that perspective. This weekend I’ll be spending some time with The Signal State, a simulation of modular synthesis packaged as a puzzle game. It’s fairly accurate to how synthesizers work but, most importantly in my case, it really focuses on the flow of voltage. That’s the sort of training I need right now.

Read More: This Puzzle Game Is A Fun, Affordable Way To Learn Electronic Music

Though I have a nice collection of Eurorack-compatible synthesizers, that ever-troublesome guitar background of mine means I approach them more musically and aesthetically, with standard and avant garde musical theories as my underpinnings for how I craft tonality, harmony, and melody. That’s not necessarily a problem, but I could use a better understanding of how voltage flows, combines, splits, can be attenuated, and more. The Signal State’s puzzles are all about that, asking you to route signal paths in specific ways such as, “SRC 2 is a binary signal. When it is at 100 volts, send SRC 1 to OUT 1. Otherwise, send 0 volts to OUT 1,” or, “Send SRC 1 to OUT 2, but with its intensity boosted by a percentage by SRC 2.”

Riveting stuff, huh? Sure, it’s dry. But dry is what I need right now and The Signal State seems like the perfect set of exercises for me to just drill the basics of voltage flowing across a system. This is especially useful for me as I’m slimming down the number of individual Eurorack modules I own to prioritize my use of semi-modular gear. So as I figure out what modules I’m keeping to fit into a tinier, more portable 42HP rack, hopefully The Signal State will key my brain into thinking more about direct utility and voltage control than shiny, fancier stuff (but damn do I really want that Qu-Bit Nautilus delay module and maybe it was a mistake to sell my Monsoon…).

And though I do use and love VCV Rack, that’s an actual piece of music software and doesn’t have the puzzles, challenges, and restrictions that are conducive to making progress in learning new skills (especially musical ones). — Claire Jackson

Barret and Red XII fight monsters in a cave.

Play it on: PS5
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy 
Current goal: Get the fuck out of the Gold Saucer

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I’m back in the Cait Sith saddle folks and it feels, ugh, fine. I was having a blast with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth at first—funny dialogue, beautiful cinematics, and just the right mix of open world fluff—but I hit a wall in Costa Del Sol that stopped me dead in my tracks. That whole completing random mini-games, including actual honest to god Fiverr-style gig work just to get bathing suits to get on the beach to do a random boss fight that didn’t exist in the original game was just not working for me. More recently, I’ve been making my way through Corel and to the Gold Saucer and the ups and downs are getting even more uneven.

One minute I’m having a blast opening treasure chests, grinding fights, and listening to cool soundtrack remixes. The next I’m Yuffie doing…an extremely stiff grappling hook swing from one environmental interactivity node to the next. Eco terrorists saving the planet from alien-infused super soldiers? Haha fuck yeah!!! Yes!! Shooting boxes on a mine cart? Well this fucking sucks. What the fuck. When I reached the Gold Saucer in the original game it was a fun reprieve. This time I can’t wait to be done with it. Fortunately, the core of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth remains strong enough to barrel me through from one ridiculous design choice to the next. Only, like, 50 more hours to go! — Ethan Gach

The player character of Elden Ring stands before an epic tree.

Play it on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Windows (Steam Deck: YMMV)
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy | Humble Bundle
Current goal: Beat Commander Gaius

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There are only so many ways I can sing Shadow of the Erdtree’s praises before I start to sound like a broken record, but let’s give it a go. Elden Ring’s long-awaited DLC dropped last week, and even though I had early access to it in order to write my review, there is still so much to be done in the Shadow Realm. A few optional bosses remain standing (including a bastard sunflower and a knight riding a fucking boar), a few crannies need to be explored, and the main campaign demands completion—even though I am obstinately refusing to do anything other than side quests in a feeble attempt to savor this expansion.

Every time I think I can delay reaching the story’s end no further, I uncover something new: a statue hiding a door to a village covered in wildflowers, labyrinthine ruins leading to a boss door, a dungeon inhabited by evil frog/lizard things. It feels like I’m cheating, almost, milking Erdtree for every last drop like a greedy fiend, but FromSoftware clearly packed this expansion to the gills. If you’ve ever questioned the value of DLC before, please know that Shadow of the Erdtree is worth the $40 price tag, and then some. — Alyssa Mercante

The player character fires at enemies with a tommy gun in Fallen Aces.

