Another week in the summer heat brings little to refresh one's gaming library, but what little there is hits hard and, um, colorfully. Look, it's Kingdom Hearts, okay? It's got Disney and fast-paced action-RPG combat. If you've liked the series thus far, you probably already have this one on pre-order (assuming, of course, that you have a 3DS). There's also some zombie Western thing, a tactical RPG, co-op orc-slaying (with traps!) and a villainous puzzler in this week's Pick & Play!
Yet another Kingdom Hearts spinoff? At this point, there's almost triple the number of side-stories as main series Kingdom Hearts games. What distinguishes one from the other, though? Particularly in a case such as this, when the series' main protagonists are both playable? It's the story content, mostly; Dream Drop Distance is set, ostensibly, between main series games, telling a smaller chunk of the story. Though most other spinoffs have featured secondary characters, told back-story, or rehashed content, Dream Drop Distance is defined as a side-story almost exclusively on its scale. This is the closest thing yet to a Kingdom Hearts III, and it's yours (as long as you have a 3DS and pony up the cash) on Tuesday, July 31.
Way back in the day, there was a pen & paper RPG called "Deadlands." It combined magic, the undead, and the Old West in a dark world in which machinery was powered by ghost-rock, which is exactly as creepy as it sounds. Though the setting has since been rebooted in the Savage Worlds system, the original game had a less popular spin-off called Deadlands: Hell on Earth set in the original game's post-apocalyptic future. Deadlight is sort of like that, if it were a platformer instead of a P&P RPG. Part of Xbox LIVE's Summer of Arcade, Deadlight tasks players with guiding Randall Wayne with finding a safe zone in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested Seattle, in which he hopes to find his wife and daughter. Deadlight has a cinematic flair and mature stylings, with a tense atmosphere. It hits the download space on Wednesday, August 1.
The original Orcs Must Die! involved physics traps and cartoony orc-bits being smashed, stabbed, sliced, and flung. They were also set on fire, chopped, and blasted with magic. It was a game with a sense of humor and style, challenging without being unfair (in most cases), and generally possessed of the qualities of a good, light tower defense game with its own twist on the genre. If I have one complaint about it, it was that it was a solo experience.
Orcs Must Die! 2, though, is here to rectify that. New levels! New character! Co-op functionality! It's all an orc-slayer could want and more (since, if one purchases it on Steam and already has the first game, ten of the original's levels are unlocked in co-op variants). It's also out now on PC.
The Growlanser series first made it to North America in the Growlanser Generations compilation, which included Growlansers II and III. Since then, we've also seen Growlanser: Heritage of War, but this is the series' first Western release on a handheld. A tactical RPG with some dating sim elements, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is actually a remake of the fourth game in the series (while Heritage of War, released back in 2007, was the fifth). If you like in-depth tactical RPGs, it's right up your alley, and comes out this Tuesday, July 31.
Hidden Gem of the Week:
How often does a puzzle game let one play as the villain? Tom is the result of a brilliant scientist being arrested, going mad, and deciding to take the tech-heavy society around him down hard in revenge. You are Tom. You infiltrate these digital systems and solve puzzles while avoiding defense drones, all in the name of rampant destruction. It's a fast-paced, visually appealing puzzler with bright colors and a modern aesthetic.
It also has a co-op mode. For up to four. Four people solving one puzzle together? A Virus Named Tom may be one of the most intense, criminally overlooked puzzlers out there, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Oh, and for those of you whose only friends are enemies (frenemies?), there's also a versus mode. It's out on PC Wednesday, August 1.
Date: July 30, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*