With over 40 new titles about to bestowed, or inflicted, on unsuspecting gamers this month, it’s time to take the pulse of the market. Here’s what you should pre-order now and what you should leave in the bargain bin.
“Ori and the Blind Forrest” from Microsoft’s Moon Studios
This was the first game to catch my eye in the March lineup. “Ori and the Blind Forrest” follows a white guardian spirit, Ori, as he fights to reclaim his home from a malevolent force. The developers have said staple “coming-of-age” tales like “The Lion King” and “The Iron Giant” inspired them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had “Princess Mononoke” in mind as well.
The lovingly drawn backdrop of this sidescroller suggests an endless forest just beyond the players view, and even Ori’s mentor, a bear-like creature with a small white mask for a face, is reminiscent of the tiny kodama spirits in Hayao Miyazaki’s film.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, gameplay previews suggest “Ori and the Blind Forrest” is packing some solid puzzler gameplay in addition to a story the developers have kept tightly under wraps.
For those that love the idea of wilderness more in theory than in practice, “Ori and the Blind Forrest” will be available on Steam March 11 for $19.99.
“Pillars of Eternity” from Obsidian Entertainment
If anything’s clear from the banner and artwork on the developer’s promotional website, it’s that’s “Pillars of Eternity” is a heartfelt homage to “Dungeons and Dragons” and the countless other tabletop role-playing games that gave us modern gaming as we know it. The gameplay looks like an updated version of “Diablo’s” trademark overhead combat system, and was designed with the expectation that players would pause the game to make full use of their character’s abilities. If you were a fan of “Neverwinter Nights” and got lost in the character creation screen of “Skyrim,” this could be the game for you.
The developers and gameplay previews alike have promised “Pillars of Eternity” contains a world with consequences, populated by countless characters with a bit more to say than the average NPC. With all that in store, it seems like it’ll be worth a stab when it comes out on March 26, but I’d wait until the next big Steam sale. Its release day price is $44.99.
“Mario Party 10” from Nintendo
Honestly, if you’ve played one Mario Party game, you’ve played them all. Mario and the gang run around a digital game board playing cutesy mini-games and collecting stars, and whoever stabs their friends in the back the most, wins. There’s only so many Wiimotes and the like can add to a formula that simple, but if you’ve played it in the past, and all your other Nintendo consoles have mysteriously disappeared, it might be worth picking up “Mary Party 10” for the WiiU as your next impulse purchase.
The game’s big selling point is its B.Y.O.B., or Bring Your Own Bowser, feature. This allows players to put on the King of the Koopas’ crown and terrify their friends using the WiiU’s GamePad, which boasts a separate screen.
If you’re the kind of gamer that just has to have the next not-so-big thing, you can grab “Mario Party 10” on March 20 for… $49.99? You know what, just stick with your Gamecube.
“Assassin’s Creed Rogue” PC release from Ubisoft
The big twist with this title is that “Assassin’s Creed” is taking a step back from its roots in historical fiction and diving into the conflict between the Assassin and Templar factions that rule it’s world through the narrative of Shay Patrick Cormac.
For members of the PC Master Race, it may be the first chance to play the series’ second release of 2014, the first being the somewhat controversial “Assassin’s Creed Unity.” Ubisoft took some heat for unapologetically interpreting “unity” to mean four identical white men and falsely claiming that female characters were too hard to animate. Unexpectedly, “Assassin’s Creed Rogue” is more of the same fare, but they’re getting closer: I always thought Shay was a woman’s name.
Early access reviews have praised the game’s storyline and sympathetic portrayal of its lead, but its missions and gameplay itself has been found somewhat lacking, making little improvement on the series’ mechanics. The one high point is the return of naval combat, which allows players to return to the high seas for the first time since “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.”
If you’re a hardcore fan of this series, you probably know already that “Assassin’s Creed Rogue” will be re-released on March 10 for $59.99. For everyone else, I can think of at least five good books with a better story and fewer glitches for that price.