After a nice hiatus, courtesy of Skirmisher columnist and my husband, Neal Sayatovich, I am excited to start a new year of the Fresh Look column. To ring in the new year, I’m going to be talking about the upcoming video games releasing in Q1 that I’m super looking forward to. These games will be limited to those available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC (if they look really good, I’m still not a PC gamer). My apologies to any readers who do not have any of these specific systems, but it’s hard to get excited about ones that I don’t have access to.
Fire Emblem Engage
This first title comes out in just one week. I’ve been on the fence about Fire Emblem Engage due to the Emblem Rings mechanic. I was disappointed in how the older Fire Emblem characters were utilized in Fire Emblem Warriors, so I was initially leery about a similar mechanic in the new one. I know it’s not exactly the same, but it was close enough to cause some hesitation. After seeing more gameplay trailers and hearing early access players likening the mechanic to the pair up ability in Awakening, I have come around to the idea more. The battle system design reminds me of older Fire Emblem titles, yet still remains fresh. At the end of the day, I’m just excited for another traditional Fire Emblem title, especially one that doesn’t present branching paths like the last few. Fire Emblem Engage releases January 20 exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
The next title I’m excited about is Blanc. Blanc is an indie text free adventure game in black and white where you play as either a wolf cub or a fawn as you journey to find your parents. The simplistic animation is a nice change of pace. I can’t help but be reminded of Endling when watching the trailer for Blanc. This unlikely tag team makes for some adorable moments, but my first thought was I hope their parents aren’t together, because … it won’t be a happy reunion for one of them. Hopefully, the ending will be happier than Endling. Multiple comments on YouTube trailer videos agree, joking that they don’t see any red in the game. What really sold me on Blanc is the co-op feature. The cub and fawn each have different skills, and they have to work together to navigate the game’s puzzles. You can play with a friend either locally or online. Blanc is available on Nintendo Switch and PC on February 14.
Coming in third is a sci-fi 3rd person action-adventure shooter. In Scars Above, players explore an unknown alien world. A mysterious object known as the Metahedron appeared over the earth. A team of scientists and engineers from the Sentient Contact Assessment and Response (SCAR) organization investigates the phenomenon, but the mission goes horribly wrong. I’m 100% certain that SCAR is a backronym, an acronym worked backwards from a preexisting word. (My favorite backronym? Lasagna. It’s some kind of scientific test or process. I have no clue, my genetics professor found an article about it during our office hours one day, and it has stuck with me ever since.) Anyway, back to Scars Above. The graphics and story look amazing. Playing as a scientist and not a soldier offers interesting dialogue as the main character records her experiences on a data log. Scars Above releases on PS4/5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on February 27.
ONI: Road to Be the Mightiest Oni
Next up is ONI: Road to be the Mightiest Oni, a 3D action game. In ONI, you play as Kuuta, a demon warrior, and Kazemaru, his partner. Kuuta is the lone survivor of the battle of Onigashima. He challenges the departed spirits of other demon warriors to trials in order to grow stronger and defeat Momotaro, a being who is both human and monster. It looks like Kuuta beats the demons while Kazemaru sucks their spirits out. There is a co-op feature where you can play as both characters. To be honest, I can’t find much backstory for it. I was immediately struck by the beautiful soundtrack and breathtaking graphics. The landscapes and character designs are amazing. I can’t wait to immerse myself into this game. ONI: Road to be the Mightiest Oni releases on March 9 on PS 4/5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Have a Nice Death
Next to last in this column is Have a Nice Death, a roguelike 2D side-scroller where you play as the grim reaper. Specifically, you play as Death, the CEO of Death Incorporated. Souls are pouring into the underworld, yet your employees are slacking off. You must traverse the levels of Death Incorporated and whip your employees back into shape so you can escape the mountains of paperwork caused by their negligence. I’m normally not one for side-scrolling games, but something about Have a Nice Death makes me want to try this one out. The character designs are adorable, in an avant garde way. The animation focuses heavily on a deeply intricate monochromatic color scheme with random bursts of color. The animation reminds me of Hollow Knight, a game I’ve always wanted to try but never bit the bullet. Have a Nice Death is already out on PC and releases on Nintendo Switch on March 22.
The last title on my list is Storyteller. Storyteller presents an interesting take on puzzle games. Players are presented with a series of comic panes with a title and icons at the bottom. Players can dictate the story by inserting different icons in different places in the panes. There are numerous ways to tell each story based on the icons at the player’s disposal. It doesn’t look like there’s any outside reward for going through the stories, but the puzzle completion is reward enough for me. Storyteller has to be coded with some intense AI, as the way the characters react in real time to the story you are writing is next level. For example, in one of Storyteller’s preview trailers, a character is at the grave site for a different character, but the deceased character does not yet appear in any of the previous panels. The other character is portrayed as confused until you add the deceased character into the first panel. Then the character’s reaction immediately changes from confusion to maniacal happiness, and they are revealed to be the murderer. I’m sure this type of reaction of the characters in real time to players’ choices will lead to many hilarious situations while they try to tell the story to fit the title. Storyteller will be released on March 23 on Nintendo Switch and PC.
Let me know in the comments if you’re also looking forward to one of these titles, or if you’re excited about one that I missed on my list. Until the next time, stay cool, be you. Bye!