The premiere dates of Persona 5 the Animation and Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online have been revealed.
In a pair of posts on Twitter, Aniplex USA announced Persona 5 the Animation and SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online will premiere on April 7. Both shows will be available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
The Persona 5 anime series was announced in July last year. A standalone anime special called Persona 5 the Animation -The Daybreakers- premiered just ahead of the release of Atlus’ PlayStation 4 RPG in Japan.
Nintendo has unveiled the lineup of titles that will be playable for Switch at PAX East this year.
As announced in a post on Nintendo’s official website, this will be the first time a number of titles—including Dark Souls Remastered, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy—will be playable by the public on Nintendo Switch.
Here’s the full list of Switch games that will be playable at Nintendo’s booth:
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
- Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
We get that reference.
Ready Player One spoilers here!
Ready Player One is a blast to watch, and a large part of that is the endless flood of references and Easter eggs with which the movie assaults your every sense. These span movies, TV, books, video games, and music, from the 1970s up through the 1990s–and to the present day, which goes beyond what even the original book referenced.
The movie just hit theaters, so it will be a while before we can get it at home and start poring over every frame. But in the meantime, we sent as many GameSpot staffers as we could spare to the theater and asked them to note down every reference, Easter egg, and in-joke we could spot in Ready Player One.
Here are the results. This won’t be comprehensive, but we tried our best. Oh, and for your benefit, we’re skipping most of the really obvious ones, like Gundam, The Shining, and the Iron Giant. You’re welcome.
Battletoads fight in the big battle scene
Battletoads was released on NES in 1991.
A squad of Master Chiefs (and other Halo characters) fight in the battle too
Artemis uses the Lancer from Gears of War
Wade buys the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python’s Holy Grail
Although he fails to count to three when he throws it.
Parzival uses the SPNKR rocket launcher from Halo
Parzival briefly changes into Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” outfit
He even does the dance.
Tracer from Overwatch appears several times
Chun-Li from Street Fighter is there too
And Lara Croft from Tomb Raider
Aech has a tiny Battlestar Galactica in her workshop
And the Valley Forge from Silent Running
Silent Running was a 1972 sci-fi film.
Wade lists Goldeneye as Halliday’s favorite shooter
Although it’s a little strange for the movie, since the N64 game didn’t come out until 1997, later than most of the other things Halliday loved.
Artemis uses an Alien chest-burster glove to scare Parzival
Artemis uses a Madballs grenade in the final battle
Madballs were a toy in the ’80s and even had a TV show at one point.
Halliday’s jacket pin is the electronic Simon game
Aech tosses Wade a murderous Chucky from Child’s Play
And its many sequels.
There’s a Back to the Future hoverboard in Aech’s apartment
There’s a “Save Ferris” logo in Aech’s apartment too
From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Samantha is wearing a Joy Division shirt when Wade meets her IRL
Joy Division is a post-punk band popular in the ’70s and ’80s.
Daito sports a Mortal Kombat sticker
Halliday has an Etch A Sketch on his desk at the end
The Magic Etch A Sketch was a toy you used to draw things that your siblings would periodically erase because they were jerks.
Halliday’s desk also has slides for a View-Master
These things were always pointless.
There’s a Beastmaster poster in Halliday’s room too
Beastmaster was a 1982 fantasy movie.
There are also Space Invaders decals on the wall
Is that Speed Racer in the first key challenge?
And the van from A-Team?
AND the 1960s Batmobile?!?!
It pops up later in the race as well.
That’s also totally Ryu from Street Fighter
Aech drives Bigfoot, the original monster truck
That looks like Deathstroke in the club scene
And that might be Deadshot
Joker and Harley Quinn are in the club scene too
Maybe the Distracted Globe was having DC night?
And Blanka from Street Fighter
Artemis’s bike is Kaneda’s bike from Akira
Akira is a 1988 anime film widely considered a classic.
The dance scene is a tribute to Saturday Night Fever
An iconic 1977 film about disco.
Parzival’s boombox is an homage to the 1989 movie Say Anything
Starring John Cusack.
Hello Kitty appears in The Oasis
Along with Badtz-Maru, the penguin, and other friends.
Halliday’s “funeral” is Star Trek themed
That’s El Dragon from Battleborn
Gearbox’s 2016 shooter.
Parzival uses the Hadoken move from Street Fighter
In his showdown with Sorrento.
Halliday and Young Halliday wear Space Invaders t-shirts
Paramount’s rebooted Ninja Turtles appear in final battle
Freddy Krueger is in the battle where we meet Aech
Christine from Stephen King’s Christine is in the race
Greatest American Hero logo on Parzival’s headset
A comedic superhero series that ran on ABC for three seasons in the earl ’80s.
Goro from Mortal Kombat is Artemis’s disguise
Duke Nukem in the Doom World
Right next to Freddy Krueger.
The Serenity is the ship that drops off the Gundam
During the final battle.
Iron Giant gives a thumbs up while descending into lava
Just like the end of Terminator 2.
A Chocobo appears in the final battle
It’s not clear if anyone from the Final Fantasy series is riding it.
The Winnebago from Spaceballs is in Aech’s garage
And there’s even more in the garage…
A Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica (The ’70s TV series)
A ED-209 enforcement droid from Robocop
Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Swordfish II from Cowboy Bebop
An EVA Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey
The cube used to turn back time 60 seconds was named after Robert Zemeckis.
Goldie Wilson campaign poster in Aech’s den
Goldie Wilson was running for mayor of Hill Valley in Back to the Future.
Art3mis uses the pulse rifle from Aliens
Can be seen in the nightclub scene. Also, the Art3mis action figure comes with it.
A copy of Schindler’s Ark is in Wade’s room
Spielberg directed the film adaptation, titled Schindler’s List.
StarCraft Space Marine
Wade’s aunt’s boyfriend, Rick, wears this skin in The Oasis.
