PlayStation Essentials for June 2023

June is a Prehistoric month.

Sports games so quickly go out of fashion, as they get left behind for slightly incremental upgrades only a year later. For those not particularly drawn into these games its great to see one on here every now and again to see how they’re changed. It seems this one was well received aside for the Micrtransactions that plague all 2K games. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

Ah the Jurassic Park franchise. The first Jurassic Park is one of the defining films of my generation, and the most recent ones are completely forgettable. Luckily, the game is more of a park simulator than a tie in for the films. There are campaign missions that follow the story, but really it’s different. Jurassic World Evolution 2 is a lot of fun. It lets you play Zoo Tycoon the way you always wanted to, with dinosaurs. Like all games like this there is a lengthy tutorial to learn the systems and then you’re in for some chaotic park building. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

During the PS3, and PS4 generations there weren’t a lot of games taking place during the Edo period of Japan. We were starved of it, we even wanted Assassin’s Creed to go there to give us a game of that era. Now there’s almost too many. It feels like twenty percent of the games we’re getting are taking place there, including a future Assassin’s Creed game. This means these games have to stand out and do something great to stand out from the rest. Fortunately, Trek to Yomi has a fantastic art style. It’s a side scroller that stands out. This is the one I’m most curious about playing. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

All three titles are available from June 6th for the PlayStation Plus Essential tier until July 3rd 2023.

Do you like this June selection?

Robert Ring


Setting a game in a small lakeside town with relaxing gameplay sounds perfect, except the relaxing gameplay may put you to sleep.

Lake takes place in the fictional town of Providence Oaks, a small town surrounding a lake. You play as Meredith Weiss a hardworking IT worker from the big city. She has come back to Providence Oaks after leaving twenty years ago to fill in for her Dad as a postal worker so he can enjoy a long overdue holiday. You jump straight into delivering letters and parcels to the folks of the town, and get well acquainted with a number of them. From a cat lady, to a lumberjack, as well as a video store manager. Meredith herself is rather interesting as she has worked hard over the past twenty years leaving behind a social life for career success. Meredith’s job has just hit the big time and she questions whether she has spent too long already making sacrifices for the job. As Meredith has a midlife crisis you determine by the game’s end whether she should move back to Providence Oaks permanently or return to the city after these couple of weeks.

Gameplay involves delivering mail, which is slow and arduous rather than relaxing because the setting isn’t graphically worth traversing. The driving is simplistic and doesn’t feel great, nor does Meredith’s slow walking pace when outside of the truck. Before long you will start fast travelling to the closest parcel delivery point or auto piloting the vehicle. There seems to be just one song played on loop every time you enter the mail truck. It’s a good song, but you get over the repetitiveness quickly. The parcels that have you interact with characters around town is where the enjoyment is found in this game. The characters all feel authentic to the place. It’s talking to these characters that makes the game feel homely.

As a fan of the show Northern Exposure I love these small fictional towns, and I think we all secretly would love to live in one of these towns. There are Easter eggs in the game I wasn’t expecting. One that I would never have expected to see is a character from the show, The Detectorists. He’s walking around with his metal detector and even says some of his lines from the show. I was elated when I saw him and the game raised itself in my praise. I’m not sure how many people would actually have seen this small BBC show to get a kick out of it like I did. If you haven’t seen that show, check it out!

Overall, Lake finds a way to draw you in with intreating characters and a conflicted Meredith. The game will only take around five hours to see and do everything, so it’s not a great commitment. You may like to play this between some of the heavy hitter games this year like Diablo 4 for a change of pace. Now is an especially good time to play it with it available in the PlayStation Game Catalogue.

Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Robert Ring

The Light in the Darkness

We need more games like this.

Ideally, these games need to be better produced. This is about the lowest of standards you can make a game like this today. In many ways it feels like a PC game that was made for Windows95. It’s telling how bad the gameplay is that we need more games like this. Why? The story is one of importance.

This was a game I downloaded out of curiosity because it was free on the PlayStation Store. Whenever there is a free game there is usually a reason, and this one had no hidden costs to buy additional content whatsoever. There is a donation button on the start screen, although it led nowhere for me at least on the day of release. Smartly this game had a platinum trophy that simply required you to play through the game. Instead of playing five minutes to test it out and opt out. I played it to completion in around an hour and was moved by it.

