Next Week in Gaming: January - Week One

Continuing on from last week, this series of articles is to help keep you guys up to date with what's been happening in the gaming world, and fill you in on what's coming in the week to come. I'll be announcing game releases, interviews, as well as introducing next week's review title.

Next Week in Gaming: Video Release

Humble Square Enix Bundle

Despite the swell of sales that engulfed our lives over the last four weeks (and probably for the next four too), I haven't actually bought any games, not even during the Steam Sale. I'm all sale'd out, and eagerly waiting for the big games of 2016 before I start slamming down dollars in hopes a game is going to be decent. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of great deals on though. In case you've been sidetracked buying Steam Winter Sale cards or a new TV in the January sales, there are still a few days left to get yourself some games from Humble.

This week's Bundle has already been running for a while, and it features some shiny stuff from Square Enix. The first tier has the Tomb Raider 1 to 3, along with Life is Strange Episode 1 which we ran a review of back when the title was halfway done. The second tier includes some random nonsense like Gyromancer, which despite never meaning to buy, still found its way into my Steam library years ago. It also includes the Just Cause colections and FF XIV. There's also a bunch more Tomb raider titles as part of this second tier, as well as a 20% off coupon for Just Cause 3 in case you haven't already bought it - you should. The final tier gets you Tomb Raider (2015), and Hitman Absolution, as well as Lara Croft Temple of Osiris, the isometric Tomb Raider title.

The Humble Square Enix Bundle ends on Tuesday the 5th January.

Contract Release

This game caught my attention mainly for the Gunpoint visual style mixed in with some great implementation of lighting. I also love the way the playable character moves and shoots like a Hollywood assassin, so I though, hell, this is worth sharing. Contract is a sidescrolling assassin simulator by S. Houben which has you slip/shoot past guards and locked doors in order to take out your main target.

The game is spread across 20 missions with some sort of backstory about your brother, and has some really smooth looking ad hoc upgrading of gear and weapons. It looks really smoothly done, and just overall a super neat little title. It's got the small aspect of hacking that titles like Gunpoint and Ronin had, but with a heavier focus on hitman-ing the various types of enemies and shooting in some serious style. If you like Tom Francis' style, I think Contract is definitely for you.

Contract releases on Tuesday the 5th January.

Chiptune Champion Release

This looks suitably Nintendo'd. Imagine Guitar Hero in the art style of Super Mario World. In fact, this is where I plug a delightful little game back in the early 00's because Chiptune Champion reminds me a hell of a lot of it. This title is by Blake Garner, and it looks an awful lot like Frets on Fire, a free Guitar Hero style title that can be played on the keyboard. What was cool about Frets on Fire was that it had its own tunes, and could use the original track files from all of the Guitar Hero games to add to your PC tape selection.

Chiptune Champion dives into the musical world of demo tracks instead of your mainstream/indie music. It has forty-odd tracks for you to mess around with on three different difficulty levels, but also allows you to track your own songs. The key part of this title is the Steam Workshop integration. That means people can put their demos on the Workshop, track them in Chiptune Champions, and you essentially have a potentially endless library of tunes to play along to. I know it's a niche market, but I desperately hope we end up with chiptunes flocking to the workshop. Community content is usually pretty damn great, so I think the developers have definitely caught onto something here.

Chiptune Champion releases on Friday the 8th January.

Vector 36 Early Access Impressions

The most asked question about Vector 36 is how similar it is to Star Wars: Pod Racer. I still have an original disk for the PC version, so let me tell you it's nothing like it. Red River Studio have been developing Vector 36 for a few months now, and the game is set to release relatively soon. It's still in EA for now, so we'll just be doing impressions as opposed to a full on critical review. We shall of course do our usual Performance Analysis too, but its subject to change on release. Vector 36 is a complex physics based racer with oodles of intricate customisation. There's a garage to modify your ship, even to the point of changing angles and orientation of parts, and there's plenty of complex juggling of the UI while you're racing. It's set to feature full VR support as a main selling point, so for those looking at top quality games for when they get their Oculus gear, Vector 36 needs to be on your road map.

Our impressions of Vector 36 will be published on Thursday the 7th January.

Titles to Watch in 2016

2015 was pretty great as far as releases go. We had some awe and we had some real stinkers, but that's all in the past now. 2016 is probably the year of the space sim, what with Squadron 42 and a whole slew of other spaceship shoot 'em ups. I've compiled a short list with website links of the games I've got my eye on for 2016. There are hundreds of games coming out, so don't feel too annoyed if I've missed them. There's only so many I can remember, and only so many I'll ever get to review or play. Here they are in no particular order, although Hellblade is at the very top of my list because it looks glorious.

What Have You Been Playing?

My entire winter holiday has been split in two. Well, three if you count real life occurences, but two as far as games are concerned. First off I've spent an ungodly amount of hours getting back into Warlords of Draenor, desperately trying to catch up with the garrison feature, as well as making it into a raiding guild and piecing together some rather lacklustre gear. It's going well, and it's feeling pretty good I think.

The second part has been entirely made up of Grim Dawn. Two mates and I have been punching and spellcasting our way through enormous tides of highly unique enemies, showering our eyes in the delights that are the Devotion and Faction systems Grim Dawn now enjoys. I don't think I've had this much fun in an ARPG since Path of Exile. It's set to release in February, but its "content complete" right now, so do feel free to have a play while the balance is being sorted and bugs are being quashed. It's definitely a welcome successor to Titan Quest.