Better late than never!
Every year I like to look ahead and pick out the games I’m most excited to play. I’m trying to be more deliberate in the games I pick up. I want to actually finish the games I buy this year so I’m holding out for the games I think I will have the time to actually play AND that won’t waste my time with grindy, laborious campaigns.
Here’s a collection of upcoming games that (I hope) will offer something new and exciting. I’m sure there will be some bummers as well as many games that get announced and released this year I had no idea I was going to love! I’ve included the current release date and some information about the designers and where you can wishlist it. I hope you enjoy!
A cute game I’ve had on my radar for a while, I’ve actually just started my playthrough on Switch last month. It’s a very cute, very funny adventure game that on its surface doesn’t seem to be anything more than a fun little romp but very quickly becomes a deeper plot to overthrow a massive corporation ruining people’s lives!
The Hong Kong Massacre
The Hong Kong Massacre feels like if Hotline Miami and Max Payne had a glorious baby. Gory and gratifying gunfights are marred by a somewhat dull story, but I’ve been enjoying my time so far and hope to finish the game soon.
For those who know me well know that Ian MacLarty’s Jelly Juggle consumed my play time for months. The simple mechanic was explored brilliantly throughout the 8 or so modes included with this free (what?!) mobile game. MacLarty is back with another juicy looking experience that I think will stand out as one of the more interesting action games of the year.
Another top-down action game, I feel like Ape Out is going to scratch the Hotline Miami itch I’ve had since Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number came out back in 2015. Where Hotline Miami had me play a human brutally murdering goons APE OUT will have me play a, well, Ape brutally murdering zookeepers or something. Point is, APE OUT is looking like another tight, top-down action arcade game that’s going to consume hours of my life searching for that perfect combo.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
I’ve never finished a Soulslike game. I started Demon Souls and Bloodborne but never got more than a third of the way through them. I think I’m going to beat Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the latest game from the madman Hidetaka Miyazaki who started it all. The reason I think this is the one for me is twofold. Firstly, it’s setting. I love the feudal Japanese aesthetic and FUCKING SAMURAI. Second, there’s large stealth component now where you can hide around corners and instant kill enemies, something I felt like I should be able to do in the other games but was never able to. So I think this is the Soulslike for me.
Knights And Bikes
This is the first game I ever crowdfunded and I’m so glad I did. Knights and Bikes is a co-op or single-player action adventure game. It was on my list last year… and on my list the year before that but, well, they needed more time. I was sold on the childlike innocence of Knights and Bikes and the openness of developers Rex Crowle and Moo Yu. They’re awesome, I’ve had a couple conversations with Moo via email and Twitter and he’s such a genuine guy just pouring his soul into this project. The game features an awesome art style and I can’t wait to pedal around the town of Penfurzy this year (hopefully).
In the Valley of Gods
Firewatch was one of my favourite games of 2016, so I was a little disappointed when I learned the developers, Campo Santo Productions, were joining Valve. They started as a scrappy, nothing-to-a-million-copies-sold indie studio who advocated for indie games and now they’re in bed with the massive PC storefront who fucks over indies left and right.
That said I can’t help but get excited about their next game. I jumped off the couch when I saw their logo in the trailer at the game awards in 2017 and hopefully In the Valley of Gods features just as interesting a plot and stellar voice acting as Firewatch because it most definitely features an equally breathtaking art style.
Church in the Darkness
Another game I had on my list last year, The Church in the Darkness ask the difficult question, “What if a cult got a hold of a member of your family? What would you do?” With big-name voice actors like Ellen McLain (GLaDOS in Portal) and her husband John Patrick Lowrie (Sniper in Team Fortress 2 and various characters in Dota 2) the team at Paranoid is trying to deliver an intimate, personal story with an intense stealth combat that puts the player-characters family on the line if you get discovered.
Now I know I shouldn’t indulge a game that glorifies the misrepresentation of sharks as a bloodthirsty predator, mercilessly murdering people just going about their day, but the game looks fucking hilarious. From the team behind The Killing Floor, Maneater stars a shark cut from his mother by illegal fishermen who decides to go on a revenge rampage through the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico. It looks awesome, and I know sharks are endangered species whose vilification through media like this only serves to reinforce the lack of sympathy, but I can’t wait to rip through hapless beachgoers.
As described on Funomena’s site: “Wattam is a delightfully, explosive, exploratory game from the creator of Katamari Damacy – Keita Takahashi.” I’m a big fan of Katamari Damacy and I’m an even bigger fan of experimental indies so this is the Stephan-Reilly-wombo-combo right here. The game’s E3 trailer has all the charm, adorableness, mouth noise music and sound effects of Katamari Damacy with a modern touch of air horns and walking poop emojis.
