8 things to watch out for this week

The Happytime Murders, Yakuza Kiwama 2, The innocents, Strange Brigade

1) The UKs biggest horror movie festival has started. But what will its films have to say about 2018?

Fright Fest 2018

FrightFest 2018 has kicked off in London. That means that dozens upon dozens of the hottest, freshest, and zestiest new horror films from around the world are now parading through the UK’s capital like so many delicious lemon drizzle cakes made of absolute murder. I’m there, right in the middle of it, gorging on luxuriant, sticky terror for a full four days (and reporting back my experiences in my FrightFest live blog), but what, pray tell, might I find? It’s a potentially very interesting time for horror. Genre cinema, and the more unsettling ends of it in particular, are always a social barometer, providing myriad metaphorical outlets for contemporary cultural fears and societal hang-ups. And oh boy, do we have a lot of those to deal with at the moment. This year’s FrightFest line-up is an eclectic programme of exciting-sounding films, but a few already stand-out as potential touchstones to the last couple of years’ ‘Holy shit no cancel it all and start again’ nature. White Chamber, from first-time director Paul Raschid, is a tale of post-Brexit civil war and sci-fi torture with potentially a lot to say. And although a brighter, brasher, and more openly fun affair, Jenn Wexler’s The Ranger conspicuously hints at a tale of winsome punk teens vs. unswerving, old-school authority figure. The rest shall be revealed as the weekend goes on. David Houghton

What: FrightFest 2018
Where: London
When: August 23 – 27

2) PES 2019 is looking to bounce back from some off-the-pitch disappointments

It’s that time of year again – perennial football contenders PES and FIFA go head-to-head to see who’s got the most to give on the (virtual) pitch. As ever, PES – typically the purist’s choice – gets a first crack at winning the hearts and minds of fans everywhere. It needs to as well, having lost a bunch of exclusive licenses, including the Holy Grail of the UEFA Champions League, to EA’s FIFA franchise. Thankfully, there’s plenty to make up for it: there’s seven new officially-licensed leagues from Russia, to Portugal, and even Scotland. The former has even been snatched away from FIFA and is PES 2019’s one exclusive league this year. So, fans of the likes of Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow will have something to think about when deciding on which football game to buy this year. It’s a real looker this year, too. Konami has brought in global illumination technology to make everything appear just as it would if you were watching a TV broadcast. Combine that with Pro Evo’s normal penchant for slick, sublime football then you’ll find, come next week, the beautiful game has never looked more, well, beautiful. See you on the pitch. Bradley Russell

What: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
Where: Xbox One, PS4, PC
When: August 30

3) Yakuza Kiwami 2 is more than just a remake of a 12 year old game, it’s an extreme makeover

It’s been quite the year for Kazuma Kiryu. After saying his bittersweet goodbyes in Yakuza 6 earlier this year, and finally debuting on PC with Yakuza 0 just a few weeks ago, the longtime protagonist of Sega’s distinctly Japanese crime series is back with Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake of the original PS2 title of 2006. This is no simple remaster, though. “Kiwami” is Japanese for “Extreme”, an apt reflection of the lengths Sega has taken to turn this remake into the best looking Yakuza game to date. But does it play as good as it looks? The critical reception out of Japan, where it released late last year, seems to suggest so, but you’ll be able to find out for sure once Kiwami 2 launches westward next week. Alex Avard

What: Yakuza Kiwami 2
Where: PS4
When: August 28

4) Can a ‘90s medical management classic be resuscitated for 2018?

Check your attic for any dusty laptops or old PC desktops, and along with some shareware and your old history essays, you'll probably find Theme Hospital installed. Back in the 90s it was the classic simulation game that everyone owned, and got in the way of more than one A grade on a college essay. Putting you in charge of running a hospital and packed with puns, it could eat hours of your life like a chronic time-eating virus. Now those symptoms are recurring, with the upcoming release of Two Point Hospital. It's got the same premise -running hospitals and dealing with everything from the staff to the toilets -and some of the same development team, and I've had to be forcibly ejected from two gameplay demos so far. Can it capture the magic of the original? Our diagnosis is yes. Rachel Weber

What: Two Point Hospital
Where: PC
When: August 30, 2018

5) Netflix’s The Innocents mixes shapeshifting and young-adult romance, but how potent is the final show?

