October is always an expensive month for gamers, and 2016’s line-up is certainly no different. When it comes to the big names, there’s not a week without a blockbuster, and that’s before you consider the Playstation VR launch. If, however, you’re looking for something outside the paths most heavily tread then you’ve come to the right place.
So, enjoy your Mafia III, your Gears of War 4, your Elder Scrolls Skyrim Special Edition; relish in your Battlefield 1, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and WWE 2k17; tickle your fancy with Titanfall II, Shadow Warrior 2, and the Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel expansion. But, here’s some things we think you should be keeping your eyes peeled for.
Aragami – 4th October – PC (Steam, GOG) & PS4
Aragami has caught the eyes of many with its modern take on the 3D stealth platformer – a genre surely pioneered by the long long absent Tenchu series. It’s not just its stealthy ways, bounding from shadow-to-shadow in a puff of smoke that tickles fancies though, the game has swapped out the dark, moody setting of it’s prototype – Path of Shadows – for a rich scheme that plays on contrasts. The character’s clothing shifts from the darkness of shadows to a rich crimson as you are spotted, and while enemies are dull browns, their swords and your allies, glimmer with potential.
You can read our very own Brian’s Path of Shadows preview [here], and he’s currently working his way through a review build of the game which should hopefully be up on the site soon.
Mushroom Crusher Extreme – 4th October – PC (Steam)
Mushroom Party – Team Jolly Roger
Mushroom Crusher Extreme is an extremely deceptive little game that will be launching into Steam Early Access at the start of October. While it, from first look, appears to be a brightened-up, turn-based roguelike its actually refreshingly different.
For a start, the gridlines are just for spacial reference, as the game runs in complete realtime, Each of the levels are handmade as well, and the game will – in its final form – be co-op and multiplayer.
So, what do you do in the game? You combine, and splice skills to eradicate the level’s menacing, animated mushroom (and co) population. There’s 12 types of spells (which can be levelled up), a combo system, and an elemental damage system all wrapped up in the game. More than enough to entertain any Fungh–
You can read our Greenlight Highlight from when it passed through the approval system [here], and we’re hoping to have a preview up on the game at some point this month.
Unclaimed World – 4th October – PC (Steam)
I can’t pretend to have been watching Unclaimed World from afar, because the game actually launched into Early Access in March of 2014. I’ll spare the pithy whack at flawed curation programs here and just skip to the good stuff.
Unclaimed World is, by all intents and purposes, a frontier survival game that combines the inter-personal narratives we so regularly make up ourselves (although recently done magnificently in RimWorld), with base-building resource management, and a whole lot of dynamic dialogue. It’s all done on a world more logically alien than we normally see, with smaller creatures, or displaced fauna, your main foes outside of the weaknesses of the human form.
It’s not just survival and the pioneers’ relationships though, the game has trading, policy, and skill based systems that reverberate throughout the game. It’s also, interestingly, got a few challenge scenarios which give you set objectives if you’re not comfortable with being deepened into the sandbox modes. Finally, despite this effectively being it’s ‘1.0’ launch, the developers are toying with the idea of enabling mod support, in game research trees, and advanced power systems to the game going forward.
Endless Space 2 – 6th October – PC (Steam)
Amplitude Studios – Sega
Endless Space was a solid entry into the space strategy genre. At the time it tweaked a lot of systems that had previously only been teased and tinkered with. It was one of the first games that pulled off ship customisation and planet infrastructure in a clean and accessible way, and -while quite divisive- its combat system was extremely cinematic and controlled by a stance type system dressed up as a card game.
The space genre is extremely fast moving however, and with Polaris Sector, Stellaris, MoO, and Distant Worlds all having launched vastly more recently, it was high time for Amplitude to get a sequel out.
From what I’ve seen of the game a major focus has been placed on making each of the races in the game (4 in the early access, 8 in the final release) feel completely different, with storylines, traits and event bonuses all working to give the race you’re controlling a unique identity. They’ve also focused on adding more interactivity into the game at as many points as possible with “Amplified vision” allowing you to flick through infographics, filter options and various other information at your whim.
If Endless Space 2 sounds like your kind of game, the developers are continuing to champion their Games2gether platform as a major way to interact with their audience and shape the games they make. Check it out.
NoGoblin’s amazing Roundabout -perpetually rotating limousine, FMV cutscenes, wacky abilities and missions- had me completely transfixed, so it’s no word of a lie that I’ve been keeping an eye open for their next project. As it turned out, it’s just as satisfyingly nutty.
100FT Robot Golf does exactly what it says on the tin; players find themselves performing a notoriously controlled sport in the middle of busy, populated areas, as a gigantic android. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s wacky, and -most importantly- it’s fun.
GoNNER – 12th October – PC (Steam)
Art in Heart – Raw Fury
I can’t quite put my finger on a name for the art style of GoNNER. It seems to combine wonderful, little sillouhetted enemies on brush-stroke style minimalist levels… but, it’s very hard to tell because the game is completely brutal, with explosions, bullets and laser beams piercing the pitch-black backgrounds. Maybe that’s the kicker, an old classroom board covered in chalk lines and stickers.
Regardless of what it looks like however, GoNNER is a tough-as-nails platform shooter with a dungeon-delving style progression system over-layed by the fact that you can lose, and reconnect, with your head should you take a rough hit, and you are entirely defenceless while in that state.
If you like a good challenge in your platformer, GoNNER is one for you.
Along The Edge – 12th October – PC (Steam)
Nova-Box’s Along The Edge has been a long time coming in regards to a Steam launch. The game’s wonderful oil-painting art style, and play on science and magic throughout it’s interesting story combined together to make for a visual novel that excels at both visuals and narrative, an increasingly rare find these days.
