New year means new games!
It felt like 2016 was never going to end. Death, political turmoil and general unease defined the past 365 days, but gaming somehow came out the other end a bit shinier than before. A record amount of games were released last year, and a suite of new adventures awaits us in 2017, so let’s focus on the future, shall we? January is a little light, as most are, but a few huge sequels are lined up as well as the disc version of our favorite game of 2016!
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
This is a total oldie but goodie, as 2004’s Dragon Quest VIII is back again, but this time on the Nintendo 3DS. For a lot of people, this might be their first foray into the world of Japan’s greatest role-playing game franchise (the debate between this and Final Fantasy will rage for eons). For others, it’s a way to experience the cel-shaded goodness of the past on the go and in a new light, as this is a fully 3D game with updated graphics and new playable characters. If you have the appetite for 80+ hours of leveling, adventuring and upgrading, do not hesitate to add this absolute classic to your collection.
Gravity Rush 2
The first Gravity Rush was a rare treat, combining a stellar combat system with dazzling visuals and engrossing characters. Unfortunately for humanity, it came out on the PlayStation Vita, a system nobody owned and has been lost to annals of time and gaming misfires. Still, Sony was happy enough with its sales to see a full HD re-release of the first game and a sequel that should expand upon the original title with new characters, a huge environment and even better graphics. The style is very specific, and if anime girls and mystical ideas aren’t up your alley, maybe give this one a pass, but for those looking for something truly Japanese to pop into their PS4, this is the game for you.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
If you need us to explain the appeal of Resident Evil, we’ll just assume that the rock you’ve been sleeping under for 20 years is super comfortable. But RE is ditching the over-the-top combat, monsters and scenery and going back to their roots with a singular creepy mansion and an underpowered protagonist. A big shift in tone comes from the decision to go first-person, obviously inspired by the most successful horror experiences in the past few years, like P.T., Outlast, and Slender Man. Early reviews sound mostly positive and RE7 looks to be a pleasantly horrifying return to form for a series that has most certainly lost its way.
The Japanese hits keep on coming, as the Yakuza prequel many of us have been waiting for is finally on its way to the West. Yakuza shares a lot with other open-world realistic simulations like Shenmue and Grand Theft Auto, offering a ton of absurd side activities that can be completely bypassed or obsessively explored on your way to cracking skulls and beating down your opponents. Money is now the main factor in upgrading your character, bypassing the idea of experience points, meaning that some of these side activities — like playing pool or participating in fighting matches — can have a greater impact on your success in the game. Yakuza is a beloved series that rarely finds a huge audience in America, but this one looks to be the best and most refined of the bunch.
Hitman: The Complete First Season
Our favorite game of 2016 is getting a physical release, meaning all of you still willing to buy and own a disc will get to enjoy the most fun you can have with a controller. This Hitman package is truly all-encompassing, with all six episodes, every challenge, custom contract and bonus mission on the disc, including the new bonus mission, “Landslide,” which debuts the day this is released. PS4 owners get all of The Sarajevo Six exclusive missions while everyone else can enjoy a making of documentary and the awesome original soundtrack. Season Two will kick off sometime next year, and its content will be directly added to this version of the game, so be sure to have all the weapons, suits and items unlocked to better prepare yourself for some 2017 assassinations!