The senses are an important part of video games. When describing games, we like to talk about the way we feel. We use our emotional responses to categorically define the worth of a game. There’s merit in this kind of assessment, but it often cheapens some of the most unique things about video games – tangible things. Games affect our senses unlike other mediums. The collaboration between sight and sound work to make us feel present in the world and define the game we’re playing. Senses can be restricted and heightened to give us connections to characters, and they can be expressed in unique ways that attempt to make us consider how our perceived world varies. We may not be able to taste or smell games necessarily, but we can feel them. Your fingers can get tired from holding a sprint button, your thumb can slip from an analog stick. The sense of touch is something exclusive to video games. The games in this week’s Simply Steam all manipulate your senses in unique ways. Whether it is tired fingers, altered vision, or created music, indulge your senses and explore these new arrivals. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood In Their Own Words: Drop in to Olliwood and prepare for finger-flippin’ mayhem in this follow up to cult skateboarding smash OlliOlli. The iconic skater is going all green-screen with a stunning new look, plucking you from the street and dropping you squarely in the middle of the big screen’s most bodacious cinematic locations. In Our Words: Almost a year after the first OlliOlli was released, a sequel to the callus-building skateboard game was release free to PS Plus members. Now, six months later, it finally arrives on Steam. OlliOlli is a skating game, but even more than that it is a platformer. Players propel themselves forward then jump, grind, and kickflip their way through the game’s increasingly ridiculous levels. While it’s not too hard to complete a run of OlliOlli without eating the pavement, it’s much more difficult to string together a series of tricks and grinds to really amp up your points and complete challenges to unlock new levels. That’s where OlliOlli and the old-school Tony Hawk games share a lineage. Any sort of real skateboard simulation is shoved aside as players attempt to complete obscenely amazing tricks. You’ll find yourself constantly hitting the restart button after your first wipeout, as you desperately try to achieve the perfect run. OlliOlli feels simple enough when you start, but as you begin to dig deeper into the game you’ll discover it’s one of the deepest arcade skating game out there. The game isn’t just about connecting grinds, performing tricks, and timing jumps, it’s also highly demanding in how you land those jumps. Sometimes it’s not wiping out that makes you angrily restart a level, it’s simply a matter of mistiming your landing. There are dozens of little things to master in OlliOlli 2 and you’re going to suffer through a lot of failure before tasting success. Beyond Eyes In Their Own Words: Beyond Eyes is a modern fairy tale about finding courage and friendship as you carefully guide young Rae on a life changing journey, uncovering an incredible world, step by step. Blinded as a young child, and reluctant to leave the protection of her family home, Rae’s world is once more shattered as Nani, her pet cat, goes missing. In Our Words: When Microsoft took the time to highlight this exploratory game during E3, I was instantly captivated. I’ve always found games that disempower the player more interesting than games that do the opposite. Beyond Eyes does this by giving players a character who has been blinded in a genre where exploring and seeing is the core gameplay. The result is an abstract and beautiful interpretation of how someone who has lost the sense of sight would recall the sensation as they embark on a journey to save a dear friend. INK In Their Own Words: INK is a fast-paced platformer about using colorful paint to uncover your surroundings. INK has a similar feel to hardcore platformers like Super Meat Boy. The object of each level is to defeat all of the enemies in the room (if any) and reach the goal. However, the terrain is invisible to the player. In Our Words: In a platformer the most important thing is knowing where you will have to jump. Leaping from one platform to the next is definitely about timing and rhythm, but it all relies on the certainty that you are going to know what it is that you’re aiming for. Ink removes this certainty and puts you in a world of black, forcing you to splatter bright-colored paint about, revealing your surroundings are you go. In the rote world of indie platformers, Ink is giving you a fast-paced challenge which will equally delight and frustrate you. Sentris In Their Own Words: Sentris is a musical performance game. Make your own music as you Drop, Recycle, and Stack “Sound Blocks” into a spinning loop. Freestyle with a huge degree of musical control. Or focus on achieving the goal and let your song emerge organically. In Our Words: Music games are in a weird place. Ever since Guitar Hero and Rock Band streamlined the concepts of making music in video games, it’s been very difficult for music games to stand out when offering something more off the beaten path. In the absence of the traditional music games titles like Sound Shapes and Music Evolved have had a time to really get some spotlight. Hopefully Sentris, with it’s Tetris-like gameplay can follow in the footsteps of these quirky music games, finding a new way to explore the genre without holding a fake, plastic guitar in your hands.