The Light in the Darkness is a game about the Holocaust and a look at a regular Jewish family that goes through it as an example of how most Jewish people during the Holocaust went through it. The gameplay involves moving slowly from one scene to the next with a couple of simple puzzles. The characters are crude looking, but aesthetically pleasing in a Lewis Carroll type of way. You needn’t worry as you get past that, at least I did and appreciated the way the story was being told. You don’t normally get a WWII perspective from the Jewish people. It’s an essential perspective to the audience of people that wrap the entirety of WWII as the backdrop to a Call of Duty shooter.

I would hope to see this game played in some schools as an educational game. If the creator of this game finds success with this game, perhaps it will lead him to a bigger budget historical game that could truly get the eyes and support of millions of players.

Give it some support and play it for free now on PS5.

Robert Ring

PS Plus Game Catalogue May 2023

After a slightly lacking April, May returns with a strong selection of titles. This month has given us more great PS1 titles, a PSVR2 title, as well as a stack of great games. These games are in addition to the PlayStation Plus Essentials you can find HERE.

All titles are available Tuesday May 16, 2023.

PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium

  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – PS5
  • Humanity – PS4, PS5
  • Watch Dogs: Legion – PS4, PS5
  • Dishonored 2 – PS4
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider – PS4
  • Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin – PS4
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition – PS4
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – PS4
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – PS4
  • Bus Simulator 21: Next Stop – PS4, PS5
  • The Evil Within 2 – PS4
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood – PS4
  • Thymesia – PS5
  • Rain World – PS4
  • Lake – PS4, PS5
  • Conan Exiles – PS4
  • Rune Factory 4 Special – PS4
  • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town – PS4
  • Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – PS4

PlayStation Premium Classics

  • Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow – PS4, PS5
  • Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light – PS4, PS5
  • Pursuit Force – PS4, PS5

Ratchet and Clank is a franchise that has stayed relevant for almost twenty years now. The games are fundamentally unchanged from the original core systems and mechanics of the original game. However, it’s the way in which this franchise has managed to tweak itself with modern systems and a new coat of paint with each generation of consoles that keep us coming back. Insomniac Games has a good feel for the PlayStation 5. Previously launching Spider-man Miles Morales with the console, and now with a PS5 exclusive that gives us a glimpse of what to expect when this new generation of gaming leaves the last generation behind. For now there are too many cross-platform games that are still trying to appeal to the owners of last gen, until then games like this will stand out. This game is a must play.

Humanity is a great get for PlayStation. It plays like a modern day Lemmings game where you need to lead people to what is perhaps the afterlife. Each stage is a puzzle so you can take on a stage or two at a time so you don’t get burned out. It is also worth noting that this is the first game in the catalogue that is also a PSVR2 title.

The modern Tomb Raider trilogy is now available. It’s a fantastic series. Now is a great time to get into them before the next title comes out. It would be great to see the original PS1 games enter the Classics Catalogue in the future.

This is a great month for everyone. It’s hard to tell for how long PlayStation can keep stacking great games to the game catalogue before we are relegated to lower tier titles.

Are you happy with this month’s picks from PlayStation?

Robert Ring

PlayStation Essentials for May 2023

May is a fine month for racing games.

Grid Legends looks fun and is relatively new for a AAA game to be on the PlayStation Plus Essentials tier after launching last year. This could swing potential Gran Turismo fans over considering how good the movie trailer looked. That’s the reason for me to even find any interest in playing this game now since it is easily accessible for anyone chasing a racing game. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

Chivalry 2 is a game if you’re in, you’re in. The game feels like a more clunky For Honor. The clunky feeling of the game is probably due to how many characters are on screen at any given time. For Honor succeeded by only having a few hero characters on screen while the rest were merely like sheep. Overall, the game plays like a medieval version of Battlefield where you are fighting for land conquest. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

Descenders is remarkably basic in every way. With the procedural nature of the game there is a certain amount of charm each time you play the game. It’s worth giving a go to see if you find it charming as well. Available for download on PS4.

All three titles are available from the 2nd of May for the PlayStation Plus Essential tier until June 6th 2023.

Do you like the racing focus of games for May?

Robert Ring

Like A Dragon: Ishin!

Yakuza has become quite popular in recent years. Yakuza 0 would be partially thanks to that with it being a masterpiece as well as an excellent entry point into the franchise. Most notably its success in the west was due to influencers streaming the series. There is nothing out there like the Yakuza series and the way it juggles itself from the absurd to the heartfelt resonated with western players. Sega smartly transitioned the entire mainline series to the current generation of systems, BUT sadly there was no way to play the spinoffs that were only localised for Japan, until now. After playing Like A Dragon: Ishin! I see why it was worth bringing this one to the west.

