2019 has been an interesting, if inconsistent, time for games, and we are at the end of the year’s single player offerings with a smaller list for the holiday season. Despite a few Far Cry 3 and Smash Bros. sized exceptions, December is often a slimmer release month anyway, but OnlySP has found a few titles to keep an eye on.
As always, we value your feedback—so if you would like to hear more about any of these games, let us know in the comments.
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Platform: PC. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions coming in 2020.
Phoenix Point sees the director on the first two X-COM games, Julian Gollop, return with a spiritual successor to those early turn-based strategy titles that is sure to draw a lot of hype in those circles. Thanks to newer games such as Firaxis’s XCOM reboot, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and arguably even the Fire Emblem RPGs, interest in the turn-based strategy genre is possibly at a decade high.
Although the title would gladly take the sort of mega success that some of these games have enjoyed, Phoenix Point is little more of a niche game, adding layers of procedural complexity and simulation that the X-COM games avoided. Beginning with the setting, Phoenix Point is still an Earth-defense style game of two parts: the wider alien conflict and moment-to-moment tactical battles. However, where Firaxis’s X-COM and its Cold War cousin Xenonauts both very precisely draw on mid-century alien invasion fiction, Phoenix Point‘s universe is more a bouillabaisse of Lovecraftian beasties and science fantasy.
For example, rather than greys, saucers, and men in black, Phoenix Point‘s aliens are born of an intelligent mutagenic virus that has transformed most life on Earth into monstrous abominations. These transforming creatures feed into the same procedural simulation aspects that make X-COM so unpredictable and terrifying: depending on where players encounter the aliens, they will have different Earth animals to combine into new monstrosities. Even more tricky, the enemies in Phoenix Point can alter their individual mutations to respond to repeated threats. This will force players out of relying on the same strategy for every alien encounter.
If all of this were not enough, different human factions also play into the simulation, in a more central and fleshed out manner than the rebel factions in War of the Chosen. As the player expands their Phoenix Project base in familiar X-COM fashion, so the other human factions expand their influence on the strategy layer. The player can only ally with one of these factions per game, and each brings their own ways of fighting the invasion.
All of these exciting twists on the X-COM formula, along with the current fervor around roguelike and other permadeath style games, primes Phoenix Point for reasonable success with strategy gamers at least. Hopefully the game’s style and polish can attract a wider demographic as well.
Release Date: December 5, 2019
Platform: PC. Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions coming in 2020.
In what can only be described as a complete 180 from the above game, Mosaic is a low-poly, contemplative adventure game set in a corporate dystopia from Krillbite Studio, developer of Among the Sleep.
As examined by Nerdwriter1 last year, mobile phones tend to appear in entertainment media in very small capacity, or not at all. Mosaic appears to buck this trend and uses a mobile phone game as part of a rather Black Mirror-seeming take on the dehumanising effects of corporate culture and modern technology. I am a huge fan of heart-on-sleeve dystopian stories, but the game’s description on Steam seems only a few degrees removed from the most basic fairytale setup: for the main character, life is monotonous, grim, repetitive, until one day everything changes.
Such a summary could describe a hundred other popular games, books and movies, which suggests that Krillbite has an INSIDE-like twist up its sleeve to really kick Mosaic‘s corporate parable into high gear. Even with its basic setup, though, the game’s humble art style and promised focus on narrative rather than action make it an excellent pick for single players in December.
Release Date: December 17, 2019
Platform: PC and PlayStation 4.
Keita Takahashi, the wonderfully weird creator of Katamari Damacy, once more brings us a cute and rather inexplicable exploration of the ordinary world with Wattam, a friendship game of creating chains of objects and discovering secrets. Similarly to Katamari, the everyday objects that make up the world of Wattam have hidden depths, but rather than rolling them into a ball, players make friends with them. These objects—from cameras to forks to pieces of poop—sing together, join in various formations, and explode with joy when their needs are met by others.
The game sounds absolutely bonkers, but in the same lovely way that Katamari and Nobi Nobi Boy did, with the added bonus of being the second in the ‘strand genre’ in so many months after Death Stranding. More friendship games please!
The final episode of Life is Strange 2 hits early in December, bringing to a close the latest critically acclaimed adventure game from Dontnod Entertainment. Recently delayed by about a week, the story driven Vampire: The Masquerade spin-off Coteries of New York still comes out this month, as does an exciting Jurassic World Evolution expansion, ‘Return to Jurassic Park’. Though not a full sequel, Darksiders also continues with its prequel spin-off Darksiders Genesis, featuring the fourth horseman Strife playable for the first time in the series; stay tuned for our final verdict.
For RPG fans, Neverwinter Nights and SaGa: Scarlet Grace both get re-releases this month: the former is a remastered Dungeons & Dragons adventure from the early 2000s, while the latter is a 2016 entry into the fabled SaGa series that until now was Japan-only. Another re-release, the retro JRPG Star Ocean: First Departure R, is especially worth keeping an eye on for fans of the Tales series.
More re-releases include Halo: Reach finally coming to PC and Xbox One, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey making its way to console, and the PC releases of Detroit: Become Human and Dragon Quest Builders 2. Soulslike Ashen spreads onto PS4 and Switch, while sidescrolling RPG Regions of Ruin leaves PC for the console world.
Arise: A Simple Story
Life is Strange 2 (final episode release)
Halo: Reach (PC and Xbox One)
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition (consoles)
SaGa: Scarlet Grace — Ambitions
Star Ocean: First Departure R
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
Ashen (Nintendo Switch and PS4)
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PC)
Shovel Knight: ‘King of Cards’ and ‘Showdown’ expansions
Jurassic World Evolution: ‘Return to Jurassic Park’ (expansion)
Vampire: The Masquerade — Coteries of New York
Detroit: Become Human (PC)
Regions of Ruin (PlayStation 4)
Regions of Ruin (Nintendo Switch)
Have we missed anything that you are 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 in our community Discord server. Thanks again, and have a great holidays’ gaming until next year!