October kicks off the holiday video game release schedule, and it is going to leave destroyed wallets and bank accounts in its wake. The amount of games receiving marketing and media coverage is overwhelming. As I check the releases, I notice there are releases nearly every week that I want to play. Some of them I want to pick up day one, others can wait. Even with delays of games to 2015, it’s still a big season, but will a few games have a fighting chance at success?
September has Destiny, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS on Oct. 3, and the month comes to a close with Assassin’s Creed Unity and Sunset Overdrive. Sprinkled throughout the month are a bunch of other titles–Driveclub, NBA Live, Borderland: The Pre-Sequel and Evolve–to tide over gamers until more flagship big guns are released in November. Some of those big guns include Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, The Crew, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4, and Halo: The Master Chef Collection. Then we have Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Captain Toad Treasure Tracker coming in for Christmas. Unfortunately with all these sweet releases some titles may be lost in the holiday madness. Here are five underdogs for the fourth quarter release schedule that may have more impact than anyone could expect.
5. Alien: Isolation
Oct. 7 – Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
When I heard this would be a survival horror game, my excitement skyrocketed. At the same time I thought this would shrink the audience to basically fans of Alien and survival horror games, but would also guarantee an audience. And hopefully that audience never played Aliens: Colonial Marines or forgot about it. Thanks to the big push Sega has put behind the game, it’s better off than the others on this list.
Why this game matters: It’s an Alien game that may finally do the franchise justice and bring survival horror to a different and larger audience.
What is working against it: The assumption that survival horror is dead, and Aliens: Colonial Marines was a train wreck of a game that probably damaged the franchise more than any other.
4. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Oct. 7 Sept. 30 – Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a non-canonical story taking place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy and doesn’t contain The Lord of the Rings in its title, interesting. I really enjoy the world of The Lord of the Rings and I have yet to truly enjoy an amazing video game representation of the series. There is a good chance for developer Monolith will change that with Shadow of Mordor. Monolith is bringing a depth to gameplay that hasn’t been done in an action-based LotR game.
Why this game matters: The Nemesis System is something that hasn’t been done with the enemies of a game. This could be a new standard among games in which some enemies can be fleshed out and multifaceted instead of just another nameless obstacle in the way of your goal. But it remains to be seen if this ambitious Nemesis System delivers. Oh, and there’s Warg riding.
What is working against it: The Lord of the Rings is a property that doesn’t seem to carry much weight in the gaming community.
3. The Evil Within
Oct. 14 – Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
Shinji Mikami is returning to a genre that put him on the map for me. I love Resident Evil, and I have been waiting for a Resident Evil game that brings me back the the days of the original and Resident Evil 4. This is a day one purchase for me because I have hope this will deliver what I’ve been missing.
Why this game matters: This may finally fill the void that Resident Evil and Silent Hill fans have felt for so many years.
What is working against it: Again, the assumption that survival horror is dead. First impressions found around the internet were fairly lackluster.
2. Bayonetta 2
Oct. TBA – Wii U
I never played the first Bayonetta, and it’s claimed to be a fantastic action game. It’s hard to doubt that since it comes from the completely capable hands of Platinum Games. This would have easily been the number one overlooked game of the month but Nintendo has been pushing this game two years, and it comes with the first Bayonetta. I’m ok with getting an extra game, aren’t you?
Why this game matters: It’s not much of a reason, but it’s possible the diehard fans of Bayonetta may get a Wii U. So, I guess that matters to Nintendo.
What is working against it: It’s exclusive to the Wii U. The first installment was a sleeper hit. Lack of a definite release date.
1. Lords of the Fallen
Oct. 28 – Xbox One, PS4, PC
What if Dark Souls was a little more arcade-y, and not available on Xbox 360 or PS3? You would pretty much end up with Lords of the Fallen. It’s an action role-playing game developed by CI Games based in Poland and Deck 13 based in Germany. And it seems the Demon’s Souls style of game has finally reached the highest form of flattery. But that’s ok if the developer executes what they want properly and it’s fun.
Why this game matters: Though it looks like a clone, this is the first game of its type to land on the PS4 and Xbox One. We all know cross-gen is dying a very slow death.
What is working against it: Not many people know it exists. There’s been very little media coverage. Labeled as a Dark Souls clone. Being released the same day as Assassin’s Creed Unity and Sunset Overdrive.
That’s it! I believe all these games will reach a diehard audience that will clamor for more. But I really hope one or more of these games surpasses expectations and surprises everyone with its success. As of right now, it’s easy to place a bet on Alien: Isolation.