In the waning days of Xbox LIVE’s Summer of Arcade, you’ll find no bigger Bastion supporter than me. Eric Chahi’s From Dust was just my kind of innovative strategy game. Hell, I pined for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet since PAX East 2011. And when Sony announced the PSN Play promotion, I wasn’t even that impressed. Four out of the five titles were multiplatform. Where’d that $20 million for downloadable exclusives go?
It’s gone into a collection of titles I’ve labeled “PSN’s Awesome Autumn.” These are all PSN exclusives reportedly releasing between now and the end of November 2011, and they all offer an experimental spin on traditional genres – the way only downloadable games can.
In an already crowded gaming season, it’s hard to imagine that digital-only titles will cause a stir. With this line-up, you’ll be asking how could they not. The Summer of Arcade finally has a worthy opponent.
To be clear: Not all of these release dates are firm, so PSN’s Awesome Autumn could turn into a Fake-Out Fall. Here’s hoping that’s not the case.
PayDay: The Heist – October 4th
Left 4 Dead meets Kane & Lynch 2 must have been outside the scope of PayDay’s pitch, but the resulting combination makes more sense than it sounds. Squad-based combat takes it to the bank as players work together to stash the cash and get away unscathed. From the way the trailers look, the mechanics have all the swift, stiff precision of a Valve title, while the underlying objectives reek of the criminal underworld. (And as a bonus, The Heist will be free to all players who purchase the four other titles in the PSN Play promotion.)
Sideway: New York – October 11th
Nox, a New York graffiti artist (should I say, artiste?), abandons the third dimension to take out the influence of rival tagger Fume. The gaming result is an intriguing, dimension-bending platformer with a lot of heart and a slew of urban art. In addition to a grappling hook and a trusty can of paint (spray grade), Nox will encounter re-imagined buildings inspired by real New York boroughs. SUP BK.
inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood – TBA 2011
As a standalone downloadable game, inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood’s title can be confusing. Player’s won’t need either inFAMOUS or inFAMOUS 2 to turn into Vampire Cole and make some murky moral decisions as a populace takes a turn for the undead. Since the announcement at Sony’s Gamescom press conference, speculation has run wild about how this may fit into the canon of the series. It’s likely Sucker Punch will take this spin-off in the same direction as Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare DLC – a wild, fun diversion from the somber tone of the source narrative.
Journey – TBA 2011
For a full preview of Journey, check out our E3 preview. Even better, for a full discussion of the Journey Private Beta, check out the inaugural episode of the PSNFancast. Suffice it to say, our eyes are on thatgamecompany’s latest offering, which is a serene blend of exploration, loneliness, and experience. Of all the great downloadable titles slated for this fall, this is the one I’m crossing my fingers for the most.
PixelJunk Sidescroller – TBA 2011
For those who haven’t gotten their annual dosage of R-Type, who appreciate minimalist, neon art design, and long for frantic 2D shooter action, PixelJunk Sidescroller will be a welcome relief. Sure, it starts out simple; one cannon here, a lava geyser there. Then the hordes of enemies sweep in, forcing a dodge and a well-timed rocket. But what good level could end without a gargantuan fish-boss to fill the screen with glowing, red death-pellets? None, and that’s why this side-scroller is exactly the kind of return to the classics that makes nostalgia worthwhile.
Okabu – Fall 2011
Grab your clouds and… ride? In this charming toy-box puzzler, Kumolo, Nimbe, and their cute critter friends work to stave off the encroaching destruction of industrialization (Lorax, anyone?) by using their unique skills and the powers of their ancient cloud mounts. It’s equal parts adorable and poignant, also offering a seamless co-op campaign for local and online play. It’s time to beat those fat cat captains of industry once and for all, hopefully this fall.