Undoubtedly the most talked about indie game in the mainstream, Ooblets is pitched as Stardew Valley meets Pokémon. Players manage a farm, meet friends and littler friends called “Ooblets” who join you in your exploration of the various world regions battling other Ooblet trainers. The game has captured the hearts of many (myself included) with its charm and interesting genre mash-up.
I’ve been following Manifold Garden since its first fascinating trailer at PSX 2015, and since then solo developer William Chyr has been quite open with the game’s development, often streaming it on Twitch. Seeing behind the curtain has been fascinating for an aspiring developer like myself. Manifold Garden is a first-person exploration game featuring Escher-esque worlds through which the player flies like Superman. It’s quite out there, and I’m ready to go there.
I don’t really know what the fuck this game is but going off their site alone I was laughing. Based on the short demo trailer on their site, it looks like a first-person adventure game with a colourful and sarcastic cast which now consists of mole and guac, as well as mole’s pet stalagmite Todd (NOT a stalactite)… I’m down for more Burrito Galaxy 65 in my future.
I’m not a big fan of turn-based gameplay, but this game wowed me with its incredible art style and cute story where a bunch of magic students (definitely not from Hogwarts or Luna Nova Magical Academy) “explore the twisted halls of a vast magic school, fight challenging monsters and bosses, and uncover dark secrets never meant to be found.”
I thought I would be sick of zombies by now. I’m definitely sick of the Whitey McStubbly archetypes of which this game stars two. I can’t help but get a little excited at the scenes of zombies piling over each other World War Z style we’ve seen in the game’s trailers so far. Watching piles of zombies being mowed down through the typical third-person combat that’s typical of story driven PlayStation games of late (Uncharted, The Last of Us and even God of War to an extent) seems like a fun time killer. Whether the story pans out at all remains to be seen, but it looks like a fun shooter.
Baba is You
This is a puzzle game where physically you move the pieces of the game’s rules and logic around the level to change what does what to solve puzzles. This opens up so many cool opportunities for playing with what we’re unused to having any control over in other games. Baba is You is shaping up to be a delightful little gem.
I’m super excited about Psychonauts 2. The original Psychonauts was one of my earliest gaming memories, my Aunt had it on PC and that’s where I first experienced Raz’s adventure at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp. It was a really seminal gaming moment for me, and later in my life, I went back and played all the other Tim Schafer/Lucas Arts adventure games like Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Maniac Mansion. With the sequel building off the standalone VR game Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, I can’t wait to dive back in and flex my telekinetic powers and see what DoubleFine’s capable of with the largest budget and time to make a game they’ve ever had.
Animal Crossing is being developed by Tom Nook & published by @Nintendo. Releasing TBD 2019 on Switch.
The announcement many were hoping for at E3 2018 finally came just a couple months later in the best reveal Nintendo’s delivered in any Direct I’ve ever seen. Tom Nook sitting at his desk, watching Isabelle join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and deciding while she’s gone he better get started on something for everyone to come back to. That’s all the information we have, but that’s all we need. Animal Crossing is back, finally.
My Friend Pedro: Blood Bullets Bananas
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have actually played this game before most in the mainstream press did when I was at Gamescom in 2017. Developer Victor Agren showed me some early levels of the game and I was blown away. I love the way this game makes me feel like a kickass-ninja-skateboarding-death machine and the uneasy feeling that swelled up every time the banana Pedro showed up to goad me on makes me feel like there’s more to this game then meets the eye… If you’re interested, check out an interview I did with Victor back in June 2017 about his work and life as an indie developer.
The Last Night
The Last Night and specifically lead designer Tim Soret were part of a large controversy last June when the game was shown on Xbox’s E3 stage. Past comments Soret made in 2014 were pro-Gamergate, anti-feminism and these tweets were brought up online as a reason not to support The Last Night. Soret responded on PC Gamer’s stage at E3 that those past tweets “don’t in any way represent where I am today or what The Last Night will be about.”
The game itself is set in a future where computers and robot have replaced all menial labour, an “era of leisure.” But the game’s protagonist, Charlie, is a second-class citizen who is disillusioned with the way things are. The game features a gorgeous 2D art style and has an open world to explore and characters to talk to, as well as gunfights and stealth sections. I’m interested in seeing how Soret’s values play out in this dystopic(?) future.
sU and the Quest For Meaning
I got a chance to play sU at both Montreal Comic Con in 2016 and Gamescom in the summer of 2017. Both times I thoroughly enjoyed my short demo and noticed the improvements in control and visuals when I played again this past summer. The premise is simple and intriguing, it’s an arcade platformer where the puzzle is in the collectables. It’s a tight, fast-paced game that Guillaume told me will have over 40 levels at launch.