The DeLorean has KITT’s grill
The talking car from the TV series Knight Rider.
These past few years have yielded an amazing roster of games that we personally love. With so many fantastic experiences out there, we began to grow curious over what games developers particularly enjoy. During our time spent at this year’s GDC, we had the opportunity to interview a wide variety of game developers and key figures in the industry, so we decided to ask what current game they find inspiring and admire the most, and why.
As you’ll see from the responses below, the games each developer adores might not come as a surprise to you, especially if you’re familiar with their work or tastes. Others had some surprising picks that you probably wouldn’t expect. What current games do you admire the most? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out feature detailing the 25 best games you might’ve not heard of that we saw at GDC 2018.
Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, Directors of Cuphead
Jared Moldenhauer: I have a library of 100+ games that I’m working towards currently. But one of the earlier games that I chose and found very rewarding was Hollow Knight. It’s an interesting and challenging Metroidvania. And the visuals and the universe that they created, and the feeling within all the characters; I was happy playing every minute of it.
Chad Moldenhauer: I recently started and really enjoy The Witness. I was looking forward to that for a long time!
Yoshinori Terasawa, Danganronpa Series Producer
Yoshinori Terasawa: I love the Persona series. I adore the sense of personality that those games have. I really like how cool and stylish they are.
Rami Ismail, Producer of Nuclear Throne
Rami Ismail: So many games have really sparked me. Games that really stand out to me are Engare and Farsh, by Mahdi Bahrami, both games based on this Iranian heritage. I was very impressed by This War of Mine, which gives a unique perspective on war. Just seeing that tremendous shift in perspective translated into a game that is so powerful and poignant, that reminds me that there is so much more out there.
Tom Kaczmarczyk, Producer of Superhot
Tom Kaczmarczyk: Our game director [Piotr Iwanicki] who actually came up with the idea, he often cites an indie flash game called, Time4Cat, as one of the inspirations, because it did have the same sort of time automation mechanic. For me, I love Hotline Miami because of its action sequences. A lot of what we pick up come from action movies, and from the way people design cinematic experiences where you fall into a certain archetype of a situation, and you immediately understand what’s going on.
Tim Schafer, Founder of Double Fine (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend)
Tim Schafer: Lately, a game that really made a big effect on me–it sounds really cliché–but Breath of the Wild was a huge thing. I just loved it. Everyone loves something different about games, there’s no one game that’s perfect for everybody, but it made me realize that my number one thing is exploration. I’m constantly exploring and surprised and I just love it and I play it all the time. I also love Loot Rascals, which is a great roguelike, and I’ve recently been playing Persona 5, which is just amazing. Amazing style and tone, it’s so polished.
Jason Roberts, Director of Gorogoa
Jason Roberts: In 2017, I was a big fan of Inside and Night in the Woods; those were big games for me. I’m big on tone, mood, atmosphere. These are important to me. And I love those games. And I also, this year, I think Florence and any game from Annapurna are just very carefully, precisely created with tone and atmosphere. That’s what I value.
Dean Ayala, Hearthstone Senior Game Designer + Dave Kozack, Hearthstone Lead Narrative Designer
Dean Ayala: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It’s a roguelike released back in 1997. A lot of the Hearthstone design team plays it. It’s super old-school.
Dave Kozack: It has been in continuous development; it’s one of those community projects. That’s why the name, Stone Soup. But we played a lot of rogue-likes while we were working on Dungeon Run, and that was one of our favorites. It’s just something we keep coming back to as a team. It’s a lot of fun.
Ian Dallas, Creative Director of What Remains Of Edith Finch
Ian Dallas: For me, the last game that affected me emotionally in a strong way was Universal Paperclips. A game about clicking on buttons and manufacturing paperclips that I just found myself lost in for 8 hours. It was really like a troubling emotional experience, and it’s amazing that it comes out of just text on a webpage. It reaffirms the power of video games and the way that they can teach you things about yourself and about the world that you couldn’t really internalize in any other way.
Chelsea Hash, Technical Artist of What Remains Of Edith Finch
Chelsea Hash: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Their commitment to the multimedia format and drawing from different rendering styles to support their vision was something that I was glad to be able to experience, something that was willing to think outside the box.
Damon Baker, Nintendo Publisher and Developer Relations
Damon Baker: I can’t choose one game. It is like choosing my favorite child! There are so many different types of experiences. Most recently I am working my way through Night in the Woods. I haven’t been able to play that previously, and having a lot of flights lately has given me more flexibility to get through a lot of indie content. Of course, I totally enjoyed Celeste. I vowed not to use assist mode on that game at all and beat it; but it took me 1800 deaths or something to get through it, but it was a beautiful game.
Matt Thornson, Director of Celeste
Matt Thornson: I’ve been really enjoying my time with Into the Breach. It’s amazing!
Victor Kislyi, Wargaming CEO (World of Tanks)
Victor Kislyi: Civilization. All of them, because I started playing from Civ I. Now, believe it or not, before playing World of Tanks last night I was playing Civilization and I was playing on the plane on my way here. Civ 6 is amazing, and it was my MBA. I’m a physicist by education but, playing Civilization, all those layers, economy, exploration, politics, military, science, religion–your brain is trained to juggle those multiple layers like almost instantly, or at least very, very correctly. And, that’s a good analogy with business, people, finance, media, failures, exploration, etc., etc. I think Civilization, as a concept, as a game, actually, is more valuable to humanity than Mona Lisa.
Yoko Taro, Director of Nier: Automata
Yoko Taro: I think that Grand Theft Auto IV and Super Mario Bros. are two big games that influenced me when making Nier. But with games from the past–not modern games–I felt more freedom or challenge as a player. Let’s say we have a black background with a white dot on it and let’s call it the space. I feel like that really creates freedom, especially in terms freedom of imagination, and challenging the dev team to create a world without really being able to express that world visually. In that sense, I feel that in the past, game developers were trying to create a new frontier. They were trying to expand the world, expand the universe of gaming industry.
