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Monday, January 4, 2016

The key games of January 2016: Forget catching up on that backlog


January is meant to be the quiet time of year, in terms of new releases, and that means it's meant to be the time we catch up on the unfinished games from last year. But this year is set to get off with a bang, with a bunch of great looking games to look forward to.

One of the best (and most underrated) Resident Evil titles gets a re-release on new generation hardware, there's two new JRPGs to look forward to (and one of them is a new Final Fantasy, to boot), and Jonathan Blow finally releases his hugely anticipated open-world puzzle game, The Witness. And that's not to mention there's also a new Assassin's Creed, a port of This War of Mine, and stuff like Darkest Dungeon and Slain to look forward to as well.

Oh, and AN ATELIER GAME RELEASE OHBOYOHBOYOHBOYOHBOY. Ahem.

Yep, January's going to be a big one.

Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India - 12/1/16

I really enjoyed the previous Assassin's Creed Chronicles title. Set in China, and with a female protagonist, it was an original and interesting little experiment, that made good use of level design to make for some interesting 2D stealth platforming gameplay. The second one - a long time in the making, as it turns out, takes the franchise to India for the first time and should be a lot of fun.

Related reading: Matt's review of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China.



Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster - 19/1/16

Resident Evil 0, originally released on the Gamecube way back when, is my favourite in the series. The opening setting, a train, really set the tone for one of the most exciting and interesting examples of the survival horror genre that we've seen to date. After the success of the HD re-port of Resident Evil last year Capcom has now done the same with the prequel, and this should look great on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Related reading: Jed's review of Resident Evil HD Remaster.



Darkest Dungeon - 19/1/16

Darkest Dungeon will be the first game in the running for 2016's DDNet art style of the year award. An grim, but intensely beautiful art style is supported by, we're promised, a difficult, classical dungeon crawling experience which should appeal to the real veterans of the genre. Those of us that grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons will find this one especially appealing, no doubt.



Atelier Escha and Logy Plus: Alchemists of Dusk Sky - 19/1/16

The second in the Atelier Dusk series lands on the PlayStation Vita, and you all know what that means, right? Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy. I love the Atelier series. It's my favourite JRPG franchise bar none, and Atelier Escha is actually one of the better titles in the series. Endearing characters, clever, classical turn-based JRPG mechanics mixed in with a deep alchemy system, and the most beautiful music and visual art style you'll come across. This will be an early contender for my favourite game of 2016.

Related reading: Matt's review of the original PlayStation 3 release of Atelier Escha and Logy.



Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam - 22/1/16

Nintendo always pulls out something fun and entertaining when it comes to turn its iconic Mario franchise into an RPG. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is the latest edition in this particular sub-franchise, and it promises much the same kind of gameplay that people have grown to love; a heavy emphasis on humour, light puzzle design, and a combat system that melds real-time timing and precision with turn based strategy. Nintendo's 3DS gets off to a strong start this year.

Related reading: Matt's review of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros.



Civilization Revolution 2 Plus - 26/1/16

The PlayStation Vita has always been an under appreciated console, but one genre it has been especially under represented with is the strategy genre. Civilisation Revolution 2 Plus will go a ways to remedy this, offering a streamlined, but still quite in-depth turn based strategy system that tasks players with nothing short of global conquest.



Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS) - 26/1/16

If Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter had a baby together, it might look like Final Fantasy Explorers. Combining the classic Final Fantasy aesthetic with an action-RPG system that utilises a similar quest-based progress structure that we see in Monster Hunter. The focus on multiplayer is also there, with up to four players being able to quest together, either over the Internet or for some intense local multiplayer action.



LEGO Marvel’s Avengers - 26/1/16

LEGO games are always reliably good fun, and we're looking forward to giving this a whirl on the new generation of consoles when it lands in January. Brick collecting, simple puzzle solving, and dozens of characters to collect will all combine to offer reliable fun for the whole family. Though we do wish there was more innovation in this particular series, we can't deny the fact we keep buying the things.

Related reading: Nick's review of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.



The Witness - 26/1/16

This is perhaps the most most anticipated game in January. Jonathan Blow's long awaited Witness promises to be a truly open world puzzle/ adventure game, and knowing Blow's work, the creativity that will be on display in the puzzles will be incredible. This one will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive (for now, at least), and it's great to see Sony backing titles such as this and last year's Everybody's Gone to the Rapture to go with its blockbuster stuff.



Slain! - 27/1/16

Slain! wears its influences on its sleeve; it's clearly inspired by the classic Castlevania games. With a pixelated, dark gothic-style art style, we're promised difficult action, heavy metal-style attitude, and plenty of gore. Whether the level design manages to meet the quality of the classic Castlevania games people love so much remains to be seen, but early signs are looking good.



This War Of Mine - 29/1/16

This War Of Mine is a game that's already available on both PC and mobile, and we have already sung its virtues many times over. The good news is that it's now coming to console, and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners will now be able to experience one of the most important games about war ever invented. It's not exactly entertaining, in the traditional sense, but it's nevertheless the kind of games-as-art experience that everyone should, well, experience.

Related reading: Matt's review of This War Of Mine on iPad.



So that's just some of the January highlights to look forward to. What games will you be getting into?

- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
The key games of January 2016: Forget catching up on that backlog
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