July has a not-so-great reputation in the video game industry. It’s not often a time developers choose to release games as it’s nestled between spring’s release and reveal season and the holiday shopping rush. At a glance, July 2023 might seem like it fits that underwhelming description, with Pikmin 4 being the one big release following the delay of Immortals of Aveum. That said, those who look a bit deeper will find a month poised to be home to a ton of promising games of all shapes in sizes.
The Nintendo Switch is poised to have a strong month with two exclusives, some indies highlight the creativity of smaller teams, well-known franchises are making unexpected returns, and more. While you might not think you need to worry about new game releases until Armored Core VI: Flames of Rubicon launches this August, there are a lot of neat games to check out this July.
Unlike some past July months, there are a few AAA releases that players should be keeping an eye out for this month. For fans of multiplayer games, Capcom will release its PvPvE dinosaur game Exoprimal on June 14, and from the beta we played last year, this is shaping up to be an exhilarating multiplayer game where you take on hordes of rampaging dinos in colorful, powerful mech suits. There’s also Disney Illusion Island, an enjoyable Metroidvania platformer starring Mickey Mouse that releases for Nintendo Switch on July 28.
On July 25, Remnant II will also follow up 2019’s sleeper hit Remnant: From the Ashes. I briefly played Remnant II at Summer Game Fest Play Days. While it wasn’t revolutionary, it looks like Gunfire Games will once again deliver on the novel idea of a procedurally generated Soulslike shooter.
The big ticket game for the month is Pikmin 4, the long-awaited fourth entry in Nintendo’s cute and sometimes horrifying alien real-time strategy series that comes out on July 21. Digital Trends’ Giovanni Colantonio called it a “pleasant return to the series that’s been streamlined in some welcome ways” in a preview, and you can already whet your appetite for this game by playing its free demo on Switch.
It’s not only the AAA game series making a grand return in July, though. Jagged Alliance 3, a turn-based military strategy game, will continue a series that hasn’t seen a new numbered entry since 1999 on July. Meanwhile, Dotemu is releasing a remake of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, a classic 2009 puzzle RPG for the Nintendo Switch, on July 20. Then there’s Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons, which revives the classic beat ‘em up series as a co-op roguelite. Night School Studio and Netflix will also release Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, a sequel to the critically acclaimed 2016 narrative-adventure horror game.
If you play many games, you’re bound to have a history with at least one of the series returning in some fashion this month. Those on the lookout for new, innovative experiences also have two indie games to keep an eye on.
While games that bring back and revitalize the old are always welcome, so are ambitious games that try to push indies forward. One indie title that releases later this month has already done that during demos at shows like GDC and Summer Game Fest Play Days. That game is Viewfinder from Sad Owl Studios and Thunderful, which launches for PC and PS5 on July 18 and looks like one of the most creative first-person puzzle games since Portal.
In Viewfinder, players can take pictures with a camera and place those 2D pictures in the real world, turning them into 3D spaces. It’s a pretty mind-bending mechanic that will wow you the first time you place a photo. As Giovanni Colantonio wrote after playing the game at GDC, “There’s potential here for a once-in-a-generation, genre-defining puzzle game.”
A possibly monumental release for the puzzle game genre is certainly nothing to scoff at when it comes to July’s game lineup. On top of that, July 30 will mark the release of Venba, a charming narrative cooking game about an Indian family that emigrated to Canada. It’s the kind of diverse, emotional narrative-focused indie that has the potential to really click with some players.
So, if you thought July would only be home to Pikmin 4 and little else that was interesting, think again. A least ten games are coming out this month that we think you should be keeping an eye on. And who knows, maybe an unknown indie can come out of the woodwork to surprise us. The reality is there’s never really a slow period in the game industry anymore. As long as you’re on the lookout for new things to play, you’ll almost always find something interesting.