With new games of all sizes filling real and digital shelves every week, it can be near impossible for anyone to keep up. So during the first week of every month, we’ll be here to help with a curated selection of new, notable games we think should be on everyone’s radar for the month ahead.
Aside from the charming black-and-white aesthetic it shares with its Devolver Digital compatriot Downwell, Minit’s big hook is right there in the title. Borrowing the style of classic Zelda, this is a top-down journey full of exploration and weird characters to meet, but your hero is stuck with a pretty inconvenient curse that kills them after just 60 seconds. It’s an intriguing twist, ensuring that every bite-size outing into this silly cartoon world is loaded with urgency, but we’ll have to wait a few more days to see how it works as the 60-second center of a much bigger adventure.
Extinction is reminiscent of the giant-slaying action of Attack On Titan, which we covered last month. In this case, you don’t have a crazy steampunk grappling-hook backpack that lets you fly all over the place and go straight for the supple necks of the 150-foot-tall ogres tearing up this game’s fantasy cities. Here, you’ve got to do the work of cutting the giants down to size, slicing off limbs and bringing them closer to the level of your nimble ninja knight. In an effort to mix up what could be an otherwise very repetitive gauntlet of ogre battles, there’s an element of randomization to the mountain-size monsters, too, sometimes changing up the way they fight or giving them protective armor that you’ll have to knock off before they can be decapitated and put down for good.
Sega’s long-running series of mobster melodramas had its biggest breakthrough yet in 2017 thanks to the excellent Yakuza 0, which opened the games up to newcomers with its enchanting ’80s setting, accessible prequel story, and witty translation. As the first game in the series built from the ground up for modern consoles, Yakuza 6 is an even bigger step forward, but it nonetheless retains the mix of cinematic panache, serious crime drama, and bizarre slice-of-life comedy that makes these games so endearing. And Sega has smartly loaded Yakuza 6 with optional recaps and flashbacks in an effort to help new fans catch up with everything that went down in all the previous entries.
It’s been five years since the last God Of War game (and eight since God Of War III, the last one that was halfway decent), but instead of letting Kratos ride out his well-earned retirement, the series’ longtime developer, Sony Santa Monica, is bringing him back for a new, newly pathos-filled story. PlayStation’s No. 1 angry murder-guy mascot apparently fled ancient Greece after slaughtering all of its deities and found himself in Viking-era Scandinavia, where he’s grown a sadness beard and set out on the greatest adventure of all: parenthood. He’s been left alone to raise his son and break from the long line of shitty dads that made him into the monster he is, but a new set of gods, who fear the deific power that lies dormant in his kid, won’t make it easy.
As soon as Nintendo’s Labo was revealed, exasperated nerds across the internet crawled out of Super Mario Odyssey’s candy-colored worlds to decry these ridiculous cardboard baby toys. “Why would Nintendo make this, something that appeals to children only slightly more than their family-friendly video games I so joyfully devour, when they could be providing me with more of those?” they asked incredulously, completely forgetting that Nintendo has a commendable history of brilliant, daring experimentation. The reality is that, yes, these Labo kits are a steep ask at $80, not including the price of the Switch you’ll need to use them, but they also put the Switch’s countless bells and whistles to use like no game ever could, combining motion detection, infrared sensors, a touchscreen, and lots of foldable cardboard into high-tech toys that appear to be powered by straight-up magic. Even more exciting, especially if you consider how many kids will be playing with this stuff, is the inclusion of the Labo Toy-Con Garage, a creation suite that uses simplified computer-coding concepts to let users program their own Labo toys. Now that’s edutainment!
Like Minit, The Swords Of Ditto is another dungeon-crawling Zelda-like game, but there are a few key things setting them apart. Most obvious is Ditto’s art style; any screen could easily pass as a shot from a colorful, modern Cartoon Network series. Ditto is also tuned for cooperative play and procedurally generated. Each time you fall on your quest to rid your homeland of an evil entity named Mormo, the world will reconfigure and your belongings will be stored in a grave you can ransack, letting you build up your arsenal over time and giving you an edge for when you do decide to confront Mormo.
Despite its more fantastical steampunk setting, Frostpunk seems to have a lot in common with its creators’ last game, This War Is Mine. At the heart of both is the struggle for human survival and the question of what you, as the player and a leader of threatened people, are willing to do to ensure it. 11 Bit’s previous game stuck to a gut-wrenchingly grounded story, putting you in charge of civilians in a war-torn city who have to scavenge, hide, and possibly kill to survive. Frostpunk goes far bigger, putting you in charge of a steam-powered city in a dangerously frozen world, but despite that increase in scale, many of the choices you’ll make in an effort to keep the place running seem to be fraught with the same harrowing emotion as This War Of Mine’s more personal journey.
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