After a summer full of ups and downs in terms of game releases, the fall season started off strong in September. Every week brought tons of notable games to try, and they ran the gamut from disappointing to outstanding. Fans of almost every gaming genre had something to check out this month. Some of these titles experimented with new mechanics and tried to push the industry forward, while others repeated winning formulas to great success.
From new AAA experiences courtesy of Nintendo and Sony to cute and creative indies, there was a lot to love this month. The slew of games releasing is only going to get more intense from here, so we suggest you take some time now to check out these seven standout games from September 2022.
The Last of Us Part 1 is a pretty divisive title as it’s a $70 PS5 remake of a game that was already available on PS4 for just $20. If you ignore the price though, The Last of Us is still a great game. On top of giving the original a nice visual overhaul, The Last of Us Part 1 also incorporates some industry-leading accessibility options. Overall, the remake ensures that people who’ve never been able to try the PS3 classic now have the best way to experience one of the greatest games of all time.
“The Last of Us Part I shows that Naughty Dog’s gritty action game is still an enduring classic that hasn’t aged a day,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a four-and-a-half star review of the remake. “Though that’s largely because Sony won’t allow it to, as evidenced by a mostly superfluous remake that doesn’t meaningfully improve on the game’s perfectly modern (and much cheaper) 2014 remaster. However, the project does once again push the industry forward in an important way: by raising the bar for accessibility in gaming’s past, present, and future.”
So, this is a bit of an odd case where almost everyone will be in one of two camps. If you’re still a bit salty that Sony is charging $70 for this remake, then The Last of Us Part I probably isn’t worth it for you. But if you’ve never played it before or require more thorough accessibility options to enjoy video games, then it’s a must-play. The Last of Us Part I is available now exclusively on PS5.
Splatoon 3 might not be a revelatory title for Nintendo’s most recent hit franchise, but it’s still a whole lot of fun. It expands upon its winning shooter formula with well-designed new maps, interesting new weapons and abilities, and the most refined campaign in the series yet. While Nintendo plans on supporting the game for the foreseeable future, it also isn’t weighed down with as much live service junk as many other titles in this space.
“Nintendo has created the best iteration of its wildly inventive ink-shooter series yet,” Colantonio wrote in his four-star review of Splatoon 3. “It does that without microtransactions, compulsory log-in bonuses, or pop culture references. Not only that, but it’s been packaged into the kind of content-loaded release that feels all but extinct in today’s competitive multiplayer landscape.”
Splatoon 3 currently stands out as the defining multiplayer game of September 2022 and one of the best of the year, period. It’s very kid-friendly and approachable when compared to other games in the genre too, so it’s a great game to play with friends and family. Splatoon 3 is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
Fans of Yacht Club Games were graced with another Shovel Knight game this month. Instead of being a standard side-scrolling platform or puzzle game, Shovel Knight Dig is a prequel roguelike that takes inspiration from games like SteamWorld Dig and Downwell by having players constantly dig deeper and deeper into the earth as the titular hero.
“It feels like a modern cousin of Dig Dug and Mr. Driller, taking the satisfying tunneling hook from those classics and stitching it into a fast-paced action game,” Colantonio wrote in his three-and-a-half star review of the game. “It’s a perfect fit, creating some puzzle-like sequences where players need to snake through dirt quickly — but carefully if they want to reach valuable gems or each level’s collectible cogs.”
Yacht Club Games hasn’t missed when it comes to crafting retro-inspired indie games, and Shovel Knight Dig continues that streak with a novel spinoff concept. Hopefully, more adventures like this are in store and Mina the Hollower lives up to expectations. Shovel Knight Dig is available now for PC, Nintendo Switch, and iOS via Apple Arcade.
Roguelike fans had yet another title to be excited about with Desta: The Memories Between, the latest title from Monument Valley and Alba: A Wildlife Adventure developer Ustwo Games. It follows the titular character, Desta, as they return to their hometown and must repair their relationships with old friends through dreamlike tactical battles. Desta: The Memories Between is a fast-paced and easily digestible tactics experience for fans of that genre, while the slowly unfolding story will keep you engaged from run to run.
“It’s a unique experience that’s custom-built for mobile devices with tactile controls and quick levels,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his three-and-a-half-star review of Desta: The Memories Between before going on to say that “while it’s a brief experience at the moment with some overworked genre hooks, it’s a strong addition to Netflix’s growing library of gems.”
Currently, Desta: The Memories Between is currently exclusive to iOS and Android via Netflix Games. To play, you simply have to go to the Games tab in your Netflix mobile app and choose Desta: The Memories Between. You will then be able to download it from the App Store or Google Play Store. If you’re OK waiting for a bit, Ustwo Games also intends on bringing Desta: The Memories Between to PC and Nintendo Switch soon.
Afterburn’s Railbound is this year’s Mini Motorways: a cute, somewhat minimalistic puzzle game about transportation. Instead of being a real-time city management puzzler though, Railbound is a puzzle game about laying train tracks so carriages attach themselves to a train in the right order. It’s a deceptively simple premise that will leave you scratching your head at puzzles that initially seem like they have obvious solutions.
The game isn’t much more complicated than that; it’s built to make you relax with its cute cel-shaded aesthetic (which was implemented just months before launch). Still, it’s one of the best puzzle games of the year and a must-play for fans of the genre. Railbound is available now for PC, iOS, and Android.
City builders and farming sims are more popular than ever, so it can be hard to stand out in that space. The Wandering Village is able to do so because of a very interesting hook: your village is on the back of a giant wandering creature named Onbu. While it’s still in early access, fans of the genre can already have a very good time with the game’s community researching, building, and management systems. The Wandering Village’s hand-drawn visuals are also always pleasant to look at.
Although none of those systems are wildly ambitious for the genre, the setting and unique mechanics that come with it — like giving commands to Onbu as it explores a wide variety of biomes and defending your village from parasites and other sicknesses that can crop up — make The Wandering Village stand out as the best simulation game of the month. The Wandering Village is available now on PC via Steam Early Access, and developer Stray Fawn Studios says it will stay in early access for “one year or longer.”
If you grew up playing PC games in the 1990s, you might have fond memories of The Secret of Monkey Island. The Lucasarts classic was a landmark point-and-click adventure game that continues to persevere as a cult classic. It’s so beloved that its fans can be protective over it. That’s exactly what happened when we first saw Return to Monkey Island. While fans were excited to see series creator Ron Gilbert involved, others criticized the title for its new, modern art style. Even when some players got exactly what they wanted, they were still disappointed.
Ironically, that’s exactly what Return to Monkey Island is about. At first, the adventure game seems like little more than a charming nostalgia trip. It’s filled with familiar characters who revive some of the series’ best jokes. The story is more than a greatest hits collection, though. It follows famed pirate Guybrush Threepwood as he finally looks to uncover the long-sought-after secret of Monkey Island. But is it a mystery we really want solved? What if that secret can’t live up to the expectations? Return to Monkey Island asks those difficult questions about finishing unfinished business, all through an at-times meta story about, well, returning to the Monkey Island series.
Return to Monkey Island may not give players the answers they want, but it does perhaps give them the one they need to hear. The game is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch. ~ Giovanni Colantonio
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