Happy New Year! Or, for many gamers, not so Happy New Year, as commonly the initial months of the calendar are as void of game releases as the winters are cold. But, with the usual lack of Triple A titles arriving on Xbox One throughout January 2019, many hidden gems have the opportunity to shine their brightest.

Take a look at our pick of five games released this January that we are particularly looking forward to playing on Xbox One.

Guacamelee! 2

guacamelee 2 xbox one

If you were lucky enough to have enjoyed the sleeper hit Guacamelee! when it released back in 2014 on current-gen consoles, then you will be pleased to know that the sequel, Guacamelee! 2, will soon be hitting the Xbox marketplace, offering up a new experience for fans of the series and newcomers alike.

While it did release on PC, PS4 and Switch at the back end of 2018, Guacamelee! 2 is finally making its way to Xbox One, telling the story of the returning Juan Aguacate, a now extremely unfit family man who still has a passion for his former life as a luchador. And luckily so – a tale of evil parallel universes, corrupted luchadors and Sacred Guacamole is being laid out, with Juan needing to re-don his luchador outfit and save the day once again!

But how will he do this? Well, you and up to three local co-op friends will assume control of Juan and his wrestling compatriotes, before fighting a multitude of different enemies, solving tricky puzzles and slowly but surely unlocking new moves and areas, metroidvania style, in order to progress through the story. A unique aspect of the original returns, as once again you will need to constantly be switching between two dimensions, where different obstacles and enemies lay in wait, to dispose of enemies or to traverse through an area. Using Juan’s different moves for both combat and traversal, as well as mastering the dimension-warping mechanic, will be key to success in the Mexican world of Guacamelee! 2.

Guacamelee! 2 seems to be much of the same seen in the first entry into the series – just bigger, better and more explosive. Oh, and in the looks department things aren’t too bad either, with the artists taking inspiration from bright comic books and luchador cartoons to make every movement burst with colour.

Genesis Alpha One

Team17 just keep on coming with all-new and interesting indie titles, much to the delight of many who wish to explore what the diverse indie scene has to offer. Their latest indie darling, Genesis Alpha One, comes from the Germany-based developer Radiation Blue, and tasks you with the small request of saving the human race from complete extinction following the social, environmental and economic collapse of Earth. No big deal!

Every time you boot up Genesis Alpha One your solitary goal will always be the same – do whatever it takes to expand your own Genesis starship, and find new ways to duplicate and use human DNA and alien abilities to ensure the stability of the ship you will come to call home. This can be achieved, for example, by developing humanoid clones to act as your ship crew so you do not have to be the only one keeping your ship in top condition. Expect to be constantly investing money into building new rooms for specific functions within your ship, collecting resources from across the universe, and purchasing traps and weapons in use against any alien species that manage to come aboard. The latter is particularly important – as it is the threat of alien invasion from all manner of species that will often be the main reason for your downfall.

Priding itself as a roguelike title, the main premise of Genesis Alpha One is to get as far into your mission as possible, building the best spaceship you can, before everything inevitably goes dreadfully wrong and you must start all over again – with only the knowledge and lessons learnt from your previous attempts to hopefully help you get that little bit further. Who knows? Maybe by your hundredth run you may just finally succeed, and give the human race hope again!

Genesis Alpha One on Xbox One has already had us manically planning our grandiose spaceships and fantasising epic alien battles – and if you are a fan of survival and roguelike games you should be too!

Kingdom Hearts III

kingdom hearts iii xbox one

I’ll admit to never having played a Kingdom Hearts title, but I know many who look forward in great anticipation to the release of a new entry into the frankly huge franchise. It is these who are particularly excited for Kingdom Hearts III;a game which is making its way to store shelves this month.

And for good reason! Kingdom Hearts is known for creating huge worlds, telling epic stories and having some excellent hack ’n’ slash combat, and it seems that Kingdom Hearts III will have all of this in abundance. The game continues to focus around Sora, the heir to a magnificent power, and his pursuit of friendship while attempting to end the evil force known only as the Heartless from taking over the beloved Kingdom Hearts universe.

