Videogame Releases: Week of July 24th, 2011

What’s this? After weeks, maybe even months full of sequels and licensed videogames, we finally get something original. There are three new titles this week that not only look very good, but that take risks, explore new ideas and even challenge the space marine-loving, gray and brown level-making game industry that we’re stuck with right now. I haven’t been excited about a new release in a while, and now there are three all vying for my attention. It’s almost too much to bear.

Catherine (360, PS3)

If you haven’t heard of ‘Catherine’, this is something that you need to see to believe and that you’ll need to play to understand. The best description I can think of for it is action-adventure / survival-horror / puzzle / platformer / romantic thriller.

‘Catherine’ is a breath of fresh air in an industry that’s so content to sit stagnant. It uses two different storytelling mechanics. One, which takes place during the day, is a bit more obvious. You’ll talk to your friends and juggle your relationships with Katherine and Catherine, two very different women. At night, you’ll fight off sheep demons and giant dead babies. Or something like that.

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (360, PS3)

‘El Shaddai’ is a third-person action game similar to ‘Devil May Cry’ or ‘God of War’. Gameplay seems to be fairly standard for the genre, but with more platforming than most games of the style. Of course, that’s not where this game sets itself apart.

With ‘El Shaddai’, it’s all about art. In the game, you play a priest who is seeking out seven fallen angels. Each level represents a perfect world for each of these angels. The levels are incredible-looking and so abstract that it may be a turn-off to some players. Anime fans will recognize influences from many different sources.

From Dust (360)

Ever hear of Eric Chahi? He gained a bit of fame back in 1991 for a brilliant little game called ‘Out of This World’, which was released for quite a few different systems at the time. It’s very much in the style of ‘Prince of Persia’, and tells a rich story without taking you away from the game. Chahi made one game after that and then disappeared from the industry.

Now it’s 2011, and Chahi’s back with a game that looks like it should have been made by Peter Molyneux. That’s not an insult, mind you. ‘From Dust’ is a very cool-looking God game that takes elements from ‘Populus’ and ‘Black and White’ to create an interesting experience the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. ‘From Dust’ is available on Xbox Live, and will be reaching the PC this August.

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