As the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, the vibes get brighter and cheerier in response. The holiday season has started, and along with it, an absolute onslaught of sales in which you’re supposed to buy gifts for others but inevitably end up stocking up for yourself. Still, though, if you can’t wait until Christmas morning to unwrap something new (or Hanukkah, which starts in like a week), Noisy Pixel is here to deliver ten new games. Heck, if you pay us enough, we’ll even drop them down your chimney! Even the Steam games. We’ll find a way.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince (Switch | December 1, 2023)
For the first time in over a decade, the Dragon Quest Monsters series returns to American players with The Dark Prince. Psaro – who previous players may recognize as the Master of Monsterkind from Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen – is a young prince fighting off his father, Randolfo, the current Master. Though his father’s tactics against him are overwhelming, the tides may shift when Psaro obtains his own Scouting Ring, allowing him to tame his own beasts and fight back against the horde to claim the title for himself.
The previous game to make it outside of Japan, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2, was released all the way back during the Nintendo DS generation, but the Joker titles marked a shift in the sub-series towards a more mature theme than the kid-focused adventures of the first few games. This game, an origin story for the main villain of one of the mothership titles, looks to continue that trend. If you’re interested on Square Enix’s updated take on classic monster-taming gameplay, the demo is available right now on the Switch eShop.
SteamWorld Build (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC | December 1, 2023)
SteamWorld Build takes the city sim genre and adds a steampunk twist. The setting is a dying planet where there’s a town perched over a treasure-laden mine and a bunch of steam-powered robots ready to dig their way to salvation. The game promises a wild mix of resource gathering and town building, with the added excitement of uncovering ancient tech. The goal? To build a thriving SteamWorld town, expand your territory, and escape a planet on the brink. The twist here is the mix of Old West aesthetics with steam-powered technology – a combination as intriguing as a robot in a cowboy hat.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in this steamy frontier. As your town grows, so do the challenges. Each steambot has its own quirks, and it’s up to you to keep them happy and efficient. Think of it as playing peacekeeper in a town full of mechanical curmudgeons. The deeper you dig, the more dangers you face, from pesky creepy crawlies to the threat of mine collapses. It’s a delicate dance of digging for riches while defending your turf. Plus, the game offers a variety of maps with secrets to unearth, adjustable difficulty levels, and the flexibility to play with either a mouse or controller. Whether you’re in it for the thrill of the dig or just want to build to your heart’s content in sandbox mode, SteamWorld Frontier promises a heap of fun wrapped in a quirky, steam-laden package.
Born of Bread (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC | December 5, 2023)
We’ve seen a lot of indie developers find success with the mentality of “Well, if [insert developer here] doesn’t want to make [insert franchise here] games, we will!” It’s worked with Metroid and Castlevania, and now Born of Bread takes the same approach for Paper Mario. A childlike bread golem emerges sentient from the oven and ready to help his new father figure as a royal baker, only to be framed along with the baker for an insurgent attack on the palace. Now, fugitives from the law, our glutenous hero will have to fight monsters and schemers to clear his name and defeat those who threaten the kingdom.
Born of Bread is a turn-based RPG with timing-enhanced attacks and a unique weapon system that separates it from its inspiration. The variety of attacks available depends on the weapons you’ve equipped in your inventory grid, so careful consideration may need to be taken before heading into battle. The hero will also recruit several adorable friends to his cause who can aid him with special abilities. The demo is out on Steam, and the game is dripping with charm like a breadstick dipped in garlic sauce.
Disney Dreamlight Valley (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC | December 5, 2023)
Dreamlight Valley was an instant hit when it launched in Early Access last year, despite the game’s relative lack of content. Now, many content patches later, the game’s first story arc is complete, and developer Gameloft is launching it as a premium retail game, with a physical release and everything. In the game, the player creates their own avatar character who returns to the titular location after years away, to find it covered in dark tendrils and with the townspeople having completely forgotten about them – and, seemingly, their friendships with each other. The player will have to use the power of Dreamlight to drive back the darkness, restore the valley, and bring the magic of friendship back to its residents.
In practice, Dreamlight Valley is a cozy game starring a wide cast of beloved Disney characters – but unlike, say, Kingdom Hearts, they all live together in the same place, making it also one of the most ambitious Disney property crossovers this side of AO3. You’ll forage, farm, and fulfill requests for your new friends to build stronger relationships and expand the town, as well as solve the many mysteries caused by The Forgetting before you get there. The game is also launching with its first major expansion to take the player beyond the Valley itself.
Sonic Dream Team (iOS | December 5, 2023)
It’s been a busy few years for Sonic and friends, and now that’s being finally capped off with the release of a new mobile title, Sonic Dream Team. Where Sonic Superstars and Sonic Frontiers both took the franchise into the future by changing the gameplay of the series, and Sonic Origins brought us back to the past when the series was most famous, Dream Team looks to deliver gameplay more reminiscent of the older 3-D titles, with six playable characters. We don’t know a ton about it yet, but the team recently shared an absolutely badass animated opening.
The catch to all of this is that the game is launching as an Apple Arcade exclusive, meaning that if you do not own an Apple device, the game will not be accessible to you. Sometimes, these games get timely ports to more commonly-used platforms (like with World End Club), and sometimes, they remain exclusive despite all hope (like Fantasian), so here’s hoping this eventually gets put on the Switch where it belongs.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC | December 7, 2023)
We have a feeling the executives at Ubisoft developed a nail-biting habit last year as they waited to see whether Avatar: The Way of Water was going to be a hit after so many delays. Thankfully for them, it was, and now, while we wait for the third installment (which has, of course, been delayed again recently), they’re keeping the brand alive with Frontiers of Pandora, a lavish open-world sci-fi adventure. The player is a Na’vi orphan, taken in by human soldiers to raise as one of them but forced into cryogenic sleep due to unknown circumstances. Upon waking up fifteen years later, you find the base abandoned and the megacorp that raised you gone and must venture out to the dangerous planet of Pandora to rediscover your roots and survive the harsh conditions.