The story takes place in 1860s Japan at the end of the Edo period. This is a time of great conflict as the ideals of old Japan were failing and Western interest were coming ashore. There is a hell of a lot to the plot. It’s a bit of a history lesson. It’s like when you watch a biopic and the there is a lot of truth there amongst all the liberties it takes. This may not be the most entertaining Yakuza game, but it might be the most important. It’s the Red Dead Redemption of the Yakuza series

Yakuza is full of interesting characters all with a backstory and emotional pull. Starting off with Like A Dragon: Ishin! is initially jarring because they use the character models of key characters from the franchise. After an hour you no longer connect them to their previous characters due to the drama of the story and how well these new characters feel fully developed.

Combat feels dated, but there is a card system that has been included in this remaster that keeps battles feeling fresh. The cards are troops that can be levelled up. The cards charge up and unleash powerful attacks that happen at your choosing or automatically. They feel like moves out of Dragon Ball Z as you blast the enemies with these absurd looking moves.

As much as I love most of Like a Dragon: Ishin! it has a lot of flaws that break the flow of the game. The biggest flaw is the constant traversal from one side of the map to the other. With every story beat it seems like you must travel back and forth. It’s tedious in a map that has a brown colour palette. This isn’t different to any other Yakuza game, but Kamurocho the city in those games is bustling with people and every street is full of detail and colour. The substories are not as engrossing as they are in other Yakuza entries though they do provide intreating insights into the period.

Overall, Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a must play for Yakuza fans. The writing you know and love is here in the main story. There is a mystery throughout that will keep you guessing all the way to the end as well as a history lesson that will have you digging into Japan’s archives. For non-Yakuza players this provides a good jumping in point in a more streamlined game without nearly as many absurd activities and moments that are frequently found in the other titles.

Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC.

Robert Ring

PS Plus Game Catalogue April 2023

Well April appears to be a bit of a weak month compared to recent months. The games this month aren’t bad, but they’re mostly all first person shooters from Bethesda Games Studios. It’s a bit of a head scratcher seeing these Microsoft games here in what would have been some agreement by Sony. These games are in addition to the PlayStation Plus Essentials you can find HERE.

All titles are available Tuesday April 18, 2023.

PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium

  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits – PS4, PS5
  • Doom Eternal – PS4, PS5
  • Riders Republic – PS4, PS5
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – PS4
  • Slay the Spire – PS4
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom – PS4, PS5
  • The Evil Within – PS4
  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – PS4
  • Bassmaster Fishing – PS4, PS5
  • Paradise Killer – PS4, PS5
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure – PS4, PS5

PlayStation Premium Classics

  • Doom – PS4
  • Doom II – PS4
  • Doom 64 – PS4
  • Doom 3 – PS4

Kena: Bridge of Spirits came out during the PlayStation 5 launch window. It was met with positive reviews, but it was quite pricey for the type of game it was. Personally, I wasn’t sold on the game at launch so I will be using its availability on the game catalogue to play it.

Slay the Spire was a PlayStation Essentials title in the past and it is phenomenal. This game takes simple card game mechanics into a roguelike. Every run feels unique and it quickly becomes apparent how deep the game is. This game may become your addiction and you just go with the one more run mentality.

The Evil Within fits perfectly this month as the director of Resident Evil 4 directed The Evil Within as a spiritual successor to that game. The horror is nailed in The Evil Within. It’s too terrifying in some regards, and feels a little clunky so it doesn’t touch the height of Resident Evil 4. Still a title worth recommending to people coming off of the remake of Resident Evil 4 looking for similar thrills.

Overall, not a great month for everyone unless you like FPS. There have been so many quality games in the past few months it doesn’t hurt to have a lessor month.

Are you happy with this month’s picks from PlayStation?

Robert Ring

PlayStation Essentials for April 2023

April has great value.

Meet Your Maker is a game that I thought might be a mega hit prior to release. After playing it for some time I can tell that there is potential, but it appears to have a limited scope. The tools for creating maps are great, however every user created map I’ve played runs relatively the same. You need to take your time through each map or risk running into death time after time. It is fun. It has maybe ten hours of play time before you are done with this game. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure was one on the PS5 launch titles. It feels like the game that was rarely talked about. It’s a great game with a fantastic soundtrack. This is an ideal game to play with the family, and has a lot of replay value. The game’s difficulty does ramp up dramatically with each new world you unlock. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

Tails of Iron is potentially the best game out of the three titles. It was well reviewed on release. The art style is amazing, a bit like Hollow Knight. I’m excited to get into this one at some point. Available for download on PS4 and PS5.

