August is packed with interesting titles big and small, so without further ado, go, go, go!
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One
Want some glowy, mutate-y, 80s-infected roguelite action? Look no further than Double Fine Productions’ latest stylish action-adventure. Like so many of Double Fine’s releases lately, Rad combines a popular genre with the studio’s mildly-offbeat weirdness.
In this case, Rad takes the winning “Not-Quite-Roguelike” formula of The Binding of Isaac and Rogue Legacy and makes it look a little like 2017’s underrated Hob. Players take on the role of a teenager sent out into a post-post-apocalyptic wasteland to forge a path for humanity. They must explore amongst a terrifying mutant bioscape that resembles Fallout if it took place in the pages of 2000AD.
That might sound like a hat on a hat, but Rad distinguishes itself by going full ’80s cheese: Double Fine Productions was practically made for this. Neon pervades the landscape, currency takes the form of cassette tapes, and being published by Bandai handily acquits them for using a Pac-Man decal on the avatar’s t-shirt.
As with other rogue-lites, players can mix and match powerups to experiment with different strategies, from spider legs to exploding skulls, to all manner of passive bonuses as well. With this rather standard progression in place, then comes the lore of the world and the story to be revealed; which in typical Double Fine fashion is much deeper than it seems.
Rad is less interested in innovating a popular genre than delivering what makes this genre so much fun with the added layer of Double Fine polish. Hopefully, we can all fall in love with the game the way its inhabitants seem to be infatuated with the ’80s.
Release Date: August 22, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Switch
Here is an unabashedly weird, smaller-scale game from Square Enix’s Tokyo RPG Factory, possibly the smallest developer under Square that is still making console-release games. Both of the studio’s previous games (I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear) were essentially ‘budget’ titles, without the pretensions of matching up with Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Obviously, the team has a passion for old school RPGs like Chrono Trigger, Mana or PlayStation-era Final Fantasy, but Tokyo RPG Factory has not quite found its groove yet.
This could change with Oninaki, which despite a Final Fantasy X inspired story about liberating dead souls before they become monsters, has enough fresh ideas to stand out in 2019. To begin with, the game is an action-RPG, rather than another ATB-based affair (gamers have plenty of that this year with the re-release of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX). Additionally, the world of Oninaki looks gorgeous, budget-release or no, less generic than the washed-out chibi look of Setsuna or Sphear.
However the game turns out, it looks to be more of its own thing than either of Tokyo RPG Factory’s other games to this point. Worst case scenario, Oninaki is a buggy but interesting failure. Best case, players have a dark and quirky RPG to sink their teeth into until the next major release comes along.
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
This is the big one. We have written before about how much we love Alan Wake, but the excitement for Control has become greater than any other title in Remedy Entertainment’s oeuvre. Of course, the fact that Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break all boasted excellent action mechanics does help.
Max Payne famously made a banquet out of bullet time, while Alan Wake innovated the ‘action’ side of action-adventure almost as much as Half-Life 2. Quantum Break seemed like a speed bump on Remedy’s road to success—because no one asked for a series of television episodes in the middle of their game—but the time-based powers and fine encounter design were still a potent mix.
With the same high bar for action and level design, Control combines the best parts of its predecessors like a video game Voltron. Much more than Remedy’s design pedigree, however, Control simply ignites the imagination on its own merits.
Deep within the sprawling, non-Euclidean interior of the Oldest House, players must fight to stop a mysterious energy called the Hiss from invading our world. As with Alan Wake, the game draws from a variety of sources—this time weird fiction and in particular the ‘box of unexplained things’ tropes of The X-Files, SCP or Warehouse 13.
In the spirit of these episodic stories, Control is also Remedy’s first experiment with a Metroidvania structure. As the game progresses, protagonist Jesse Faden acquires skills that unlock new areas and side-missions, as well as just being cool powers for use in combat.
Above all, the best part is that the game is not a Microsoft exclusive but available on both home consoles at launch. Also, please send us a Switch release, pronto.
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Thank you, PlatinumGames, for always giving gamers that sweet, sweet spectacle action. Not a whole lot can be said about Platinum’s trademark design that has not already been more eloquently described elsewhere—but in an age where even Capcom’s Devil May Cry seeks the heights of meticulous detail and realistic human faces, the world could use more developers like Platinum.
Focused on varied and elaborate game mechanics rather than always improving graphics tech, Platinum has continued to turn out singular games that truly evolve the stylish action subgenre, from the precise and silly Bayonetta series, to Nier Automata‘s surprise hit, even through cartoony misfires such as The Wonderful 101 and Transformers Devastation (both of which were still very good, for the record).
Quite simply, Astral Chain is another helping of action heaven from the masters, though with plenty of interesting features to call its own. The game takes place during an otherworldly invasion of incredibly designed monsters; some of which have been harnessed for the humans to fight back. Each of these captured monsters, known as Legions, offer the player different fighting styles as they explore and defend a futuristic city modeled off Tokyo
Alright, fine, that last part is less original, but what makes Astral Chain more than just Devil May Cry wearing another costume is the investigative element. The player character is a police officer and can lose “duty points” if they cause too much chaos during the action portion of the game. To make amends, players switch back and forth between action scenes and mystery scenes where they explore the city and solve crimes.
Will this combination of hardcore action and police work mesh perfectly, or are we looking at a lesser Platinum—fun, but disjointed? Gamers only have to wait a month to find out.
The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Dropped at more or less the same time as this title back in 2015, Until Dawn seemed doomed. There had already been the wet thud of The Order: 1886 back in February, this game also seemed like a prime example of choice-based David Cage nonsense, and worst of all, it was too early for spooky season.
We were proven wrong. Until Dawn was not only fun, not only a pretty accurate video game adaptation of the teen-slasher horror genre, but also beat Quantic Dream at their own game in terms of delivering an engrossing thriller with a constantly (if sometimes illusory) branching story.
Now, Supermassive Games are finally back after their trip around ‘Weird Sony Land’ with a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, and Man of Medan sounds like it can fit the bill in every way. Once again, the story centres on a cast of disposable teens as players attempt to not have them all dead by the end, though this time taking place on a ghost ship: an upgrade over a cabin in the woods if you ask me.
Play functions more or less the same as Until Dawn, a mix of exploration and dialogue choices, switching control between the various characters as the story moves forward. There are a couple of multiplayer modes, but the single-player experience is strong enough.
According to Supermassive, The Dark Pictures is an anthology that will see new titles at a roughly six-month cadence from here on, so expect to hear about a followup to Man of Medan sooner rather than later. Spookums for everybody!
August is positively jam-packed with games, so maybe we can try and hit a few more interesting single player releases. There is cult-infiltration action game The Church in the Darkness coming on August 2, followed by the epic 4X Age of Wonders: Planetfall on PC, and the wacko President-in-a-mech game Metal Wolf Chaos XD on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, both releasing August 6.
On August 8, Nintendo Switch owners can dive into Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition, and on the 13th PC gamers get Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, a prequel to 2015’s space sim Rebel Galaxy. Fan favourite studio Gunfire Games has yet another action game coming, their procedural, Souls-ish Remnant: From the Ashes, releasing on August 20.
PS4 and Xbox One players finally get to play The Bard’s Tale IV on August 27, and come August 30 is the intriguing video game adaptation of Blair Witch releases on PC and Xbox One.
Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion on our community Discord server.