Now that the game industry has matured pretty much now, a lot of people actually go for a more safe game. They try to make all the consumers happy with that one game. I think that that actually limits to what they can do and I feel that no one is really trying to expand that arena or expand that world anymore. I am a little bit sad about that.
Takahisa Taura, Designer Of Nier: Automata + Metal Gear Rising
Takahisa Taura: When The Witcher 3 came out, we all played it and had fun with it, but we also looked at it to see what would we do if we created a game like this. We were using The Witcher 3 as a learning experience on how to create an RPG. I think that’s where it all started. Well, that’s where we came from, so it wasn’t too difficult of a task to create a JRPG.”
Like the unbelievably popular book on which it’s based, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One sends viewers to the incredibile virtual world of The Oasis. It’s a VR paradise in which anything is possible, you can go anywhere, and everyone is welcome. Unfortunately, it makes no sense within the movie.
The Oasis is a beautiful fantasy, but it falls apart when you stop to think about it. Unlike Ernest Cline’s book, the film doesn’t have the time to delve into the specific rules for the virtual world. It leaves some of them deliberately vague to make room for plot twists and exciting action set pieces–like whether you can harm other players anywhere in the Oasis, or just in certain areas. The movie repeats other rules–like how progression and death within the Oasis work–as if they’re gospel, then ignores them in multiple scenes.
None of this should prevent you from enjoying Spielberg’s Ready Player One adaptation for what it is: A super fun homage to all the nerdy stuff we love. But since we also love picking those things apart, let’s explore a few reasons why Ready Player One‘s Oasis doesn’t work as a video game.
Movement makes no sense
This one should be fairly obvious, even to a casual viewer: The ways that players move within The Oasis don’t really work.
The movie does just enough to try to explain this that you might not notice right away. Wade has an omni-directional treadmill in his junkyard hideout, and you see those throughout the movie. Sometimes, he sits in a chair while he plays, presumably to mimic sitting in a car and other similar activities. Other players, like IOI executive Nolan Sorrento, have big, expensive-looking rigs that look like they might be able to move in more complex ways (not that we ever see that), while Aech’s van has wires that players can hang from.
Oasis players without these advantages apparently just run around on the street with their headsets on, as we see toward the end of the movie. Besides being incredibly dangerous, that just doesn’t make sense. Players are fighting on a huge battlefield in the movie’s climax; are they actually running that entire length, throwing punches and roundhouse kicks, while out in the streets of Columbus, Ohio? How does the Oasis detect your movement if you’re just dashing around on the asphalt in sneakers?
In that same battle scene, Aech tosses Wade a murderous Chucky doll to unleash on their enemies. We only see this in the real world, where actress Lena Waithe literally balls up her hands and mimes an underhand toss in Wade’s direction. Only, in The Oasis, Aech is currently inhabiting the Iron Giant (more on that later), and Parzival is driving his DeLorean through the carnage. Did the Iron Giant just stop what it was doing in the game to physically toss a Chucky doll into Parzival’s car? There’s a reason we only see that little gesture play out in the van, and not in the game.
It gets even worse when you think about a scene like the dance club, where Parzival and Artemis go to hunt down the second clue. They spend half the scene twirling gracefully through the air, spinning and kicking like mermaid ballerinas. But as we can see when our view returns to the real world, Wade is still sitting placidly in the chair in the back of his van. Are they using pre-programmed dance move macros? Either way, the movie doesn’t bother to establish that.
Death and progression make no sense
This is a big one, as it’s one of those rules the movie repeats over and over again, yet also breaks constantly. When your avatar dies in The Oasis, you lose everything you have–all your money, loot, equipment, and items. The movie’s version of The Oasis kind of has a leveling system, as it does refer to the levels of certain magic artifacts, like the level 99 artifact The Orb of Osuvox. But it never refers to characters’ levels, so we have to assume that your gear is the only method of progression that exists.
But besides the most hardcore, niche games in existence, that’s not how video games work, and if that’s how The Oasis worked, it wouldn’t be so popular. People definitely wouldn’t be investing their life savings into upgrades or equipment that they might lose permanently the next time they log in. Most actual video games have a way to store things you earn, and purchases you make–especially expensive ones–are tied to your account so you can’t lose them.
Well, doesn’t The Oasis have ways to store things? It must, since we see multiple environments–like Aech’s workshop and virtual home–where she has everything from furniture, clothes, and posters to vehicles and half-finished projects stored. And yet, an experienced player like TJ Miller’s character I-R0k is carrying “ten years’ worth of s***” on him at all times, as he laments in the climactic scene, before being decimated by the Cataclyst.
If there was a way to store things, surely I-R0k would have used it; so then what’s going on with Aech’s stuff? It makes zero sense, and it’s even worse when you consider the next point.
Combat makes no sense
In the book, there are PvP zones–player-vs.-player areas where you can attack other people’s avatars–and non-combat zones where you can’t, like the virtual school Wade attends. Like those VR schools, the idea that there are some places in The Oasis where you’re safe from being attacked is completely left out of the movie.
I can see why they’d choose this route. The movie tries to establish only the most basic and simple rules for this game world, and leaves everything else up to the imagination. And this creates opportunities for narrative drama, like when IOI’s sixers ambush Parzival and Artemis inside the Distracted Globe, a nightclub that, in a realistic game, would be a non-PvP social space.
But that also makes the previous point–that you lose everything your character has when you die–seem even more nonsensical. If any random player could walk up to you at any place and at any time in The Oasis, pull out a gun, shoot you in the head, and steal all your stuff, the entire virtual world would be a bloodbath that makes Planet Doom look like a merry-go-round. There’d be nowhere safe.