All three titles are available from the 4th April for the PlayStation Plus Essential tier until May 1st 2023. This month is unusual because each game in the essential tier has a native PS4 version alongside a native PS5 version.

Are you excited with this selection of games for April?

Robert Ring

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin

I’m a child of the nineties and one of the biggest franchises was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were the coolest. The turtles all had the coolest names, not that we knew as children that they were taken from Renaissance figures. The turtles were everywhere, from toys to live action films, it was probably one of the first children’s properties to have a complete global takeover in media and merchandise.

Lately I’ve been feeling a pull back towards the franchise after not watching or following any of it since the original 80s cartoon. There’s been a lot that’s come out since, and I’ve heard it’s all pretty solid in the subsequent series that followed. So I started reading the comics by IDW with original creator Kevin Eastman. They’re actually pretty good, and feel like a good modern interpretation of the series. Just recently it was announced that there is going to be a triple A game adapting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, and so I read it.

Think Logan, or The Dark Knight Returns, and you understand the bleak dystopian nature of The Last Ronin. The premise around The Last Ronin is that only one of the turtles has survived. This turtle wears a black headband and utilises all four weapons the turtles had in his arsenal, thus creating a mystery around which turtle he is. After leaving to a mountain summit after his brothers died he returns many years later for revenge. The man he wants revenge against is the grandson of Shredder who now controls Manhattan. Between the endgame showdown there are flashbacks to how each turtle and Splinter died. One death is so devastating and the image of it lingers in the mind.

Reading the comic you can see how well this game would work like an Arkham/God of War type game. Effectively you would be playing two stories as the present and the past converge. This would allow for every turtle to be playable. There is also currently a second ongoing ‘The Last Ronin’ comic arc that fills in time between those two periods and would likely find it’s way to the game as well. This game could become one of the greats. With the upswing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles currently happening they could once again become a movement outside of the children’s shows and comics.

I’m excited to play the game in say, four to five years from now. In the meantime you should absolutely read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin when you get the chance. It’s available for free on Kindle Unlimited HERE.

Robert Ring


Tchia is a weird game. It’s like Breath of the Wild, meets Ubisoft in a PlayStation 2 era platformer.

The beginning of the game is cool, and it feels like you are getting a nice big slice of life in New Caledonia. Tchia, the young girl you play as partakes in the cultural dishes at campfires, the traditional clothing, and the music. During the first song you brush two leaves together to the beats of Tchia’s father’s singing. This is all very much in line of the experience I was expecting from the game, considering you are prompted with five pages of “this game is inspired by New Caledonia” before you hit play. The next narrative beat that follows the song is Tchia’s father being kidnapped by alienesque enemies that came in on a flying hybrid ship. Huh? Turns out many people from the Islands are being kidnapped by the reigning king Maevora who is also weirdly a worm like entity.

The main narrative is terribly uninteresting because it hasn’t been fleshed out well. If it’s a cultural story it’s as bizarre as they come. The fact that the townspeople are unresponsive to others on the island being kidnapped takes you out of the game a little. On a positive the relationships between people in the story are endearing and wonderful. Some would be especially heartfelt if the story felt more grounded.

Tchia is a game that is mostly enjoyable. When I’m exploring the world I’m loving the beautiful scenery, and the music. That being said, whenever I was forced to do combat I wanted to switch the game off, it’s terrible. The only way you can kill enemies is with explosives that you constantly have to pick up. Every time I would add them to my bag in quick succession one would fumble to the ground and blow me on my arse. There is Soul-Jumping which allows you to jump into animals and objects. Unfortunately everything requires stamina, which feels unnecessary to me in a game like this, it holds back the game from being more fun.

There were some weird platformers back on PlayStation, and PlayStation 2. Many of them had a lot of nonsensical story beats that came out of nowhere. Sometimes this may have been due to the available space on the compact disc, others perhaps budgetary reasons. The thing with Tchia is it’ is’s clearly made with so much love it feels as if it’s a disservice to itself by not crafting a better story, and better combat. Everything else has been perfected. Tchia herself has a lot of charm and character, she’s a ripe gaming mascot in the making.

As someone who has been to New Caledonia I think the game most impressively shines a light on the culture and captures the beauty of the wilderness it has to offer. From the city to the shores I felt the presence of New Caledonia and it’s cool that more people can experience the wonders of this place. Overall, Tchia is a stunning game with fundamental flaws holding it back from being a gem. It’s available free in the PlayStation Game Catalogue now and is well worth jumping into to experience its stunning world.

Robert Ring