If you know anything about Kingdom Hearts, you will know that Sora is commonly joined by heroes and villains across the Disney universe, and in this case it is primarily Donald Duck and Goofy who aid the plucky protagonist. Expect to see friends and foes from Final Fantasy, Winnie the Pooh, and many more franchises join the fray, too.

The beautiful worlds that players will have the opportunity to explore are also based around such franchises, with areas from Monsters Inc., Toy Story and the aforementioned Winnie the Pooh all looking to be colourful romps through detailed and interesting environments. Many of the in-game worlds will have their own individual storyline that ties in to other forms of media, such as the Toy Story plot being set between the events of the Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 films.

As for the combat, and without wanting to spoil a good thing Square Enix have added many layers to the fluid and satisfying hack ’n’ slashing. As well as having large 5-character parties for the first time, each hero will be able to utilise new combat moves, summon entities known as ‘Links’ to offer a helping hand in battle, and the inclusion of large bosses will really give even the most hardened of fans a run for their money.

For any and all Kingdom Hearts fans, or someone that just wants to get into a multi-hour, light-hearted adventure with characters they know and love, Kingdom Hearts III is really one game to consider picking up this January.

Resident Evil 2

There isn’t anything better for horror fans than the founding father – Resident Evil! And consequently a number of remakes, reboots and remasters have come the way of Resi fans in recent times, with Resident Evil 2 the latest title to get a full remake on current consoles.

Resident Evil 2 follows the adventures of hardened cop Leon Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they battle through a zombie-infested Racoon City, desperate to make it out alive. Along the way, in true Resident Evil fashion, expect to come across freakish mutants to take down, claustrophobic environments to navigate and of course swathes of the undead to survive against. It’s survival horror in its purest form, with some added modern touches to make the experience even more memorable.

Such a feature is the newly added ‘immersive camera’, designed to make the game, well, more immersive by using an over the shoulder view instead of a fixed camera, hopefully allowing the gore, terror and mayhem to play out in a more fluid motion. Think Resident Evil 4’s camera, and you’ll start to gather an understanding of what Capcom are gunning for. Of course, as with any remake or remaster Resident Evil 2 has been given a crisp visual makeover, obviously completely different to the polygonal looks of yesteryear.

It’s terrifying, it’s horrifying, it’s gory – there’s not much more to say than it’s Resident Evil in all its glory with beautiful current-gen visuals!

Smoke And Sacrifice

smoke and sacrifice release date

Releasing on Xbox One and PS4 in the middle of January 2019, Smoke and Sacrifice tells the tale of a mother, Sachi (the player-character) who has sacrificed her son to the mysterious Sun Tree: an already dark and depressing tale made even more so now that you must accompany her as she undertakes a journey of deceit and discovery in the Underworld. In order to do so to the best of her ability, crafting and scavenging new weapons and armour, as well as engaging in conversations with other characters to discover secrets, will very much be needed in this in-depth open world RPG.

Everything from the weapons you will be using, to the visuals, all follow the same dark undertone: the former span everything from stone age gear all the way up to the more modern steampunk of items, and especially in parts of the Underworld greys, blacks and more greys will fill up the screen. This is in no way a bad thing – the concept of such a dark fantasy adventure certainly makes Smoke and Sacrifice unique and appealing. It must be mentioned also that such visuals will be enhanced for Xbox One X users.

Furthermore, the newly added BACON storyline for the Xbox One and PS4 release offers a new spin on the formula, giving players the ability to manipulate their surroundings and possess enemies. This opens up brand new and exciting ways to progress through the game and do things that would be previously impossible in Sachi’s body.

Smoke and Sacrifice certainly seems to shed new light on how the open-world RPG can be delivered, giving gamers the chance to explore gripping environments and a dark and twisted plot, while enjoying detailed RPG gameplay elements.

What do you think of the Xbox One games that we have picked out as potential January 2019 buys? Are there any games that you are looking forward to picking up and playing this month? Let us know down in the comments section below, and on the usual social media channels.

Most importantly though, have a good month ahead, and make sure to check back at the end of it for the rundown of what February has to offer. And let me tell you now, there are quite a few major titles on the horizon…

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