Square Enix revealed a slew of games at its digital showcase event this week, but three of them stood out. They also happen to be projects coming soon, in a few months and far down the road
These are three levels of the future, and they hint at the company’s diverse portfolio of projects. Although there’s plenty to like, “Outriders,” “Life is Strange: True Colors” and “Forspoken” each face a big question. Not one is a sure thing. Here is what each game has to answer.
Will “Outriders” connect with gamers?
One of the hardest things to do in video games is release an original IP. That can be even harder during a pandemic. Unless a game blows fans away with its announcement and nudges the hype train forward, it can be a tough task.
With its presentation, Square Enix makes a strong case introducing the People Can Fly project. The publisher outlined “Outrider’s” story and features. For the uninitiated, the game takes place on the colony planet of Enoch. Humanity’s effort to build a new home runs into problems as a phenomenon called “The Anomaly” disrupts the efforts and gives the player and other inhabitants new powers.
“Outriders” has a postapocalyptic vibe as players enter a vicious and dog-eat-dog world. The visuals wouldn’t be out of place in “Mad Max” flick. The presentation goes over the four classes — Trickster, Technomancer, Devastator and Pyromancer — that cater to different playstyles and a push for a more aggressive gameplay. It plays like a mix of “Tom Clacny’s The Division” and “Destiny.”
One of the biggest emphasis in the presentation was the customization options. “Outriders’ is going to be a paradise for players who like to get under the hood and tweak their characters to get the most out of their specs. The customization goes even further to vehicles (Players can mount the defeated monsters on the hood as trophies.) and incorporates a crafting system.
“Outriders” has all the elements to draw players in. It even has crossplay support that was tested in the beta, but Square Enix has to see whether the community becomes invested in the universe that People Can Fly crafted.
Will “Life is Strange: True Colors” be the same with a new developer at the helm?
When I interviewed Dontnod Entertainment after the release of “Life is Strange 2,” I was surprised to learn that the developer doesn’t own the franchise. The property was under Square Enix’s umbrella. In fact, Dontnod intended the original to be one-off but its success led the publisher to ask for a sequel.
It wasn’t the one that many were expecting. The first and second games couldn’t be any different. The projects didn’t even star the same characters though there is a faint link between the two. The differences led me to ask the developers to define a “Life is Strange” project. What separates this franchise from another adventure game. They said the series is about relatable characters, social themes, everyday problems and a little bit of the supernatural.
The new developer of the franchise Deck Nine Games seems to carry those themes in “Life is Strange: True Colors.” From the trailer, the project has a different vibe than the Dontnod efforts, but its main character Alex Chen embodies the elements of the series with her psychic powers of Empathy being the dose of the supernatural. She can experience, absorb and manipulate emotions, according to the news release.
The big driver of the plot is that she’s investigating the “accidental” death of her brother in the seemingly idyllic town of Haven Springs. The investigation of death could put her in danger and creates a mystery comparable to the original.
One of the best parts of “Life is Strange” is the music, and it appears that Deck Nine is going to lean on that heavily with Alex singing and new tracks from mxmtoon and Novo Armor. Interestingly enough, the game is being released all at once on Sept. 10 instead of episodically. That’s a different approach and lets players binge the game, which is how I like playing the series.
I just hope the story that Deck Nine crafts and the characters they introduce are as good as what players experienced in the previous entries.
Can “Forspoken” maintain momentum after revealing the game’s official title?
When it was called “Project Athia,” this title by Luminous Productions turned heads. Fast forward a few months later, and during the Square Enix Presents presentation, the team revealed that the game would be called “Forspoken” and released gameplay video.
Aside from that, players don’t have much else to go on aside from the fact that the protagonist Frey Holland is played by Ella Balinska from the recent “Charlie’s Angels” reboot and the basic premise that it’s about a young woman who has to — according to the news release — “harness her magical abilities to survive” in the fantastical land of Athia.
In the video, players get a glimpse of Frey’s abilities and the smooth movement. Visually, the traversal and powers remind me of Radical Entertainment’s “Prototype.” The most exciting part of the project is that it appears to be one of the few upcoming projects that will push the PlayStation 5’s limits.
Aside from that, I’m curious to find out if “Forspoken” can keep players interested in its development. The game certainly has a strong pedigree with Luminous Productions, which worked on “Final Fantasy XV.” The game could be one of Square Enix’s most important projects when it’s released in 2022.