Dark Souls III

The spring is typically a pretty slow time for video games, so hopefully you’ll forgive us for releasing our Top 5 Single Player Games to Look Out For in April list a little late.  Most of the games that are scheduled to be ready this time of year are accelerated to a Holiday release, and if they’re unable to make up that ground in crunch time, they’re still usually finished a little earlier in the next year. That being said, there are some occasional gems that take advantage of Spring’s open-calendar. As a matter of fact, one of our Top 5 titles is a sequel, releasing almost exactly a year after its predecessor.

It is worth mentioning that there are a couple of highly-anticipated games that were expected to be available by now. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was originally supposed to be out in February, but won’t make it into stores until the end of August, and Uncharted’s final chapter, A Thief’s End got bumped from March to next month. Despite the delay of those big titles, there are a few gems that will be released in April 2016. As a matter of fact, our first title has already found its way onto store shelves, and actually might benefit from one of its competitors’ delay.

Quantum Break

QUANTUM BREAK

(April 5 for Xbox One and PC)

Despite being an Xbox One console exclusive, the PlayStation 4 exclusive, Uncharted 4’s delay will probably help this third-person shooter. Microsoft did a pretty poor job of explaining the action/adventure/television show hybrid video game, but Remedy Entertainment’s reputation should have been enough to get this on your radar. The cinematic and star-studded video game puts players in the role of Jack, a reluctant hero that’s been given the ability to manipulate time. These upgradeable abilities are used in both combat and puzzle solving sections of the game. While player choice and branching storylines aren’t unusual in adventure games, switching character between the protagonist and antagonist is.

If you’re a fan of science fiction, you’ll recognize a number of the cast members. Jack is played by X-Men and The Following’s Shawn Ashmore, and his foil is none other than Game of Thrones’ Littlefinger, Aidan Gillen. Fringe’s Lance Reddick should also be instantly recognizable. For the most part, Quantum Break plays like any other action/adventure third-person shooter. The only aspect that is “different” are the live action cutscenes (similar to the recent Need For Speed reboot,) that are effected by the preceding gameplay. Despite its delays, Quantum Break still isn’t the most polished gameplay experience, but having spent some time with the title, I can still recommend giving it a spin.

 

Dark Souls III

DARK SOULS III

(April 12 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC)

Dark Souls III marks the end of From Software’s famously punishing action/adventure, RPG Souls series. While the game hasn’t been released at the time of this piece, our review of the title has already been published. As I alluded to, earlier, casual gamers with short attention spans should probably just avoid this whole series. You really need to have the patience of a saint, along with a heavy dose of determination to get anywhere in a Souls game. That being said, Dark Souls III does utilize the developer’s new game engine, so some of the mechanical issues have been remedied this time around.

If you’ve never played a Souls game, but are worried about not knowing what’s going on, don’t be. Though there is some narrative continuity between the games, all of them have fairly sparse narratives, and if you only want to play the latest one, that’s probably fine. It really is a culmination of everything good about the previous games, shoehorned into its own title. To quote our review of the game, Dark Souls III “…is going out on a glorious high, a greatest hits compilation of ideas and systems with plenty of interesting new twists thrown in to boot.”

 

Star Fox: Zero

STAR FOX: ZERO

(April 22 for Nintendo Wii U)

Star Fox isn’t the best known Nintendo franchise, certainly not on the level of Mario and Zelda, but it does have its fans. Of course, any big Wii U release is actually pretty big news. For a Nintendo console to not have a core Mario, Metroid or Zelda title, after four years, is sadly pretty remarkable. Despite whatever reason Nintendo has for neglecting their latest home console, long-time fans will take what they can get, even if it’s essentially a re-imagining of the 1997 game, Star Fox 64 that was actually supposed to be out last year.

Before most of you get too dismissive about Nintendo’s latest re-something, it is important to note that the console maker has enlisted some help with Star Fox: ZeroBayonetta creators, Platinum Games has been enlisted to inject new life to classic series.  The game is primarily vehicle focused, where players are able to take control of classic vehicles like the Airwing jet and Landmaster tank as they blast enemies. It will also provide a secondary view with the Wii U’s gamepad, and allow players to aim by tilting the controller. A tower-defense mini-game, Star Fox: Guard will also be included in the package.

 

Ratchet and Clank

RATCHET AND CLANK

(April 12 for PlayStation 4)

A PlayStation 4 exclusive, Ratchet and Clank is a quasi-reimagining of the original PlayStation 2 game. The game’s plot is based upon elements from both the original game and the upcoming animated feature film. According to Insomniac Games, it is said to include a deeper origin story and over an hour of new cutscenes, including footage from the film.

Despite the track record of movie tie-in games, the original Ratchet and Clank is an iconic platformer, and part of the PlayStation 2’s “Greatest Hits” collection. The new game is expected to have a variety of gameplay elements from various entries in the Ratchet and Clank series, with features like strafing, weapon and health upgrades.  In addition to a weapon upgrading mechanic, the game will include weapons from later entries. A brand new weapon, the Pixelizer will actually transform enemies into an old-school, 8-bit form. Except for the Lego games, there really isn’t much like this on the PS4. That and the discounted price, make Ratchet and Clank and interesting proposition for the console.

 

Banner Saga 2

THE BANNER SAGA 2

(April 19 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac and Linux)

Good games aren’t exclusive to big publishers, and, if history is any indicator, this Viking-inspired indie game really should be a good one. The Banner Saga 2, like its predecessor is a tactical RPG that follows a group of exiles as they fight and flee a powerful enemy. As a matter of fact, if you played the first game, the choices you made there will affect who is alive and who is dead in the sequel. The epic story will continue, offering even more hard choices, and will introduce a completely new race, the Horseborn.

The Banner Saga 2 will feature beautiful hand-drawn combat sequences, and animations, which are again accompanied by the Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory’s compositions. Though the new game’s story is under wraps, we do know the combat system has been improved, allowing for deeper strategies and more dynamic combat. Of course, in The Banner Saga 2, there will be plenty to do behind the scenes. No matter which system is your platform of choice, except Nintendo, you should be able to get this highly anticipated game, at a wallet-friendly, indie price.


 

Despite a relatively slow time of year for video game releases, there are some good ones that trickle out. In addition to the ones mentioned above, there are few other notable titles that will make their way out, in April that are worth mentioning. Coming out on the PlayStation 4 and PC, POLLEN is a first-person exploration game set on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Stories: The Path of Destinies is an action-RPG set in a vibrant fairytale universe filled with colorful magic and will also be available on both platforms. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Bravely Second: End Layer which will be out soon for the Nintendo 3DS.

 

I know I missed a few. Do you agree or disagree?  What are you looking forward to?

Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@Official_OnlySP) and Facebook where you can also sound off your opinions.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Lance Roth
Writer, musician, and indie game developer in the Land of Enchantment.

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