July’s Video Game Releases Sneak In Offbeat Titles Before Next-Gen Hoopla
The strangeness of 2020 continues into July, though one would naturally expect this month to be a less interesting one in terms of new videogame releases. As folks continue to weather the challenges of keeping their distance during this pandemic, they’re having to look for new game diversions in the aftermath period of another significant game’s release: The Last of Us Part II, which stirred up a lot of controversy for the bleak directions hijacked by its narrative.
Couple that with summer’s natural encouragement to go outdoors and the chronological lead-up to the unveiling of next gen’s new consoles, and we’re smack dab in an awkward zone, one where only the bravest of titles would choose to jump into the gaming sphere. Luckily, there are such brave, idiosyncratic souls out there – though more proportionately on the Switch, which isn’t going away anytime soon – who have plowed through the obstacle course of delays and next-gen interests to show up in Summer 2020. Let’s check ‘em out.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise — July 10
One of the most perplexing yet oddly satisfying games released during the last generation of consoles, Deadly Premonition remains a niche curiosity for those interested in survival horror … and the TV show Twin Peaks. In sideways and intentionally noncommittal ways, the game serves as an obvious homage to David Lynch’s TV series from the ‘90s: a surreal, deliberately esoteric murder mystery featuring an FBI special agent whose investigation of the murder of an 18-year-old girl takes him down the path of the supernatural.
Control issues, dated graphics, and insistent weirdness taken into account …? Deadly Premonition is pretty great, and will be getting a sequel exclusively on the Switch this month, likely sharing vague similarities to Twin Peaks: The Return in how a new murder mystery will entwine with the original and with protagonist Francis York Morgan. Borderlands-like rendering of 3D models allows Deadly Premonition 2 to feel updated yet similar to the original in the surreal open-world atmosphere.
F1 2020 — July 10
In some fashion, British developers Codemasters have been making racing games for over three decades, and it’s because they’ve continued a pursuit for refinement and excellence. Granted, aside from a few stray games here and there, the company has recently stuck to a few brands instead of the versatility and experimentation of their previous years — their bread and butter franchises: GRID, Dirt, and F1 – and they continue to rack up accolades for their work.
Their racing games have the mainstream appeal of the genre with the niche focus of the style of vehicle being piloted, which in a way narrows their competition. F1 2020 marks a particularly intriguing installment from Codemasters, as the content within was designed as if certain races took place that have been postponed due to the pandemic, which could offer F1 fans a unique opportunity to enjoy what was missed with the authentic pro racing teams.
Paper Mario: The Origami King — July 17
When most people think of Mario, they likely think about the standard platforming games of spread across many, many decades … and not of a role-playing experience. Those have been around for nearly a quarter-century now too, though, starting with Super Mario RPG on the SNES and transitioning into the well-regarded Paper Mario series that makes sure to show up at least once on each Nintendo format. Paper Mario: The Origami King brings the concept to the Switch, telling the fateful story of malevolent kings and enemies who must put differences aside to battle a greater threat.
Intelligent Systems are bringing back traditional action combat aspects to the Paper Mario franchise, instead of the gimmicky experiments found on the Wii iterations, though early rumblings indicate that the role-playing aspects (i.e. leveling up) have been further reduced. Whether fancied-up graphics and a new “wave” cutaway fighting design against multiple enemies are enough to fill that void shall be determined soon.
Ghost of Tsushima — July 17
Remember when it was revealed that the folks behind the Sly Cooper line of video games would be developing an urban open-world experience based around superhero powers, and it turned out pretty good? The transition to the Infamous franchise offered something new from Sucker Punch productions, and their line of games always maintained an enjoyable and polished level of quality in the free-roam action subgenre, even if they remained just out of reach from widespread popularity.
The developers are boldly shaking things up again, though, now moving to Japan in the late 1200s for yet another open-world endeavor: Ghosts of Tsushima. Unlike Infamous, this game aims for grounded realism and the essence of historical accuracy as a samurai battles against enemy forces during the Mongol Invasion of the 13th century, forcing the character to retrain themselves in combat against a superior foe. A combo of stealth and straightforward dueling will drive the visceral combat, veiled in a grim war-torn atmosphere.
Destroy All Humans! — July 28
Man, look, there’s no telling what any aliens that ARE up there are thinking about us after this year, but it probably isn’t anything good. Don’t worry: the remake of Destroy All Humans! isn’t interested in any additional commentary on the human condition in these trying times, still transporting the player-controlled alien Crypto to late-‘50s America for his invasion.
Black Forest Games are taking on a daunting task in remaking the fan-beloved game from Pandemic Studios, the label also responsible for the original Star Wars: Battlefront games who were famously shut down and absorbed by EA, and it looks like their playing it smart and safe by sticking close to the source. Yet, that isn’t to say that Black Forest won’t be making some changes, as they’re reincorporating scrapped material from the original release and tying in new game functions, such as a feature that lets players lock onto enemies. Destroy All Humans! will, oddly enough, be available on Stadia at release, yet won’t be on the Switch for a while.
This month, we’re also seeing the release of the sequel to Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, arriving on July 10, while a smattering of decent ports and remasters are also slipping into the mix. The surreal puzzle adventure Catherine is getting the Full Body treatment on the Switch once July 7 comes around, PC players will get to play Death Stranding on July 14, and the Samurai Showdown Neo Geo Collection will be hitting the major consoles on July 28. And yeah, NASCAR Heat 5 will come rolling in on the same day F1 2020.