With over 60 endings, as well as a character who changes appearance based on your actions, it’s definitely a lot deeper, and more engaging, than your average game story.
Thumper – 13th October – PC (Steam), PSV, PS4
Drool is certainly the right name for the developer of Thumper. The game is self-labelled as a rhythm violence game, and that’s probably for good reason. You play as a turbo-powered space beetle, one that cruises forth at obnoxious speed, brutally snapping around corners in a way that’ll make you almost feel the horizontal-Gs if you’re not fully immersed; it’s all done to a fast, bespoke electronic soundtrack which matches the snaps-and-bolts perfect as it does the markings on the track you’ll be moving to contact.
Thumper to some will far surpass uncomfortable, it makes Fluid and Audiosurf look like casual floats through the air, and it even makes Harmonix’s Amplitude -which I have jokingly referred to as a bullet-hell dressed up as a rhythm game- look like a smooth ride full of soft transitions.
Manual Samuel – 14th October – PC (Steam), PS4 & Xbox One
Perfectly Paranormal – Curve Digital
Manual Samuel is an entertaining little physics game -think QWOP- wearing the bright and chipper skin of a point-and-click adventure game, with a dry-witted narrator always ready to make fun of Samuel’s failings and faults.
Samuel has to survive 24 hours going about his daily business with no automatic control over his blinking, breathing or limbs; and with a young, punk Death at his side there’s a massive wake of chaos both ahead and behind him during that day. I was lucky enough to play through the first 40 minutes of the game last month, and really enjoyed my time accidentally splashing coffee over my face, falling down flights of stairs, and narrowly avoiding pedestrians on the drive to work.
Read about my impressions on those first forty minutes [here], and keep your eyes on the website as we’ll have a review up for the game around the launch.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI – 21st October – PC (Steam)
Firaxis – 2K
It would be dangerously foolish to not add the premiere 4X game to this list considering that despite the vast amount of changes over the years most strategy fans still consider the series a home of sorts.
While V removed the piles of armies ‘stacks of doom’, and changed cities to create a longer siege state, VI applies the same flattening pressure to the cities. Civ VI’s cities grow physically across the tiles, with districts occupying neighbouring tiles and allowing cities to focus further on their specialities. For those of us who play a wide game of many cities carefully linked, and new frontier cities working as stepping stones to enemy lands, this means we’ll need to employ a lot more planning in our earlier aggression. This is, interestingly, juxtaposed by a refined diplomacy and Casus Belli system which means that in any era other than ancient you’ll need a legitimate reason to war in order to avoid the -oft dooming- status of a warmonger.
It’s an interesting set of changes to a series that regularly reinvents itself. While the art style might have initially put many on edge, I’m sure the changes to diplomacy and city specialisation will continue to build the audience.
Yomawari: Night Alone – 25th October – PC (Steam), PSV & PS4
Nippon Ichi Software, Inc. – NIS America, Inc.
Yomawari is a lovely looking little isometric exploration game with a hint of horror. You play a young child who heads out into the dark at night to find her mother and pet dog; but in the dark the world is a scary, strange place completely unlike the peaceful, warm daytime.
The thing that initially caught my attention was that many of the creatures you spend the game dodging -through distractions, hiding, or just plain evasion- are in fact monsters created by a child’s imagination and fears out of ordinary events that would be quickly forgotten during the day. The meandering cat that follows you hoping for scraps or petting is a beast chasing you down, an off-kilter manhole cover now hides a creature of darkness, reaching out to grab at you as you pass. It’s a game about paranoia meeting imagination, and those two things playing on humanity’s inherited fear of the dark, and the unknown.
Steam Marines 2 – October – PC (itch)
Steam Marines (1) was a surprising delight, combining tactical squad management with steep difficulty and procedural levels. It was unforgiving at worst, and a satisfying uphill struggle at best. Although maybe I’m just bad at the game.
The first game to me always felt like an RPG, Roguelike take on Warhammer Space Hulk especially due to each marine having a limited pool of action points for movement and attacks, as well as the urge it created in me to stack my units and lean heavily on overwatch (although this was later shattered by some very diverse enemy types). The second looks to be taking massive steps away from the first’s formula however; the game will feature ship-to-ship combat, an ability to decide which planets or moons to take your missions on, and personality traits and portraits to add further character to the marines. It’s also doing away with the combined action pool, instead giving set movement and attack markers to change up the pace of the game, and adding in sub-targeting so that you can risk it all for a headshot if you are that way inclined.
Steam Marines 2 will be launching into late alpha this month, with interested players able to join up through the Itch.io link above.
Mainlining – October – PC (Steam)
Rebelephant – Merge Games
Mainlining originally hit Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight back in March of this year, it promised a first person hacking game with carefully scripted cases, multiple avenues of investigation, and many different methods of interaction. It’s been touring a lot of the public events since, showing off various stages of development, all moving closer and closer to the imminent launch.
While a lot of games of similar nature have been announced since, none of them have managed to convey the scale of Mainlining’s 500+ detailed criminals within your jurisdiction, and not one has come close to the charming, bright graphics, or gripping musical score.
I am a complete sucker for elements of games that put the whole screen to use as a faux desktop – be that from Jagged Alliance 2’s laptop to Uplink’s terminal – and Mainlining definitely completely nails that immersion. It’s been well worth the wait.
Did we miss something off?
Did we help you find something new?
Do you have a game you would have liked to have seen featured?
Let us know in the comments below, we’re always happy to have a chat about games here on B3, big or small.