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Play these: The hot video games of summer you may have missed

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘Stray,’ bowling, soccer and more fun ways to virtually spend your time.

It’s hard to avoid it: Video games have felt like they’re in a bit of a lull recently.

That’s not to say there isn’t a ton of great stuff out now or coming soon. Players still have the likes of Gotham Knights, God of War: Ragnarok and a new Pokémon game to ask Santa for in the upcoming holiday season. But the summer has felt a little slow compared with the past few years.

Interest in games, though, hasn’t slowed down as much. New consoles are still flying off shelves faster than they are being produced, and people are still eager to avoid the heat (and the ever-lingering pandemic) by staying inside with new games. So if you’ve been looking around for something new to play, here’s a handful of recent releases that might be worth your time.

Escape Academy

Escape rooms have been around for years now, but there’s still something novel about sinking your teeth into a really good one. One with puzzles that aren’t too hard or too easy, but are balanced just right to let you feel smart for escaping them.

Escape Academy takes the charm of a good escape room and digitizes it into a cooperative video game, in which you’ll run through a selection of timed levels while working your way through a story about being recruited into a school for gifted escapists. Like real escape rooms, it’s best experienced with a friend, but it can also be enjoyed solo. There’s not much to go back to once you’ve solved all the puzzles, but it’s a clever and enjoyable romp that can tease your brain for several hours.

Available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

In 2019, Fire Emblem: Three Houses enchanted players with its large cast of beloved characters, each with a backstory and motivations to discover. It was an epic fantasy story of students forced to grow up in a time of war, complete with all the drama that entailed. Now Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes gives us an opportunity to spend more time with our old friends, albeit in a very different way.

While most Fire Emblem games are turn-based strategy games that emphasize slow, methodical tactics, this Warriors spinoff is much more focused on action. You do spend some time planning ahead and guiding specific allies toward enemy forces (making sure, for example, that your bow users are in position to use their advantage over lance-wielding enemies), but you’ll spend even more time getting your hands dirty yourself, hacking and slashing your way through hundreds of enemies during every mission. (Don’t worry, it’s all presented in a pretty cartoonish, bloodless fashion.)

The game is fun, if sometimes mindless, but like its predecessor, it’s the characters and the story that are likely to keep you engaged through the adventure.

Available now on Nintendo Switch.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series

While Mario, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot were battling for everyone’s hearts in the late ‘90s, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile stood as a criminally underrated platformer full of charm and engaging gameplay. Combining 3D graphics with 2D gameplay, players of all ages could run through colorful levels, collecting items and solving puzzles.

Phantasy Reverie Series remasters the original Klonoa and its sequel, packaging together two games that hold up pretty well in 2022. Both feature a unique gameplay twist in which you have to use your enemies as a means of gaining an extra jump while in midair, leading to many situations in which you have to think carefully about every leap you take.

For a budget price of $40, you get two family-friendly adventures in a series that honestly deserves more attention.

Available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Loot River

Picture an action role-playing game set in a dark fantasy world with tough but fair combat and graphics that are reminiscent of old-school systems like the original PlayStation. Now, just for fun, throw in Tetris-like block manipulation. That is, more or less, the core concept behind Loot River.

Every time you play, the game drops you into a new, randomly generated dungeon filled with floating platforms of various shapes and sizes. While you’re on a platform, you can use the right stick of your controller to move it around like a small, mobile island. By reshaping the environment in this way, you can set up strategic battle positions, escape combat or finesse your way into areas with useful treasure to collect. It’s a difficult but interesting twist that sets it apart in the field of games following a Dark Souls-inspired formula.

Available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Steam

Mario Strikers: Battle League

I’m a nerd who doesn’t go outside much, so I’ll just say it: Sports are more interesting when Mario and his friends are involved.

This new Mario Strikers game is a high-octane take on soccer, complete with special shots and Mario Kart-esque items. It’s definitely a multiplayer-focused affair, though. Whether you have friends to play with locally or you’re committed to taking on other players online, Battle League is all about the (mostly) friendly competition. While there are single-player tournaments to play through, they probably won’t justify the purchase on their own.

Available now on Nintendo Switch.