If a place like the Distracted Globe actually existed in The Oasis, it would have to be a non-combat safe zone, or it would be impossible for players to relax and have a good time there. But the movie establishes explicitly that the Distracted Globe, like Planet Doom and the rest of The Oasis, is indeed a PvP zone (unless IOI can somehow cheat and break the game’s rules, in which case, why would they need to do any of this at all?). And that doesn’t make any sense.
The Economy makes no sense
Aech being a superstar on The Oasis’s “mod boards” is a cute little character detail that establishes that she’s handy and resourceful, setting up her later use of her custom-built Iron Giant. But I have to ask: How does The Oasis’s economy work? Because it seems like it doesn’t work at all, if you look at it logically.
In the scene where Parzival and Aech go shopping after Parzival’s first big win, we can see that Tracer from Overwatch is a purchasable skin within The Oasis. We see her zipping around in several other shots, so presumably more than one player is running around with a purchased Tracer costume on. You have to assume Blizzard is making money off those sales, since they own Overwatch and by extension Tracer.
So why is Parzival so amazed when Sorrento tells him that IOI owns the Millennium Falcon? We don’t see any visual Star Wars junk in Ready Player One for real world licensing reasons, but if something like that existed within The Oasis, wouldn’t anyone be able to buy it? Why would that be impressive?
Maybe it’s just prohibitively expensive, so few people can afford to own one. OK, so where does Aech’s game mod workshop fit in? Games that support modding don’t typically mesh well with microtransaction-driven in-game economies.
If Aech builds and sells a custom Iron Giant, or the Galactica, or The Valley Forge from Silent Running, do the rights holders get a cut? Why doesn’t Aech just build everyone in The High Five a custom Millennium Falcon, with Ghostbusters decals and the dashboard from Knight Rider, that transforms into a Gundam suit and lasts indefinitely? Why would an artifact that lets you turn into a giant robot for two measly minutes, like the one Daito uses in the final battle, even be special if you can just build your own Iron Giant and run around in it forever (or at least until Mecha Godzilla owns you too hard)? It doesn’t make sense.
The Easter Egg hunt makes no sense
Lastly, the entire hunt for the Easter Egg makes virtually no sense. This is an interesting one, because the version in the book–incredibly obscure puzzles hidden in remote corners of The Oasis where you’d never think to look–arguably makes more sense, even if the movie’s high octane race and recreation of The Shining are more exciting.
When building his ultimate Easter egg hunt, Halliday would have known how gamers operate when faced with a challenge. Therefore, he would have known that any puzzle with a solution as simple as “drive the wrong way on the race track” would have been solved on day one.
You can even ignore the fact that IOI has teams of researchers supposedly poring over every second of Halliday’s life, and that the clue Parzival discovers–Halliday literally saying “put the pedal to the metal and go backward as fast as possible”–is way, way too obvious for them to have all missed it. Just look at the lengths gamers in the real world have gone to solve massive, game-spanning puzzles like Destiny’s Outbreak Prime, the Trials Evolution riddle, or Spelunky’s infamously elusive depths. And that was without the fate of “the world’s most important economic resource,” as Sorrento calls it, hanging in the balance.
As soon as it became clear that getting past King Kong was impossible, the thousands or even millions of players hunting for the first key would have simply brute-forced the solution by trying every possible variation of every action that could be taken during the race. Driving the wrong way is way too easy to have taken five years to discover. It doesn’t make any sense.
But that’s OK
I have way more questions about how The Oasis actually works. Like, how can Ogden Morrow be the curator? When the hunt started, there must have been thousands or millions of players clamoring to access the Halliday journals, despite the fact that they’re virtually empty by the time the movie takes place. One man dressed up as a robot butler couldn’t possibly handle all their requests. Does Ogg just slip into the character whenever Wade comes around? Maybe, but the movie doesn’t feel like muddying up that emotional reveal at the end with things like “details.”
What about Parzival’s climactic live broadcast to everyone in the entire Oasis? We see that every player has a floating droid companion that can take selfies for them. Does Wade’s have special abilities? Because if not, and every player has the option to broadcast a live video to the entire Oasis at any time, then this virtual world would be constantly flooded with spam and trolling and none of it would function. If Wade somehow gained this ability through his fame or wealth, the movie never explains it.
I could go on and on. The more closely you examine this movie, the less sense it makes. But the strangest thing of all is that I ultimately don’t care. Ready Player One‘s virtual video game world was designed to be as simple and accessible as possible, not to please nitpicking gamers, but to appeal to the widest audience it can. Ultimately, Ready Player One is a blast, and no amount of nitpicking can change that–not that that will stop us.
What were your biggest gripes with The Oasis or Ready Player One as a whole? Let us know in the comments below.
Coming out sooner than you think.
The annual Game Developers Conference is where you want to be in order to place your finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the games industry. Unlike E3, PAX, or Gamescom, GDC is a far more low-key show, where indies and AAA developers behind the latest and greatest mingle together to figure out what could be next for the gaming world. While the conference doesn’t focus on the spectacle that other shows do, it’s still a great place to check out some upcoming games that may not be as well known as others.
In this gallery, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting games we’ve played during GDC 2018. After exploring the GDC show floor and the conference’s surrounding events, which includes Double Fine’s Day of the Devs and an assortment of indie games from the The MiX event–we’ve narrowed things to some of the most evocative and exciting games we played during GDC 2018. Here are 25 games coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch–which are expected to see release this year, or early 2019.
