5 Video Game Releases You Can't Miss This Summer

Written by Loren Breon

Photo by Hina Imtiaz, Graphic by Amy Washington

Photo by Hina Imtiaz, Graphic by Amy Washington

 

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained is a spiritual successor of Castlevania: Symphony of the night. This “Igavania” puts you in the shoes of Miriam, who you can customize by changing her hair and skin tone along with other cosmetic items. If you have ever played a Metroidvania game, you’ll know precisely what you are in for. You explore a Castle, going through Gothic rooms and areas you wouldn’t expect, where you’ll find a beautiful number of set pieces. Each room has a map that holds secrets, chests, and a bunch of demons. Meanwhile, some areas of the map require traversal abilities that you unlock later in the game, encouraging you to return to those rooms.

There are a variety of weapons, powers, and abilities in Bloodstained, offering an assortment of play styles. The gameplay is fluid and combat, while at first basic, becomes deeper with some weapons having combos that add a fighting game mechanics to the game. Abilities are also a major part of the game, including weird and epic spells, such as transforming into a bunny girl demon or summing a tentacle out of thin air to do massive damage to your enemies on screen. 

For a spiritual successor, Bloodstained feels like an original game with its nostalgic 2D graphics and 90’s looks, especially during its later parts. This game is about 20+ hours long and provides a substantial amount of content especially for those completionists and speed runners. Bloodstained shows that just because you are a copy doesn’t mean you can’t feel original. You can pick up Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Xbox, PS4 switch and PC. (Beware the switch port is rough.)



A Plague Tale: Innocence

If you are looking for a short narrative-driven game, look no further than A Plague Tale:Innocence. You play as the protagonist Amicia de Rune, a strong-willed French noble girl. A group of inquisition soldiers invades the family’s castle, forcing you to be sent on the run while protecting Amicia’s brother, Hugo. The premise is to survive while being hunted down by inquisition soldiers, hysterical mobs, and avoiding horrifying rats. 

Gameplay typically consists of stealth and environmental puzzles, armed with a slingshot and a good throwing arm you can distract and take out guards, while also using light to repel rats. The game also has a crafting system; you can pick up materials scattered around the world, that can be used to upgrade things like your slingshot and carrying capacity. While the gameplay is fun, where the game’s true adventure lies is in the story. Amicia and Hugo, while at first distant, grow closer through their struggles, protecting and looking after one another in the harsh world they are thrust in. Similarly, as you progress you’ll come across other teenagers and kids with their own conflict. They eventually agree to join forces to help you protect Hugo, and these interactions show off some of the best writing and heartfelt performances the game has to offer. However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. 

The atmosphere in A Plague Tale is brutal, especially when it comes to its portrayal of death. Corpses and violence are spread out throughout the game, often invoking a sense of horror while simultaneously immersing you in the world the characters are in. A Plague Tale is also very linear, but as a result, graphic fidelity and design are gorgeously rendered, whether it be through a beautifully sunlit forest or dark underground catacombs. Set pieces are often jaw-dropping and even outshine its “Triple A” competitors. In conclusion, A Plague tale: innocents is undoubtedly a pleasant surprise this summer, with a remarkable story and outstanding performances along with fun puzzle set pieces and gorgeous graphics, that will leave you wanting more. You can pick it up for PC, Xbox One and PS4.


Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

If you like a challenge, then you will love Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice! From Software has done it again, bringing another Dark Souls-like game to the table, only this time set in a futile Japan fantasy world that will require stealth, considerable patience, and a whole lot of tries to overcome. You play as Sekiro, a shinobi (ninja) given an order to protect his master. After a fight with another fierce warrior, your master is taken and you lose your arm. Sekiro then takes you on a noble quest to find your master, one that will lead you through many different levels, all of which can be accessed in various ways and paths. These levels are also engaging to maneuver, especially with your new prosthetic arm that allows you to grappling hook onto rooftops for quick traversal. 

You will need all the help you can when trying to get through the games main caveat, the difficulty. Sekiro is not for the faint of heart or the impatient. Enemies will swarm you, attack you quickly, and efficiently using a mighty multitude of attacks and blocks to do whatever it takes to stop you. The combat mechanics still has the Dark Souls feel, but with a few tweaks, the game adds a new posture system into the game. As you block attacks you will take poster damage that, if drained, will leave you open for a brutal finisher. However, that also goes for your enemies. Luckily, there is a resurrection mechanic gives you another shot after you have died but only with half health and a certain consequence that I won’t spoil.

