With the magic of E3 and all of those surprise announcements behind us (I wish I could have known about them, but what can you do?), we now head into the heat of summer. Literally – right now, it’s the hottest it’s been all year and there’s a huge incentive to staying home and playing as many games as possible. Whether you’re sitting in front of the TV, relaxing in bed with a handheld, or experiencing the unrivaled power of PC gaming with the fan going, there’s plenty of new options to whet your appetites this month.

There’s a good variety of genres – RPG, puzzle, shooter, etc. – along with a bevy of ports, collections, remakes, and remasters. Some are included here as-necessary, and others are left out to make room for other cool games. It may feel like just grabbing an exclusive for a system is getting harder these days, but don’t fret. Those games are coming. It just happens to be that Octopath Traveler is the only one being mentioned here this month.

Enjoy, and see you next month!

Shining Resonance Refrain (PC/Switch/PS4/Xbone)

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Media.Vision
Release Date: 7/10/18

What is it?

Shining Resonance Refrain is a remastered version of the Japan-only Shining Resonance, which released on the Playstation 3 in late 2014. The latest in Sega’s Shining series, this is the first console entry to make it across the water in over a decade. Developed by Media.Vision (Wild Arms, Valkyria Revolution), this entry will hopefully reinvigorate the series in the West. It’s certainly poised to – as like Valkyria Revolution and the upcoming Valkyria Chronicles 4, a multiplatform release will only help it reach the widest audience possible.

Why is it important?

To see Sega doubling down and giving both their Shining and Valkyria Chronicles franchises a legitimate chance in the West again is quite nice – especially after Valkyria Revolution did not get the best reviews last year. As Media.Vision developed both that title and Shining Resonance, there is of course some warranted trepidation. It’s worth noting that the lukewarm reception to Revolution did not halt Sega’s plans to release Valkyria Chronicles 4 in the West, nor did it stop them from working on this remaster. Hopefully Revolution was just a misguided project, and these other two projects have learned something from that.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch/3DS)

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release Date: 7/13/18

What is it?

A port of the 2014 Wii U game, Captain Toad joins the never-ending conga line of games jumping ship to Nintendo’s current systems. Building on ideas originally explored in Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad relies on puzzle-solving to get through each level, removing the ability to jump altogether. This version of the game features Super Mario Odyssey-themed levels and two player local co-op on Switch, too.

Why is it important?

When the Switch is over and done with, it feels like the only Wii U exclusives that won’t make it over by then would be Xenoblade Chronicles X and Devil’s Third. Getting this beloved spin-off in front of more hands and eyes only helps Nintendo, should they want to do something further with the character down the line. I just wish it didn’t release the same day as Octopath Traveler. Though they may be for different audiences, they’re still two Nintendo exclusives going head-to-head when, ideally, the goal is for all of them to succeed as much as possible. Would it have hurt to stagger their releases a week apart at least?

Octopath Traveler (Switch)

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Square Enix/Acquire
Release Date: 7/13/18

What is it?

Square Enix’s attempt to bring the 16-bit style of JRPGs into the modern era with their new “HD-2D” style, Octopath Traveler finds another way to look back at the past while (hopefully) bringing enough new ideas to the table to make it worth its while. Developed in part by Acquire (Tenchu, Way of the Samurai), there is, to be blunt, quite a lot riding on this game. Will it be better than other attempts by Square Enix to cater to 90’s nostalgia? That depends on how you feel about titles like I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear. Regardless, Octopath Traveler looks stunning, and for RPGs that’s sometimes the best you can say until you get your hands on it.

Why is it important?

I was kind of wrong when I said last month that Mario Tennis Aces would be Nintendo’s biggest summer release. My apologies for that misstatement. In my defense though, this game has been identified more as a Square Enix game than a Nintendo game. Nintendo publishing the game is a boon for exclusivity and fostering a more diverse Switch crowd – which definitely isn’t a bad thing, considering their other JRPG on the system, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, is currently one of the Switch’s best sellers.

Mothergunship (PC/PS4/Xbone)

Publisher: Grip Digital
Developer: Grip Digital/Terrible Posture Games
Release Date: 7/17/18

What is it?

Imagine a first person shooter with plenty of gun customization, aliens to fight, and challenging level design. Then, imagine that these levels are challenging because they take from bullet hell arcade games like Ikaruga and force you to think strategically as you dodge waves of bullets coming from enemies as you fire your own. That, in a nutshell, is Mothergunship. It also features online co-op and roguelike gameplay – meaning you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die a lot, and you’re gonna be dying a lot with your friends by your side. That definitely appeals to somebody out there.

Why is it important?

Honestly, it just looks cool. With a retail release planned for later in the year, I’m rather impressed by how much this game seems to be going for it. It’s releasing this month digitally for $24.99. This is definitely one I want to check out, at least to see if I’m any good at it (spoiler: I probably won’t be).

The Banner Saga 3 (Android/iOS/Mac/PC/PS4/Switch/Xbone)

Publisher: Versus Evil
Developer: Stoic
Release Date: 7/24/18

What is it?

Ending what began with the first Banner Saga in 2014, this final title in the trilogy promises to offer turn-based strategical combat on just about every platform you can imagine. Made by Stoic, a team built with developers who previously worked for Bioware, this game hopes to continue the string of high quality and praise built with the first two games and provide a satisfying conclusion – something rather rare in the gaming space these days.

Why is it important?

