Keeping track of all the new gaming releases is an increasingly complex task, with different storefronts for PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, mobile and more to keep tabs on, but don’t worry, I’m here to help. Each month I’ll bring you the games you need to keep an eye out for, from big triple-A titles to intriguing indies you might otherwise overlook.
January is usually a bit of a slow month as the industry continues to recover from the holiday hangover, but the first month of 2023 is surprisingly warm. Gamers can look forward to the next big RPG from Square Enix, Forspoken, the remake of Dead Space, Fire Emblem Engage and more. Meanwhile, on the indie front, there’s the locomotive love letter SimRail: The Railway Simulator, the atmospheric Season: A Letter to the Future, and more.
Note: While I’ve played demos or had early access to some of the games recommended in this article, in most cases I’m simply picking games that look promising and can’t vouch for the final product. Wait for reviews before buying!
With that said, here are the games to look out for in January…
Fire Emblem Engage (Switch, January 20)
Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series returns in January with something different. Fire Emblem Engage’s colorful anime presentation and traditional JRPG premise caused some dissent, but its new Engage system, which allows units to be matched to the spirits of fan-favorite past characters like Marth, Ike, and Lyn , promises well. Here’s everything you need to know about Fire Emblem Engage for those who want a strategic RPG. You can pre-order the game here.
Forspoken (PC & PS5, January 24)
The result of the development of Final Fantasy XV by Luminous Productions, Forspoken tries to give the JRPG formula a little spice. Protagonist Frey looks more real than most JRPG heroes, and the game’s parkour traversal system promises to make exploration more dynamic and challenging. Whether Forspoken’s experiments will pan out remains to be seen, but it’s good to see a JPRG breaking new ground. Here’s everything you need to know about Forspoken. You can pre-order the game here.
Dead Space (PC, Xbox Series X/S & PS5, January 27)
Protocol Callisto wasn’t the successor to Dead Space that many were hoping for, but don’t worry, because Dead Space itself returns in January. Developed by EA Motive, the new Dead Space is not only a visual overhaul, but improves and modernizes the horror classic in many ways. Expect a seamlessly redesigned map, new dynamic horror events, more gruesome scripted moments, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Dead Space. You can pre-order the game here.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake (PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, January 31)
The SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom remake proved to be a solid success for THQ Nordic, so developer Purple Lamp Studios is back with a new all-original SpongeBob adventure. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake sees our porous hero jump between unique thematic worlds and don a variety of fun costumes. It looks like an above-average mascot platformer, which is good, because your kids will force you to buy it anyway. You can pre-order the game here.
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider (PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch, January 12)
Enter the new year with a throwback. A tribute to the 16-bit action games of yore, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider features killer pixel art and chiptunes, and the ability to customize your playable character with a variety of modifier chips. Developer JoyMasher has been in the retro for a while now, producing fun fetch games like Oniken and Blazing Chrome, so there’s every reason to believe this will be another must-try thumb game. Here is the Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider Steam page.
SimRail: The Rail Simulator (PC, January 13)
The title of SimRail: The Railway Simulator says it all. If you like trains and all the little details that go into them, this is the game for you. Board a series of trains from different eras and travel hundreds of kilometers of real routes recreated in minute detail. A demo of the game released last year was rather well received, so expect good things from the full game now that all of its wagons are in working order. Here is the Steam page for SimRail: The Railway Simulator.
A Space for the Unbound (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and Switch, January 19)
A Space for the Unbound is a relaxed adventure game that combines something many gamers are familiar with – 90s nostalgia – with something only a small percentage have experienced – rural Indonesian life. But it’s not just moments of everyday life, because a lot of supernatural elements can also be expected. Indie games can be a great window into other places and cultures, so get ready to explore. Here is the A Space for the Unbound Steam page.
Season: A Letter to the Future (PC, PS4 & PS5, January 31)
Season: A Letter to the Future is a visually stunning adventure in which players ride bicycles and record various details of their semi-mundane fantasy world (think Studio Ghibli rather than Tolkien) before it is all destroyed by a mysterious apocalypse. The game has hit a few snags, including allegations of toxic handling by Montreal-based developer Scavengers Studio, but is now set to release in January. Let’s hope the game is as good as it sounds. Here is the Season: A Letter to the Future Steam page.
Full list of games to watch in January:
- Children of Silentown (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and Switch, January 11)
- Aquatic (PC, January 12)
- Lone Ruin (PC and Switch, January 12)
- Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider (PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch, January 12)
- One Piece Odyssey (PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 & PS5, January 13)
- SimRail: The Rail Simulator (PC, January 13)
- UnderDungeon (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Switch, January 13)
- A Space for the Unbound (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and Switch, January 19)
- Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 & PS5, January 19)
- Fire Emblem Engage (Switch, January 20)
- Forspoken (PC & PS5, January 24)
- Hyperdimension Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters (PC, PS4 & PS5, January 24)
- OddBallers (PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, January 26)
- Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection (PS4, PS5 and Switch, January 26)
- Dead Space (PC, Xbox Series X/S & PS5, January 27)
- Raiden IV x Mikado Remix (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 & PS5, January 31)
- Season: A Letter to the Future (PC, PS4 & PS5, January 31)
- SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake (PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, January 31)
These are the games to watch in the coming month. What games are you planning to buy in January? Did I miss something that you can’t wait to buy?