A lot of video games comes out every month, even during slower months like July. 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.
Disney Illusion Island
It’s tough to consider anything related to Disney to be a deep cut of a game these days, but Disney Illusion Island definitely gives off the vibe. It’s a 2D side scrolling platformer that can be played alone, or with up to three others locally. The game has a gorgeous animated style, bucking the traditional look used to bring the likes of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy to life.
If you enjoy games like Rayman Legends, Mario 2D titles, and other platformers, this seems like one to check out when it launches exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on July 28.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals
The direct sequel to Oxenfree, an indie hit from early 2016, just launched. Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is set five years after the predecessor, and it seems bigger, and more mysterious than before, while keeping its signature graphical and narrative style that’s recognizable from the jump.
I’m particularly interested to try its radio frequency tuning mechanic, which unlike real FM and AM radio waves, can alter the environment to help you solve puzzles. Ridiculous? A little, but it seems very clever. Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals is available now on many platforms, including PlayStation, Switch, PC, Mac. Finally, it’s available on iOS and Android via a Netflix ad-free subscription (Netflix owns the game’s developer, Night School Studios).
Formerly trapped as an exclusive on Google Stadia, the now defunct cloud game streaming service, Tequila Works’ Gylt is now available on a wider spread of consoles, including PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
While it’s borrowing on themes from games made for mature audiences, Gylt looks like a more kid-friendly take on Alan Wake and The Last of Us, while still letting you creep around with a flashlight, avoiding monsters, and getting stealth kills. I don’t want to sell it short, though; Gylt seems pretty creepy! If you’re looking for a spooky adventure, this could be one to check out.
Viewfinder is one of those puzzle games that’s almost instantly captivating to see footage of, much less play. It’s a game where you progress by solving puzzles in the environment, but the solution is always the same: line up a photograph just right. Sometimes, it’s putting the photo in an obvious spot to fill in the blanks. Most of the time, you’ll need to be creative, rotating photos to create paths where paths don’t exist.
If you like meditative puzzle games, including modern classics like Superliminal and The Witness, check out Viewfinder on July 18 for PlayStation 5 and PC.
With most cooking video games, you more or less know what you’re getting into. Venba is offering something different. It’s a cooking game, sure, but it dives much deeper into a specific culture. The story centers around a family that immigrated to Canada from Tamil Nadu in the ‘80s. In parts of the game, you play as the mom who’s trying to revive lost family recipes to give her husband and son a taste of the home country. The branching conversations add more soul here than your average cooking game.
Venba is coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Switch, and PC on July 31.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series
Telltale Games is back in a big way. Its first major project since it was revived is a game based on The Expanse, Amazon Prime Video’s popular space drama show, which itself is based on the book series by James S. A. Corey.
Fans of Telltale Games’ biggest hits, including The Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands, and others have a lot to get excited about. If you watched the trailer above, you can probably tell that the studio’s game and graphics engines have been drastically improved to be more realistic looking and atmospheric.
If it’s anything like the studio’s prior work, expect a gripping, decision-based tale that you won’t forget. The Expanse: A Telltale Series is out July 27 on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons
The classic beat-em-up Double Dragon franchise is back with an all-new entry, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons. It’s being made in part by Arc System Works, which also launched the original in the late 1980s. Developers Secret Base and Modus are bringing this one to life.
Obviously, a lot has changed since the 80s in terms of game design, and Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons seems to reflect that. As such, it has more depth in its visuals as well as its gameplay. You earn cash while fighting foes and mini bosses with which you can upgrade your character’s fighting abilities. It looks like a good time!
Mr. Run and Jump
Shield your eyes, but also look very closely at this new neon-filled game called Mr. Run and Jump. It’s a fully baked version of a 2021 homebrew title that was made in the style of Atari 2600 games, and ironically enough, Atari is publishing it alongside developer Graphite Lab.
As the name explicitly implies, you run and jump a lot through levels that look like my worst Super Mario Maker nightmares come to life. Although its neon style might not jive with everyone, the high contrast visuals should make speedrunning through the game a lot easier than Mario games. This title is launching July 25 for all modern platforms, including PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and PC.