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This week in gaming: Fairy tales, superpowers, and thoughtful stories

The summer video game release calendar is in full effect this week … which is to say, there’s not a whole lot coming. It’s not completely dead, but if you haven’t been keeping up with The Wolf Among Us (why the heck not?!) and you’ve either played or aren’t interested in Saints Row IV, you’re not going to find much. Let’s take a look.

The Wolf Among Us – Episode 5: Cry Wolf

Mac/PC/PS3/PS4/PS Vita/Xbox 360/Xbox One (week of July 8)

If you’ve been keeping up with The Wolf Among Us so far, then the premiere of Telltale Games’ season one finale is the game you’re looking forward to this week. The five-episode journey through Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book universe has been outstanding so far, and all signs point to Cry Wolf leaving things in a strong place before the months-long break between seasons (assuming, of course, that a second season is coming).

If you haven’t touched the series yet, this is most definitely not the place to start. Not only is it the final fifth of a larger story, but Telltale’s games also live and die on the idea of carrying player choices from episode to episode. Let go of that and you’re missing everything that makes the studio’s efforts so worthwhile. For those who want a refreshed, here are links to our reviews of Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, and Episode 4.

Saints Row IV: National Treasure Edition

PC/PS3/Xbox 360 (July 8)

Our other marquee release for the week, Saints Row IV: National Treasure Edition is a re-release of the 2013 game that includes all 29 of its downloadable content packs. That’s only a couple of extra missions when all is said and done — the “Enter the Dominatrix” and “How the Saints Saved Christmas” add-ons, namely — but there’s also a wide assortment of extra guns, vehicles, and threads. It’s probably not worth a second purchase if you already played through Saints Row IV, but it’s the definitive version of the game. And for just $30.

Saints-Row-IV-screenshot-49

Saints Row IV taps into the same sort of superpowered open world antics that made Crackdown such a hit. The Saints leader, now president of the United States, is trapped in a Matrix-like computer simulation after aliens invade Earth and enslave its people. The superpowers you unlock are a product of the system being hacked on the outside, with the story following the Saints as they rescue captured friends and take the fight to the invaders. It’s dumb fun in the best way possible. Just check out our review.

MouseCraft

PS3/PS4/PS Vita (July 8)

Crunching Koalas’ colorful PC puzzler arrives on PlayStation platforms this week, compliments of Curve Studios. Described as a cross between Tetris and LemmingsMouseCraft tasks players with helping mice get their little paws on some cheese. It’s a task that involves placing Tetromino-like blocks that the mice can use as platforms. Much like the disposable puzzle characters in Lemmings, the mice move of their own accord. It’s up to you to figure out how to place blocks in a way that pushes each rodent to its goal.

MouseCraft 1

MouseCraft cam to Mac/Linux/PC in late 2013 as a Steam Early Access release. That Early Access period officially ends on July 8, so while the game isn’t new on PC this week, it’s finally considered finished (as much as any modern game can be, at any rate). It’s a three-way cross-buy on the PlayStation side, meaning you’ll only need to buy the game once if you want to play it on any of your Sony machines.

Claire

PC (July 7)

Claire is the first release from Hailstorm Games. It’s a successful Steam Greenlight offering that was added to Valve’s release queue back in late 2013. The indie action/adventure follows the titular young girl and her dog, Anubis, as they explore a a shadowy world in search of Claire’s comatose mother. If you’ve played the horror game Home, you’ll see some similarities in Claire‘s lo-fi 2D presentation and side-scrolling play.

Claire 1

Steam tags the game as action, but it looks more like survival horror. Claire and Anubus don’t keep the darkness at bay with a high-caliber arsenal; there’s only a flashlight/lighter and a panic system to manage, plus a plot that’s driven by player choices. Claire’s quest to find her mother is the heart of the story, but other lost souls lurk in the darkness as well. Who you save and how you interact influences how the finale plays out. There’s also a New Game+ option that features a raised difficulty but carries your items over from the first playthrough.

4PM

PC (July 9)

Here’s an excerpt from the official Steam listing for 4PM that gives a good sense of what the story’s all about:

“You wake up, your flat is a mess, you have a terrible hangover, sounds of the city and police sirens outside. Another day in in a life of Caroline Wells and her dull, corporate job. You get up, thinking that this is going to be just another day on your downward spiral, but what lies ahead is a day of life changing, cathartic experiences.”

Screenshot 9

Described as a “short experiential game” created by just one person, 4PM is an interactive thriller that emphasizes storytelling over play. You guide Caroline through a series of events over the course of a single day, but there’s no singular gameplay mechanic tying everything together. Each event simply informs the larger story. We don’t know a lot about 4PM, but it seems like a nifty pickup for fans of story-focused games.

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