An heir to LucasArts? After 8 years in development, Harold Halibut is too good to be a 90s throwback

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Part Wallace & Gromit, part Red Dwarf, there's a magic to the way this Game Pass gem blends old and new.

Check out the video above for an in-depth appraisal of this very unique adventure, in which we ask the question: is it still possible for games to surprise us?

The high-tech world of game development has long had a fruitful creative partnership with the low-tech world of clay people being poked around all day in order to simulate movement. In the world of film, too, stop motion animation always seems to endure, despite the fact that it must be one of the hardest and most arduous ways of get moving images onto screens. There’s something gorgeously, lovably tactile about it which can’t quite be mimicked, and so it is seen as worth the extraordinary effort.

Harold Halibut is a deft blend of that hand-built aesthetic with modern video game animation that absolutely hits a sweet spot between the two, capturing the imperfect, organic essence of human-made art and imbuing it with life via motion capture and skilled cinematography. The result is something quite unlike anything I’ve played before, and a great marriage of art style and storytelling. The setting is a rattly old spaceship, submerged for centuries under an alien ocean, host to a remnant of human civilisation that is making the best of a bad situation. Of course it’s gnarled, and a bit wobbly, and tinged with a sense that none of the bulkheads quite fit together as well as they should.

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