Hello and welcome back to Have You Heard Of?. This month, with most of the titles coming out being either huge releases or ones I'm not personally interested in, I thought it'd be good to look at a few titles you may have missed from the past year. Since I started this in July, that leaves me with a whole six months that I didn't get a chance to cover, so I'm going to remedy this now!

 

To make this easy, I'm going to forgo my usual Gameplay, Story and Development discussion with the games, and instead just give you a few tidbits about each game that you should know. There will be one game for each month, and I'll be doing them in order, starting with January.

 

Now, before we get into it, let me know it there are any games that I missed that you feel deserved the spotlight. Each of the games on this list are ones that I'm personally interested in, have played or looked into, but I'm always looking for new games to play. The only rule is they have to have been released in 2017; Early Access games are an exception, as my first Have You Heard Of was 'technically' an Early Access game...so I can't really rule those out...Also, for the sake of consistency, I'll be including the entry I originally had slated for October (ELEX) in this list as my last entry, so there's at least one new game for you all to try that hasn't been released as of yet!

 

So, without further delay, let's get into January's game!

 

JANUARY – YAKUZA 0 (PS3, PS4)

I've never really been much for games like Yakuza, mainly because, much like comics, there's a lot of backstory and history to get enthralled with before playing so you can have a better time understanding everything. Yakuza 0 gets around this by being a prequel to the rest of the series, and for the first time, I actively enjoyed myself somewhat.

 

You play as series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and recurring character Goro Majima, alternating between the two as the story unfolds. In a mostly open world game, much of the game has the two beating up low lives and those who have crossed them. The other half of the game is mini games and collection missions, so there's something here for just about everyone!

 

What sets this one apart for some people is that it is very cutscene heavy; not nearly as bad as games like Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was, but still has a good portion of the game filled with pre-rendered cutscenes. I'm personally alright with this, as much of the gameplay is focused around beating the crap out of some dudes or trying to win at the slots, while the cutscenes give us more to the characters we're controlling and interacting with, with one of the first cutscenes demonstrating to us just who Kazuma is.

 

Whether or not you're a fan of the series, it's worth looking into. The fighting sequences you'll encounter frequently are fun if only because of how powerful they can make you feel, and the side missions and mini games are a good distraction to suck out hours of your life. Give it a look if it's something that sounds interesting to you.

 

FEBRUARY – BENDY AND THE INK MACHINE: CHAPTER ONE (Windows, Linux, Mac)

With the recent release of Cuphead, I've seen a consistent upload of fan art on sites like Tumblr and Facebook based in the classic Fleischer style. I've always been a fan of the style, and as such, Bendy and the Ink Machine caught my attention when I first heard about it.

 

Much like Cuphead, Bendy and the Ink Machine is heavily inspired by the animations of Max Fleischer, who did cartoons like Betty Boop, Koko the Clown and Popeye. But that's where the similarities end; Cuphead is a side scrolling run-and-gun experience with an emphasis on boss fights, while Bendy is a narrative walking simulator split up into five chapters (Three have been released as of this writing) about the downfall of a studio that once rivaled another.

 

The gameplay has you solving some pretty simple puzzles as the story unfolds through audio tapes, notes and the occasional voice over. It all starts out simple enough, with your character returning to their old animation studio after being away for a very long time. Things start to make sense as you travel through the halls and learn of the studios eventual downfall.

 

The narrative parallels the same struggle that happened between Max Fleischer and another studio who ended up usurping them; Disney. I won't get too much into the story here, as it's best to go in blind if possible, but I highly recommend that anyone who likes walking simulators, Cuphead, the animation style of Max Fleischer and early Mickey Mouse cartoons, or just good old fashioned narrative games to check this one out.


MARCH – HAS-BEEN HEROES (PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One)

A while back, GameStop announced a program to help smaller developers make games that would be soled exclusively in their stores. Studios like Insomniac Games and Ready at Dawn produced unique indie feeling experiences thanks to this program, and Has-Been Heroes is the latest of the bunch to be released.

 

Developed by Frozenbyte for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, Has-Been Heroes is a rogue like game with a unique combat based twist, that being you control three heroes at any given time, and have three lanes of attack from which enemies will try to get you. As enemies advance, you tactically position your heroes and attack the enemies advancing forward to push them back, all in an effort to beat out the clock and survive or beat all the enemies. The combat is fast but fair, and the overworld maps you explore are randomly generated, including the encounters you'll face, items you'll find, and even the bosses you'll defeat.

 

There is a narrative to the game, but like many other rogue like games such as The Binding or Isaac or Enter The Gungeon, the story is minimal and more or less serves to help make the world feel unified. Has-Been Heroes has you play as a group of Heroes past their prime, helping to bring the King's daughters to school. They meet a thief along the way who helps them on their quest, and that's pretty much all there is to the story.

 

It's a fun, challenging, and engaging game that I personally have put over forty hours into on my Switch; It's the only non-Nintendo game I have on the system, and it works best on a mobile like device in my opinion. If you're looking for a fun take of lane combat mixed with plenty of rogue like elements thrown in for good measure, head to GameStop and pick up a copy!

