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The games of August 2012

August 14

Darksiders II

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
EU: August 21

As both logic and the tantalizing ending of the original game revealed, having four biblical horsemen at the core of the Darksiders franchise means it's plenty ripe for sequels – and Darksiders II makes the first big push in that direction by swapping out initial hero War for his brother-in-arms, Death. Fromwhat we've seen, Vigil's second stab at the series looks similar in many ways, with its Zelda-meets-Devil May Cry style approach, but Death is a more agile and differently-equipped protagonist, and the addition of loot drops and other features are sure to shake the foundations of the largely well-regarded debut. With luck, it'll prove to be a more original-feeling outing than the first game, but we're excited to take Death for a stroll all the same.

Sleeping Dogs

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
EU: August 17

Sleeping Dogs has taken an odd path to retail, starting life as an original concept from ModNation Racers developer United Front Games that was turned into True Crime: Hong Kong – and then summarily killed by Activision after years of work. Square Enix swooped in, and now the resulting open-world action game is finally set for release this month. As undercover cop Wei Shen, you'll infiltrate the powerful local Triad gangs in Hong Kong, though we have a feeling this isn't a game that follows a straight path to seeing some mob goons in handcuffs. After all this time and fuss, we're highly intrigued to see whether the game lives up to the drama, though the unique setting alone may help it stand out.

Papo & Yo

Platform: PlayStation Network
EU: August 14

Papo & Yo deals with violence, but in an altogether different way than the other titles due out the same day, month, or quite likely this entire year. It's a game borne from the miserable experience of growing up with an alcoholic, abusive father, and that grim premise manifests itself as a puzzle-platformer in which you play as a young boy saddled with a big, dumb, friendly monster – one that explodes with rage when it consumes frogs. We've had a few opportunities to cover this promising indie since it was announced last year, and each time we've come away impressed by its style and personal storytelling. It's atypical, but in a deeply compelling manner.

The Last Story

Platform: Wii
EU: Out

Following a whole mess of fan hubbub and anxious anticipation, North American Wii owners finally got their hands on Xenoblade Chronicles – and now the next big late-era RPG for the platform, The Last Story, is due out in just two weeks. Hailing from ex-Final Fantasy guru Hironobu Sakaguchi and featuring music from composer Nobuo Uematsu, The Last Story aims to deliver a rich role-playing experience that captures of the essence of old favorites while incorporating stealth and cover bits, among other gameplay elements. With the Wii U still months off on the horizon, The Last Story offers another prime chance to enjoy Nintendo's aged console before it's totally abandoned.

August 15

Dust: An Elysian Tail

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
EU: August 15

Closing out the Summer of Arcade in seemingly fine fashion is the ridiculously pretty Dust: An Elysian Tail – not to be confused with free-to-play PSN shooter, Dust 514 – which was created by one developer after an earlier version won the 2009 Dream.Build.Play Challenge. The colorful sidescroller seems to blend bits from combo-driven beat-em-ups and Metroidvania-style games, which certainly sounds like an intriguing mixture, though we keep circling back to the hand-animated visuals, which hail from creator Dean Dodrill and outclass any number of bigger-budget affairs from much larger teams. Assuming it plays half as good as it looks, we may be in for a real treat.