Between the hardcore action of Nioh, the long-awaited indie Night in the Woods, and the end-of-the-month double-whammy of Torment: Tides of Numenera and Horizon: Zero Dawn, single player gamers were not left wanting for new releases in February.
Some might still be working through the big games of January—surely, the first quarter is just a dumping ground for releases that missed Christmastime, right? Wrong. If anyone was hoping to catch up in March, they might have forgotten that March is the new November.
Among OnlySP’s most anticipated games, of course, is the long awaited launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, alongside Nintendo’s new handheld/console hybrid, the Switch.
By all accounts, Breath of the Wild presents an absolutely enormous rendition of Hyrule, several times larger than the province of Skyrim. But even if you do not live in PAL territories (where the equally huge Horizon is releasing soon), the non-Nintendo consoles are also being well served. Here are three other games to keep an eye on this month.
The original Nier, part of the cult series Drakengard, came at an odd time for publisher Square-Enix.
Being shortly after the release of Final Fantasy XIII—a game with excellent graphics yet unable to hide its lack of depth—Nier was quite the opposite. Reviewers and players alike praised the game’s idiosyncratic tone, characters and original score, with criticism levelled at a few repetitive mechanics and graphics that were considered substandard for a Square-Enix title.
As the game was not a massive commercial hit, some might say it was an unlikely candidate for a sequel. And yet, despite the dissolution of developer Cavia, Square must have seen the value in letting director Yoko Taro continue his work.
Drakengard 3 came and went—but it was, similarly to Nier, a budget title. In contrast, Nier: Automata is a double-A or even triple-A production and boasts top-tier talent from across the Japanese video game industry.
With PlatinumGames doing the bulk of development, it combines the Zelda-like exploration gameplay of the first Nier with their characteristic brand of Devil May Cry-inspired action. Working alongside Platinum are the series’ composer Keiichi Okabe and renowned character designer Akihiko Yoshida, whose work fans might recognise from Final Fantasy XII and Bravely Default.
The story has been kept mostly under wraps—although the game released last month in Japan, so be wary of online spoilers—but it is intended to appeal to fans of the series and newcomers alike. Between its well-received demo in December and scoring a 39/40 from Famitsu, Nier: Automata looks to be a must for fans of both PlatinumGames and JRPGs.
Nier: Automata drops on March 7 for PlayStation 4, with a Steam release to follow later in 2017.
MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA
It might be awkward for EA and Bioware that the latest in their blockbuster Mass Effect series has less buzz than a sequel to Nier, but it is not entirely unexplained. Whether by the slow progression from RPG to “bro-shooter”, Mass Effect 3‘s notoriously divisive ending, or just a general dissatisfaction amongst long-time Bioware fans, the series has become quite difficult to sell.
Andromeda attempts to split the difference between RPG and action-game fans by combining the first Mass Effect‘s planet exploration and 3‘s multiplayer combat. These two aspects are the best of their respective games, leaving the biggest question mark over Andromeda‘s story and characters.
In the last few weeks, these seem to have been answered partly by stoking hype for the level of sex scenes and nudity more than a season of Game of Thrones. That’s right: Bioware are doubling down on the aspect that nearly sunk the original Mass Effect beneath a wave of negative press—so much so that one developer proudly said their work was basically “softcore space porn”, before walking it back to reassure fans that these scenes will be “tastefully done”.
Still, there are not too many series out there that offer epic, triple-A-quality space adventures. With Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware is aiming to turn the series into an evergreen franchise of space-opera RPGs, so they cannot afford to let this one drop with a whimper.
Fans of the original games, of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and of other sci-fi games should keep an eye on this one. After all, in a best case scenario it could end up as beloved as the first.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has set course for March 21 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PCs.
Last but not least—featuring the best graphics and gameplay of 1996—is Strafe.
If you, like many, have loved retro revivals of late but wish they could be more three-dimensional, this fast-paced FPS is to mid-nineties shooters what Shovel Knight is to Mega Man and friends.
Strafe combines authored levels with a procedural system so that, although encounters are hand-crafted, players cannot guess what will be around the next corner every time they load up.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek advertising (for more, see the game’s Kickstarter page here), Strafe is not a comedy; it is described by designer Thom Glunt as a “straight-up action game”. Fans of last year’s Doom or Devil Daggers will want to keep this firmly locked in their sights.
Strafe is scheduled for March 28 on PlayStation 4, Windows PCs, macOS X and Linux.
Although there are several other new games dropping with the Nintendo Switch, there are not many single player games—if you missed Square’s JRPG throwback I Am Setsuna, it gets a re-release on the Switch, as do the three Tomorrow Corporation games, World of Goo, Little Inferno and Human Resource Machine.
For lovers of dark humour and stealthy goblins, Styx: Shards of Darkness comes to PS4, Xbox One and Windows PCs on the 14th. On the same day, the mysterious visual novel collection Danganronpa 1•2 Reload hits PS4.
Players of a more monster-hunting persuasion can enjoy Toukiden 2, releasing on PS4, PSVita and Windows PCs on the 21st, and if you want even more HD collections, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMix completes the saga-so-far on PS4 come March 28, on the same day as PaRappa the Rapper Remastered comes to the platform.
Finally, Frozenbyte and GameStop’s action-strategy-roguelike Has-Been-Heroes is also scheduled for release on the 28th for PS4, Xbox One, Windows PCs and Nintendo Switch.
Did we miss anything you are looking forward to this month? Share in the comments below, and, until next time, keep enjoying the video game bounty that is 2017.