60 Parsecs | PC
Surviving in the cold reaches of outer space with minimal resources can be tough–but it’s even worse when you’re leading a group of survivors who can barely stand each other. As a spiritual sequel to the post-apocalyptic survival game 60 Seconds, the space journey in 60 Parsecs takes things to the next level by having your reluctant crew of astronauts struggle to survive in the isolated depths of the final frontier. When you’re not worrying about dwindling supplies affecting your crew’s morale, you’ll have to contend with mysterious alien factions looking to interact with your crew–either through possession or by bringing your junker spaceship to their home planet.
Despite the bleak premise, 60 Parsecs is largely humorous in its tone and pokes fun at the many tropes and cliches of cheesy ’60s sci-fi. It’s a game about choices, where even deciding to stay put and repair your ship could lead to drastic consequences–or a happy accident where you’ll come into contact with peaceful aliens giving you valuable resources. Expected for release sometime in 2018 for PC, 60 Parsecs is a survival game that will make you appreciate the smaller victories you’ll have along your journey. | Alessandro Fillari
Away: Journey To The Unexpected | PC, PS4, Switch
Lovingly referred to as “anime Skyrim” by its developers, Away: Journey To The Unexpected largely lives up to its name. Right from the anime-inspired opening credits, you’ll know exactly the type of idealistic and upbeat vibe the game is going for. You play as a young boy who finds himself in a magical land after exploring his grandparents’ basement and then gets caught up in an epic quest to save the world. While this type of adventure may seem familiar, Away presents it in a particular way that makes it anything but.
While the lead character is smart and resourceful, he’s still a young boy with only a stick to defend himself with. Thankfully, he’ll encounter many different characters–such as an old wizard with a pair of cracked glasses and a sentiment tree creature–who can join his party and tackle many of the more challenging battles and puzzles that their young leader cannot. One of the more striking aspects of Away is its unique visual style. With all characters and monsters rendered in 2D, within a fully 3D environment, it exudes a rather rich and vibrant cartoonish-vibe that bolsters the upbeat nature of the game.
Launching in 2018 on PC, PS4, and Switch, Away: Journey To The Unexpected looks be a rather fun dive into a bizarre and colorful world where all it takes to expand your party is to reach out and grab a friend. | Alessandro Fillari
Bad North | PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Bad North is an endearing real-time tactics rogue-lite where you defend an island kingdom against a swarms of Viking invaders. To combat these foes, you command units of adorably tiny soldiers, each with their own unique tactical strengths and weaknesses. Bad North juxtaposes a cute minimalist visual style with mature bloody conflict, which is charming all on its own. However, what really pulls you into the experience are its mechanics, which are accessible, yet difficult to master. Situating units and executing attack formations is quick and simple, utilizing a rock, paper, scissors-like unit dynamic that’s easy to pick up and form strategies with.
As a roguelite, there are some punishing aspects to the game. For instance, when the leader of a unit dies, all the upgrades they’ve accumulated up to that point are lost. While this sounds excessive, it never dampens the experience or makes it overtly punishing, as the game encourages you to play multiple times in order to improve and better hone your skills.
If you’ve ever had interest in real-time tactics games but were always too afraid to try them, then Bad North should be a proper fit for you. And for genre veterans, there’s more than enough depth in Bad North’s mechanics that make it well worth playing when it releases sometime this summer. | Matt Espineli
Bard’s Tale 4 | PC
Mentioning The Bard’s Tale may conjure up images of the snarky comedy game from the mid-2000s, but developer IinXile’s second attempt at the franchise (third if you count the VR offshoot The Mage’s Tale) attempts to be much more faithful to the spirit of the original hardcore RPG series.
It adds the modern trappings of updated graphics and first-person exploration, though the developers say that there’ll be an option for grid-based movement and that some maps will be faithful, one-to-one re-creations of previous games’ dungeons. But Bard’s Tale 4 is otherwise a party-focused RPG adventure with a few unique additions. A playable GDC demo included the puzzle-upgrading system for some special weapons, spiritually similar to some of Destiny’s special weapons. You can earn helpful upgrades after solving arcane clues and completing specific tasks like slotting in specific gems or killing specific enemies using that weapon with it. And the combat is the big change for the series; turn-based battles play out in a limited grid-based system where your party can move around to gain attack advantages or to stay out of harm’s way.
And as a Bard game, there’s plenty of drinking and carousing. You’ll be able to craft a party full of hard-drinking musicians who gain powerful buffs from their alcoholic libations.
The Bard’s Tale is set for release on PC sometime in 2018. | Justin Haywald
Blazing Chrome | PC
Joymasher has dedicated years to developing retro games that recall some of the best titles of the 8- and 16-bit eras. Its latest work in progress, Blazing Chrome, mixes elements from Contra, Turrican, and Metal Slug. These homages–specific weapons, enemies, and interactive objects–are immediately recognizable and guaranteed to trigger feelings of nostalgia. More than just look the part, Blazing Chrome features satisfying controls and epic setpieces, the likes of which made games like Contra 3: The Alien Wars such beloved classics in the first place. We only had the opportunity to play a single level, but it was everything we hoped for after watching the game’s trailer, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the rest. | Peter Brown
Desert Child | PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
It’s hard out there for a young man on a desert planet with nothing but a rundown hoverbike and some change in his pocket. As a racing game with some light RPG mechanics, Desert Child puts you in the shoes of a drifter who has to earn enough scratch to keep his bike floating and fill his belly with a bowl of savory ramen. In order to make ends-meet, you’ll have to compete in a number of races against rivals looking to make a payday.