Dreams is a bit of an enigma. The developers are pitching it as a game that gives players possibly endless creative power, and while it does feature a campaign of sorts with prebuilt levels the real focus is on the creation tools. It’s almost like a game engine of sorts, giving players the ability to draw and place anything they can think of, create any sort of logic for object and character behaviours and do all of this collaboratively via online co-op. Whether it will pan out remains to be seen but it’s an incredibly ambitious goal, and with the charm and adorable characters that made me fall in love with their previous hits LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway I’m sure it will be delightful in its own right.
Probably the biggest contender for most heckin’ cute game of 2019 (competing with Ooblets of course), TUNIC has been on my radar for a couple years now. TUNIC is an isometric homage to classic Zelda games and features an absolutely gorgeous and vibrant style. I’m very excited to dive into this beautiful-looking adventure.
Untitled Goose Game
After a little video of a goose harassing a gardener blew up with over 2 million views, Untitled Goose Game became the official title as people didn’t have a real title to use when discussing it. This game looks hella cute, and I hope this will be the short little experiment with one simple mechanism that Donut County was last year.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is being developed & published by @Nintendo. Releasing TBD 2019 on Switch.
The original Luigi’s Mansion is one of my favourite Gamecube games of all time. From playing at those gross McDonald’s demo stands to when I eventually got it for my own, I’ve probably played through the rather short game 3 or 4 times. That’s why I’m super excited to jump into another console worthy Luigi’s Mansion game after the somewhat disappointing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on 3DS left me wanting. With nothing more than a teaser to go off of, I’m hopeful that this will be the return to form Luigi deserves.
This game is so fucking cute. You play as a little bird, living its little bird life. Go around the forest, talk to your animal friends, solve platforming challenges and puzzles. This just looks like a genuinely pure (and brief) gaming experience.
Mineko’s Night Market
If you didn’t know I love cats, and I really like indie games, so obviously the marriage of these is clearly the best thing that could happen. In Mineko’s Night Market players are Mineko, a young girl who arrives on a Japanese inspired island overrun with cats. Meowza games say that players will “Discover the mysteries of the island while crafting crafts, friending friends, eating eats, and… catting cats.” I don’t know if I’ve ever catted cats before so I am hyped as hell.
This is a big change for Housemarque, the developers of some of the tightest action arcade games ever made like Stardust, Deadnation, Resogun and Alientation to name a few. After the very poor sales of their last game, Nex Machina, Housemarque announced they’d be taking a huge step back. After a lot of silence, we got a look at their next project Stormdivers a first-person battle-royale game that aims to take on the increasingly overcrowded genre.
I love Housemarque’s other games and after dipping my toes in the pre-Alpha tests it’s clear they’re applying their tight and intuitive design principles to the battle-royale genre. I’m worried that it will get buried in the recent deluge of battle-royale clones in popular games like Red Dead Redemption II Online, Battlefield V, PUBG, Black Ops IIII and of course Fortnite. But here’s hoping they shine through the rest and deliver a stellar game.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Titanfall 2 is one of the most underrated shooters of the past decade, which makes me so excited to know that with the Star Wars license on their next project Respawn Entertainment is going to get the attention I wish they’d had with Titanfall 2. As the first single-player, third-person Star Wars games we’ve gotten in years (and coming after 2017’s fiercely hated Star Wars Battlefront II) the pressure is definitely on for Respawn to deliver a stellar Star Wars experience but I’m very confident they can.
WitchBrook is being developed & published by @ChucklefishLTD. Releasing TBD 2019 on Windows.
Chucklefish Games CEO Finn Brice describes Witchbrook as “Stardew Valley meets Harry Potter” and notes in an interview with Red Bull that they’ve taken “inspiration from Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom Series, Studio Ghibli animations, and even the cartoon show Steven Universe at times.” These are all very good pieces of art, and given Chucklefish’s eye for putting out other good pieces of art like Stardew Valley and Starbound, I trust this team to make something lovely.
That’s it! Thanks for making it this far. Of course, some of these games are going to be delayed, some games are going to be announced and released this year that I’m going to love and some of these games might suck. But I’m going to try (and hopefully beat) them all.