Nathan Shively-Sanders

Wave Christmas 2022

I took a break between waves 6 and 7 to try VR games with my new headset. Since it was during a Steam sale, I took the opportunity to try some old wishlist items as well. Of this wave, I’d recommend COMPOUND, and There Is No Game is worth a try if you like silliness.

1001st Hyper Tower

A Sin Vega recommendation, 1001st Hyper Tower is a roguelike FPS. Extremely fast, extremely difficult, extremely stylish. I made it to the first boss, which is how I know when I’ve played enough of a roguelike to stop if I want. (It was really hard.)


COMPOUND is another roguelike FPS, with the most satisfying VR shooting mechanics that I’ve seen. I think it’s due to its projectile bullets and simple, high-contrast art style. It also makes the game look amazing (and run that way too). A case of cutting an idea down to its simplest core and polishing it.

Beating a roguelike isn’t that important to me, but I did beat this one with an easy modifier – removing the VR reloading mechanics. I like VR reloading, but it purely adds difficulty to an already-difficult game.

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin

Psychonauts has always been an adventure game with a platformer layered on top. Rhombus of Ruin is just an adventure game, which lets it expand a little. But it also shows that Psychonauts benefits from the distraction–and required simplification–caused by the platforming layer. In an adventure game, stuck is stuck. Fortunately Rhombus of Ruin is still simplified: no inventory means each room is solved on its own, so I never got too stuck.

Doki Doki Literature Club

Doki Doki Literature Club was interesting, although I don’t have the patience to repeat visual novels enough to get ‘real’ endings; 4-5 times around was enough for me. So I suspect some of the horror didn’t have a chance to build to the intended conclusion. Also, extremely meta games get their novelty diluted (1) by their peers over time (2) by common knowledge of the game when it becomes popular. I think I played this one a little too late.

There is No Game: Wrong Dimension

There is No Game is one continuous fourth-wall joke built around some escape rooms. It would have overstayed its welcome except that I was playing with the 9-year-old who is new to that kind of humour. Playing together was a blast. If you’re on your own, I’d still recommend the first hour.

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is a brawler combined with a school simulator, two genres I dislike. But it is so obviously a labour of love that I had to try it (and I’m a sucker for pixel art). Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy it because I was too intimidated, both by the brawling and the social stress of simulated high school.


Boneworks is sold as half “VR sandbox” and half “Half-Life clone”. It’s really only the former, and if you play it for the latter as I did, it’s excruciatingly slow while somehow being padded out at the same time. The 3 hours I played were exceedingly dry tutorials for new VR interactions, with about 4 short, inert puzzles.

The Surge

The Surge, like most Dark Souls clones, wants to innovate without breaking the formula. For me, Dark Souls 2 and Elden Ring are the gold standard – and The Surge is clearly inferior: the differences it introduces make the game worse, and unlike DS2, don’t have a clear intention. In the things that it doesn’t change, it’s good but not great: its levels are sloppily paced and less interesting than Dark Souls. Same for combat.