July is upon us, and thus enters a lull in the video game world as we anxiously await the slew of titles coming as the summer winds down in August and rolls into the holiday season. To make that wait a little easier, explosion.com has compiled a list of games from the first half of the year for you to catch up on. From the handheld world to your PC, from indie to AAA, this list has something for everyone and perhaps something you haven’t tried yet. If you need to get your gaming fix for the month of the July, these games are bound to do the trick.
10. State of Decay
State of Decay is hardly the first zombie game to play with an open-world structure, but it is one of the most grounded titles to do so. There is no traditional narrative in this zombie game, just simply a band of survivors trying to make it through to the next day. Infestation, hordes, and evolved zombies threaten to take down your new home; while keeping them at bay you will have to keep you camp supplied, establish outposts, and deal with group dysfunction. Jump between playable characters and recruit new survivors to keep your home safe, just remember anyone who dies is lost forever. State of Decay is a true gem from the Xbox Live Arcade and a must play for anyone who is a fan of the living dead.
9. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Turn-based strategy is a hard nut to crack when you don’t have Sid Meier attached to your game, but Fire Emblem: Awakening really delivers an exciting turn-based experience. While the Fire Emblem franchise has has a limited following US since crossing the pond from Japan, Awakening has really put the series on the map. While the story is meandering and lacks immediacy, the cutscenes are little more than vehicles to get players to their next battle, where smarts are your best weapon. Add in an interesting relationship dynamic as the cast of characters mingle and evolve through conversation and the game becomes an unique experience. If you own a 3DS, this game should definitely be in your library.
8. DmC: Devil May Cry
While the initial announcement of Dante’s reboot was met with skepticism, Ninja Theory delivered a great game to kick off 2013. DmC: Devil May Cry tells the origins of Dante and his growth into becoming the demon hunter of legend. With a combo system that is effortlessly fluid, and plenty of disgusting baddies to throw at you, DmC boasts a whole new attitude. Do yourself a favor and pick up an action game that delivers an awesome gameplay experience.
7. Kentucky Route Zero
Cardboard Computer jumped onto the map this year with an eerie, bizarre tale of a truck driver trying to find “The Zero”. A slow-burn paced point-and-click adventure, Kentucky Route Zero loves to raise more questions than it can bother to answer. The dialogue is disjointed, cryptic, creating a cast of characters that are bound to intrigue you. When you’re not wondering about these enigmatic people that populate the game, you’re eyes will be grabbed by the stunning visuals the game offers through simplistic design. More episodes are bound to come throughout the year, but get yourself started with the first two chapters and enjoy one of the most well-written games you will find.
6. Tomb Raider
Joining Dante in the world of skeptical reboots was Crystal Dynamics new take on Lara Croft. Fresh out of college, looking for a lost treasure in the Pacific Ocean, Lara and her crew of explorers are shipwrecked on a strange island. While the story lacked the dramatic “umph” it was going for, Tomb Raider aped some of the much-loved features of the popular Uncharted series and sent Lara through many new trials as she finds her footing to become the adventurer we all know and love. Tomb Raider promised a thrill-ride adventure with cliffhanger moments and dangerous shootouts, fortunately for all gamers Crystal Dynamics delivered a great Lara Croft for a new generation of players.
5. Ni No Kuni
While Ni No Kuni had already spent a considerable amount of time overseas, the game finally hit US stores this February. A partnership between Studio Ghibli and Level-5, Ni No Kuni immediately grabbed players with its breathtaking visuals and gorgeous animation. A gameplay mix between Pokemon and the Tales series, the game created an intriguing blend of style that sets it apart from so many other JRPGs. But the best part of Ni No Kuni is really its heartwarming tale of a little boy coping with loss and discovering his strength. These elements all combine to make Ni No Kuni one of the best JRPGs in recent years.
4. Year Walk
So often iOS games are dismissed as less-than ports or arcade “baby” games, but Year Walk is further proof of the hardcore experiences the device is capable of. Developer Simogo invites the player to participate in a strange ancient ritual, where one starves and dehydrates themselves then wanders in the snowy woods at the stroke of the new year to try and see into the future. While traversing the point-and-click puzzle world, players are subjected to all sorts of scares, leading to a surprising revelation. After finishing the game, players can delve deeper into the experience with the companion app, which provides a whole new, unexpected, part of the game. Year Walk is something that sticks with you, disturbing your calm for hours after its finished.
A love letter to Mexico, Guacamelee shines as an indie, side-scrolling beat ‘em up, where an agave farmer named Juan is gifted a luchador mask empowering him to battle hordes of evil undead. While narratively straightforward, Guacamelee finds its strengths in impeccable, though extremely unforgiving, gameplay. The titles is a non-stop romp through a series of temples, each with challenging platforming and combat bound to keep players on the edge of their seats. With gorgeous backgrounds, brilliant level design, and droves of charm, Guacamelee is simply a steal at its downloadable price tag.
2. BioShock Infinite
It has been a long time coming, but Ken Levine and Irrational Games follow up to the much heralded BioShock is just about everything one could have hoped for. Embodying the roguish Booker DeWitt, players must protect and guide the inquisitive Elizabeth through the crumbling city of Columbia. Elements of BioShock return, giving players the ability to inflict special attacks through vigors, much resembling the previous entry’s EVE. The true crux of Infinite’s weight came in the form of the dynamic relationship between the game’s two main characters. There is a debate to be had on what is the better game, Infinite or its predecessor, there is no debate that BioShock Infinite is a great game.
1. The Last of Us
Delivering gut punches at every turn, Naughty Dog forsakes its hollywood-esque treasure hunter, for a world where heroics are for the dead. Players take control of Joel, a smuggler with a dark history who must escort a girl by the name of Ellie across a United States that has been decimated by a fungal virus. Through abandoned cities and the dangerous wilds Joel and Ellie find that there are worse things than the flesh-eating clickers in this dystopian world. With decent mechanics and one of the best video game narratives to date, The Last of Us is sure to be talked about for years to come.
It is hard to go wrong with any of these excellent titles, but what about you? What are your favorite game over the last six months? Is there anything you are looking to dig into from the list above? Let us know in the comment below.