Created by Oscar Brittain, the upcoming Desert Child blends fast-paced racing and shoot-em-up action with moments of calm that make you appreciate what you have. Despite the lead character’s low funds, sitting down for a bowl of ramen and or simply lounging around on your hoverbike after races–win or lose–feel like victories in their own right. Desert Child oozes an infectious and uniquely cool style that uses a rather interesting implementation of rotoscope animation that recalls classic adventure games like Flashback or Out Of This World. Expected to launch sometime in 2018, Desert Child’s tale of a vagabond trying to stay chill is one you should keep an eye on. | Alessandro Fillari
Doctor Who | PC, Mobile
The inimitable Peter Capaldi may have taken his last turn as the doctor, but the tales of his exploits live on through Doctor Who Infinity. The game tells its story through comic book style cutscenes that feature actors from the show, headlined by Michelle Gomez as Missy. Capaldi isn’t a part of the project, though his lines are humorously filled in by Missy, though the game does feature a new central villain played by Bella Ramsey (Game of Throne’s diminutive standout Lyanna Mormont).
The story will play out over a series of five episodes that will release throughout 2018, and each will feature a different writing and art team. However, the core story will focus on the most recent round of featured characters: Missy, the twelfth Doctor, and companion Bill Potts along with support from Osgood, Nardole, and other series mainstays.
Following developer Tiny Rebel Games’ success on Doctor Who: Legacy, you’ll advance the story by solving Puzzles & Dragons-style gameplay quandaries. However, a brief demo for the game revealed a few new mechanics to that puzzle formula that change up the gameplay and will introduce an intriguing new set of challenges that go beyond simple matching.
The first episode is due out soon, but no firm release date has been set. | Justin Haywald
Evasion | PC
Whether it’s fighting against space aliens or zombies, VR first-person shooters tend to cover similar ground–making for a “been there, done that” feel when booting up your VR device. However, the upcoming Evasion–launching on Oculus and HTC Vive this year–expands upon what people expect from VR shooters, offering one of the most substantial VR-exclusive games in sometime.
Focusing on class-based shooting and squad gameplay with full range of movement with Oculus and Vive touch controls–Evasion pits multiple characters against waves of enemies as they tackle objectives and take out large bosses at the end of each stage. While other VR shooters go for a slower pace, Evasion ratchets up the speed by turning the action and movement into a quasi-shoot-em-up, where evading your enemies and getting off a quick shot is key.
Launching later this year, Evasion offers some surprisingly intense action and a sizable amount of content to dive into for fans looking for the next VR action game. | Alessandro Fillari
Lumines Remastered | Switch
If you owned a PSP, you undoubtedly had Lumines. In a stark library for Sony’s ill-fated system, Lumines was a shining light of hypnotic rhythm heaven. The Nintendo Switch definitely doesn’t suffer from the same dearth of content, but the introduction of Lumines is like a welcome reunion with an old friend; finally, you’ll be able to take an amazing musical journey with you once again.
Lumines Remastered is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC as well, and those will undoubtedly be excellent versions as well, but the portability of the Switch makes it feel like the primary platform. That and the fact that you can sync up to eight joy-cons together with the game for a full-on buzzing sensory experience with the game. I only hope they sell Joy-Con compatible straps with the Switch version. | Justin Haywald
The Messenger | PC, PS4, Switch
Retro 2D throwbacks are all the rage in today’s age. Often referencing the classics such as Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, and Ghost and Ghouls–many games seek to reach those same heights, but few go beyond emulating the same style and tone of games from the 2D era. The Messenger–coming to PC, PS4, and Switch–balances its affection for gaming’s past, while also crafting a game that pokes fun at the many tropes and challenges of the 8- and 16-bit eras.
Taking on the role of a young ninja, he quickly finds himself caught up in a grander conflict, forcing him to move between two vastly different versions of his reality, one 8-bit and the other 16-bit. While this may seem like a gimmick that’s a bit passé, it’s also tied to The Messenger’s broader Metroidvania design, where you’ll have to shift between the two realms while traveling through the interconnected world.
Coming later in 2018, The Messenger’s focus on challenging action and platforming have many callbacks to the classics. But in blending together a humorous story that feels like a loving sendup to the era, it looks to have a style all its own that manages to show off a cool new way to experience multiple eras of gaming. | Alessandro Fillari
Minit | PC, PS4, Xbox One
How much can you get done in a minute? In the aptly named Minit, you die every 60 seconds, starting over at your house each time. With the top-down adventure gameplay of the original Legend of Zelda and a low-fi, black-and-white art style, Minit puts a spin on classic games with an interesting concept inspired by the cartoon Adventure Time (where each episode is largely standalone and a fresh start for the characters). To help you progress, you get to keep the items you collect through each minute-long playthrough.
One minute, you might talk to someone who wants you to kill some nearby crabs; the next, you’ve already died once, found the crabs, and killed them for a reward. Slow-talking NPCs and getting lost will hinder your progress, but part of Minit’s charm is learning just how much you can do in an incredibly short time.
Minit is developed by a collaboration between Kitty Calis, who most recently worked on Horizon Zero Dawn; Jan Willem Nijman, co-founder of Vambleer; Jukio Kallio, a freelance composer; and Dominik Johann, art director of Crows Crows Crows. | Kallie Plagge
Mosaic | PC, PS4, Xbox One
First shown at GDC this year, Mosaic is a story-driven game about the mundane parts of modern life. Developer Killbrite Studio showed off 10 minutes of the game featuring a person commuting to their job at a generic corporation, though the full game is planned to be a series of vignettes. A significant part of Mosaic’s storytelling is done through your in-game smartphone–with it, you can check Orwellian emails about tardiness demerits and play a clicker game as you stand idly on an escalator. (The clicker game even comes complete with microtransactions using in-game money.) The smartphone is an antidote to the game’s focus on repetitive, everyday actions; just like real life, you can pull it out during the boring parts of your day.
