January 11 – Laika: Aged Through Blood (Switch)
January 11 – Momodora: Moonlit Farewell (PC)
January 18 – Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC)
January 19 – Another Code: Recollection (Switch)
January 19 – The Last of Us Part 2: Remastered (PS5)
January 23 – Graven (PC)
January 24 – Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC)
January 25 – Apollo Justice Ace Attorney Trilogy (Switch)
January 26 – Tekken 8 (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
Happy New Year! Don’t stress that you haven’t started your resolutions yet, or that your brain still feels perpetually trapped in the fog that was the holiday break, over too soon, because it’s time to slip back into your favourite pair of Jorts with the WellPlayed team as we take a look at what’s dropping this January.
After a frankly absurd 2023, it would be next to impossible to keep that momentum going, especially for an industry seemingly on the verge of a AAA-budget-fueled collapse. But in that spirit at least, January provides us with more compact fun on a lighter budget, seeing classic franchises revived and reimagined, genre staples stepping back into the ring, and a couple of oddball selections for good measure. So push those new year guilts and worries down for just a moment and take a look at what’s got us tight in the jorts.
Ten years ago, Aussie games magazines were lamenting a lack of originality in the industry due to an onslaught of remakes. Heck, we still have this conversation whenever a new The Third Of Us Part Deux Recalibrated circles around every other year.
Now I’m not hating, but it’s dawned on me over the holidays that many of my most anticipated titles of every year are these pricey remakes. I’m part of the problem. But hear me out. Another Code Recollection kicks off my 2024 thirst for the titles of yesteryear; the original Nintendo DS game was possibly my first game on the platform, a vaguely supernatural puzzler that told the tale of a young woman in searching. For what? I cannot remember. But it scratched that mysterious narrative itch that Indie titles like The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter have since been known for. Preceding them, Another Code was likewise a bit wobbly in its execution but was buoyed by an evocative presentation and brief runtime, leaving me wanting more. This remake of the original and its sequel is something I never anticipated, and may yet continue the Switch’s legacy of vastly improved remakes.
In case nostalgia lets us (me) down, this month Ichiban Kasuga returns with sunshine and a smile that stretches a mile. It baffles me how the Like A Dragon (Yakuza) series continues to introduce characters that challenge, satirise, and invert the masculine video game protagonist. With Infinite Wealth being the second RPG entry in this burgeoning franchise, the wild-haired, Dragon Quest-obsessed hero is virtually the embodiment of a curious teenager who imagines what their world would be like as a themepark of video game zaniness. He is effortlessly endearing and hilariously dopey. Even if the game is somehow a let down, I can’t wait to be reunited with my warmest sweetheart Ichiban. Let’s have more games with affable yet flawed protagonists that reflect the masculinity we want to see in the world. Amen.
I’ll level with you, the rejigged timeframe of our annual pledge challenge has lit a fire in me. So this month will be almost entirely dedicated to my nominated backlog, but, who knows, I might find a few extra pockets of time to sneak in some new releases.
My trio of dips for January is action-heavy, but they’re a varied bunch. First up is French Onion, otherwise known as Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. The first true entry into the long-running series since 2010, The Lost Crown ditches the titular Prince as the protagonist, in favour of a sword-swinging, wall-running warrior named Sargon. Royalty or otherwise, the fast and smooth 2.5D gameplay will undoubtedly draw me in and keep me entertained for a long old time.
Next on the menu is the chaotic seven-layer dip, known to true connoisseurs as Bulletstorm VR. I recently got around to rolling credits on Gorn, which was a batshit crazy experience, so I best keep the momentum up and move on to the next weird VR title. If you’ve played regular old Bulletstorm, you’ll know that the first-person combat is all about blasting, slicing, ripping and booting baddies into pieces in the most creative ways you can conjure. Take that insanity and throw it into the VR space and you’ve got a recipe for a delicious dip. Just wait until you’ve taken your headset off before you dig in.
Our last party pleaser is the fan-favourite guacamole, a dip that the whole crowd will help demolish. Our video game equivalent here is Tekken 8, the newest familial fighter with a raucous roster of characters with gravity-defying hair and enough family trauma to sink a ship. True, I’ll be completely rubbish at the game and anyone at the party will be able to hand me my arse, but that’s a-okay.
Now remember, enjoy your dips responsibly and never double dip your chip.
2023 honestly was full of releases that I still need to play, so what better way to celebrate that fact than by looking at games coming out this month instead!
Kicking the year off is the release of Portal: Revolution. I bloody love Portal, and if you ask Editor-in-chief about the game he will tell you he managed to play the co-op mode of Portal 2 by himself. Anyways, the community-made mod adds some more Portal so I can have Portal to go with my Portal. I am happy. There are some other releases that I’m keen for, Like Bloodborne Kart from the developer who brought us Bloodborne PSX, The Last of Us Part II Remastered (mostly just to see how the additions bolster the game), Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Enshrouded, and Palworld.
My big ticket item, however? Tekken 8. I am utter garbage at all fighters, but I have a damn good time with them and Tekken is the series that first brought me into the genre. I am very excited for Tekken 8, even if it won’t be able to be as good as the all-time GOAT, Tekken 3.
There’s a lot of honesty on the month ahead regarding our jorts so far, stuck on a backlog of quality that encapsulated 2023. Instead of that, I’m going to cast my eyes to the horizon and what my 2024 will entail. If Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is to be believed, there’s an endless amount of content heading my way in Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, which translates to the only game I’ll be playing in 2024. Potentially.
As unlikely a scenario as that may seem, I’m all for losing myself for a good long while within a world full of zany characters, absurd storylines and my adopted Dad Kazuma Kiryu beating up endless goons turn-based style. Having played the demo following my enjoyable time with Like A Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name, I’m very keen on the idea of the series spreading its wings to the new surroundings of Hawaii, which will afford it the chance to creatively pile on new ideas on top of a series bursting at the seams with originality. There’s no other series that comes close to the pure imagination afforded to Like A Dragon, and the anticipation of singing up a storm with Dad again is killing me.
Editors note: we’d already used the Infinite Wealth trailer above and I wanted a chance to drop this sick Bloodborne Kart video in the lineup so, sorry, Mark, you’re welcome, everybody else.
What games are you keen for in January? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Let us know in the comments below and on social media.