Siobhan Keogh is the NZ Herald's gaming blogger.

Siobhan Keogh: The best game releases you haven't heard of

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A scene from the video game ReCore.
A scene from the video game ReCore.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the video games I was most looking forward to in the coming months. But after a couple of weeks, I realised I'd forgotten one.

I'd forgotten it because it wasn't a huge blockbuster - at least not in the West. It's the latest in a cult classic series, Fire Emblem.

It got me thinking: what else is coming out that looks interesting, but Kiwis either haven't heard of or just didn't know was on its way this year?

Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem is a series of tactical JRPGs - a really, really good series. The most recently released game here was Fire Emblem Awakening for 3DS, which was acclaimed by critics and gamers alike.

If you've heard of Fire Emblem Fates at all, it's probably because of the controversy surrounding a particular storyline. In the Japanese version of the game, there's a scene where a lesbian party member is drugged and sees men as women. Once the drug wears off, she's still attracted to men as well as women.

As there is a long and troubling history of 'conversion therapy' for gay people (as if the drugging isn't gross enough), many fans of the series were upset. As a result it has been removed in the Western release, which, of course, upset a different subset of fans.

That said, Fates will also be the first game in the series to feature same-sex marriage. And if my game time in Awakening is any indicator, it's likely to be my personal biggest time-sink of 2016.

Release date: TBA
Platform: 3DS

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2

With a name like that, is it any wonder you didn't know Garden Warfare 2 was about to drop?

Regardless of whether you're a hardcore gamer or a filthy casual (I'm both), you have to admit that tower defence game Plants vs. Zombies was great. That's because developer PopCap is incredibly good at creating experiences full of pure joy and fun.

Garden Warfare was no exception. The original Plants vs. Zombies was turned on its head and made into a family-friendly first person shooter, and it worked. God only knows how, but it did. And given how reliable PopCap has been in the past, it's very likely that Garden Warfare 2 is going to make you, yours kids and your grandma squeal with delight once again.

Release date: 25 February
Platform: Xbox One

ReCore

Little is known about ReCore. It was first announced last year at gaming's biggest media and marketing event, E3, and not much has been heard since.

ReCore is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the last remaining humans are trying to save mankind with their robot companions. The trailer for action-adventure game ReCore showed a woman and her robot dog fighting enemies by removing shiny blue orbs, and that was about it. But the game is being developed by a studio full of some pretty great talent - people who've worked on Mega Man and Metroid Prime.

The trailer was also visually beautiful, but then again it was shown at E3. Often trailers released at E3 set the bar too high and disappoint gamers down the track.

Release date: TBA
Platforms: PC, Xbox One

The Witness

If you've been reading the Herald closely, you'll have heard of The Witness already, but your average gamer probably hasn't. This just-released puzzle game was designed for gamers who are looking for something fiendishly hard.

The Witness was created by Jonathan Blow, developer of another remarkable game called Braid. It's a conscious reaction to a trend low difficulty game puzzles, designed more to make the player feel good about themselves than to actually present a challenge.

I can tell you right now that this game is likely to send you - like everyone - into a full-blown nerd rage. But when you solve a puzzle, you'll really, really feel like you've accomplished something.

Release date: Out now
Platforms: PC, iOS, PS4

Gravity Rush 2

The original Gravity Rush really had a bad go of it. It was initially released as a PS Vita exclusive - it's now available on PS4 - which stunted its sales. But it was easily the best game I've ever played on the Vita.

In Gravity Rush, you play as a girl called Kat who has lost her memory but, thanks to a visit from a mysterious cat, gained the ability to control gravity. (Anyone else reminded of Sailor Moon?) She has to use these abilities to save the world, of course, from the threat of a 'gravity storm'.

The flight mechanics are wonderfully fluid, and as Kat undertakes her quest you unlock more and more abilities that make controlling her a joy.

Gravity Rush was unlike anything I'd ever played before. Gravity Rush 2 is being released on PS4 this time around, so if it's anywhere near as good as the original, it has a much better shot at success.

Release date: TBA
Platform: PS4

- nzherald.co.nz

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Siobhan Keogh is the NZ Herald's gaming blogger.

Siobhan Keogh has been playing video games for almost as long as she's been able to read. Her passion for games started with Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex Kidd in Miracle World, grew when she discovered the Final Fantasy series as a teenager, and became near-obsessive when she worked as games editor for PC World magazine. She'll play almost every kind of game there is, from shooters to strategies to adventure games to Peggle, on any platform she can get her hands on. Her love of games isn't limited to the screen - she also plays both board and card games on the tabletop. When she's not gaming, she's tweeting lame jokes about games on Twitter. Occasionally she takes a breather from that and talks about running and fitness instead. Siobhan works as community manager for New Zealand's largest locally-owned technology company, but her views on gaming are her own.

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