And so, we enter the wasteland of Summer releases. August and July are both redeemed entire by at least one very special game each (August boasts Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Deus Ex: Human Revolution), but let's not sugar-coat it - there ain't much comin' down the pike this month - and we'll have to wait 'till the 20th for anything remotely interesting.
Now... there are releases in July beyond what you'll find below, of course. There's a video game tie-in for Captain America, there's a new Call of Juarez game set in modern times and Mafia II and Elder Scrolls IV are both getting re-releases, but I can't see how any of those bear mentioning. The only game not listed here which probably does bear mentioning is the sequel to XBLA surprise-hit Earth Defence Force, Insect Armageddon. Given that few folks can actually agree on when its release date is (most are saying July 5th), I choose not to include it.
So... here are the four games worth mentioning in July. That's right. Just four.
* * *
Hype-O-Meter : Medium-high.
Bastion kicks off Microsoft's yearly Summer of Arcade lineup with a gorgeous little action-RPG. It's got lovely hand-painted art, an isometric view, a Diablo-like approach to combat and some town building facet I don't even begin to understand. All that's lovely, but all I really care about is "hand-painted" and "action-RPG."
That's enough, for me. I'm good.
Hype-O-Meter: Day one. High.
Catherine is an "erotic horror experience" puzzle-platformer action-adventure game which explores the morality of modern relationships, but more importantly it's the first HD game from the team that gave us legendary JRPGS Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 and Persona 4, with cutscenes from the celebrated Studio 4°C.
It's weird, is what it is. It will likely be the weirdest game this year, and thank God for Atlus who keeps on making (and lovingly localizing) these fabulous, inspired, soaring digital soaps.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
I'm a huge proponent of great art direction, and El Shaddai has it in spades - but that seems to be all it has. It has shitty voice work, numb combat, bland platforming and most damning of all - if the demo was anything to go by - it's just boring.
Not boring to look at, but so help me, that's just not enough. I'm frankly amazed this is getting a full disc release and isn't just a PSN download.
...I will admit it's cool to have a game based entirely on Christian mythology, though - but you can do that and still be a fun game.
From Dust has a lot going for it. It seems to have original mechanics, it looks lovely, and not many games have you saving stone-age tribes from natural disasters. I can't tell you much about it because, aside from trailers, I haven't looked very deeply into it.
That's likely because I repeatedly tried to love Black & White and repeatedly failed (damn you, Molyneux!), and have lost my taste for God games ever since. Still... From Dust bears watching. Who knows? It could be a good God game.