Yet again this month brings solo players an overflowing cornucopia of indie games and bigger releases to choose from, but as usual I have attempted to pick out a few heavy hitters; some have multiplayer modes, but they should all serve up a worthy helping of single player content. Some single player games worth watching this October include Star Wars: Squadrons, Ikenfell, Torchlight III, and Ghostrunner.
Star Wars: Squadrons
Release Date: Oct. 2, 2020
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Xbox One
Okay, so this one is stretching it a little bit, multiplayer dogfights being so central to the experience and all. But Star Wars: Squadrons also includes a story mode — and with that the return of the space action genre that has been missing from the wider gaming world for far too long.
The instant Luke Skywalker jumped into the gunner seat of the Millennium Falcon, fans were hooked on the World War II-esque flight combat and deadly thrill of space dogfighting. Games such as X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter or even the arcadey Rogue Squadron delivered on an interactive version of this experience for decades, but with the later films the WWII inspiration became less prominent and Star Wars flight games eventually dried up completely.
Sure, with games such as Elite: Dangerous or even No Man’s Sky, the broader “space sim” genre never completely went away — but with Wing Commander‘s spiritual sequel being eternally pushed back, Star Wars: Squadrons actually has the opportunity to bring back a more fanciful and immediate style of space action that the industry has not seen in a while.
In the single player missions, players will experience the Galactic Civil War from both the New Republic and the Empire sides of the fight, following the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. With Motive Studios leading development, EA and Lucasfilm are promising a meaningful Star Wars story. Hopefully these missions also come together into a satisfying stand-alone experience rather than feeling like a preview for the multiplayer mode.
Release Date: Oct. 8, 2020
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
After many years in development, this quirky “Paper Mario meets Persona meets Little Witch Academia” adventure is here. Published by Humble Games, Ikenfell is a fully featured love letter to JRPGs that follows six magic students who attempt to unravel a mystery at their Hogwarts-esque school.
Like its inspirations, Ikenfell has a collection of interesting characters and a sky-high level of presentation quality. The game’s crunchy pixel aesthetic belies a detailed and diverse world of witches and wizards with high-quality animation, as well as music from the composers of Steven Universe. With good word of mouth, this could be the next Hollow Knight or Stardew Valley-level indie sensation.
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2020
Platform: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, TBD for Nintendo Switch
Like Dark Souls, Borderlands, and Diablo before it, Torchlight III is the latest in a long history of games that feature extensive multiplayer features but appeal to solo players just as much. Granted, the original Torchlight was created by some of the minds instrumental to the development of the acclaimed Diablo II as a single player-only game. But then a “Torchlight MMO” was promised yet never materialized, and Torchlight II arrived instead in 2012, an excellent game in its own right and strong competition for the contemporary Diablo III.
Ambitions to create an MMO continued over the years. When series developer Runic Games ultimately shut down, key development staff — again including Diablo II alumnus Max Schaefer — spun off into yet another studio, Echtra Games, to create a new MMO that was announced as Torchlight Frontiers… which eventually got completely reworked into the current Torchlight III.
The bottom line is this: Two or three times, the solo-player-friendly Torchlight series has almost become an MMORPG and then, instead, transformed back into its beautiful action RPG self. Torchlight III has been seeing positive reception throughout its time in early access, and with such pedigree this latest entry is highly unlikely to be a complete failure. With a dedicated single player mode when it releases, we can enjoy another massive RPG, without the “multi-” and the “online.”
Release Date: Oct. 27, 2020
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The Escapist’s own George Yang just wrote about this fast, gritty, Mirror’s Edge-like cyberpunk action game, and if that description cannot convince you, I do not know what will. Ghostrunner sees players racing at blistering speeds through a dark neon future and parkouring across buildings. Although leaderboards and speedrunning appeal are a large focus, the central mode of this game is a single player campaign inspired by countless classic cyberpunk stories.
In the Gamescom demo below, the game boasts bloody melee combat and a variety of traversal methods including very cool Titanfall-like wall-running. Stripped back first-person action with this kind of immediacy does not come around too often — Doom Eternal perhaps being the best recent example — so Ghostrunner is delivering something to be savored.
Notable Dates for Single Player-Friendly Games
Oct. 2 — Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (PS4, XONE)
Oct. 6 — 9th Dawn III (PC, PS4, XONE, NS)
Oct. 8 — The Watchmaker (PS4, XONE, NS, but potentially delayed?)
Oct. 21 — ScourgeBringer (PC, XONE, NS)
Oct. 28 — Oniria Crimes (PC, PS4, XONE, NS)
Oct. 29 — Song of Horror (PS4, XONE)
As a result of release date shifts and the general state of the world, there are other games set to release soon that lack firm release dates. Until next month, enjoy playing single player games!