11 video game releases to look out for in December 2019

Past Decembers have been filled with some big releases—Super Smash Bros. Ultimate immediately comes to mind as one shining example. This December, though, is more low key.

There aren’t a whole lot of new major titles coming out this month. In fact, we had to dive pretty deep into the indiesphere to fill this list. But once we did, we found a veritable treasure trove of interesting new releases to keep you gaming through the holidays. 

After this, we'll see you in the New Year when the AAA release engine revs up again.

Arise: A Simple Story (December 3 - PC, PS4, Xbox One)

What happens after we die? That’s what Arise: A Simple Story is exploring.

You play an old man completing his journey to the afterlife, which just so happens to take him through some of his deepest and most treasured memories. As you wander purgatory, you will encounter almost fantastical landscapes that need to be traversed. Luckily, you have rudimentary control over time, similar to Braid, which will help you forge a path. These time mechanics will make some memories of a few seconds take minutes to traverse, and some memories of multiple years blink out of existence in a flash. It’s a very interesting way to ludologically explore death and is definitely worth a look.

Phoenix Point (December 3 - PC, Mac)

Phoenix Point is a spiritual successor to XCOM made by the creator of XCOM itself, with a neat little splash of Lovecraftian horror thrown into it’s sci-fi tactical battles. For the most part, you know this song and dance. You control one of the last holdouts of humanity and need to build up your forces to take out a horrible alien menace. The menace this time around is a “The Thing”-like mutagenic entity that reconfigures biomass from anything it assimilates.

This is the main gameplay quirk that makes Phoenix Point different from it’s XCOM predecessors. Should you be defeated in battle, the alien entity will gain more biomass and will have more body parts and abilities to choose from when creating foes for you to face. Should you do well in battle, the opponents will have less options but will start to evolve specific strategies that counter your tactics in a survival-of-the-fittest sort of way.

Skellboy (December 3 - PC, Switch)

It’s a little late for the season of spooky scary skeletons, but nevertheless, Skellboy looks to be a fun little action RPG featuring a boney protagonist. Use the titular character’s nature as a skeleton to reconstruct your body from new and more awesome body parts that can equip new and more awesome weapons. Then, set out on an adventure in the isometric world of Cubold to defeat an evil necromancer and restore peace to the world. 

Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York (December 4 - PC, Mac, Linux)

Vampire: The Masquerade is a much loved tabletop RPG in White Wolf’s World of Darkness that, at one time, was Dungeons and Dragons’ main competitor. But while DnD had you diving into caves to face off against kobolds, Vampire had you feasting on human blood and lamenting the loss of your own humanity.

Coteries of New York attempts to do the franchise justice where so many other video games have failed. Instead of creating an action game or RPG where you kind of just play a fangy superhero, Coteries of New York is a text based adventure game that focuses on the importance of choice and the danger of being a new vampire in New York City. You get to choose from three vampires, each with their own abilities, each who will navigate the dark political world of vampire society in different ways. Then it’s up to you whether you end up at the top of vampire society, or drained in a ditch somewhere like a washed away sewer rat.

Darksiders Genesis (December 5 - PC, Stadia)

While the Darksiders series has made the transition from over the shoulder action game to top down isometric dungeon crawler, a lot of the series has stayed the same. Environments and character designs are still taken directly out of the grim dark world of 90s comic books. Combat is still fast and frantic with an action edge to it.

Also, the new horseman, Strife, is hilarious. 

Interrogation: You Will Be Deceived (December 5 - PC)

Interrogation tasks you with stopping terrorists, criminals, and dirty cops through the use of detective skills and, most importantly, the power of your words. The core gameplay loop has you simply speaking with people as you monitor their heart rate, breathing, and general demeanor. It’s up to you to choose what you say and do. Do you threaten them? Do you offer them a deal for cooperating? More importantly, what consequences will your strategies have? Will your department be looked at as psychotic vigilantes willing to hurt it’s prisoners, or saviors willing to do whatever it takes to save the day. The choice is yours.

Boneworks (December 10 - PC)

Boneworks is billed as an “experimental VR FPS physics simulator” and it certainly seems ambitious. It’s one of those games where every movement needs to be mimicked in VR. You won’t be able to reload a gun, push a button, or move a box through the push of a button. Instead, you’ll be miming all of these actions with your VR controllers as you walk around your VR space. This is sure to make simple activities like swinging an axe or climbing a ladder more immersive. 

As for it’s plot, it seems as if it’s taking a page from the book of Portal. An A.I. shuts you into an experimental testing facility after a “void leak” and it’s up to you to find a way out. Look, it’s obvious that this isn’t going for a deep and complex plot. It’s the physics that is the big drawing point, not the writing, but trust us, a VR game with complex physics systems like this is enough to check out on it’s own, especially at it’s discount price tag.

Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries (December 10 - PC)

Do you love giant robots? Of course you do. We all do.

It’s been a while since we got a mainline Mechwarrior release, but it looks like the gameplay has survived through all these years. You’ll be piloting your mech through warzones, defeating enemies, salvaging their parts, and building your dream mech as you take job after job as an intergalactic mercenary. Mechwarrior 5 as features large scale destructible environments, which is a first for the franchise. Use your mech to stomp on buildings, burn down forests, and alter the landscape to your liking. 

Shovel Knight King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown (December 10 - PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Wii U, Amazon Fire TV)

The Shovel Knight saga is finally coming to an end with these final two expansions. King of Cards puts you in control of King Knight, with a brand new set of stages and platforming mechanics, once again allowing you to experience the game in a whole new way. It also introduces a new card battling system, for just an incredible amount of replay value for anyone who likes digging into mini-games.

Shovel Knight Showdown is essentially Shovel Knight Smash Bros. You’ll get to choose from members of the Order of No Quarter and go against each other in platform fighting style matches. It’s a great way to continue experiencing Shovel Knight with your friends, even after you have exhausted all the single-player modes.

Dead End Job (December 17 - PC, Mac, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Switch)

Normally a game like Dead End Job wouldn’t make our list. It’s a pretty standard twin-stick shooter with a neat 90s cartoon style, obviously inspired by shows like Ren & Stimpy. That’s cool, but indie twin-stick shooters are a dime a dozen. What really makes Dead End Job stick out, is it’s stream platform integration. It allows viewers on platforms like Twitch to actually alter the mechanics of the game, giving the player power-ups or new challenges as they like. Now that’s something pretty innovative which makes Dead End Job worth a look, especially if you are a streamer or an avid stream watcher.

Wattam (December 17 - PC, PS4)

Finally we have this cute little game from the maker of Katamari Damacy. Developed as a response to the violence and conflict driven nature of most mainstream AAA games, Wattam is a puzzle game that tasks you with making friends with… well… just about everything. Just be warned, how you do so can be weird. You might only be able to become friends with toilet man by finding poop man and flushing him down toilet man’s head. Yeah that’s… that’s a thing you have to do. However, if you love the absurdity of the Katamari Damacy series, or Japanese styled cartoon absurdity in general, then you will probably get a kick out of Wattam.