Having released back in January to a very positive critical reception, Oxenfree seems to have flown under many players’ radars. Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who end up opening a rift into another dimension. Assuming the role of a girl named Alex, your decisions will ultimately affect how the game plays out and what kind of relationship you’ll have with each of the other members of the group by the end of the game.
It’s not an overly long game, but Oxenfree offers one of the more unique and interesting experiences to have released this year. If you’re looking for something that’s got a ton of story, some supernatural elements, and some emotional decision making, then Oxenfree should be at the top of your list.
Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma
The Zero Escape series is often overlooked, thus it should come as no surprise that this year’s release in the form of Zero Time Dilemma suffered a similar fate. Zero Time Dilemma tells the story of nine participants trapped in an underground facility. The only way to get out is through an escape hatch that only opens when six people are killed.
Who dies, of course, comes down to you. With fiendishly tricky environmental puzzles, and some truly tough decisions to determine who lives and who dies, Zero Time Dilemma is a mature puzzle game not like anything else out there. It’s currently available on PS Vita, 3DS, and PC too so there’s plenty of options for where to play it.
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2
The first Garden Warfare was pretty damn popular with the kids. It offered tight FPS action in a brightly colored, comedic world. When Garden Warfare 2 launched at the beginning of this year, it only further expanded on its predecessor’s strong points, delivering one of the most enjoyable shooting experiences to have released so far. With a ton of single-player content, co-op missions, and a competitive multiplayer mode to boot, Garden Warfare 2 had plenty to keep players going during the usually quiet months following the peak season.
Despite glowing reviews leading to the game averaging at an 80 on Metacritic, Garden Warfare 2 was largely overlooked, leaving its online lobbies somewhat lacking in players less than a year down the line. Do Kernel Corn a favor and lend a hand.
Despite looking like a bit of a cross between a match-3 game and a Tetris clone, Tumblestone is one of the most enjoyable and freshest takes on the puzzle genre this year. With the gameplay focusing on punishing you for any wrong move you make, Tumblestone makes you think about each and every move, and truly sweat when you’re under pressure. Though there are a number of different modes for single-player, the game is best enjoyed with a couple of friends in couch co-op mode.
Despite being free for Xbox Live Gold members with an Xbox One in July, Tumblestone seemed to be largely overlooked by many players out there. If you’re looking for a game to scratch that puzzler itch you’ve got, or need to keep some friends occupied at the weekend, then Tumblestone may be worth a try.
Hyper Light Drifter
Following in the footsteps of many games before it, Hyper Light Drifter falls into the Souls-like genre, although its appeal goes far further than just tough, methodical combat. Hyper Light Drifter has a retro charm in its visuals and sound design that pairs perfectly with its lack of dialog both in terms of audio and on-screen writing. The story of this world is told through picture art when you speak to NPCs, and other than that you’re left to find your way in this world and piece the story together yourself.
Pair this sense of complete loss and cluelessness with some mighty fine combat and incredibly challenging but rewarding boss battles, and Hyper Light Drifter is a game that you can’t afford to overlook. It may seem daunting at first, but persevere and a rewarding experience awaits.
It’s not often that a triple-A title is overlooked, especially when said title is developed by id Software and published by Bethesda. Despite its gory showcase at E3 back in 2015, Doom released in May to a bit of a stunted fanfare. Despite the game ultimately reviewing well, it was initially met with skepticism because its review embargo only lifted on the release date, a sign often associated with developer/ publisher concerns over the quality of the game.
Regardless, Doom smashed this notion out of the park and provided over 10 hours of high-octane action and serious gore. Doom is an FPS of pure, unadulterated fun. If you want to warm your trigger fingers up for the wave of FPS titles arriving in the peak season, Doom is a great way to do exactly that.
Having only released in July, Headlander is the latest game from Double Fine Productions and is filled to the brim with their classic style of humor. A Metroidvania-styled game that has players operating a floating head, Headlander tasks you with assuming the control of robot bodies to advance you on your path to take down the evil AI, Methuselah. With a groovy 1970’s aesthetic, tight controls, and an interesting world to explore, we felt like Headlander was well worth picking up when we reviewed it.
Despite largely positive reviews and a score of 75 on Metacritic, Headlander didn’t get quite as much attention as it deserved. If you’re looking for something to pick up and play to tide you over this weekend, you could do a lot worse than Headlander.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was at a bit of a disadvantage from the get go. Releasing on the Wii U, a console largely abandoned by both Nintendo and fans alike, Mirage Sessions is a modern-day RPG crossover of the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei worlds. Blending the weapon triangle of Fire Emblem with the overall combat system of something like Persona, Mirage Sessions mixes the best of both of its worlds, while also adding in its own “session” system to provide unique combat gameplay.
Even though Mirage Sessions offered one of the best experiences to release on Wii U this year, it was criminally overlooked by owners of Nintendo’s console, not helped by other big JRPG titles such as I am Setsuna and Star Ocean V releasing right around the same time.