“Dear Alessandro, I’m fed up with Guitar Hero and Rockband and I’m looking for a videogame with a music-themed narrative. What can you recommend for me?” Casey Cooper-Fiske

Casey is a music journalist that’s sick of the mainstream and thoroughly stuck in the past.

Crypt of the Necrodancer

Auntie Alex recommends:

I understand your fatigue with that sort of rhythm game, so how about something that combines rhythm driven gameplay with the narrative style known as ‘roguelite’, which makes you an adventurer dancing your way through dungeons and demons. With your interests in mind, I recommend Crypt of the Necrodancer.

Played from a top down perspective dancing will be at the heart of everything you do, meaning the only way you move, pick up items and attack enemies is to the pulse of the beat.

Each new run is randomised and you only have one life in which to beat the entire game. Don’t be put off by this: rougelites are designed to be punishing and each unsuccessful run only teaches you how to get better at the game.

The story only serves to string together your adventure as you delve deeper into the crypt. Initially you will have to play through four increasingly challenging worlds. This gives you a chance to learn each environment’s enemies and unlock new items and weapons to aid you in each subsequent play-through. The real challenge comes when you have to attempt a perfect run of all four locations in order, finally slaying the nefarious Necrodancer himself.

It’s an absolute joy to play, as each encounter sees you dancing around your enemies finding the perfect opportunity in their pre-set movement patterns to strike. Graphically its simple pixel art, but look closer and you will see the love and care that was put into the game. All the enemies bop their heads and dance along to the music, and the funky shopkeeper will add his hilarious vocals whenever you enter his shop. Even the fire on the walls grooves along to the music, giving the game a feeling of constant motion and making everything on the screen a visual delight.

It’s safe to say the soundtrack is one the best aspects of Crypt of the Necrodancer, with a wide variety of talented artists offering up innovative remixes to veteran Danny Baranowsky’s already stellar playlist. Additionally Crypt of the Necrodancer offers you the chance to play your own music, adding an element of personalisation.

 Platform:  PC
 Price:  £10.99, downloadable from http://store.steampowered.com/
 Rythm, Roguelite, Adventure
Bonus points: The entire game can be played with a dance mat. Do it, you won’t be disappointed


“Dear Alessandro, I am looking for a “Zen” videogame to relax after a stressful week filled with writing deadlines, what can you recommend that isn’t competitive and can relax me?” Aurora Henni Krogh

Aurora is a constantly neurotic flowerchild studying to be a journalist.


Auntie Alex recommends: Proteus embodies the whole idea of Zen and relaxation. Instead of being action-packed the game is focused on exploring a randomly generated world at your own pace and leisure. You start the game by waking up in the ocean, right next to the shoreline of a mysterious and beautiful island. You won’t be doing any fighting, collecting any items or competing with other players for the top of any leader boards. All the game asks of you is your time and willingness to lose yourself in its tranquil rolling hills and breath-taking landscapes.

Each time you start a new game in Proteus you will be exploring a vastly different island. This prevents the game from becoming stale and repetitive, with each new version of the island holding new secrets and locations to discover. Accompanying the exploration is a dynamic soundscape. Rain, snow and running water all create satisfying and energetic sound effects, transforming the world around you into a living, breathing world. Headphones are an absolute must when playing Proteus.

Don’t be put off by the visuals of the game. The simple graphics only serve to heighten that sense of discovery, with each castle, tree and flower being distinct enough for you to fill in the detail with your own imagination. Personally it has often helped me really relax after stressful days and deadlines – that’s what prompted me to recommend it for you.

The game is playable on your laptop, only requiring a free steam account and the small cost of £6.99 to play (It often goes on sale meaning you can purchase the game for only a couple of pounds). It’s the perfect game to let yourself become completely absorbed in, offering a brief and tranquil escape from your regular day to day stresses.

Platform: PC
Price: £6.99, downloadable from http://store.steampowered.com/
Genre: Walking Simulator
Bonus Points: Light a scented candle or play with the window open on a warm spring day to add even more immersion to your experience.


“Dear Alessandro, I am looking for an action game that will take me on adventure but one that isn’t too violent, do you have anything you could recommend for me?” Lauren Chancellor

Lauren is an optimistic and carefree student currently studying journalism.


The Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess

Auntie Alex recommends: Best to start with The Legend of Zelda. That was the easy part, the hard part is which Zelda to start with, since there are so many games and most of them are amazing. After some deliberation I settled on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, since it was the game that solidified my love for the series.

The world, its characters and the gripping story struck a chord with me. I fondly remember exploring the world of Hyrule throughout the summer of 2010.

Your quest will take you to Snowy Mountain peaks to help a Yeti couple cook soup, whilst exploring their frosty mansion home. You’ll visit an expansive desert and sneak into a temple guarded by goblins. You will face giant bosses, visit sprawling dungeons and explore gorgeous locations brimming with secret treasures. I’ll stop there because any more revelations and I’ll be spoiling the game’s best moments.

Twilight Princess has a lengthy opening tutorial, in which you do various tasks around your home village in order to get acquainted with the controls. The Wii version is unique in that you can make use of motion controls to perform what would otherwise be mundane actions. The tactile feeling of swinging your hand and having your sword swing on screen, adds a cathartic layer to the gameplay.

Zelda games are never overly violent, with slain enemies often disappearing in a puff of smoke. Twilight Princess is a good start since the challenge is easy going, save for a few brain scratching puzzles.

Platform: Wii
Price: £8 from CEX
Genre: Action(Mild), Adventure
Bonus Points: Keep attacking one of the cuckoo chickens you find in the game for a super-secret surprise.