Ubisoft has created many, many open worlds in the last few generations, but the vibrant, dangerous planet of Pandora (not to be confused with the Borderlands setting of the same name) is looking like it will allow for a hugely different atmosphere than what gamers are used to. The development team at Massive Entertainment was previously responsible for The Division and also recently announced Star Wars Outlaws.
Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem (Switch, PC | December 14, 2023)
Koumajou Remilia Ⅱ: Stranger’s Requiem emerges this December as a standout gothic horror Touhou action game, remastered with HD graphics and fully-voiced lines. The release marks a comprehensive overhaul that injects new life into the adventure. Central to its narrative is Sakuya Izayoi, who embarks on a quest to the enigmatic Scarlet Devil Castle, which has reappeared under mysterious circumstances. Her mission is twofold: to find her missing companions from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, including Remilia, and to uncover the reasons behind the absent spring. The charm is significantly enhanced by the art of Banpai Akira, who brings a bold and dark edge to the character designs while preserving their original allure.
The gameplay elevates the experience, offering a more sophisticated style of action. Players control Sakuya, who excels in close-range attacks with her blades and navigates through the air with her ‘flight’ ability, adding an extra layer of strategy to combat. The game introduces a new ‘backstep’ action, enhancing players’ ability to dodge attacks. Additionally, special attacks like ‘Soul Sculpture’ and ‘backstep knife throw’ offer a more dynamic approach to battles. With these enhancements and more, Koumajou Remilia Ⅱ: Stranger’s Requiem promises a captivating and immersive gaming experience, blending elegant sound, beautiful graphics, and smooth controls for both new and returning players.
Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising (PS4, PS5, PC | December 15, 2023)
It’s pretty incredible that spinoffs of the wildly popular Granblue Fantasy mobile game are continuing to be localized despite the original game never officially being released in America (not that that stops anyone from playing the full English version through other means). Before we get the long-awaited Action RPG Relink next year, Arc System Works is giving us Versus Rising, an updated-rerelease-slash-sequel (think Dissidia 012) to their 2020 fighting game Versus. The game will feature all-new content as well as all of the stuff from the previous entry, though notably, you will still have to pay separately for the DLC from Versus.
Rising is boasting a new story and signficant accessibility options that will enable new players to quickly pick up the game, following a very positive trend codified this year by Street Fighter 6. It also boasts a new “Island Lobby” that allows players waiting for their matches to compete in minigames, and there’s even a “Free Version” that allows you to play as four of the game’s characters. If you’re a fighting game fan who missed Versus the first time around, this is the best chance to play with the game’s active community.
Trinity Fusion (PC | December 15, 2023)
Trinity Fusion has a clear mission: save a dying multiverse through skill, strategy, and sheer willpower. This game is a rogue-lite rollercoaster across an ever-changing sci-fi landscape. Players must fight their way through procedurally generated levels, each with a unique challenge demanding your best gameplay. The world-building here is a key draw, with 3D levels crafted from hundreds of custom rooms, ensuring a fresh experience every time you play.
Combat in Trinity Fusion is no casual affair. Drawing from the developers’ experience in fighting games, it promises high-intensity, adrenaline-pumping action. You’re not just battling enemies; you’re dancing through a ballet of bullets, mastering the art of slide, dash, and dodge. With a cache of special weapons and abilities at your disposal, every attack feels rewarding and impactful. Players can choose between three characters, each with their own set of abilities and weapons. From mutant-infested wastelands to machine-dominated forges to sky cities of a post-human society, the diversity in environments and gameplay is staggering. Further, the Hub offers permanent upgrades with the option to start your next run in different, freshly reclaimed areas. Trinity Fusion seems to be all about mastering its gameplay elements, one run at a time.
One. (PC | December 21, 2023)
One is a visual novel making its grand return. However, this isn’t just a trip down memory lane – it’s a full-blown time machine back to the ’90s, now with a shiny modern polish. To celebrate the developer’s 30th anniversary, the West can finally enjoy this beloved adventure. The story tugs at the heartstrings – a regular student’s life gets turned upside down when a parallel world starts to overlap with his mundane reality. The narrative promises a journey of self-discovery and the importance of unchanging things in life, like that favorite old sweater you just can’t throw out.
But what really gives One its charm are the characters, especially Mizuka Nagamori and Misaki Kawana. Mizuka, the childhood friend and the human equivalent of an alarm clock adds that sprinkle of familiarity and annoyance we all secretly cherish. And then there’s Misaki, the senior who’s blind yet sees the world in a way most don’t, proving that light doesn’t always mean sight. These characters are the heart and soul of the game, weaving a story that asks: which world are we truly living in, and who is it that’s holding our hand? As we dive into this visual novel, it’s not just about the graphics or the gameplay – it’s about finding those special bonds that tether us to our world.
Wrapping up, December’s gaming lineup is like an early holiday gift that keeps on giving. This month isn’t just about playing games; it’s about embarking on diverse adventures, whether that means rediscovering classic stories, saving multiverses, or exploring rich, fantastical worlds. So, grab your controllers (or mice and keyboards) and dive into these virtual realms. December’s gaming buffet is served, and trust us, it’s a feast worth savoring.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.