 

APRIL – THE SEXY BRUTALE (PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One)

Time, Murder and Mansions are all tropes of video games that have been around pretty much since the beginning. Occasionally, a developer might combine two of these three ideas, but rarely do we get to see them all combined into one. Enter The Sexy Brutale, a murder mystery with a time twist.

 

The Sexy Brutale is a hybrid Adventure/ Puzzle game that has you exploring a mansion stuck in a time lop to find out who's been killing everyone inside. You'll hide in closets to overhear conversations, collect clues to narrow down the suspects, and hopefully escape death as a a trap is sprung.

 

Each room is a box, and in each room are plenty of things to interact with and find. This can sometimes lead to you searching a room for a bit longer than you might like (Or at least that was MY experience...) and can sometimes be a little clunky, but overall seems harmless.

 

With a uniqur twist of having players constantly solve a crime as the day resets is very reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and seeing as that's one of my favorite games of all time, I personally recommend The Sexy Brutale. It's got some decent humor, a unique premise, and a few rather intriguing puzzles for those willing to enter the mansion.

 

MAY – STRAFE (PS4, Windows)

Strafe anther Rogue like game (What can I say, I like Rogue likes!), but unlike Has-Been Heroes, this game emulates the style of classic First Person Shooters, with obvious inspirations coming from games like Doom or Deus Ex.

 

Set on a space station in the future, everything about Strafe is presented as if it had come out in the 90's. The introduction video is a classic, grainy style introduction complete with live action “Gamer Babe” explaining everything you need to know. The combat is run and gun, with enemies swarming you from all corners. Traversal is quick, with even quicker gunplay to fend off the hordes of enemies trying to keep you from the level's exit.

 

With how hard they try to make the game feel like an authentic experience from the 90's, I wasn't surprised by some of the minor technical problems I encountered while playing on console. Frame rates dropped a bit randomly, but were quick to recover. The load times between levels was much longer than those I had seen on PC playthroughs, but it also meant I got a bit more of a break from the action before being thrust into Hell once more.

 

Overall, the game might have a few technical problems, and it might feel like a grind after a while, but I ultimately had a blast playing it. If you want to have an experience much like you did playing through the original Doom or Deus Ex, but with a rouge like twist, give Strafe a look.

 

JUNE – GET EVEN (PS4, Windows, Xbox One)

Many horror titles have embraced First Person walking and shooting mechanics in recent years, and the reasons for this seem pretty obvious. Outside of the fact that, as we play, we're supposed to feel like we're the one walking through the abandoned asylum, it gives developers a chance to hide things behind us without them revealing themselves until the player deems this action worthy by turning around.

 

At first glance, Get Even might just seem like another generic horror game rip-off, trying to capitalize on successes like Resident Evil or Outlast. What sets this game apart, however, is its setting. Sure, it's primary location is an insane asylum, a type of building we've explored many times now in the genre, but that's only half the fun.

Get Even also uses the mind as a place for levels, and this is actually where you'll spend a majority of the game. Much like Psychonauts before it, Get Even uses different people's memories to help advance the story, and much like Assassin's Creed, you have to be careful to not disrupt the memory too much for fear of the memory breaking down and leaving you with having to try again.

 

The scares in this one might be minimal, and the story is pretty bare bones, but the concept of walking through horror filled memories is kind of a neat idea, in my book. And, seeing as this is October and the Halloween season is upon us, I highly recommend a look at what I feel is yet another overlooked horror title.

 

AND FINALLY, OCTOBER – ELEX

I chose not to do a traditional Have You Heard Of this month for a few reasons, and this months selection was one of those reasons. With so many titles coming out this month, including juggernauts like Middle Earth: Shadow of War and South Park: The Fractured But Whole, I knew this game would be over looked. However, I don't have as much of a personal desire to play this one; more over, I just wanted to bring it to people's attention in case they might find it interesting.

 

ELEX is a science fantasy themed action adventure role-playing game described as “Edgy, dark, uncompromising and complex” by it's developer Piranha Bytes. Set on the planet Magalan, three main factions fight over a rare but powerful resource known simply as Elex, which has the ability to power machinery, give magical powers or re-sculpt life into new and different forms.

 

On the surface, this seems like a neat idea; give the player three factions to choose to join or fight, each with their own distinct take on how Elex should be used, and give them a substance that effectively let's them play however they wish. Sadly, it looks to be more like Skyrim mixed with Mad Max and a bit of Fallout, with mostly standard third person combat using swords, guns and magic.

 

With such a unique premise wasted on standard sounding gameplay, you might understand why I was a bit hesitant to recommend this all on it's own. But, that said, I could be proven wrong and the game could throw a massive right hook during the narrative, much in the way games like Spec Ops: The Line or Call of Duty: Black Ops did. Either way, check it out for yourself if the premise I gave interests you; it interested me enough to at least look a bit more into it, I'll say that much.

 

And that's the list! Any games you're thinking about trying out for yourself? Any games you think I missed from their respective months? Let me know in the comments below and let's keep this discussion going! Hopefully, we'll all walk away with a few more games to play. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all next Tuesday, as I'll be working on getting my YouTube channel, Valiant Attempt Gaming, some much needed content over the weekend. See you then!