Mosaic takes inspiration from games like Inside, and the team also cites Thirty Flights of Loving and Kentucky Route Zero as recent favorites. Killbrite Studio previously made Among the Sleep, a first-person horror game starring a toddler, and The Plan, a game about the struggles of being a fly. | Kallie Plagge
Mothergunship | PC, PS4
If there’s one thing you can say about the roguelike FPS Mothergunship, it’s that it loves its guns. Before you know it, you’ll be armed with several machine guns and grenade launchers, which the game offers up rather generously. But once you dive a bit further in, you’ll see the game’s rather complex crafting system–allowing you to place connectors and modifiers onto your guns–you’ll discover the game’s true passion for weapons. In your fight against alien invaders, you’re going to need more than just two guns to fight back against the legion of giant bosses and countless minions.
As a roguelike experience, each run will give you a random assortment of guns to use to take down your enemies. Once you acquire enough resources, you’ll be able to craft and combine new guns, allowing you to place shotguns, machines guns, and grenade launchers–in that order–on one hand, with the other using flamethrowers and rockets launchers simultaneously. It’s a gloriously stupid system, and the game lets you run with it.
Mothergunship’s greatest strength–aside from its vast arsenal–is that it’s remarkably self-aware of how ridiculous it is. And with its release in 2018, players will be able to experience what it’s like wielding 5 or more weapons at once–all the while dodging oversized projectiles from minions and baddies in increasing difficult runs. | Alessandro Fillari
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden | PC, PS4, Xbox One
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an upcoming tactical turn-based strategy game developed by Bearded Ladies Consulting, a studio comprised of individuals who previously worked on Hitman and Payday. Based on the popular Swedish-made tabletop RPG franchise of the same name, the game puts you in control of a party of mutated humans struggling to survive the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic world. While the game bears similarity to the critically acclaimed XCOM franchise, don’t let that fool you. Mutant Year Zero brings its own unique twists to the formula with an emphasis on stealth, freeform ability customization, and exploration across a large interconnected world.
One of the most compelling aspects of the game is the ability to sneak around enemies in real-time, allowing you to position your group of mutants in more advantageous position before launching into turn-based combat. This small addition gives the formula a nice spin, offering you more strategic control in your approach and a deeper sense of connection to each skirmish.
Mutant Year Zero’s world and characters are also particularly striking; humanoid pigs and ducks walk alongside mutated humans across its devastated, yet mysterious post-apocalyptic world. At first glance, it’s difficult not to be thrown off by its over-the-top ’80s-era sci-fi tabletop RPG aesthetics, but that’s largely what makes the game so intriguing when you see what it’s attempting to do mechanically. It takes the turn-based tactical RPG, plays with its most well-established mechanics, and then houses it within a bizarre and striking retro post-apocalyptic world. If you’re a fan of XCOM and tactical stealth games, then Mutant Year Zero should be at the top of your watchlist this year. | Matt Espineli
Noita | PC
Noita, named after the Finnish word for “witch,” is a 2D rogue-lite where every pixel is simulated. That means you can burn, explode, or melt most environments; set fire to wood and watch it crumble, or soak yourself in blood to avoid catching fire yourself.
You play as a wizard who possesses a floaty sort of jump as well as different magic staffs. Between levels, you get a chance to upgrade your spells. Each level is procedurally generated, and death is permanent, so learning as you go is paramount.
We played a build of Noita using a controller, which made it incredibly difficult; developer Nolla Games is focused only on a PC release currently. But burning or exploding your way through levels is impressive to watch and satisfying to execute, making this a game to keep an eye on. | Kallie Plagge
Pathfinder: Kingmaker | PC
Games like Divinity: Original Sin II and Pillars of Eternity show that there’s a passionate audience for old-school adventure games. But for players looking for a game that follows the Pathfinder ruleset, Pathfinder: Kingmaker looks to fill that niche.
For casual players looking for a general single-player RPG experience, Kingmaker will have streamlined systems that allow you to quickly make character upgrade decisions whether you’re familiar with the Pathfinder ruleset or not. But if you’re looking to create your own character, or just want to make very specific character upgrade choices, the game will have some of the more recent Pathfinder role-playing game rule additions.
The developer, Owlcat Games, hopes to have the game out on PC in 2018. And the team is exploring the potential for bringing the experience to console as well. | Justin Haywald
Pool Panic | Switch, PC
“The world’s least realistic pool simulator” is an accurate descriptor for Pool Panic. In this animatedly goofy game from Adult Swim, you knock around an anthropomorphic cue ball to try and hit other balls into assorted gaping holes. But those other balls don’t always want to go willingingly into the black unknown. Sometimes they’re hiding in porta-potties. Or maybe you have to knock around a grill to scatter hamburgers on the ground and summon squirrely-looking balls from trees. And sometimes the balls are bears that will actively rush at you and try to knock you into the hole instead.
There’s no limit to the strokes you can take to accomplish your goal of hitting every ball in the hole in this physics puzzler, but the game does track of how many hits it takes you to finish each puzzle as well as whether you scratch. So if you’re an overachiever, you can go for the high score. Or you can do what I did and just indiscriminately hit balls with reckless abandon until they all fall in. Pool Party lets you make your own weird fun. | Justin Haywald
Rune | PC
Developer Human Head is resurrecting the Rune franchise, and it’s shaping up to be an intense, violent exploration of Norse mythology. Formerly Rune: Ragnarok (now just Rune), the focus of the game is still on the apocalypse, but there will be a heightened emphasis on multiplayer both co-op and competitive. Story paths will let you put your allegiance behind the main pantheon of gods–including the instigator of Ragnarok himself, Loki–but the focus of Rune’s GDC demo was the combat. The game encourages you to take weapons from your enemies and try out different combat styles. And of course it wouldn’t be Rune if you couldn’t rip off your opponent’s arm and use it to bludgeon him with.
Rune includes ample sailing as well, allowing you to get to your destination in the northern wastes a little more quickly when you have to cross a body of water (and making sure you don’t succumb to the frostbite of the game’s icy waters). But one thing that was pointed out in the demo is that the 3km x 3km map is meant to prioritize density of experience over having a wide but empty world.
