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What to Play This July

Our recurring series curating the month ahead.

Hello! Welcome back to our new series, What to Play This Month, a roundup of the best games from the past month, the things we're most excited to play (or otherwise look out for) that are releasing in the month ahead, a quick rundown of the other things coming up, and a few back-catalogue picks that might make a nice compliment for it all - because why stick to playing the brand new stuff?

As a reminder, the goal for us with this series is simple enough: there are more games releasing than ever, so we're aiming to do a little curation of the month ahead to help you cut through the noise.

Let's dive in! Here's What To Play This July.

The best games from last month

Street Fighter 6

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Watch on YouTube

The venerable fighting game series makes a triumphant return, with simplified control options and a range of loveably silly modes on top of its brilliant online action. Here's what we said in our Street Figher 6 review:

Street Fighter 6 feels like a response, the counter-punch from a developer bruised and battered after a heavy defeat. You can't call it a comeback - for the fighting game core Street Fighter 5 served its purpose well enough. But you can call it a triumphant return to the ring; better, wiser and with a new plan of attack.

Amnesia: The Bunker

Availability: Out now on on PC, coming soon to PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.

The player readying a grenade while walking through a flooded area in Amnesia: The Bunker.
Image credit: Frictional Games

One of the more inventive takes on survival horror in recent times, Amnesia: The Bunker is sumptuously dark. Here's what we said in our Amnesia: The Bunker review:

...yes, it's scary - scary in that special kind of way that sees you gasp for breath because, until that very moment, you didn't realise you'd been holding it. Whilst, like any horror game, you can become a little desensitised to the Big Bad that shows up at random to rip your face off, there are certain sequences and areas that made me feel delightfully uneasy no matter how many times I had to do them. Juggling other mechanics - such as the need to keep that generator burning, the manual save lanterns that you can only find in a handful of places throughout the bunker, and of course the importance of being as quiet as possible for fear of alerting the stalker - made for some terrifically tense encounters.

Planet of Lana

Availability: Out now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Game Pass.

Planet of lana huge ribcage

Planet of Lana is a poised and rather beautiful side-scrolling platformer set during an alien invasion. Puzzles, pets, and a lovely sense of progress mark this out as something special. What we said in our Planet of Lana review:

For sure, as I played, I never once forgot that I was playing a very skillfully crafted vide ogame - a masterpiece of the original meaning. But also: that scamper between the huge legs of stalking monsters. A cave where I encountered an ancient puzzle that was also - whisper it - a kind of musical instrument! A grotto where a beast loomed in the murk ahead, eyes glowing. In moments like this, sheer craft becomes something else, I think. It becomes a memory that will stay with me. The sense of having been in a special place that will pop up years from now when I least expect it.

Diablo 4

Availability: Out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.

Diablo 4 screenshot showing a dramatic side-on view of Inarius, top right, descending to adress my Necromancer character, bottom-left

Blizzard's action RPG is grim and majestic, and still being tweaked and balanced, with latest changes lowering the grind, but this month - likely towards the end of it - we'll get a first look at Season 1. Requiring a new character, this feels like an invitation for the hardcore only. Will it be worth the grind? What we said in our Diablo 4 review:

At its high points Diablo 4 feels ridiculous, absurd, operatically over-the-top, a story of comical cosmic nonsense. At its worst it's a cage of gilded content, made bespoke to fit its loudest fans and hold them enraptured in their own complaints forever more. Starting with Season 1, available for £8.39 this July. I love a bit of grimness and gristle as much as anyone, I love poring over item spreadsheets and damage stats, and getting hooked and lost in systems. I love it in Diablo 4. And a bit of seriousness is a part of Diablo's soul - but so is a bit of nonsense, and I'd love its dark side and its boundless generosity more if I felt its makers truly believed in it, and were making it, first, for themselves.

Harmony: The Fall of Reverie

Availability: Out now on PC, Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X/S.

Harmony The Fall of Reverie review - screenshot showing Truth standing stoically inside a blue void

A near-revolutionary take on choice-based narratives arrives here in a game that wants you to choose your path - but lets you see the outcomes too. A classic "careful what you wish for" monkey paw story where you might choose one outcome only to see other consequences emerge in the meantime, it's a delightful way to shake up a genre. Here's what we said in our Harmony: The Fall of Reverie review:

The result of it all is Harmony: The Fall of Reverie becoming more than a mere story to be told. It's a canvas to express your experience and your emotions, in a cognitive dance through the innovative systems that make it all possible. There's nothing else I've played quite like that.

Mask of the Rose

Availability: Out now on PC, Switch.

Screenshot of Mask of the Rose, showing Harjit offering to show the PC around, and the four player responses to begin or reject a romantic, sexual, or platonic relationship.

