Every year gamers pin their hopes on a myriad of upcoming games, mostly big-budget AAA titles. 2018 is no different, with a multitude of big name titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War and Far Cry 5 looking to make a big splash. But what about the games that go under the radar? The games that aren’t riding waves of hype until their release? Each year there a handful of titles that take us by surprise and give us some of the best experiences the year has to offer. Below are some of the games that gamers should keep an eye on in 2018.
Developer: Big Bad Wolf Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Release: February 2018
An episodic, narrative-driven mystery game where players play as a secret society member whose choices have lasting consequences. The Council is set during the 1790s and features Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington and sees the player searching for his missing mother. Sounds interesting, right? One of the interesting game mechanics is the Social Influence System, which will require players to exploit a character’s vulnerabilities by using skills, resources and sound preparation. Developed by Big Bad Wolf and published by Focus Home Interactive, the first episode is set for release in February 2018 and will include five episodes overall.
Developer: Aurora44 Publisher: Annapurna Interactive Release: 2018
Being developed by New Zealand outfit Aurora44, Ashen is an action RPG set in a sunless world that tasks your character with finding a home. It features online co-op and will allow players to team-up and traverse the dark and ash-laden topography together, though you don’t have to play nice with every player you meet. One of the perks of Ashen is that no two playthroughs will be the same according to Aurora44, as the world moves on without you. I went hands-on with Ashen late last year at PAX Aus, and even though it took me a bit to get the hang of it, once I knew what I was doing I quite enjoyed it, despite it being a game I normally wouldn’t consider. Thanks to the game’s unique art style, the dreary open world of Ashen was rather picturesque, possessing a certain beguiling beauty. Ashen will be available for PC and Xbox One at some stage in 2018.
Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Deep Silver Release: 5/6/18
This one is for all the revheads out there. Codemasters (one of the best in the business when it comes to the racing genre) are releasing their newest arcade racer Onrush on June 6, 2018. Although we’ve only been treated to an announcement trailer, Onrush looks like a fusion of Motorstorm and Burnout – and we all know how everyone would love a new Burnout. It’s not a straightforward racer, instead players will be able to smash and takedown opponents on their way to glory across a variety of map types.
Developer: SadSquare Studio Publisher: SadSquare Studio Release: 2018
After Allison Road bit the dust and was cancelled (and later uncancelled), horror fans were left wondering how they were going to get their P.T. fix considering good guy Konami had pulled the popular demo from the PSN. Much like Allison Road, Visage (a Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight title from SadSquare Studio) aims to be a spiritual successor to Hideo Kojima’s short foray into horror. Set inside a cursed house in the 1980s, Visage will see players relive memories of those that have lived in the house in order to discover the origins of the horrors. As a huge horror fan, Visage has all the makings a being an immersive horror experience, and includes a slick, atmospheric soundtrack.
Developer: Cyanide Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Release: 2018
Slipping from a 2017 release to 2018, Call of Cthulhu is still very much a title shrouded in mystery. Despite being announced back in 2014 we’ve still not seen any gameplay from the horror-mystery title (aside from the brief glimpses in trailers), which is usually a worrying sign. Thankfully the title has received positive behind closed doors previews. Based on the famous short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu is a first-person investigative psychological horror with RPG and stealth elements set on (fictional) Darkwater Island in Boston, Massachusetts. Players will control private detective Edward Pierce as he investigates the murder of a family while in turn trying to fight impending madness thanks to the game’s sanity system.
Developer: The Voxel Agents Publisher: The Voxel Agents Release: Q3 2018
Another indie that piqued our interest at PAX Aus (specifically Kieron) is The Gardens Between, an adventure puzzle game from Australian-based developers The Voxel Agents that focuses on two best friends who are caught in a world of mysterious gardens. Players must navigate the world by moving back and forth in time and along the way they will experience objects from their pasts as well as uncover memories. The game and its vibrant artwork will grace the PS4, PC and Mac at some stage of 2018.
Developer: Vreski Publisher: Vreski Release: 2018
Inspired by Hong Kong action films, The Hong Kong Massacre is a top-down shooter developed by the two-man Swedish team Vreski, that aims to recapture the intensity and chaos of the films. On the surface The Hong Kong Massacre looks very similar to Hotline Miami, however one major difference is that players will have the ability to slow down time, allowing the player to dodge bullets and other neat tricks. Another impressive feature is the game’s visual effects, with things like shattering glass, gunfire and blood spatters all looking top notch. The Hong Kong Massacre will release for PS4, PC and Mac in 2018.
Developer: 11 bit Studios Publisher: 11 bit Studios Release: 2018
Developed by 11 bit studios of This War of Mine fame, Frostpunk is a survival game set on a frozen steampunk world where players are in charge of the last remaining settlement on Earth. Due to the inclement weather Frostpunk’s primary resource is heat, which is what keeps the colony going. Much like This War of Mine, players will need to make difficult decisions that are in the best interests of the settlement, even if it means the death of a community member. If you’re a fan of 11 bit’s previous work or just love games that put you in charge of making the big calls, then Frostpunk is the game for you. 11 bit are aiming for a release date of March 2018.
Developer: Spiders Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Release: 2018
Another game that has only received the announcement trailer treatment, GreedFall is being developed by French outfit Spiders (yes, the team behind The Technomancer). While one cannot argue that the developer has a mixed history, the concept behind GreedFall is one of the most intriguing I’ve seen in recent years. Set during the 17th century and inspired by Baroque artwork, GreedFall is a semi open-world RPG set on a remote island that has untapped magic powers. Several colonial armies descend upon the island hoping to claim the magical riches for themselves. However, the natives of the land, which include elves and other fantastical creatures will not let the magic go without a fight. You play as a neutral human who must choose which side to fight for. GreedFall is promising a strong narrative focus, giving players the freedom to make their own choices, which in turn have lasting consequences. GreedFall certainly promises a lot, let’s hope it can deliver.
Developer: Panache Digital Games Publisher: Private Division Release: TBA
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the first game from Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Désilets and his new studio Panache Digital games since Désilets directed Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood back in 2010 (after which he was given the boot). Originally conceived as an episodic release, Ancestors is a third person adventure game that will allow players to relive some of the mankind’s greatest moments and experience evolution as it happened. Ancestors, which is now a full release instead of episodic, will feature RPG mechanics as well as resource management. According to Désilets, the game is still a ways off, however we should expect a slew of information to come out this year (my guess) as development enters its third year.
While these are just ten games that may tickle your fancy, there are plenty more that look promising and are worth keeping an eye on (I can’t include them all!). If you know of a game that has gone under the radar please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to check them out.
Honourable mentions: A Plague Tale: Innocence, Agony, Anamorphine, Asemblance Episode 2, The Church in the Darkness, The Last Night, Mothergunship, Routine, The Sinking City, State of Mind, Steel Rats, Trüberbrook