January 2016: Three Excellent Games You May Have Missed

I’ve done two of these now, focusing on tv premieres and film, and as you’d probably guess given January’s excellent selection of video game releases, I’m pretty excited to compile this particular feature together. January’s selection of games is traditionally quite sparse, but that just wasn’t the case this time around. Lots of games to get excited about with variety littered throughout, which is pretty much all you can ask for.

This War of Mine (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)

This War of Mine seemingly bears the same effect that you feel when playing XCOM… When your favourite character dies. Yeah, it’s pretty grim.

Instead of an alien threat trying to take over Earth, 11 bit studios’ This War of Mine places you in the fragile grip of a group of survivors trying to perceviere in a besieged city constricted by war. The element of survival is paramount here. You need to scavenge for supplies in the city, keep your survivors fed and well-housed, all the while trying to survive the grueling savagery of a war-torn world. Groups will try and raid your home – and they’ll kill if they have to. You’ll have to barter for goods, and you’ll also have to make massive decisions in the face of keeping your group alive.

Much like XCOM, if one of your survivors dies, they’re gone for good. It can happen at any time, really, and the effect that has on your group’s moral is significant. You have to think, plan, and devise strategies to keep your group alive, and if you can’t – you’re going to be in for quite a rough experience.

So yeah, This War of Mine is kind of depressing. It’s an intense look at war in a different light, and it’s a very good game. It’s been out on PC for a while and it’s finally made its way to the consoles, so there’s no reason as to why you shouldn’t give it a go. Just be prepared for very real, depressing, heart-sinking situations.

 

Gone Home (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)

Much like This War of Mine, PC players should be quite familiar with Gone Home. Fullbright’s first game was divisive amongst the community but highly-praised by the media. The game sheds all of the usual necessities video games have – quests, weapons, and so forth – for a fully exploration-driven experience.

Gone Home takes place in 1995 as you arrive home from a trip away. As you walk in, no one’s there. The house is seemingly empty. So you’ve got to go around, explore, and find out what’s happened, where everyone is, and why you’re the only one at home. The game doesn’t necessarily hold your hand, leaving you to explore at your own leisure and piece together the story the way you want to. It’s an exploration game, and all you need to do to continue the story is to, well, explore.

I highly recommend Gone Home if you haven’t played it before. It’s around two hours in length and I still remember how I felt having completed it a few years ago, with lots of different emotions swirling around my head. Gone Home is an experience that truly sticks with you, as its tale of love, trust, and family has stuck with me for years. Please, give this one a go.

 

Oxenfree (PC and Xbox One)

I highlighted this in January’s entertainment feature, and I feel like this game has received a heck of a lot of media attention but I’ll continue to reiterate – Oxenfree is incredible.

Night School Studio’s five-hour teen thriller is a beautiful and haunting Telltale-esque adventure that I completely fell in love with. The game’s story tends to dance around ghosts, rifts, and a couple of jump scares, and by the time you’ve completed it you’ll feel obliged to give it another shot. It features fairly realistic and dynamic dialogue, mapped in a way similar to Telltale but lacking the awkward pauses in between dialogue choices, making it a much more immersive experience.

The game’s not necessarily hard, either. Its handful of puzzles are fairly easy to complete and you shouldn’t have any worries getting around the game’s location, but the reason I really love Oxenfree is because of its story, its soundtrack, and the exceptional voice acting, all of which combine to create one of the best thriller/horror games I’ve ever played.

Oxenfree will also be making its way to PlayStation 4 eventually, and there’s apparently a movie coming via the way of Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment, which should be fairly interesting. And hey, if you have a PC or an Xbox One, you should absolutely give this one a whirl.

It’s funny that, in a month that usually serves up a very sparse lineup of games, we’ve already arguably got two Game of the Year contenders, as well as some incredible experiences to compliment them. Picking just three games for this list was tough, too, which is a testament to how good January has been. You’ll be hard pressed not to find something you’ll at least like out of January’s selections, and we’re just getting started with 2016. Here’s to another big month of video game releases!

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