Neon White

When you think of heaven, you might think of peace and pearly gates. Neon White, on the other hand, depicts heaven as a battleground where assassins hunt down demons. By utilizing a variety of weapons and abilities you will run, jump, slide, shoot, grapple and tumble your way to the end goal as fast as you possibly can.

This stylish, high-speed shooter has a lot going for it, but its biggest asset is its leaderboard. Most of the game’s nearly 97 levels can be finished in under a minute – some in fewer than 10 seconds – but you won’t be that fast on your first try. You could probably sit back and accept your silver medal-winning time, sure, but when you check the scores and see that your friend somehow managed to beat it 20 seconds faster then you did, the game is on. I have personally replayed the same stage dozens of times in a row trying to shave off precious seconds, gunning for that top spot on my friends list.

The story can be hit or miss depending on your taste. If you’re not up for some occasional cringey, too sexually suggestive dialogue, you might be better off skipping the cut scenes and just sticking to the gameplay itself.

Available now on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo Switch Sports

When the Nintendo Wii premiered in 2006 it took the world by storm primarily thanks to one game: Wii Sports. The package of motion-controlled games like baseball, tennis and, perhaps most important, bowling led to countless family nights, many retirement home tournaments and more than a few broken TVs.

At long last, the Nintendo Switch has a worthy successor in the form of the very creatively named Nintendo Switch Sports. At its most basic level, the new Sports game is everything you’d want out of a Switch adaptation of the classic. It’s just as easy to pick up and play as the original, and yes, bowling is still a blast.

At the moment, Nintendo Switch Sports includes bowling, badminton, chambara (a sword fighting game), soccer, tennis and volleyball. Nintendo has announced that golf will also be coming as a free update.

Available now on Nintendo Switch.

The new PlayStation Plus

Sony players are very familiar with the PlayStation Plus service at this point, as a paid subscription to it has been required to play many online games for years. However, the service recently received an overhaul and new subscription options in an effort for Sony to more directly compete with Xbox’s Game Pass service.

The Essential package, the lowest tier at $9.99 a month, is the same as it’s always been. But you can now opt for the Extra tier at $14.99 a month ($99.99 annually) or Premium at $17.99 a month ($119.99 annually). What these new tiers offer is basically a “Netflix for games” lineup of software that you can download and enjoy to your heart’s content without going to the store to buy it at full-price.

The lineup of modern releases is pretty impressive. Critically acclaimed hits like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima, God of War and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla can are available in the Extra tier. If you’ve just got a PS4 or PS5 and want an instant library of good games, this is a fantastic option.

Premium is a bit more of a toss-up. Its main draw is a selection of classic games from older PlayStation systems as well as a bunch of older games that are available exclusively through cloud streaming (PlayStation 3 games make up most of this list). There are some genuine classics here, such as Resident Evil: Director’s Cut and Ape Escape, but frankly the old-school selection is still pretty thin. If you don’t care for the classics at all, there’s little reason to pay the premium price.

Available now for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.


I don’t consider myself much of a cat person, yet Stray’s nameless feline protagonist is one of my favorite new characters of 2022.

Stray is set in a seemingly-post-apocalyptic future in which humans appear to be long gone. All that remains are the machines they built, many of which have attained sentience and live out endless lives in the slums of our former civilization. You play a stray cat – a pretty ordinary, run-of-the-mill cat – that gets recruited by an AI drone in an attempt to escape the city and make it to the brighter surface of the world.

The game is all about exploration and some light puzzle solving, with an occasional escape sequence thrown in. The control and animation of your character is best-in-class, though how many other games actually let you play as a cat at all?

Available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

There was a time when you couldn’t walk into a pizzeria, movie theater or arcade without seeing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game there, enticing players to spend quarter after quarter beating up robots and ninjas. This new game, Shredder’s Revenge, feels like the sequel that some of us have been wanting for decades.

Not only is it a nostalgia-filled trip down memory lane, with gameplay that is extremely reminiscent of the original game, it also manages to be one of the best modern beat-’em-up games of the last several years. Modern touches make fighting enemies feel more engaging than just hitting buttons (though you’re welcome to just mash stuff, too). And since the turtles are a team, you can play with up to four players on one system, or up to six players online.

Available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

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