Format PS3 Status Confirmed ETA Autumn Pub Sony Dev Sony Japan Studio
Sony Japan’s new game is about feeling the vulnerability of the child you control. There’s a lot going on to make you feel lost and alone, and at the same time curious to explore. Chins will be stroked red-raw on Rain’s account, but to actually play the game is as simple as run, jump, interact. The eponymous precipitation is vital to the core mechanic – you, a ghost boy, can only be seen on-screen under the rain. Duck under an awning in the pseudo-Parisian streets and you disappear. The only way to orient yourself is by watching your wet footprints on the ground, or following the trail of upturned objects you leave in your wake. Your only objective is to chase after a similarly ectoplasmic girl, and avoid disconcerting skeletal hounds – also translucent – as they hunt you from awning to awning, where your invisibility grants you safety. And no, it never stops raining. But a three-pronged attack of disarmingly pretty piano music, sprawling levels and smarter puzzles will keep you from ditching it for something sunnier. There’s nothing else quite like Rain in the Hot 50, and its unique gameplay is matched by touching, silent, storytelling.
Killer Is Dead
Format PS3 Status Confirmed ETA 27 Aug Pub Deep Silver Dev Kadokawa Games/Grasshopper Manufacture
Back with a spiritual sequel to Killer7, the ever-enigmatic developer Goichi Suda (Suda51 to those prepared to humour him) clearly aims to confuse, delight and agitate us all by force-feeding his stylish polygons directly into our brain-holes. How many games on this list can boast a protagonist named Mondo Zappa with a cybernetic left arm that you can turn into guns, drills and other sadistic implements the T-1000 would wholeheartedly approve of? Zero, that’s how many. And even if there were a few left, they’d quickly be eradicated by Mondo’s other arm, which is pretty adept at doing some truly terrifying things with swords. It’s a toolset well-matched to Killer Is Dead’s lightning pace and the flamboyant visual style that Suda51 (damn it, we buckled) says is influenced by Ian Fleming’s original vision of James Bond. Of course, we haven’t forgotten how lightweight Suda’s previous hack ’n’ slasher Lollipop Chainsaw felt at times, and that prevents Killer Is Dead from slicing through more of the Hot 50. Mondo looks pretty determined to prove us wrong, however. Although admittedly it is hard to tell that from his all-encompassing murderous rage, to be frank.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Format PS4 Status Confirmed ETA 2014 Pub CD Projekt Red Dev CD Projekt Red
You might not have heard of Geralt Of Rivia, but by the time CD Projekt Red’s vast open-world RPG arrives you’ll be hearing that central character’s name more than you did about arrows to the knee in Skyrim. And we really do mean ‘vast’ – The Witcher 3’s world is 20% bigger than the Bethesda behemoth, with locations so far away from each other that riding a horse or sailing between them is the only appropriate means of travel. And when an open world really speaks to you, travelling between destinations is more than half the fun. Until current reigning heavyweight Bethesda shows its hand, this is the brightest star on the horizon for RPG fans. There’s a brand-new engine designed to harness PS4’s grunt to get all butterflies-in-tummy about and – maybe even more exciting – the promise that your every action (suppress that yawn) has a tangible consequence. Plenty of games say that, of course, but the Witcher series has an impeccable track record when it comes to weaving compelling narrative. Weave harder, CDP. Ooh, yeah. That’s it.
Need For Speed: Rivals
Format PS4/PS3 Status Confirmed ETA 19 Nov (PS3) Pub EA Dev Ghost Games/Criterion
Need For Speed’s family tree is as convoluted as an Alabama sperm donor’s, but even in the midst of countless spin-offs and reboots, Ghost Games and Criterion’s 20th entry in the series stands out and finds itself ahead of the pack in this year’s Hot 50. Firstly, the engine purring away under Need For Speed: Rivals shiny bonnet is none other than Frostbite 3, which you may recognise as the tech that brought you ‘skyscrapers crumbling like stale scones’ and ‘Bonnie Tyler playing in an upside-down Humvee’ in Battlefield 4. Given that this is already a game about the most desirable cars in the world and sees the return of Ferraris to the series for the first time since 2002, exquisite beauty pretty much comes as standard with EA’s big next-gen engine crunching the numbers.
Autolog’s back to spy on your progress and poke friends in the ribs whenever you beat them – a recent highlight that Rivals is sure to build on
Then there’s the Hot Pursuit lineage to consider. Criterion’s 2010 Hot Pursuit was itself a reboot of a 1998 game by the same name, and won over the masses with its cops and robbers racing – complete with EMPs, shockwaves and deployable roadblocks. Rivals brings the feds back into play, but in the open-world setting of Redview County where players can seamlessly zip between single-player and multiplayer racing (EA’s calling the system behind it Alldrive, because it’s EA)… which sounds a lot like the also excellent Most Wanted from Criterion. Autolog’s back to spy on your progress and poke friends in the ribs whenever you beat them – a recent highlight that Rivals is sure to build on.
Maybe we’re mad to be so excited about this, but car customisation from the Underground era looks like it’s back in, too. No word on the inclusion of cardboard spoilers or boot-mounted fish tanks, but there’ll at least be decals, rims and custom paint jobs to… express yourself with. Ghost Games is a new studio, but it’s showing a solid understanding of the series’ strengths to match its comely new engine. Seriously: total hottie.
Format PS Vita Status Confirmed ETA 25 Oct Pub Sony Dev Media Molecule
The thing about Media Molecule’s paper-based platform adventure is that all the objects in the game are physically possible. Beneath the bits you can see are the flaps and folds you’d need in real life to make the palm trees, basketball courts, glue rivers, Venus fly traps and bridges out of real paper. But even in the game, this is paper that moves realistically, and even sounds convincing.
It’s exciting because a) it conjures up amusing images of Media Molecule’s QA team waist-deep in aborted origami projects, painstakingly building their virtual world in the real one, and b) it demonstrates that the Guildford-based team ain’t just winging this papercraft lark. The gameplay’s informed by its physical materials – glue slows you down, certain areas unfold to create a path – but in play it’s recognisably a platformer, even with PS Vita’s touchscreen controls thrown in. Where you get wrapped up in it all is in the stop-motion effect everything has in Tearaway’s world, and the way the controls blur the line between game and reality as you fall into a arts-and-crafts stupor.
The gameplay’s informed by its physical materials – glue slows you down, certain
areas unfold to create a path
There’s also the light-hearted mythology of Tearaway’s story to consider – the sailors, sea shanties and mythical Wendigos. Not to mention the impossible curiosity of the unique message in Iota’s envelope-head, different for every player who guides him or female character Atoi through Tearaway’s unpredictable caper.
It handles like a platformer, but the handsiest platformer you ever met. You’re invited to poke your fingers through the paper and into the game via the rear touchpad, to bang on surfaces like a drum to propel Iota or Atoi into the air. This is Vita’s standout prospect for the shooter-ambivalent, and it finds itself among games with higher resolution, bigger draw distances and seamless online play – losing no ground to PS4 hopefuls and ultra-polished PS3 offerings. Amazing what you can do with a few careful folds, eh?
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