Welcome back to This Week In Games Australia, a look at all the games you’ll be playing in the next seven days.
I don’t think 2023 will have a more loaded launch week than this one. And by ‘loaded’ I don’t mean that there’s a ton of games coming out in the next few days. There really aren’t. The week ahead is so bare that I struggled to pull together a full list of titles for this week’s TWIGA column. The reason is Hogwarts Legacy, which launches on Friday. No other major publisher seems to want to go near it.
Hogwarts letters are in the post, whether you want one or not. People are preparing their Howlers to release onto social media as the Discourse goes into overdrive. Anti-transgender fuckwits and JK Rowling supporters are rubbing their hands together with glee, transgender advocates are planning not to play it all, and a generation of people that grew up reading Harry Potter (and don’t live their lives online) are stranded in middle.
It’s going to be a long week.
Update: 8:28am 6/2/23: We found more games! Scorchlands, Weird and Unfortunate Things Are Happening, Daily Dadish, Betty & Earl, Nadir, Perseverance, and Legion of Doom, welcome to the list.– David
Weird And Unfortunate Things Are Happening (PC)
What a great title. Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening is perhaps best described as an Earthbound-like. Not enough of those in the world, if you ask me. To the rest of the world, it seems like the city of Daybreak has simply vanished off the face of the Earth. In reality, the city is trapped, overrun by strange creatures that bend its inhabitants to their will. This is a turn-based RPG that throws survival mechanics into the mix in some really interesting ways. I’m very keen to play this, but Ruby is in a full-blown froth about it. Expect more words from us on this game when it launches tomorrow. Everything you see in the trailer above is from quite a while ago, so bear that in mind.
Daily Dadish (PC)
Daily Dadish is a puzzle platformer somewhere between Celeste and Super Mario Bros. 3, and it comes with a year’s worth of content. The game’s 365 levels make it the perfect play-everyday title. What appeals to me about Daily Dadish is that all of its many levels are hand-crafted. It would have been very easy to implement a proc-gen level system, but developer Thomas K. Young has gone the extra mile. I appreciate the dedication, and I like that it’s designed for short-and-sweet daily play. Putting it on the list.
Nadir: A Grimdark Deckbuilder (NS)
I believe we’ve written about Nadir in previous TWIG columns, but it’s out on Switch this week and well worth a look. If you loved Darkest Dungeon and have been enjoying that since it dropped on Game Pass, Nadir will absolutely be worth your time. Grimy horrorcore meets crunchy card tactics. Great gear.
Ok, hear me out.
What if: Bird War? That’s the central narrative pitch behind Scorchlands, a strategic city builder/colony sim about carving out a home on a hostile moon. I really like the look of this one. It’s doing a lot with its aesthetic, but I’ve been chasing something to fill the Anno 1800-shaped hole in my heart (nothing happened to Anno, I’ve just played a lot of it). Scorchlands looks like it will do very nicely. It’s been in early access for a while now but enters full release in Aus on Wednesday.
Perseverance: Complete Edition (NS)
Perseverance is a long-running and decidedly dark visual novel about a town called Grey Falls. Players are charged with uncovering the mysteries of the town, presented through the perspectives of two wildly different protagonists. If you love your creeping dread, this will be one to pick up.
Re:|THM – once upon a time (PC)
RE:thm is a rhythm-based RPG about going backwards through time. Everything runs backwards — every new person you meet is a permanent farewell, every rain drop is pulled from the ground and hurled into the sky, and the story begins at the conclusion and moves backwards to its opening. It’s a game with some big ideas, and I really like the slightly weird vibe it gives off. Going on my list this week for sure.
I think everyone that has written about Barkhan, or made content about it, since it was announced around seven months ago, has compared it to Dune II. It’s a fair comparison — Barkhan is a science fiction RTS set on a desert world where three clans war endlessly over rare minerals. It wears its inspirations pretty loudly on its sleeve. But, as RTS fans know, these days, a win is a win. Anyone making anything in the beautiful and complex RTS genre is to be celebrated.
Betty & Earl (PC)
Betty & Earl is a top-down puzzle game where you control everything at the same time, with the goal of reuniting its two protagonists. When you move, so does the world around you. You’ll need to pay close attention to where and how if you want to bring Betty and Earl back together. Simple, smart, effective design.
Five Nights At Freddy’s: Security Breach (XSX)
Five Nights At Freddy’s: Security Breach gets a retail launch on Xbox this week. If you were looking to add it to your collection, you’ll be able to do so on Friday.
Legion of Doom (NS)
Legion of Doom is a Vampire Survivors like all about survivng wave after wave of incoming enemies, but with a twist. Where Vampire Survivors replicates the bullet hell experience of dodging incoming fire to stay alive, in Legion of Doom, it’s up to your enemies to get out of your way. The goal is to put yourself in their path and make a nuisance of yourself, which is honestly very appealing.
If I can offer the developers a kernel of critique, however? Naming your game after a popular DC Comics brand with its own animated movie was perhaps not the best idea. I found it very hard to unearth your game on Google and YouTube.
Hogwarts Legacy (PS5, XSX, PC)
Alright. Let’s talk about it.
Hogwarts Legacy is your standard AAA multihyphenate — a 3D, open-world, action-adventure RPG stuffed full of mechanics and places to explore, with a lengthy campaign and a well-known IP attached to it. While there are some outlets that have received early code for review purposes, WB Games has declined to supply Kotaku Australia with a code for coverage. Fair enough. As the publisher, that is its right. The PlayStation 5 version of the game’s digital Deluxe Edition, however, grants a 72-hour early access window that starts tonight at midnight AEDT. I’ll be hopping in then so I can at least bring you some impressions by launch day. I’ve also made a donation for $120 — the same amount as my preorder — to Transcend Australia, because I believe in putting my money where my mouth is.
It’s hard to know what to say about Hogwarts Legacy, other than I really wish Jo Rowling hadn’t become the person that she is. A conversation I’ve had again and again in the lead-up to this game’s release is how fucking sad many fans feel that a game we have waited our entire adult lives to play has been marred by Rowling’s continued and noisy inability to deal with her own prejudices. If it had launched even five years ago, Hogwarts Legacy would be a huge moment. Today, it’s a huge moment for all the wrong reasons. There are a great many people that worked on it — from the developer and publisher side, right down to PR, social media managers, and even retail workers — who will be relieved to finally shove it out the door and out of their lives.
The game will be a huge success. It is simply too big to fail. But the pushback against anyone that has asked fans to think about who their purchase truly benefits has been enlightening. It’s a reminder that, while many are quick to dismiss the games industry’s corporate overlords as the worst and most craven creations of the capitalist system, uncritical consumption is still somehow king, and upsetting when disturbed.
To our transgender readers, look after yourselves this week. We’ll be thinking of you. To the developers at Avalanche and Portkey Games who just wanted to make a cool Harry Potter game, we know you worked hard, and we look forward to seeing what you’ve made. To the fans who feel conflicted about playing it, we understand.
To Joanne, go to hell.
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