As a successful Kickstarter game, it’s always worth keeping an eye on these releases to see how much they got right, and where things went wrong. The interesting thing is that the developers are returning to the crowdfunding format after going self-funded for The Banner Saga 2. According to this interview with ReadySet, this avenue was taken to allow a community to form around the game and actively support it prior to launch. This is a different way of using crowdfunding, yes, but as long as the game itself is fun, it’s hopefully all worth it.

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbone)

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 7/24/18

What is it?

Is this one title? Is this two titles? Well, yes and no. If you’re, say, picking this up at the store on PS4, you’re getting both Legacy Collections in one bundle with the first four Mega Man X games on one disc, and the other four on a second disc. If you’re buying this digitally, like on Steam, you can buy them separately or together – it’s really up to you.

Why is it important?

As far as Mega Man subseries go, the X series might not have the same amount of recognition as the original Mega Man, but it comes close. Those who know what they’re getting into probably already know what they think of this collection. For new people jumping on – just prepare for some…interesting technology jumps as you revisit this action-platforming series.

No Man’s Sky (Xbone)

Publisher: Hello Games
Developer: Hello Games
Release Date: 7/24/18

What is it?

Released as a PC/PS4 exclusive two years ago, a lot of hype and promises went into No Man’s Sky that, realistically, could never have been fulfilled on time. People came to it, saw it, played it, and while it has its defenders out there, many left it disappointed. Though expansions and content updates have brought the game close to what was promised, including the multiplayer content coming with the NEXT update launching with the Xbox One version of the game, the damage is likely done. It will be interesting to hear how people only experiencing it now on Xbox will think, though.

Why is it important?

My memories of the gaming scene in 2016 rests with three hotly anticipated games that finally saw a release after a lot of waiting and controversy. Though The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XV were in development far longer than No Man’s Sky, there was a wide variety of praise and criticism for all three games. Of the three though, No Man’s Sky had an initial audience reaction that felt like a balloon popping. So many promises went unfulfilled that, even with the positive words that were out there, nothing could shake the feeling of disappointment many people had. Here’s hoping this month’s port does well.

Sleep Tight (PC/Switch)

Publisher: We Are Fuzzy
Developer: We Are Fuzzy
Release Date: 7/26/18

What is it?

An indie game. A twin-stick shooter. A day/night survival cycle. A nostalgia trip filled with pillow forts and friends. Sleep Tight is the kind of game that takes a lot of what we’re familiar with in modern games, and presents them in a somewhat different light, forcing us to decide whether or not they’re really for us. Do you like base building? Or is that something just for games like Minecraft and Fortnite? Do you like childhood nostalgia? Or is that reserved for revisiting the stuff you actually liked watching and playing back then? These questions and more must be considered before investing in Sleep Tight. Hopefully, if you’re interested, these elements are shown in a proper light that appeals to you.

Why is it important?

The PC/Switch release strategy is interesting, and makes me wonder still about the future of Nintendo’s system. With releases like Paladins and Fortnite already, the Switch is appealing to gamers in ways Nintendo hasn’t had a grasp on in over 15 years.  If indie developers find success making the Switch as their sort of secondary go-to for their games – as portability is a definite advantage most PC games don’t have – I can see a bright future. However, if technology advances to a point where this is no longer feasible, that makes me worry that support in the latter part of the system’s life will die out, just like with other Nintendo systems. Keep an eye out for the specs of Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles – that should tell us how long this release strategy can last. Let’s hope it’s for years to come.

Code of Princess EX (Switch)

Publisher: Nicalis
Developer: Studio Saizensen
Release Date: 7/31/18

What is it?

Ports to Switch don’t always come from the Wii U (or from modern consoles, as the ports of Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus would like you to believe). Sometimes, they come from the 3DS. Originally released by Atlus in the States in 2012,  Code of Princess EX a side-scrolling game reminiscent of Dragon’s Crown with plenty of RPG tactics and beautiful art to look at. This new version, courtesy of Nicalis (Cave Story), builds on the re-release the PC got a couple years back and brings the game to a modern console so it can hopefully get a better life on Nintendo’s current money machine.

Why is it important?

While it won’t do blockbuster numbers, it might be worth seeing whether Nicalis (which has been gaining more and more of an indie reputation already on the Switch) hints at the game’s success or not. It seems kind of random and out-of-nowhere to see this game now, but if Dragon’s Crown can get a new release this year, I guess it makes sense we’d see this too? It’s an older game than Dragon’s, but with that game skipping over the Switch for now, something has to fill its spot. Hopefully, this will do for fans.

Titan Quest (Switch)

Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: THQ Nordic/Iron Lore Entertainment/Demiurge Studios
Release Date: 7/31/18

What is it?

Titan Quest is an engrossing RPG on PC filled with loot, an awesome Greek setting, and development roots ties to both Age of Mythology and Braveheart. Written by Randall Wallace, this title was one of a few put out by Iron Lore Entertainment, a vastly underrated development studio. The game finally saw release on Playstation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year thanks to publisher THQ Nordic, so a Switch version seemed only inevitable – even if the other console versions seemed to have a quiet release.

Why is it important?

It’s Titan Quest to go. As a fan of the title, I couldn’t help but include it, partially because it wasn’t until I was doing research for this entry that I learned the game had come out earlier this year for Xbox One and PS4. So this serves as a PSA in a way. Let’s hope it runs well on Switch!

As always, you can email me at dcichocki@tiltingwindmillstudios.com or contact me on Twitter @dacichocki. See you soon!