Not everything works in Mask of the Rose, but that's not always a problem. This is another incredibly ambitious narrative game, made by Failbetter, the team behind Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies and Fallen London, where it's set. If you're curious, we still absolutely recommend giving it a look. Our Mask of the Rose review said:

It might be easier to straightforwardly like it if it were a simpler game. As it is, it feels like it's bursting at the seams - with long quest threads without enough time to pursue them, character desires so subtle that putting on a flirtatious hat may condescend, and a conspiracy board that breaks the mystery if you have too much fun with it. Its writing takes the long-familiar - and long-evolving - Neath back to its roots, with evocative, thoughtful, and flawed exploration. It's this version of the game I can't stop thinking about, however - flawed for all the same reasons it fascinates.

Aliens: Dark Descent

Availability: Out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.

A fierce battle in Tindalos Interactive’s licensed real-time tactics game Aliens: Dark Descent, showing a marine squad holding off rampaging Aliens with a curtain of fire and automated turrets.

It's Aliens meets XCOM, in essence. And that's a pretty good pitch - though our Aliens: Dark Descent review put it more eloquently:

Some critic I can't remember once described Hamlet as a text made up entirely of quotations. You can say the same of Aliens - every line and scene, every musical sting or prop is a cherished pop culture artefact, and I imagine that, when adapting the movie, it's easy to feel like you're just bolting together the pieces. It takes real insight to reconstruct those pieces in a way that feels both faithful and transformative, and while Aliens: Dark Descent isn't always as graceful or inspired as it could be, it just about sticks the landing. State of the badass art? Near as damn it.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch.

Farmer in Story of Seasons A Wonderful Life with two puppies

A remake of a beloved farming sim comes with intelligent tweaks. Our Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life review said:

By looking back at the past remakes while including new features, though, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life succeeds in both recreating the spirit of the original and elevating the gameplay. It continues to be a comforting blend of storytelling, farming mechanics and character interaction wrapped in a bittersweet world, which are all assisted by how the changes focus on improving the experience rather than being unnecessary additions. Maybe this time I'll finally raise a child who takes over the farm.

Final Fantasy 16

Availability: Out now on PS5

Final Fantasy 16 landscape

Heard of this one? FF16 might get a little repetitive after its initial combat flourish, and might be lacking some of the party-based magic that lets the series really soar, but that combat can be electric, and its boss fights' upper gear an extravagent delight. As we put it in our Final Fantasy 16 review:

The game teems with playtime-padding scraps against blameless wildlife and generic soldiers. While there's occasionally a supporting mage to spice things up, these foes are really just undergrowth to hack back enroute to the parts of the game that matter... The pervasive tedium is, however, offset by the scale and extravagance of the chapter-ending bossfights, which throw you up against a hair-raising assortment of laser dragons, war golems, galloping death knights and comet-summoning Behemoths. The best compare to bullet hell shooters in having you dance a path between beams and puddles of energy. And then there are the full-blooded, Power Ranger transformations and nuclear quick-time events that occur when fighting Dominants, which jettison the Devil May Cry comparisons and punt FF16 into the neighbourhood of Asura's Wrath.

Sludge Life 2

Availability: Out now on PC.

Sludge Life 2 - questionable advertising hoardings.

Sludge Life 2 drops you into a toxic archipelago and lets you race around the place scaling buildings, covering walls with graffiti, and untangling narratives. It’s a treat. As we put it in our Sludge Life 2 review:

But these games, the more I play, also form meaningful, illuminating links with other games. Ubi open-worlders, sure, although they walk the line between expert distillation and open parody really well. But also stuff like Gravity Bone, which gives you a curated glimpse of one aspect of a personal landscape that feels utterly imagined and coherent. And games like Umurangi Generation, whose developer is thanked in the end credits: another game about movement and stillness, generously opening up a world of experience for players to explore.

C-Smash VRS

Availability: Out now on PSVR 2.

Watch on YouTube

A snackable, old-school cult hit returns, this time to PSVR 2. Here's what Ian said in his VR Corner:

There's definitely something incredibly moreish about C-Smash VRS. The arcade simplicity will leave you itching for just one more go, especially once the gameplay clicks and you've learnt how to accurately aim your shots. It's not just the aesthetics that seem minimalistic though and, while the Zen and Challenge Mode stages do seem to have a huge amount of variety in terms of always being slightly different, really it all boils down to simply hitting squares with balls.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Availability: Out now on PC, Switch.

The Capcom classic, which sees you possessing various objects to solve crimes, returns once more. Beloved and brilliant stuff. Expect a review very soon.

Dave the Diver

Availability: Out now on PC.

This is a diving RPG in which you explore an ever-changing lake hunting for fish. When you have the fish you’re after, you head topside to run a sushi bar. Dave the Diver’s charming and filled with character, and we’ll hopefully have a review up soonish.