Stealth is also an important aspect of Sekiro. You can use the verticality of the maps and well-placed vegetation to eavesdrop or go in for a devastating sneak attack. Sekiro, in addition, provides you a variety of unique utilities for your arm that allows you to give you the upper hand in a fight. You can equip Shuriken for long-range attacks, a mighty ax to cut through shields, and umbrella shield to block heavy attacks. RPG systems in the game are light. You unlock skill points and use them to unlock new attack abilities that can be used as counter-attacks that stagger some enemies. The depth of Sekiro’s combat can oftentimes leave you feeling like your under-skilled and, as a result, frustrated. With enough time you’ll progressively become better pulling off parries, blocks, and strikes, that can leave you with one of the most satisfying and rewarding gameplay experiences out there. You can pick up Sekiro: shadows die twice on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

 

Mario Maker 2

Nintendo is back at it again with the creative Mario Maker 2, the game that lets you go as far as your imagination and your creativity can go. Mario Maker 2 is a game that allows you to make Mario levels. With a vast variety of tools at your disposal, you can build levels with ease. The tutorial is one of the best you can get, offering help with not only the tools but giving you a crash course on game design. As a result, this could give you some creative inspiration when creating your next masterpiece level. The number of tools and tool sets in the game are enormous, and the UI contains menus and sub menus that give you near limitless control.

You can switch between 4 different game styles, Mario World, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and the new Super Mario World U, all of which can be switched between at any time, except Super Mario 3D world, which takes advantage of more advanced mechanics. The amount of control you have while creating levels, from making enemies bigger or smaller, creating vertical levels with a custom scroll, or creating puzzles with on and of blocks and pow blocks, is tremendously enjoyable to play with. Players can also choose from some music and sounds from Mario 64, Mario Sunshine and Mario cart, and many other sound effects. You are also able to create clear conditions, that must be done before completing a level, such as reaching the end without taking damage, reaching the goal after defeating a set number of enemies, and so on. 

While not really a story-driven game, Mario Maker 2 does have a story mode that tasks you with rebuilding Peach’s castle, with 100 different levels made internally by Nintendo game designers. These levels are fun and wacky and can also give you some inspiration when it comes to your own level. The main course of the game, however, comes from its user-made maps. These maps are made by other players and uploaded to the course world, and as a result, Mario Maker 2 gives you an endless amount of creative maps to play, ranging from super hard, to fun and simplistic, allowing all players to find something to enjoy. Mario Maker 2 is available now, for the Nintendo switch.



Apex Legends

 Battle Royales have been quite popular within the last few years, but Apex Legends puts its own spin on the genre by innovating old mechanics and implementing new ones. Apex Legends is similar to other battle royales, where you and a 100 players are dropped into a map and the last one/team standing wins. However, in Apex Legends there is no solo queue.  Instead, Apex adds a twist by making you play with three others in a squad, who can either be friends or random players. You first pick which Legend you want to play with. There are 6 starting characters and 4 more that can be unlocked by playing the game or purchased using the in-game currency. Each playable character has a special ability. For instance, Wrath has her phase that can teleport you around the map, Bloodhound can track players, Pathfinder has a grappling hook that can be used to swing off buildings, and so on. While at it might seem simple, these abilities can be used in a variety of situations and if used with the right amount of comprehensive strategy and effective teamwork can lead to devastating results. 

Teamwork is essential here. If you want to stand a chance, you will need to communicate with your team. Luckily the game implements a ping system that allows you to mark rival players, weapons, ammo, and health kits. This feature is extremely useful, especially if you lack a headset and mic. Apex Legends’ map is big; however, movement is smooth as well as traversal. You are able to slide gracefully down hills and use the various zip lines to take advantage of the games momentum physics to propel you to your destination faster. Likewise, shooting feels good and the game offers a wide arsenal of frenetic guns and grenades to blow the competition away. 

Apex Legends is a free to play game and consequently, there are micro-transactions in the form of loot boxes but nothing too egregious. These boxes only drop cosmetics items and can be bought or earned in-game. A battle pass has also been implemented but does lack the verity of its predecessors when it comes to content. In conclusion, Apex is one of the most competent battle royals on the market, combining fast fluid game play with teamwork to create a fresh experience in an over saturated battle royal market. You can download and play Apex legends on PC, Xbox One and PS4.