It’s hard to believe the first month of 2016 is coming to a close already. It feels like yesterday I was sitting here ranting about my end of year gaming goal failure, or typing up my Game of the Year posts, and now it’s time to talk about February stuff. Time flies, doesn’t it?
Each month brings with it a new batch of inaccurately labeled “free” games, as they require a paid subscription to either Xbox Live or Playstation Plus to access. Both Microsoft and Sony revealed their lists earlier today, which (as it does every month) lead to negative social media posts and toxic comment sections on behalf of their loyal “fans.”
It’s not all bad though. Let’s take a look.
Xbox One owners technically get 4 games per month, now that every 360 game offered in the Games With Gold program is backwards compatible.
Indie stealth game Styx: Master of Shadows got lost in the shuffle at the end of an occupied 2014, contending with major releases like Alien: Isolation, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and the annual Call of Duty title. Its $30 price point probably didn’t help matters either, as the game looked pretty low budget at first glance.
I wasn’t entirely impressed with what I saw when a buddy of mine streamed the PS4 version for a few days. I always said when it was cheap enough that I’d give it a go, and now it’ll be “free” to all Xbox Live Gold subscribers on Xbox One. I guess it’s time to eat those words.
Also available on Xbox One is action roguelike Hand of Fate. This is another game with poor timing, releasing between Dying Light and Bloodborne, so hopefully it’ll have a bit of a resurgence next month.
It’s an interesting concept, where the contents of your randomized dungeon is decided by a deck of cards. For instance, your first card may summon a swarm of goblins, while the next opens up a treasure room, or renders your hero poisoned for the duration of the encounter.
This ensures that each playthough is unique and unpredictable, which should (in theory) increase its replay value significantly.
I’m not sure if even Microsoft expects Gold subscribers to get excited about a nearly 3-year old $10 arcade download, but co-op beat-em-up Sacred Citadel will be “free” in February on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Gears of War 2 doesn’t need an explanation. If you have an Xbox, chances are you already own this one. It was free if you purchased last year’s Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, and it seems like every other person on Twitter is raffling off their extra codes. Either way, you can pick up the sequel on Xbox 360 and Xbox One next month.
Overall, I’m happy to see Hand of Fate on the list, but I’m still not sure I’ll ever get around to playing it. Same with Styx. Sacred Citadel seems to be on sale every other week, it’s old, and it’s not exciting. Backwards compatible or not, I highly doubt I’ll even download it. Gears 2 is excellent.
On the Playstation front, each of Sony’s three platforms will receive two games on February 2nd. Thanks to cross-buy, the most impressive game on the list is available on all three.
Helldivers: Democracy Strikes Back is a tough-as-nails co-op twin-stick shooter from the creators of Magicka, which includes the core game and all three of its DLC packs. From what I hear, it’s pretty amazing–currently holding an 81/100 Metacritic and an 8.2/10 user score (not the best place to draw from, but it’s there).
Helldivers is one of two PS4 games next month, but it’s also available on PS3 and Vita via cross-buy. My recent purchase of Dead Nation has me fiending for a new twin-stick shooter, so I’m sure I’ll be playing this on my Vita well in to the night.
PixelJunk and Double Eleven teamed up in 2015 for Nom Nom Galaxy on PS4, which draws comparison to 2D Minecraft-style games like Terraria or StarBound. You dig, farm materials, harvest foodstuffs, and expand your base while defending it from swarms of baddies.
If I recall correctly, the point is to use your base to create new types of soup, which is then shot off in to space and sold for profit in order to expand your operation. Sounds… interesting?
PS3 owners with a Plus subscription will receive Codemaster’s Grid Autosport, which needs no explanation, along with Atlus’ and Arc System Works’ 2D fighter Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
Persona 4’s fighting spin-off Arena took fans by surprise, both in terms of its lengthy story mode and fantastic playability. Ultimax is the direct sequel to Persona 4 Arena, featuring over 20 fighters, though its Japanese subtitle was far superior: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold.
As mentioned above, PS3 owners will also get to check out Helldivers: Democracy Strikes Back via cross-buy.
During the end of Summer last year I received a copy of Nova-111 on Xbox One from the awesome folks at Games Matter. It’s a little turn-based indie game that was a lot of fun in small doses, which should make the Vita an ideal place to play it instead. Nova-111 also takes place in space. I love space.
You and your enemies simultaneously move one tile at a time, and you’ll need to memorize their attack patterns as you explore each zone collecting missing scientists and unlocking special abilities (like bombs). It gets a little hectic having multiple enemies with varying attack patterns on the screen, but it feels awesome taking them out one by one.
Also available on the Vita next month is Lemmings Touch, which released back in 2014. It’s Lemmings, but with touch controls. It also has a ridiculously difficult Platinum trophy, according to the guide at PlaystationTrophies.org. Not much excitement surrounding this one, I imagine.
And again, Helldivers, cross-buy, etc.
I’m definitely excited about Helldivers, since I wanted to pick it up last year but was too swamped with other games/college stuff. I know I’ll play the hell out of it on Vita. I’m also looking forward to playing Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and Hand of Fate at some point.
How about you?