The games we're looking forward to in June


Availability: Out 4th July on PSVR 2

Watch on YouTube

A VR shooter with telekinesis powers and a distinctive art style, this is a PSVR2 must-have. As we put it in our review:

I've played plenty of games that feature telekinetic Force-like powers in flat-screen form but there's a magic here and a sense of 'being' that only VR can deliver. This believability, this almost tangible way in which you can interact with the world around you brings those childish Jedi dreams bursting to life, and this in turn makes Synapse a must-buy game that deserves to be played by anyone who owns a PSVR2.

Trails into Reverie

Availability: Out 7th July on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch.

Closing out a trilogy, Trails into Reverie is an eagerly-anticipated follow-up to recent releases Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure.

Neurocracy 2.049

Availability: Out 12th July in browsers.

An illustration from Alice Duke ( showing a helicopter exploding at a Chinese airport. It carries the title 'NEUROCRACY 2.049' in the top-left corner

Just going to paste the game's own blurb here because it's great... Fall into a wiki hole from the future! Solve a murder across article edits! Your investigation affects the outcome! [citation needed]. The previous Neurocracy was an IGF award-winner. This one's very much worth keeping an eye on.

Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals

Availability: Out 12 July on PC, PS4, PS5, Mobile

The follow-up to the much-loved wandering-and-chatting spookfest, Oxenfree 2 offers a new range of - slightly older - characters to come to understand and a mystery that promises to be just as creepy.


Availability: Out 18th July on PC, PS5.

"Mind-bending first-person puzzler" is it? Yes please.

Lakeburg Legacies

Availability: Out 20th July on PC.

Pitched as a "social-based village management sim where love is your favourite resource," Lakeburg Legacies looks like a delightful twist on management, strategy, and romance all together.

Roto Force

Availability: Out 18th July on PC.

Watch on YouTube

Just look at this game in action. Twin-stick arcade thrills at their most extreme and engaging. Yes!

Pikmin 4

Availability: Out 21st July on Switch.

Pikmin 4.

As Tom put it in his preview of Pikmin 4: "Pikmin 4 currently feels like a leap forward for the series, and one that's also not afraid to look back at the best of the franchise from the past. The return of Pikmin 2's caverns is an extremely welcome move, and they remain a challenging highlight despite the many other new features designed to ease players in."

Disney Illusion Island

Availability: Out 28th July on Switch.

Disney Illusion Island grinding obstacles

Disney Illusion Island looks really special. It's got that glorious Disney-but-different 2D art style, and it's a Metroidvania, which seems perfect for an imaginary world with such depth of history. More than that, it has just a hint of the glory days of Sega's 2D Disney games to it. If it hits big, maybe we'll get that Quackshot sequel we've always wanted.


Availability: Out 31st July on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch.

Venba characters

Venba's seemingly been on the horizon for years, a narrative cooking game about an Indian mum and her family, living in Canada in the 1980s. The recent demo was an absolute treat. This one can't arrive soon enough.

What else do we recommend in July?

Tekken 8 Closed Network Test (aka Tekken 8 CNT)

Tekken 8 CNT logo

Listen, we're not so childish that we're just putting this here because of the curious choice of acronym. Tekken 8 will no doubt be a big deal in the fighting game scene, and between this, Street Fighter 6, and the fluid gore of Mortal Kombat all arriving in close-ish proximity it'll be worth checking out if you can.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Available on Switch in a couple of forms now, this is the perfect 2D Mario to play while we wait for Super Mario Bros Wonder. This is Mario sliced down into gloriously inventive vignettes, and it features some of the best power-ups in the series’ history. Okay, maybe the actual best power-ups?

Pikmin 1+2

With the sequel nearly with us, Nintendo's finally packaged together these two GameCube treats. It's hard to say precisely whether Olimar's bucolic adventures amount to strategy games or just very expressive puzzlers, but they’re brilliant fun to play and perfect for the summer months.

Torchlight 2

Tonally Diablo 4 can be a bit of a grim slog. So why not return to Torchlight 2 and remember how weird and varied ARPGs can be? From green grass to underground steampunk bases, and on to the glories of the end-game map room, Torchlight 2 is colourful and endlessly surprising. And it even has a quest that riffs on The Goonies. Yes this is the second month in a row we're recommending it - what you gonna do?

Geometry Wars 3

No reason for this, besides the arrival of a promising twin-stick in the shape of Roto Force. Geometry Wars 3 wrapped its arena shooting around some brilliantly varied surfaces, and with endless tweaks to the rules. It’s a surprisingly massive game, and one that has yet to lose its neon sheen.

Other stuff coming out in July 2023

July is looking a little quieter than June, but there's still plenty going. Here are a few more games coming out over the next month to bear in mind.

  • F1 Manager 2023
  • Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr
  • The Expanse: A Telltale Series
  • Remnant 2
  • Exoprimal
  • PixelJunk Scrappers Deluxe
  • The Valiant
  • Arena Breakout

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