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This week in gaming: Fear rises in The Evil Within and Borderlands loads a bajillion guns

The week ending October 17 feels like a moment to take a breath in the frantic fall 2014 release rush. It’s not that the week isn’t packed with new releases — it absolutely is — but even the AAA offerings seem to come with an asterisk. In the case of Borderlands: The-Pre-Sequel, it’s the game’s absence from the latest round of gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony. And for The Evil Within, it’s survival horror, a genre that isn’t typically known for world-igniting blockbusters.

Each has its audience and ought to do fine, but the fact remains that there’s no one “It” game this week. Plenty to choose from though. Let’s take a look…

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

PS3/Windows/X360 (October 14)
Gearbox Software’s hit series makes a surprise return in 2014 with a prequel story from developer 2K Australia. Set between the events of Borderlands and Borderlands 2Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel moves the setting to outer space, with players exploring Pandora’s moon, Elpis, and the massive, H-shaped Hyperion space station that orbits the planet.

More exciting that the game’s exploration of Handsome Jack’s origin is the use of new, low-gravity environments and introduction of laser and ice damage-infused weapons. It’s Borderlands with a twist. Fanfolk: Get in line. There’s loot to shoot for.

The Evil Within

PS3/PS4/Windows/X360/XB1 (October 14)
The first thing you should know about The Evil Within is that the Bethesda-published horror game is the work of none other than Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. Along with his studio, Tango Gameworks, Mikami built a terror-filled adventure that follows a police detective after he is transported to a broken world filled with gruesomely disfigured monsters. What brought him there and why? That’s what you’re trying to figure out.

From the little we’ve seenThe Evil Within feels like it straddles the line between the cerebral puzzle-solving of early Resident Evil games and the fast-paced action that’s defined the Capcom series since RE4.

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

PS4/Windows/XB1 (October 14)
This sadly overlooked gem from Square Enix and developer United Front Games gets another shot in Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. An open world action game cut from the mold of Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs follows an undercover Chinese-American police officer in Hong Kong as he tries to infiltrate and bring down a Triad gang.

The game actually started life as another entry in the long-dormant True Crime series under publisher Activision’s banner, but Square secured both the publishing rights and unfinished project in 2011. The game was re-branded as Sleeping Dogs and released in 2012. This new “definitive edition” revives the open world action for a new class of gaming hardware, and it’s definitely worth a look if you missed it before.

Killer Instinct: Season Two

XB1 (October 15)
Killer Instinct was an Xbox One launch title that revived the classic coin-op fighting game from Rare for Microsoft’s shiny, new gaming console. The game’s first “season” of content — Killer Instinct employed an atypical release structure that incorporated ideas from the free-to-play space to offer up individual fighters as a la carte purchases — was developed by Double Helix Games, but the second season, which kicks off this week, is the work of Iron Galaxy Studios.

The second season kicks off with two new fighters, TJ Combo and Maya. Additional fighters, along with costumes, accessory packs, and a release of Killer Instinct 2 Classic (a port of the original arcade game) will follow these first two newly added characters in the months to come, for a total of eight second season fighters to join the eight from the first season.

What else is coming:

  • PlayStation TV (Oct. 14) – It’s not technically a video game, but PlayStation TV is definitely of interest to anyone that likes playing video games using Sony hardware. It’s a little box  that plugs into your TV via an HDMI cable, allowing you to play an assortment of PS Vita and PlayStation Portable titles, as well as games rented via PlayStation Now. It also has built-in support for PS4 Remote Play, meaning you can beam your PS4 games to a second TV.
  • In Space We Brawl (PS3, PS4/Oct. 14) – In this colorful twin-stick shooter, you and up to three friends zip around the spaceways in your chosen ships, trying to destroy one another. Strategies change based on which ship/weapon combos you choose, which should help inject some variety into the intense couch multiplayer action.
  • Minecraft (PS Vita/Oct. 14) – It’s Minecraft. On PlayStation Vita. There’s really no mystery here. Break blocks, mine for resources, built fabulous structures, and kill all the Creepers.
  • Bik – A Space Adventure (Linux, Mac, Win/Oct. 14) – We haven’t checked out Zotnip’s space-based adventure game before, but it’s hard to look at the lo-fi graphics and not immediately remember Sierra classics like Space Quest.
  • Dig It! A Digger Simulator (Win/Oct. 14) – The “Bizarre Simulation of the Week” award most definitely goes to Dig It, a game that tasks players with moving earth using a variety of high-powered diggers, bulldozers, and dump trucks. Video games, y’all.
  • Legend of Grimrock 2 (Win/Oct. 15) – Almost Human Games returns with a sequel to its wonderful first-person dungeon-crawler, Legend of Grimrock. In this follow-up, you’ve got a large wilderness to explore between the underground dungeons, as well as a powerful Dungeon Editor for building your own scenarios.
  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary (Mac, Win/Oct. 15) – Sierra’s classic gothic horror series returns! While it’s not released under Activision’s recently revived Sierra label, the 20th anniversary edition of the first Gabriel Knight game does come from series creator Jane Jensen. It sports updated graphics and re-tooled puzzles, so even long-time fans have something fresh to look forward to.