Between button-mashing and VR stick-waving it’s all too easy to miss some magnificent game releases.
Not any more, though. See, we’re always on the hunt for the next game to steal months of our lives – and the last thing we want is to miss it because we’re too busy playing the last one.
So, with that in mind, we’re going to deliver a monthly compendium of the five most scintillating new releases coming in the next 31 days. (Or, in this case, 26 days. Counting today.) You can thank us later.
NIOH – 8 FEBRUARY
In the offing since 2004, Nioh will finally hit the shelves of the PlayStation Store in February – and it’s set to be a samurai sword-fest of vast proportions.
A highly stylised role-player-meets-slasher, it’s got more than a hint of Dark Souls about it – and how it holds up against the widely popular action RPG might just determine its fate.
Early impressions suggest the mythological tale – based loosely around the real story of William Adams, an English sailor who became the first western Samurai – is a colourful, engaging experience, albeit one lacking the, erm, soul of Dark Souls.
That said, while it might not do anything new with its story-telling, it’s still set to be a properly hard, all-action affair, with a quick, punishing combat system that’s as technical as it is powerful – so it shouldn’t struggle to steal hours of your day as you battle demonic bosses.
FOR HONOR – 14 FEBRUARY
A distinctly un-romantic tale to play come Valentine’s day, For Honor delivers multiplayer melee combat on an unprecedented scale.
Suit up as a Knight, Viking or Samurai, select your weapon and step on to the battlefield: it’s set to be rapid, brutal and thoroughly addictive – and we can’t wait.
There’s a single player campaign, too, but it’s really the multiplayer modes that have got us interested: from four-on-four elimination battles to traditional capture-the-flag competitions, the idea of all three factions going at it on the same plain is one we can’t wait to see.
A dueling mode which has players focusing on their opponents’ weak spots and positioning their weapons accordingly means it’s not all button-bashing, either.
HALO WARS 2 – 21 FEBRUARY
We’ve already been hands-on with Halo Wars 2 and we reckon it could be up there with the best of them when it comes to strategy gaming.
Requiring players to tread a tactical tightrope of preparation, anticipation and reaction – all played out on a nervous knife-edge – Halo Wars 2 is far from easy (think chess, not Junior Monopoly), but it’s also the kind of game that could attract the attention of those who’d otherwise steer well clear of strategy games.
The game’s online mode helps, too, with Blitz offering a capture-the-flag game that lasts around five minutes. There’s no base building – just energy to collect and bases to defend, the balance between which soon becomes unexpectedly tricky.
Throw in the unerring pull of the Halo series – with its associated weaponry, vehicles and characters – and you’ve got a big-battle title that we can’t wait to play in full.
NIGHT IN THE WOODS – 21 FEBRUARY
This one’s a little bit different – and just might be an instant indie classic. A Kickstarter-funded adventure game that sees you steering Mae, a college drop-out, through her hometown and into the woods, Night in the Woods takes a fair few cues from Gone Home – and it’s all the better for it.
Focused as much on storytelling and character-building as it is on exploration and solving the puzzle of just what the melancholy heck is going on, don’t let the cutesy animal personae of NITW fool you: this is a title with big, dark ideas.
With a narrative that covers everything from paranormal abilities to a cigarette-smoking alligator, this is no ordinary cartoon mystery – and the closer you get to the secret lurking in the woods, the darker things are likely to turn.
TORMENT: TIDES OF NUMENERA – 28 FEBRUARY
A story-driven role-player with quite the heritage, Torment: Tides of Numenera set the Kickstarter funding record for video games when its campaign finished. Several delayed launch dates later and the anticipation surrounding its release has only grown.
The game’s inspiration is Planescape: Torment, arguably one of the greatest RPGs – both when it was released in 1999 and to this day – and Torment very much continues the narrative depth of that title.
Based in the tabletop setting of Numenera, combat and collection will sit secondary to storytelling as players steer the Last Castoff – a human previously the host of a powerful entity – through richly rendered realms where interaction is everything.
Early demos, for example, had players collecting clues from drunks to open portals and delving through painful memories to pop pimples. It’s immersive stuff and you’ll need a lot of time to play it, but it’s sure to be rewarding.