Play it on: Windows
Buy it from: Steam
Current goal: Wrap up the early access build

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I’m fleeing to the woods (Connecticut) for a few days for my monthly decompression, meaning I’ll be away from my consoles, unless I really want to pack them, which I don’t. That means I’ll have my gaming laptop to keep me company, and while I’m sure I will be checking out the likes of Dawntrail throughout the weekend, I also want to wrap up Fallen Aces from the folks over at New Blood before too much time passes and I simply abandon it to the annals of my backlog.

My coworker Zack couldn’t stop singing its praises when it came out about two weeks ago, and I began it soon after and fell hard for it. Its visuals were always impressive, but the notion of a first-person brawler never quite captured my attention. Hearing that it was basically an immersive sim set in the pages of a noir comic book set my brain ablaze though, and I had a blast with the first few levels and how open-ended it was. I’m so used to games ascribing scores based on how well you play, so I was shocked when Fallen Aces refused to judge me for occasionally fudging stealth segments and going loud. That flexibility and encouragement to improv your way through a level is what’s going to usher me through the end of the current early access build. I’ll be sad to have to wait for more, but if its beginnings are any indication, Fallen Aces is going to be a riot of a game when it’s complete. –Moises Taveras

The player in Riven looks at a dome-shaped object.

Myst sold like hotcakes when it was released in 1993, but for a game so financially successful, it has a strange reputation. A lot of those copies may have been bought by normies just eager to see what the CD-ROM drives on their pricey new PCs could do, because when I bring it up in gaming circles, I’m more often met with derision than reverence. “The puzzles sucked!” many say. “It’s just so boring.” Well, it certainly made for a stark contrast with Doom, released the same year, and while I admired both, Myst’s was the world I got utterly lost in. I think everything about the game is brilliant. Its distinctive architecture and atmosphere seeped into my mind so deeply that, out and about in the real world, I’d sometimes spot something vaguely Myst-like and feel transported into the game. And I think its puzzles were brilliant, each so distinctive and absorbing, with all the information you needed to solve them able to be picked up through experimentation and examination of the environment around you. Myst is a masterpiece, one of the games of my life.

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But when its sequel landed a few years later, I was in no position to play it. Here it was, the follow-up to one of the most mind blowing and formative experiences of my life as a lover of video games, and I missed it. By the time, years later, that things in my life had settled and I actually could play it, the moment had passed, and despite my love for Myst, I struggled to go back to a game with rigid, node-to-node movement, even one as gorgeous as Riven. Now, finally, this landmark sequel has gotten the remake treatment it so clearly deserved, and I can experience its atmosphere and its puzzles in free-look, free-movement glory. I admit I think that inevitably, when remaking a game like Riven, some things will be lost even as others are gained—I will always prefer the original’s live-action characters to the 3D models of those in the remake (watch the early stretch of this video for a comparison of the two)—but the environments look incredible. This weekend I’ll find out if the rest of Riven—its puzzles, its narrative, its music—can cast a spell on me like the one its predecessor once did, all those years ago.—Carolyn Petit

Characters stand near a portal and a bridge in Diablo 4.

Play it on: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Windows (Steam Deck: YMMV)
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy 
Current goal: Play more of the current season

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Diablo IV was a game I sunk far, far too many hours into when it launched last year. But I eventually burned myself out a bit, and stopped playing once I wrapped up the main story and some of the endgame. But recently, I felt this urge deep inside to wander around dungeons, killing thousands of demons while collecting loot. So I booted up Diablo 4 again to check out the new season.

I’ve never played the seasons in Diablo 3 or this latest entry. But I made a new character, a druid, and hopped in. I really think Blizzard needs to do more to explain what is happening, where to go, and the gameplay loop of the season, because it took me some time and googling to figure it out. However, now that I (mostly) understand what I’m doing, I’m having a blast in Diablo 4. The loot is flowing, the demons are dying and my druid is quickly growing in power as I complete quests and level up the battle pass. I’m not sure I’ll be back for every future season, but with the new expansion coming later this year, I’m suddenly much more excited about Diablo 4 in 2024 than I expected. Neat! — Zack Zwiezen


And that wraps our list of games for the weekend. Hopefully we’ve helped you pick a new favorite!

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