Rune is set for release sometime in 2018, and we’ll be keep a close eye on it as it approaches launch. | Justin Haywald
Shadows Awakening | PC, PS4, Xbox One
In this Diablo-style action RPG, you take on the role of a demon named The Devourer, who resurrects a fallen warrior in order to continue their quest for more power. While most action-RPG games focus on a single character, Shadows: Awakening–in an interesting twist–focuses on your entire party, which is led by the The Devourer. In addition to fighting enemies in the mortal realm, you’ll also travel to the shadow realm and fight specters as the demonic leader.
Blending together more adventure-like puzzle-solving and storytelling with its action-RPG gameplay, Shadows: Awakened focuses on letting players define their experience, with aspects of the world reacting to it. Set for release in 2018, this isometric action-RPG is one you’ll want to keep an eye out for later this year. | Alessandro Fillari
Spartan Fist | PC
Spartan Fist is a game that focuses on letting you punch stuff. It’s really that simple. Playing as a former detective caught up in a gladiatorial-style competition, you’ll have to make it through several randomly generated levels through a maze-like coliseum, where the crowd awaits bloodshed from your ridiculously overpowered fists. Instead of swords and spears, you’ll pick up a variety of different gauntlets for each fist, offering unique modifiers for your fighter.
Coming in 2018, Spartan Fist keeps things simple. Just punch bad guys hard enough, and they’ll explode. The crowd goes wild, and you’ll continue on to the next fight. What more could you want? | Alessandro Fillari
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes | Switch
Travis Strikes Again takes the No More Heroes series in a very different direction. While thematically it retains the vulgar excitement of the previous games, the latest version promises to stretch the action across a variety of different gaming genres. The demo for GDC focused on a top-down beat-em-up that showcased frenetic, arcade-style combat, but it retains the series signature elements like shaking the controller to power-up your blade and saving by sitting on a toilet.
Eclectic and energetic, even by developer Suda 51’s standards, Travis Strikes Again is likely to be divisive for the change from No More Heroes’ previous third-person, cel-shaded style, but thematically, the game feels like a natural fit series for the series’ edgy humor. You can see the GDC demo in from start to climatic mini-boss finish right here. | Justin Haywald
Untitled Goose Game | PC
Geese are notorious assholes. In Untitled Goose Game, you get to play as a huge jerk of a goose whose entire purpose in life is to cause mischief. You start with a goose to-do list that includes things like “get the groundskeeper wet” and “get into the garden,” and most things involve tricking a human man and running amok.
Developer House House says Super Mario 64 was one of its early inspirations for Untitled Goose Game–it looked to Mario as an example of a 3D protagonist with distinct personality and character. And the titular untitled goose definitely makes a big comedic impact without saying anything (though you can press X to honk). So far, it’s looking like a fun, funny adventure in being a little bit of a dick. | Kallie Plagge
WHAT THE GOLF? | PC
What if a golf sim were pretty much everything except actual golf? What the Golf is a cheeky anti-golf game where each level plays by its own rules. It basically works like a golf game in that you aim, charge the shot, and fire, but it otherwise doesn’t behave the way you’d expect. Sometimes the club goes flying instead of the ball, sometimes there are portals, and there are even a few levels that parody Superhot and its time-bending mechanics. No matter what, though, it’s a lot of fun.
Like the game itself, developer Triband has a sarcastic and lighthearted sense of humor. When we asked what their favorite golf games were, members of the team listed Quake, XCOM, and Hatoful Boyfriend–though they said they had played Golf Story. | Kallie Plagge
The World Next Door | PC
Anime-inspired visual novel/puzzle game The World Next Door is still in its early stages, but developer Rose City Games has shown off a short demo that’s left us intrigued. It stars Jun, a human girl who’s been taken to the realm of the monsters. Humans can only live a dozen or so days in the monster world, so of course Jun gets trapped there. She and her new monster friends have to figure out how to save her before she dies, and they also get into some fights along the way.
The World Next Door combines stylish visual novel storytelling and art with real-time puzzle battle gameplay. While we only got a small taste, co-founder of Rose City Games Corey Warning says the team is inspired by the narrative styles of Pyre and Banner Saga. This is also the first game published by anime and manga company Viz Media, so we’re keeping it on our radar. | Kallie Plagge
Zanki Zero: Last Beginning | PS4, PC
Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is the latest game from the creators of the cult favorite Danganronpa series. At first glance, Zanki Zero bears visible similarities to Danganronpa; it features an ensemble cast, pixel art in its menus, and purposefully flat environment textures. But unlike those games, Zanki Zero is a survival-RPG with a light dose of old school first-person dungeon crawling.
The game puts you in control of a group of eight people–each representing one of the seven deadly sins, albeit with the exception of one–who have awakened from a deep sleep only to find Earth in ruins. Before long, they figure out that they age incredibly fast and are only capable of living up to 13 days. However, a mysterious arcade machine allows them to come back to life after perishing. This throws the group onto a journey to solve the mystery behind their accelerated aging as well as what happened to the world.
Age plays a key factor to the story and moment-to-moment gameplay, as your characters steadily grow older as time progresses. It even affects the abilities of your characters. For example, a character who is a child can only carry so many items and cannot brandish a weapon. As a result of your group’s accelerated aging, characters are expected to die often, and depending on how they die, they may earn new ability bonuses when revived.
Aside from Zanki Zero’s aging mechanic, one of the most fascinating aspects of the game is the intrigue of its story and characters. As to be expected from a game from the creators of Danganronpa, there’s a host of secrets lurking in the darkness of each character’s psyche. We only played a brief demo of the game, and we already have so many questions concerning the state of the world and its characters. Suffice to say, we can’t wait to uncover Zanki Zero’s myriad secrets. The game currently has no confirmed release date, but it’s expected to release on PS4 and PC. | Matt Espineli