Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Due Oct. 26
The standard of games based on Marvel franchises has varied wildly over the years. 2018’s “Spider-Man” was widely acclaimed and great fun, but last year’s “Avengers,” despite its great production values, was something of a damp squib. Still, there will be plenty of fans waiting to play as Peter Quill/Star-Lord leading his team through a series of missions to save the universe. While the rest of the Guardians — Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax — aren’t playable characters, you can utilize their skills by giving them orders. And you’ll need them: the heroes for hire will face some formidable opponents from the Marvel canon along the way. Narrative developer Mary DeMarle has promised surprises too. “They all have that weird, eccentric nature, bumbling around and so darned optimistic that they’ll improvise and find their way out of everything,” she told Space.com. “They get along so well, they care and have heart. Their interaction results in some really fun and exciting twists and turns and unexpected stuff.”
Little Devil Inside
Due in July
What was originally conceived as a modest indie game grew into something of a monster itself when its 2015 Kickstarter campaign raised more than $300,000. A little over six years later, Neostream Interactive’s action-adventure is finally ready for release. Set in the 19th century, the game follows Billy, a swordsman hired by Professor Vincent, Dr. Oliver and their research team to travel the game’s open world in search of the supernatural and “all phenomenal existence.” Don’t be fooled by the game’s stripped-back visuals — this is an incredibly ambitious exercise by the developers. Players will have to take careful note of their characters’ body language and behavior to ascertain what is necessary: characters may limp when wounded, for example, or shiver if they’re too cold, while those with a one-track mind will have limited vision. There’s satirical humor here too, with pointed remarks about financial inequality and a look into the more-mundane side of Billy’s life.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Due Aug. 28
One of numerous titles delayed from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this action-adventure game has stirred up considerable excitement ahead of its release. For one thing, it’s visually stunning — resembling a high-quality Japanese anime. You play as Kena, a young Spirit Guide searching for a mountain shrine. You can enlist the help of some incredibly cute little critters called Rot who can help you transform the overgrown jungle into a navigable environment. But you’ll also have to face off against more-threatening inhabitants too.
Life is Strange: True Colors
Due Sept. 10
Deck Nine’s third-person graphic adventure series returns, allowing the user to once again play as Alex Chen, the psychic empath who is able to read and manipulate emotions (at a price — she must take on those emotions herself) and thus understand and relieve trauma and stress. The latest iteration of the game is once again set in the beautiful (fictional) mountain town of Haven Springs. However, unlike previous versions that were released in ‘chapters,’ “True Colors” will be released in its entirety.
Due Sept. 14
Having also been heavily delayed by the pandemic, this intriguing game is finally coming out in September. The player takes the role of a multi-talented assassin, Colt, who’s stuck in a time loop at a party on an island. The loop resets at the end of every night, and the partygoers have no memories of the previous loop. But you do. Your task is to take out eight targets before midnight. Fail to take them all out and the loop resets. Die before you take them all out and the loop resets. You’ll have to fail multiple times before you have all the necessary information on your targets to succeed.
Due in October
Tokyo’s citizens have almost all mysteriously disappeared, leaving deadly ghosts and specters known as Visitors to take over the city. The player’s character in this creepy action-adventure game is, according to the game’s combat director Shinichiro Hara, “a badass, spell-casting, high-tech ninja exorcist defeating countless evil spirits,” which sounds like a pretty good thing to be. He also stressed in the same presentation that the developers wanted to move away from the cliché of spell casters and magic users in video games not being physically strong. “That isn’t the case with ‘GhostWire,’” he said. “In ‘GhostWire’ you’re casting magic with martial arts movements.”
Given the ubiquitous popularity of cats online, it’s amazing that “Stray” didn’t appear years ago. The game allows you to play as a lost cat, stealthily sneaking (or occasionally deliberately making a nuisance of itself) through a run-down and seedy cybercity populated by droids (generally not too threatening, in fact one of them — the flying drone B12 — will help you on your way) and a number of far more dangerous creatures, in the hope of escaping and finding your kin.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human
Due Dec. 7
With its mix of thrilling parkour, brutal zombie-killing action, and genuinely frightening jump-scares, the original “Dying Light” is one of the masterpieces of the overcrowded post-apocalyptic survival genre. So hopes are high for this sequel, which, judging by the previews, appears to have retained the elements that made the original so successful. Set 20 years after the original, the new protagonist, Aiden Caldwell, must navigate the open world of The City — an unspecified location in Europe — while deciding which of several factions to assist or fight, all while avoiding getting caught by the undead, especially at night.