The first quarter of any year is usually pretty bland when it comes to releases, but most of the time things start picking up in March. Despite 2020’s existence, 2021 seems to be shaping up similarly. These games come in all shapes and sizes and span several genres, but each looks to bring something exciting to the table. There are quite a few ports and re-releases, but I want to look at what is brand new and exciting coming to the public for the first time.
Loop Hero – March 4
Devolver Digital’s latest published game is set to be a sleeper hit for fans of RPGs across the board. This retro-styled 8-bit game looks like it would be at home on an Apple II, but is hiding its robust and addictive gameplay just beneath the surface. I think only after release will people latch on to how enjoyable this seemingly simplistic game is. Devolver has a sixth sense for great games no one anticipates.
Endzone: A World Apart – March 18
Coming out of early access, this post-apocalyptic city builder is set to bring a fresh concept to the genre. Rather than working toward efficiency and monolithic skyscrapers, your goal is to survive in a world after a nuclear attack. Buildings are cobbled together and the danger of radiation and fallout is ever-present. City builders have come a long way since the days of (the now-defunct) Sim City, especially in recent years. This looks like yet another branch of originality for a genre previously stuck in iterative ruts.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – March 23
The long-running franchise born on the Nintendo is making its debut on the Nintendo Switch. Before Stardew Valley took over the genre, Story of Seasons (or Harvest Moon before 2007) was the go-to game series for farming fun. Not to be confused with the new lesser quality offshoot Harvest Moon games – which ironically also just recently released another lifeless title on the Switch. Pioneers of Olive Town looks to deliver all of that fun farming goodness people love to relax with after many months of grinding away at Animal Crossing.
Monster Hunter Rise – March 26
The Monster Hunter franchise spent too long cramped on the blurry screen of the 3DS. When Monster Hunter Generations was ported to the Switch that was even more apparent. Now a platform-built game is on the horizon and, if the appreciation of the demo is any indicator, it should be good. Nintendo Switch owners may not be able to embrace the beauty of Monster Hunter: World, but the improvements to this monster-slaying adventure seem to make the game even more enjoyable for veterans and newcomers alike.
Evil Genius 2 – March 30
Nearly 17 years after the original strategy simulation game, the long-awaited sequel is rounding out the end of the month. Taking on the role of a villain seeking world domination, it’s your job to put together a secret lair that will defeat even the heartiest heroes while conducting missions to deliver on your diabolical plans. This centers around building an elaborate base to build weapons, train minions, and entrap the good guys trying to stop you. If it is anywhere near as enjoyable as the original, we’re in for a nostalgic treat with plenty of replayability.