Netflix certainly thinks that The Innocents, its new supernatural drama, is going to be the next big thing in the young-adult space. The show follows the story of two lovestruck teens, June and Harry, who run away from their homes in the North of England to forge a fresh life together. Making things a little trickier is the fact that June discovers she has the ability to shapeshift into anyone she touches. And so begins a heart-felt story dealing with issues of teen identity, the misuse of ‘power’, and tolerance of The Other. It’s a slow burn drama, but one that ultimately rewards the viewer with some lovely scenes shared between the pair, and a fair amount of plot-twists and intrigue. While it’s a far cry from the melodrama of the likes of Twilight, or the camp supernatural excess of True Blood, The Innocents is well worth a binge, especially if you want to see something thoughtful and life-affirming over the coming week. The script is tight, the performances from the leads (Percelle Ascott and Sorcha Groundsell) are superb, and Guy Pearce plays an excellent ‘mysterious scientist’ role to keep things interesting. Give it a try. Andy Hartup

What: The Innocents
Where: Netflix
When: Now

6) The Muppets go R-rated in The Happytime Murders, but can Melissa McCarthy’s new crime-comedy pull it off?

Muppets go together with bloody violence and explicit sex like… well, they don’t. But that’s kind of the point on the new crime-comedy from The Muppet Christmas Carol director Brian Henson. Starring comedy Queen Melissa McCarthy, The Happytime Murders is looking to put a new spin on The Muppets and it involves death, mayhem, and some pretty raunchy sex scenes. Don’t believe me? Just watch the red band trailer! While puppets and what is essentially a whodunnit murder investigation might sound like odd bedfellows, I’m quietly hopeful that this upcoming comedy will offer the perfect mix of ridiculous plot points and childish jokes that I need after a hard day’s work. It’s true that the early reviews have been less that glowing, but if you’re looking for something incredibly easy to watch this weekend, it might be worth take a chance on The Happytime Murders. You never know, the Muppets might have more to offer than just the Alphabet Song. Lauren O’Callaghan

What: The Happytime Murders
Where: Theatres
When: Now (in the US and August 27, 2018 in the UK)

7) Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate puts the series back where it belongs with Switch: on a handheld

While Monster Hunter World opened up the series for a whole new audience, it was a little tied to the ground on console. This is a series that earned its fanbase through portable slaughter. So remastering the 3DS classic for Nintendo’s latest is perfect. If you played the old version you can even transfer your save using the snappily named “Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate Save Transfer App” on the 3DS eShop. If you’ve not played it before and are interested after Monster Hunter World then prepare for a challenge - while the core loop of hunting creatures to forge new gear to hunt bigger things is there, this is old school monster hunting. It’s slower, with heavily feeling weapons and far less handholding (you can’t track creatures for example, you just have to hope you see one). But in return you’ll get a far more rewarding experience, with over 90 creatures to take down and four player co-op to help you do it. Leon Hurley

What: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate release
Where: Switch
When: August 28

8) Can Strange Brigade fill that Left 4 Dead-shaped hole in your heart?

Isn't it about time you and some pals jumped back into some four-player co-op shooting? Strange Brigade could very well be that unifying game, the latest third-person shooter from the folks behind the cult-hit Zombie Army Trilogy, and from what I've played so far, it could be a great way to see out the summer. It follows four intrepid, 1930s-era adventurers as they battle mummies and minotaurs in gorgeous-looking ancient ruins, with a lively narrator with a peppy, old-timey radio voice, who banters as you battle and even has amusing callouts when you're poking around the menus. I'm a sucker for any game that pits you against supernatural baddies amid trap-filled ruins - Serious Sam, Spelunky, Immortal Redneck, and so on - so Strange Brigade is already a hit in my book. It also has an ingenious feature I wish more games used: captivating, cooperative puzzles hidden all over the picturesque locales to give you a break between intense firefights. If you and your online buddies are looking for a mindless co-op romp full of derring-do, spiked floors, and sentient statues, Strange Brigade’s got you covered. Lucas Sullivan

What: Strange Brigade
Where: PS4, Xbox One, PC
When: August 28

8 Things to Watch This Week picks the best games, movies and shows of the next seven days every Friday at 9am PDT / 5pm BST.