A lot of video games comes out every month. If you gave the game release calendar a thwap with the ol’ broom, a few huge AAA-tier games would likely drop to the ground like anvils. They’d kick up a cloud that overshadows the arrival of smaller games — potentially great ones, even, from developers you might’ve heard of and new indie creators alike. Like, some that may actually end up on your GOTY list.
We don’t want to let these games slip by (and you’d probably like to know about them, right?), so each month we’ll be rounding up a handful of notable game launches that you should know about. Stay tuned near the end of every month for our next batch of video game deep cuts.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is being rereleased this month on consoles and PC, which is news that continues to fill me with joy. In case you haven’t heard of this game until now, it’s a gem that originally launched in North America for the Nintendo DS in 2011 and for iOS in 2012. While originally made for touchscreens, the HD remaster has been adapted for controllers. Funny detail: This cartoonishly animated game runs on the RE Engine, the same one that powers graphical powerhouses filled with lifelike visuals, such as Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 remake.
For fans of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the shared DNA is clear; after all, they share the same director and composer, and I can assure you that the writing is funny and the tunes are infectious. However, the premise couldn’t be more different. You play as a spirit who, in order to prevent terrible things from happening, can possess everyday objects to trigger distractions. These are high-stakes scenarios, no doubt, but it’s a fairly chill game to play. I can’t wait to get back into it, although I’m buying it partially to listen to the soundtrack.
Crime O’Clock is an ambitious-as-heck puzzle game for Nintendo Switch and PC. As the title suggests, you’ll be solving crimes, and time plays a big factor. And by time, I mean time travel, of course. Solving some of the cases requires you to visit different eras to alter the course of events in the past, present, or future.
That premise in itself isn’t wholly original, but the package for Crime O’Clock really stands out. Its uses color sparingly, relying on its high-contrast visual style to highlight clues — a smart design choice, since you’ll be searching for hidden objects. Not going to lie, I adore the monotone newspaper-like look of each era’s map. And big props to the artists, who have packed so much detail into each map.
Killer Frequency is both a clever twist on the ’80s slasher formula and an homage. In this first-person experience, you play as a radio host for a call-in program whose callers all suffer the same problem: Someone is out to kill them. Yes, each and every one of them, apparently.
Your task, to help them escape death, is way above your pay grade. Nevertheless, you’ll have to be resourceful, using clues sprinkled around the radio station to help them escape death and to thwart the killer’s plans. For each caller, you make dialogue choices and keep them on the line with the hope that they can get away. From the look of the trailer, things may not always end well.
Killer Frequency is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X; in VR for the Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro; and on Nintendo Switch (which strangely costs $10 more than the other versions).
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code
From the minds behind whodunit murder mystery visual novel Danganronpa and Spike Chunsoft (which is responsible for many other cult hits) comes the Nintendo Switch-exclusive Master Detective Archives: Rain Code.
You’re part of the WDO, the World Detective Organization, a scrappy crew whose mission is to eradicate mysteries. Yeah, screw mysteries! In this visual novel with hidden-object elements, you’ll hunt for clues and utilize each character’s “forensic fortes” to solve cases. Apparently, the WDO is an “extra-privileged” organization, yet some of the characters don’t know why they’re in it. For some reason, I feel like the WDO may create more mysteries than it can solve in a single game. Bonus reason for my excitement: Voice actor SungWon Cho (also known as ProZD) lent his voice to one of the detectives, “Number One.”
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code launches on June 30 on Nintendo Switch.
Dordogne is a place in France, I recently learned. It’s also the name of a gorgeous-looking game published by Focus Entertainment and developed by studios Umanimation and Un Je Ne Sais Quoi. Dordogne (the game) came out earlier this month for every modern console, including PC. For Xbox Game Pass subscribers, it’s available on that service for no extra charge.
I reckon it’d be tough to find anyone who doesn’t find its 3D-meets-watercolor art style appealing, but thankfully there seems to be a lot more here than just visual panache. It tells the charming story of a girl who revisits Dordogne, where she used to spend time as a child with her grandmother, who has presumably passed away. There, she has a sad realization: she’s losing grasp of her precious memories; the places she traveled to and things she used to do with her grandma no longer resonate the same way. You’ll have to find a way to get them back.
Dordogne is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Cats. Teahouses. Cats who own teahouses. Cats who own teahouses making tea for other cats. Cats who own teahouses making tea for other cats who drink tea and engage in delightful chatter as you make their drinks.
I’ve just cheekily described a portion of the gameplay loop of Pekoe, a charming game that wears its Animal Crossing inspiration proudly and loudly. It’s launching via Steam Early Access later in June, and the trailer may have already sold you. You get to create your cozy teahouse just the way you want, and improve your craft as a teamaker to make all of your kitty customers happy. There’s not a bad vibe to be seen within 100 miles of this game’s chill setting.
There’s no better way to describe this game than as wholesome. If that’s up your alley, there are a bunch of other games you might enjoy checking out from the recent Wholesome Direct, an indie games showcase.