Five games you should play before the holiday season

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With the holiday season just around the corner, the flood gates are starting to open for new game releases. Before our stacks of new games begin to drown us, there are some older titles you should play in order to better enjoy the upcoming hits. Whether it’s a prequel to a story-driven adventure or a more than a decade-old action game, which will help you appreciate the older work of a developer, you should find these games and at least get to know them before heading into their successors.

 

Dishonored

Verticality was an important feature of Dishonored and helped create many different ways to tackle missions.

Verticality was an important feature of Dishonored and helped create many different ways to tackle missions.

 

Dishonored 2 allows players to chose between playing as an older Corvo or a now adult Emily. Each character brings a different set of skills and abilities to the table.

Dishonored 2 allows players to chose between playing as an older Corvo or a now adult Emily. Each character brings a different set of skills and abilities to the table.

Four years ago Dishonored took developer Arkane Studios from developing obscure RPGs and working on Bioshock 2 levels to winning more than 100 game of the year awards. This first-person stealth action game has everything: a rich story framed around abduction and betrayal, exciting combat, exploration, choice, stealth and magical abilities to just name a few key points.

Dishonored 2 continues the original’s narrative 15 years later with Emily, the little girl from the original, now a grown woman whom players can choose to play as. The new game will offer many of the features of the original and much more, but if you want to head into the game already feeling a connection to the setting, story and characters, the original Dishonored is a game that deserves to be played.

 

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is the last game Team Ico released, but that was nearly 11 years ago.

Shadow of the Colossus is the last game Team Ico released, but that was nearly 11 years ago.

One of only two games from Team Ico, both of which were released more than a decade ago, Shadow of the Colossus is well worth your time if you still have access to a PlayStation 2, PlayStation Now or can pick up a copy of The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection for PS3.

Many praised the game for its artistic beauty.

Many praised the game for its artistic beauty.

Though this action-adventure game isn’t a prequel to the upcoming The Last Guardian, it’s still a great look into the beauty and minimalism gamers have come to expect from Team Ico games. Shadow of the Colossus follows the adventures of a young man who must defeat sixteen colossi to bring a girl back to life. There are no enemies other than the colossi in the game, but that doesn’t mean finding them is easy. Nor is the game easy once you do find one, as you then must find its weak point. This often requires making use of your horse, the environment or grappling onto and quickly climbing the colossus in order to bring it down.

Although you’ll be perfectly fine sitting down to play The Last Guardian without having ever played any PS2 game, coming into it with an appreciation of the developer and an understanding of why gamers have been excited about this game since it was announced in 2009 will have you seeing The Last Guardian in a whole new light.

 

Dead Rising

Dead Rising's combination of danger and comedy is better than any weapon combination you can create in the series' later games.

Dead Rising’s combination of danger and comedy is better than any weapon combination you can create in the series’ later games.

Frank West is coming back. The protagonist of the first Dead Rising game (as well as a piece of Dead Rising 2 DLC) has made his way back to the location of the original game, where a new mall, Willamette Memorial, now stands. The small Colorado town has been zombie-free for 16 years, but that all changes in winter. Now, Frank is back at his shenanigans as he uncovers what’s behind this second outbreak. Oh, and perhaps the best upgrade from the original is the removal of a time limit from the campaign.

"Because why the hell not?" should be Dead Rising's slogan.

“Because why the hell not?” should be Dead Rising’s slogan.

But those of us who went through the ordeal of being rushed through the campaign of the original will certainly feel the most connected to the upcoming iteration. Having played as a younger Frank going through basically the exact same situation will give gamers a closer connection to the character and the setting as opposed to those just coming in. There’s also bound to be plenty of references to the original that are missed if you haven’t played it. So go play the original, then come back after playing the upcoming one and let us know how you think 10 years of improvements have worked out.

 

The Walking Dead seasons one and two

How this story plays out is largely up to you.

How this story plays out is largely up to you.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been four years since season one of Telltale’s The Walking Dead came out. The gameplay wasn’t anything amazingly new from Telltale, but it really displayed their mastery of the episodic graphic adventure and proved their storytelling technique could reach a large, mainstream audience.

In the years since The Walking Dead season one, Telltale’s worked their magic into many universes, including Game of Thrones, Minecraft and Batman. But going back to the first major hit, the one that really put them on the map of gamers everywhere, you gain a new appreciation of where they’re at now. But there are plenty of reasons beyond that to play as well; the story is a continuation of the first two seasons, with the decisions one has made in prior games affecting outcomes in season three, so if you haven’t played those games, you may get little say in how you’re starting out in season three. That, on top of simply connecting to characters more if you’ve played them and seen their stories, is plenty enough reason to pick up the wonderful first two seasons of The Walking Dead before hopping into the third.

 

Styx: Master of Shadows

As a goblin, Styx's small stature helps him hide in places many humans would struggle to stay hidden in.

As a goblin, Styx’s small stature helps him hide in places many humans would struggle to stay hidden in.

If you’re looking for a stealth game to play, you may think Dishonored is the best game to choose from on this list, but you’d be wrong. Stealth is an option in Dishonored, but the consequences of being caught often means you now get to kick ass with lots of weapons before escaping relatively unscathed. Master of Shadows is a true stealth game, and the clunky combat controls just reinforce that.

Styx's ability to quickly climb is another way to stay hidden.

Styx’s ability to quickly climb is another way to stay hidden.

Playing as Styx, the first goblin, players must, as the title implies, stick to the shadows in order to survive. As a goblin, players have unique and sometimes magical abilities, such as becoming invisible for a short period or cloning Styx to safely scout ahead. Master of Shadows also offers a ton of verticality within levels, ensuring plenty of options regarding how to approach objectives.

So why is this game from 2014 on this list? Well its sequel, Styx: Shards of Darkness, was scheduled to come out this year until Monday, when it was delayed to early 2017. Still, we all know once the avalanche of holiday releases falls on us we’ll have no time for 2014 releases, so if you’re a fan of stealth games, go check out Master of Shadows now. Get to know the characters, the universe and the gameplay, then you may find you’re interested in what I thought would be one of the sleeper hits of 2016, but has decided to remain in the shadows until next year.

Are there any other games you’re trying to get through before new releases clog up your backlog this holiday season? If so, let us know what they are in the comments below!

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