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This week in gaming: Musical sorcery, Civilization in space, and a hair witch returns!

After two straight weeks of heavy releases to kick off October 2014, the flow is slowing. There’s a lot of good stuff inbound for the week ending October 24, including — for Wii U owners, at least — the return of a certain bespectacled witch. But they’re all more niche offerings, with open world adventures and first-person shooters held off for next week and beyond.

What have you been occupying your gaming hours with lately? Any plans to pick something up this week?

Fantasia: Music Evolved

XB1/X360 (October 21)
This is such an odd game. Fantasia: Music Evolved is a Kinect-required musical adventure that is the product of a collaboration between Harmonix and Disney. Inspired by”The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” portion of the classic Disney Animated film Fantasia, the game casts players in the role of a musical sorcerer, with hand motions used to physically alter the audio/visual landscape of different environments and “conduct” a selection of known pop songs and classic compositions.

The rare Kinect game that can be played from a seated position, we’ve seen a lot of interesting promise in the few preview looks we’ve had at Music Evolved.

Samurai Warriors 4

PS4/PS3/PS Vita (October 21)
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Publisher Tecmo Koei has a new game out this week in which you slaughter entire armies in the shoes (sandals?) of feudal Japan-era heroes and villains. Samurai Warriors is back with Samurai Warriors 4, and guess what? It’s still the same deal.

That’s not a bad thing! If you like the unique flavor of action-packed brawler that Omega Force’s many Warriors games deliver, then Samurai Warriors 4 is in must-buy territory.

Civilization: Beyond Earth

Windows (October 24)
Not content to completely shatter human history as we know it, Sid Meier’s team at Firaxis Games is now setting its sights on our future. The Civilization series goes to space this week in Civilization: Beyond Earth, a game that follows a group of factions as they work to establish human colonies on a distant planet. It’s like the classic Firaxis game Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri in some ways, but there’s considerably more meat on this bone, as well as an engine built on the huge successes of Civ V.

Will you pursue a harmonious relationship with the alien life on this distant world? Develop a path to ecological independence for humanity by researching genetics and cybernetics? Or perhaps you’ll use your distance from Earth to establish yourself as some sort of deep-space despot, crushing all opposition with laser beams and attack satellites?

Bayonetta 2

Wii U (October 24)
Nothing about Bayonetta 2 makes sense, and yet we’re excited to see how it all turns out. The Wii U is an unexpected home for Platinum Games’ latest, the sequel to its multi-platform action game from 2010 that stars a witch with magical locks and borrows no small amount of stylistic and mechanical inspiration from the Devil May Cry series. Then there’s the game itself, an unashamedly weird journey that’s better experienced than described.

We’ll have a Bayonetta 2 review ready for you soon, but it looks like the hair witch is back and better than ever in this week’s sequel.

What else is coming:

  • The Legend of Korra (PS3/PS4/Win – Oct. 21 | XB1/X360 – Oct. 22) – Platinum Games doesn’t just have Bayonetta 2 coming this week. The Legend of Korra tells a canonical story for the Avatar: The Last Airbender spinoff series, and the game employs Platinum’s trademark knack for deep brawler gameplay, mixing it with the elemental magic of the animated series.
  • Dreamfall Chapters (Linux/Mac/Win – Oct. 21) – After lying dormant since 2006’s Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, the cyberpunk-meets-magic fantasy adventure returns. The new take on the series, which uses an episodic format, presents a story split between parallel worlds.
  • Devil’s Dare (Linux/Mac/Win – Oct. 21) – Here’s a good one for Halloween. Devil’s Dare is a brawler in the vein of ’90s arcade classics like Final Fight and The Simpsons Arcade. Your stereotypical video game heroes wade into battle against an assortment of recognizable monsters from pop culture and beyond.
  • Escape Goat 2 (PS4 – Oct. 21) – This wonderful puzzle game from developer MagicalTimeBean originally launched on Steam in March 2014, but this PlayStation 4 release brings it to a whole new audience. All you need to know is right there in the title: You’re a goat, and you’ve got to escape from a series of puzzle rooms.
  • Battlefield 4 Premium Edition (PS3/PS4/Win/XB1 – Oct. 21) – Battlefield 4 had a rough go at launch in 2013, but Electronic Arts and DICE have worked hard in the year since its release to get the game where it’s supposed to be. Everything works now, and for those that haven’t lost faith completely, there’s a massive game here that really sings in multiplayer.
  • The Walking Dead: Season Two (PS4/XB1 – Oct. 21) – The second season of Telltale Games’ outstanding The Walking Dead series comes to the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony as a retail release this week. If you haven’t played it yet… well, why not? Great stuff right here.
  • Pokemon Art Academy (3DS – Oct. 24) – It’s been out for months in Australia, Europe, and Japan, but Pokemon Art Academy finally comes to the U.S. this week. More teaching tool than game, players are taught how to draw a variety of Pokemon characters using the Nintendo 3DS’s touch screen.