In the past, gaming companies have stayed away from releasing titles during June, July, or August, lest people miss out on them while they’re away on vacation. That’s not entirely the case today. While big budget games still debut during the holiday season, lots of noteworthy projects see the light of day in the driest part of the year. This list breaks down the summer 2018 games that may have slipped under your radar and each is worthy of being played alongside the heavy hitters this fall and beyond.
Summer 2018 Games: Dead Cells
A lot of the discussion surrounding Dead Cells had nothing to do with the game itself. A plagiarism scandal involving an esteemed and highly popular gaming website unfortunately overshadowed a game totally worth being talked about on account of its own merits. Dead Cells combines the atmosphere of the Castlevania franchise and incorporates roguelike elements to produce something simultaneously new and familiar. It succeeds in instilling a sense of power into players by intermittently introducing new abilities and weapons for them to use. Its Castlevania influences and smooth combat were part of the reason it was our favorite Metroidvania last month.
Fans will die more than they expect. Each death sends players back to the beginning of the game, though some abilities do carry over. Dead Cells doesn’t go easy on its fans by any stretch of the imagination, however, as its world changes at the start of every new lifetime. This constantly keeps users on their toes, guessing what new horrors await them around the corner. If you’re a fan of unforgiving, moody 2D platformers, Dead Cells should be right up your alley. It’s available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Summer 2018 Games: Guacamelee 2
Guacamelee 2 preserves the charm of the original game while introducing new platforming challenges to keep the formula fresh. This time, protagonist Juan must navigate through different timelines with his familiar arsenal in tow (including the spectacular ability to turn into a chicken). Players must use the character’s signature luchador moves to uppercut, belly flop, and dash-jump his way across vibrant levels inspired by Mexican folklore.
If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted game filled with dad jokes, Guacamelee 2 should definitely be on your list. It allows up to four total to jump in whenever they want, making it a fun party if you’ve got friends over. It’s a departure from the doom and gloom of other titles on the market now and worthy of a playthrough in between those popular gun-slinging titles this fall. Guacamelee 2 is available for PlayStation 4 and PC.
Summer 2018 Games: Yakuza Kiwami 2
If you have yet to jump into the nutty Yakuza franchise, look no further than Yakuza Kiwami 2. This remake of the second main iteration in the series fleshes out problems found in the original game while improving upon the mechanics of the last Kiwami entry. If you’ve been clamoring for a new Grand Theft Auto game, Kiwami 2 offers similar drama, intrigue, and memorable characters, all set in a semi-open world where police and gangs are at constant odds with one another.
Protagonist Ryo has left the life of crime he was inducted into back in the first game, but somehow finds himself sucked back in. He must navigate his personal affairs with the looming threat of gang war, forming relationships with people who typically can’t be trusted. As if the game’s story wasn’t compelling enough, Kiwami 2 offers an enhanced martial arts-based fighting system that’s customizable through skill trees.
Combat flows organically and is rendered beautifully through Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s improved Dragon Engine. The game is arguably a culmination of everything the franchise embodies and is perhaps the best entry point for potential fans so far. It’s available exclusively on PlayStation 4.
Summer 2018 Games: The Banner Saga 3
The Banner Saga 3 is an emotional doozy, perhaps best meant to be played during the dark, cold winter months. It’s a story about the end of the world, one that establishes from the get-go that people will die, oftentimes mercilessly. Players will have to use their tactical prowess to journey to the last city standing and determine how to best care for its new inhabitants. They’ll have to figure out how to prevent conflict from erupting from within the tiny civilization’s walls, and how to gather enough rations to keep everyone fed and healthy.
Of course, the franchise’s hallmark battles return in full force, allowing players to flesh out their character’s abilities and strong suits according to what the anticipated next fight will be. Every decision feels as if it’ll completely alter the way in which The Banner Saga 3 will play out. It constantly makes you mull over choices and guess what their impact may be later on. If you’re in a somber mood or pining for a thoughtful tragedy, the game is available to be played on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Summer 2018 Games: Two Point Hospital
Released earlier this month, Two Point Hospital may have wrongfully been overshadowed by some of September’s big budget releases (i.e. Dragon Quest XI and Spider-Man). It’s worthy of the same attention, if only for how genuinely funny its tongue-in-cheek jokes are. That’s not to say that the title’s gameplay isn’t impressive either. This hospital management simulator tasks players with building a new medical empire, starting out small with a handful of rooms and small illnesses and building up to diseases far more difficult to control.
Two Point Hospital offers a perfect introduction to the management genre, as its tutorials are well thought-out and actually helpful. The game takes baby steps with players should they need them, plus throws in a couple of good jokes for good measure. There’s something here for players accustomed with the genre too, as the game’s economy is surprisingly complex. Even if management simulators aren’t your style, Two Point Hospital is worthy of your attention, if only to expand your gaming prowess. It’s currently only available on PC.
While 2018 undoubtedly holds even more exciting titles, it’s important to keep the games listed here in the back of your mind. They might be overshadowed in the coming months when juggernauts like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey start releasing so it’s good to highlight these smaller games just before the autumn rush.