It's 2021 (finally!). On the video game front, things are quiet, relatively speaking. There's just a few essential titles that are worth your time and consideration--namely, the continuing adventures of Agent 47, who's back to assassinate new targets in Hitman 3.
Otherwise, it's a good time to catch up on the 2020 titles you missed; we posted our Top 10 Games of 2020 at the end of last month, which should help you get started. And if you haven't played Hades yet? Get on that, for real. We made it our Game of the Year, because it's the one title that you can buy, sight unseen. It's accessible to a wide audience, addictively fun, and oddly touching.
Here is your video game news roundup for January 2021.
Xbox Live Gold Free Games
Little Nightmares (Jan. 1-Jan. 31)
This is a horror survival game starring a little raincoat-clad girl named Six, who must escape a brood of gigantic monsters that want to eat her.
Dead Rising (Jan. 16-Feb. 15)
This 2006 zombie game sets you in a shopping mall, with hordes of undead and whatever makeshift weapons you can cobble together. Acclaimed at the time, it was re-released for the last-gen consoles in 2016.
Xbox 360 (backward compatible)
The King of Fighters XIII (Jan. 1-Jan. 15)
A versus fighting experience, the King of Fighters franchise has always languished in Street Fighter's shadow. Still, developer SNK has managed to carve out its distinctive identity. If you're new to the series, this is as good a place to start as any.
Breakdown (Jan. 16-Jan. 31)
Released in 2004, Breakdown was ground-breaking at the time. This is a first-person sci-fi action game that commits to its central mechanic. The fistfights happen in first person, and the mundane actions, like eating food or reloading your weapon, happen in first person, too.
PlayStation Plus Free Games
Maneater (Jan. 5-Feb. 1)
Play as a shark. You can dive onto the deck of a boat and devour its sailors. You can beach yourself and take out the humans trying to suntan. And meanwhile, you're evolving and gaining strength, to take down the evil fisherman who killed your mom.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Jan. 5-Feb. 1)
The third entry in the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy puts exploration ahead of combat. You smear mud on your body to hide, and shoot hallucinogenic arrows to make your enemies attack each other. And there are more tombs than ever, with the game’s trickiest, most creative physics puzzles to date.
Greedfall (Jan. 5-Feb. 1)
In Greedfall, you're a 17th century colonizer who can either conquer a recently discovered island, or ally with the natives to drive the other invaders back.
Google Stadia Free Games for January 2021
Ary and the Secret of Seasons (Jan. 1)
Critically acclaimed at its release, this game casts you in the role of Ary, who can harness the power of the four seasons to defeat enemies and surmount obstacles.
F1 2020 (Jan. 1)
Developed and released by Codemasters, this game provides realistic racing simulations and a 10-year career mode.
Figment (Jan. 1)
This game bills itself as a musical action-adventure. And though it always keeps things light, colorful, and whimsical, there's some darker, symbolic subtext about this journey through a person's mind, filled with unresolved fears and anxieties.
Hotline Miami (Jan. 1)
Kill everything that moves in this game starring "Jacket," a man who's given cryptic voicemails instructing him to take down the Russian mob.
LEGO Mario Sets (Jan. 1)
Last year, LEGO released a line of buildable Mario-themed playsets. You have to buy the initial starter set (which includes an LED lit Mario that interacts with the levels you build), but beyond that, there are lots of expansions and add-ons. LEGO added four new expansion sets in January 2021, including a forest-themed set with a Wiggler and poisonous water. You can also buy individual character packs, plus new power-up suits like Penguin Mario and Tanooki Mario. Visit the LEGO site to learn more.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game - Complete Edition (Jan. 14)
Edgar Wright's 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a cult classic: a celebration of ’90s and 2000s kids and the video game media that defined their generation. Accordingly, the 2010 tie-in game was arcade-inspired beat 'em up. The game was critically acclaimed upon its release, but it was delisted due to license expiration in 2014. It is being re-released this month with the approval and cooperation of original comic writer Bryan Lee O'Malley.
Hitman 3 (Jan. 20)
The most low-key gaming success of the past five years has been the revamped "World of Assassination" Hitman trilogy, which has Agent 47 globetrotting to exclusive locations to assassinate corrupt elites. The franchise's signature sandbox formula, which allows Agent 47 to use any means at his disposal to eliminate his target (and dress in any costume!) is polished to a sheen. Hitman 3 is the final leg of the trilogy, and it will send Agent 47 to new locales, including Dubai, UAE, and Chongqing, China. Whether you want to headshot your target with a sniper rifle or stage an accident with a puddle and an electric outlet, the choice is yours.
Cyber Shadow (Jan. 26)
A throwback to cinematic 8-bit action titles like Ninja Gaiden, Cyber Shadow retains that classic title's charm. It is the brainchild and pet project of Aarne Hunziker, who has both directed and designed the game, largely in secret, for the past several years.
The Medium (Jan. 28)
Ambitious in scope, The Medium casts you in the role of Marianne, a medium who can travel between the real world and the spirit realm; one exists as a parallel to the other. Marianne can use astral projection to physically remain in the real world, while exploring the spirit world; she can also observe something in the spirit world to solve a puzzle in the real one. The Medium is being billed as a psychological horror game; apparently, dark forces exist beyond the veil.
Olija (Jan. 28)
Another 8-bit, side-scrolling adventure, Olija is about Faraday, a castaway on a faraway island, who teams with other castaways to escape back home. You're armed with a legendary harpoon, secondary weapons like swords and blunderbusses, and a number of hats that give you unique, situational powers.