The new year has just begun, but the gaming industry has already hit the ground running.
We may still be stuck indoors, but well-received franchises continue to release new installments that tempt us to spend more of our time and money.
From JRPGs to horror pioneers, here are some of The Spectrum’s favorite video games dropping this spring:
‘Little Nightmares II,’ Feb. 11 - PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
When the puzzle-platformer horror game “Little Nightmares” was released in 2017, it quickly gained a huge fan following for its grim atmosphere, creepy art style, interesting characters and immersive sound design. The indie suspense-adventure, developed by Tarsier Studios and produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment, follows a young girl in a yellow raincoat named Six who wakes up in a massive underwater vessel. As she searches for an exit, she must avoid the inhabitants who want to eat her by silently solving puzzles and dealing with her own monstrous hunger. Over the years, the game has been nominated for awards and has had several DLCs.
Now, the spine-tingling adventure continues with “Little Nightmares II,” which will include new characters, areas to explore and game mechanics. This sequel begins right after the end of the first game, but you now play as Mono, a young boy who wears a paper bag on his head. Six, now a computer-controlled character, follows Mono and helps him solve puzzles, adding a new mechanic to the game since the player will need to use both characters in order to progress. Another new game mechanic is Mono’s ability to use items found in the environment to solve puzzles and fight enemies.
Since many players felt the first game was too short, the developers ensured the sequel would have plenty of new areas to explore and characters to meet, providing a longer and more in-depth experience compared to the first game.
‘Persona 5 Strikers,’ Feb. 23 - PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Back in 2016, Atlus released the critically acclaimed and highly awarded JRPG “Persona 5,” the most recent main installment of Atlus’ “Persona'' series. Although “Persona” is a subseries to the “Megami Tensei” franchise, the subseries has become one of Atlus’ most popular series over the past decade.
Despite being parts of the same series, each main “Persona” game follows different characters and plots. One of the only similarities is that the main characters are usually high school students. These protagonists have to save the world from evil gods and can summon beings called “personas” that help them fight enemies. The gameplay is also a balance between RPG dungeon crawling and visual-novel-like character interactions.
Less than a year after the worldwide release of “Persona 5 Royal,” an expansion of the original game, Atlus continues to provide content for “Persona” fans, releasing “Persona 5 Strikers.” This game is a spin-off of the original, and the story continues just a few months after the end of “Persona 5.” Players get to step back into the shoes of the main protagonist, Joker, who comes back to Tokyo for his summer vacation. As he hangs out with all the friends he made in the previous game, Joker and the rest of The Phantom Thieves find themselves back in action as they discover they can use a popular new app, EMMA, to go into alternate versions of the real world called “Jails.” While solving this new mystery, players will meet new characters and visit new locations.
Since this game is a crossover between the popular “Dynasty Warriors” series and “Persona,” the gameplay is also different from previous installments. The game has segments of hack and slash style gameplay where players battle hordes of enemies, in addition to the regular turn-based combat and usage of personas aspects.
‘Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town,’ Mar. 23 - Nintendo Switch
Some of us may be busy with the new “Stardew Valley” update, but a new video game sequel is coming out soon that will ensure we continue our virtual farming even after we leave Pelican Town. “Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town” is the latest installment of the popular farming simulation series “Harvest Moon.”
Since the first game came out in 1996 for the SNES, this franchise has had many sequels and spin-offs on various consoles, but the main concept remains the same. Players inherit an old abandoned farm and are tasked with rebuilding the farm by clearing the old debris, planting crops, taking care of animals and starting a family with one of the local villagers.
In this new installment, the protagonist decides to leave the city and move to Olive Town after hearing about their grandfather’s countryside adventures. The mayor of the small town, Victor, brings the protagonist to their grandfather’s old farm, and the protagonist immediately starts working on bringing the land back to its former glory.
With this being the series’ introduction to the Switch console, this game has made plenty of upgrades over previous installments. Players have more freedom to make their farms their own, and the in-depth personalities of the townsfolk along with the multiple secret areas will make sure you keep coming back to Olive Town for months to come.
‘Monster Hunter Rise,’ Mar. 26 - Nintendo Switch
The action RPG series “Monster Hunter” is one of Capcom’s biggest franchises, and the series has recently garnered a larger following since the release of its fifth installment “Monster Hunter: World” in 2018. In these games, the character is a professional hunter who traps and kills monsters using a wide variety of weapons and tactics. After defeating a monster, the player obtains some loot necessary for creating better equipment in order to fight stronger monsters, which leads to the core gameplay loop. Both multiplayer and single player campaigns are supported throughout the series.
After a couple of years, the sixth and most recent installment of the series, “Monster Hunter Rise,” is finally being released on the Switch. This new game incorporates newer features introduced by “Monster Hunter: World,” such as the continuous map. Unlike the previous game, however, this iteration focuses on vertical movement, what the “Rise” in the title is referring to. To help the player move up this new terrain, the game gives the player two mountain-loving creatures, the dog-like Palamute and the cat-like Palico, and a new grappling tool called the Wirebug. With all the new tools to make monster-hunting more fun, it isn’t hard to see how the “Monster Hunter” franchise continues to be Capcom’s second best-selling game series following “Resident Evil.”
‘Resident Evil Village,’ May. 7 - PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Speaking of Capcom’s best selling game series, the “Resident Evil” franchise still remains one of the top survival horror franchises of the modern era. As one of the pioneers of the survival horror genre, the games influenced many other franchises by bringing zombies back into popular culture and setting the standards for third-person genres. The games typically focus on various characters battling zombies created by the mysterious Umbrella Corporation.
With the release of “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” in 2017, the franchise went back to its survival horror roots after the series became less about the horror and more about the action of fighting zombies. Even though the series has been known for its third-person perspective, “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” changed to a first-person perspective.
Now, the 10th major installment of the franchise, “Resident Evil Village,” will follow in the footsteps of “Resident Evil 7” by keeping the new first-person perspective and renewed horror focus. Taking place a few years after the events of “Resident Evil 7,” players will once again play as Ethan Winters, who was the protagonist of the last game. After Chris Redfield, another well-known character in the franchise, suddenly appears, Ethan is once again dragged into a series of mysterious circumstances that lead him to a village full of terrifying secrets and creatures.
Anastasia Wilds is a senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AnastasiaWilds
Anastasia Wilds is the senior arts editor. She has been writing for newspapers since her junior year of high school, and she has appreciated all forms of art for even longer. When she’s not writing, she is either reading, listening to music, hanging out with her friends on discord or streaming on Twitch.