Apologies for the lack of content over the past few days; life caught up with many members of the OnlySP team.
Reviews were the highlight of the last week, with Gareth Newnham delivering his verdict on the stellar 3DS port of Dragon Quest VII, while Dylan Warman took a look at the rather less impressive Berserk and the Band of the Hawk. I had intended to have another prepared, but found myself unable to make my deadline due to matters that I will touch on a little later on. Maybe this coming week, eh? Besides our feature content, though, we found out that Round Table Games Studio has restarted development on its intriguing psychological horror title, Deal with the Devil, as well as receiving the first details of the next project from the developers of FTL, which looks… different. Even with our broken coverage, though, it was a fairly slow week for gaming news, but with March being packed with hot releases, as well as GDC and PAX East being right around the corner, things should start heating up again soon.
No More Holiday Season?
Not so long ago, the holiday season was the most lucrative, and thus jam-packed, time of year, with far too many games for a single person to play releasing in the lead-up to Christmas. Over the past few years, however, that trend has changed, as the dominance of a few key annual titles (read: Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed) has seen many publishers back away from that race and instead release their titles at more regular intervals. That move away from the holidays is primed to continue in 2017, with many big-hitters lined up for the earlier half of the year. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard and Nioh, arguably the biggest games of 2017 for Capcom and Koei Tecmo, respectively, have already released, while Sony is dropping Horizon: Zero Dawn in only a few days, Nintendo is launching The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild alongside the Switch at the end of next week, and Mass Effect: Andromeda, Persona 5, and Prey are just some of the other massive games set to be available by mid-year.
To be fair, the release calendar post-June is rather bare at the moment, as few titles have set dates. Nevertheless, with the rumoured absence of both Battlefield and Assassin’s Creed (again), the end of the year is shaping up to be either quite barren, or subject to an entirely different shape from that which most gamers are familiar with. That, I daresay, is a good thing. Staggering game launches throughout the year gives players more opportunities to keep up with titles as they release, which has the added benefit of producing greater for publishers, as titles are more likely to sell at full price as a result. Furthermore, this shift also has great potential to create more excitement for each game, as attention can be funnelled towards a single, soon-to-launch project, rather than being spread across half a dozen.
The relevance of the holiday season, then, is on the wane, fading as publishers slowly grasp that people are willing to spend money all year round. Yet, the gaming industry is nothing if not cyclical; sprawling RPGs were thought a thing of the past during much of the previous console generation, but open-world is a new box-ticking buzzword; after the initial excitement of DOOM, Goldeneye, and Quake, the first-person shooter was uninspired until Call of Duty: Modern Warfare gave the genre a new lease on life with its engaging, explosive multiplayer; and even though character-based platformers have fared poorly of late, even they are coming back, through the likes of last year’s Ratchet and Clank, and the upcoming Yooka-Laylee and Snake Pass (a very good thing, in my opinion). Similarly, although the lustre may be worn off the holidays for now, every likelihood exists that those who set the release schedules will realise that the back-end of the year is best, and perhaps it is. I doubt it, though.
So, I wasn’t around much towards the end of last week as I moved house, out of the place my partner and I have rented for the last year into a temporary abode until we catch our flight to England in two weeks from now. Packing, selling, and moving is a laborious process, which left me little time for too much of anything leisurely. Now that that is out of the way, however, I am hopeful that I will be able to make the most of my remaining time in Australia to get certain things out of the way and refocus on ensuring that OnlySP is in a good state when I hand the reins over to Cedric and Mitch.
Before signing off, I promised my impressions of Garth Nix’s Goldenhand. A strong continuation to the Old Kingdom series, and I was glad to see that it took on something of a reduced scope after the apocalyptic tone of Abhorsen. Despite the strength and brisk pace of the narrative, Nix’s approach to the storytelling, with its tendency to switch between two viewpoint characters who were often hundreds of miles apart and engaged in entirely their own affairs, was disorienting. Also, Nix continues to expand the physical scope of the series, which holds considerable promise for future expansion. While I am normally an advocate for stand-alone experiences, the Old Kingdom is world that simply begs for further expansion, and a more comprehensive conclusion than that which Goldenhand offers.
That’s it from me. Have a lovely week.