Sometimes the middle entry in a trilogy can be lacking, or at the least, confusing, but there are as many gems in this section of our feature as any other. With promising indie titles like the gorgeous Necrobarista and Overland, to long-awaited sequels like Kingdom Hearts III and Ni no Kuni II, and even a near-return of Front Mission, you'll see why our 2018 list has grown so long.
It's been nearly nine years since North America or Europe received a new Dragon Quest game, and Dragon Quest XI looks to be the answer to the prayers of Dragon Quest fans worldwide. Dragon Quest XI's ragtag team of heroes, hordes of colorful, expressive monsters, and massive world map full of secrets to discover all look and sound more beautiful than ever. The only problem: when is it coming out? And on which console or consoles?
The only thing we know about the upcoming Fire Emblem game for the Switch is that it has an anticipated 2018 worldwide release window. This game will mark the return of the traditional Fire Emblem series to a Nintendo home console, the last being Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for Wii, which released in 2007. With the power of the Switch, and the lessons learned from multiple Fire Emblem releases in the last few years, this game has a lot of potential. Are we jumping the gun by including it here? Perhaps, but never doubt Nintendo when it comes to surprise releases.
Release: 2018 • Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC • Official Site
If you're craving some Valkyrie Profile mixed with Metroidvania, then have we got a game for you. Indivisible comes from the minds at Lab Zero Games who worked on the gorgeous-looking Skullgirls, and from the looks of things, Indivisible is receiving as much care and attention as their first outing. It looks beautiful, with hand-drawn characters and environments popping out of the screen like a kaleidoscope, and fluid animation that oozes with style and charm. With a diverse cast of over 25 characters inspired by southeast Asian mythology, and an exciting combat system inspired by tri-Ace's classic RPG, this could be 2018's indie darling, and it deserves to be.
Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk
Release: 2018 • Platform: 3DS
Back in 2008, Atlus released Arc System Works' Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles, the first and only Jake Hunter game to make it overseas (a remaster with additional cases was released a year later). A stark contrast to the zany Ace Attorney series, Jake Hunter stars the titular detective who takes on cases that are somber in nature. Almost ten years after its last release, Aksys Games is revitalizing the series in the West for its 30th anniversary (!) with this new installment consisting of four cases originally from the mobile game. For those of you itching to satisfy your detective visual novel fix, Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk might just be what you need.
If realism drives you wild in the RPG arena, look no further than Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which sets players right in the middle of a 1400s Europe as a man named Henry, seeking vengeance across countrysides and cityscapes for his slaughtered family. Driven by reactionary and active gameplay, Kingdom Come: Deliverance seeks to place choice and realism within the hands of the player, creating a simulation of a time long recorded, but never truly experienced by anyone alive in this day and age. Throw in swords, fistfights, powerful dialogue choices and warhorses, and you've got a rollicking adventure waiting to happen come February 13th.
For most sequels, math is easy. What comes after 2? Historically, you'd be right in saying 3. With Kingdom Hearts, a whole lot has happened since KHII's 2005 release, with more or less eight games released while we wait for III. And while you would think that II.8's inclusion of 0.2 would equal 3, you'd be incorrect, because while 2.8 + 0.2 = 3, apparently II.8 + 0.2 = something else entirely. But at least it brings us close enough that we don't expect a 2.9 (or II.9), so... uh, what were we talking about?
Seriously though, we're hopeful this is really the year for Kingdom Hearts III. It's easy to be skeptical, but Square Enix wisely never gave a release window all these years, so we like to think there was good reason behind announcing a 2018 release.
Knights & Bikes looks like the weird British stepchild of Night in the Woods and Costume Quest we never knew we wanted, but we simply must have. Set during the '80s on the fictional port island of Penfurzy, Knights & Bikes follows best friends Nessa and Demelza looking for fun and hunting for treasure during summer vacation, but finding more than they bargained for. Featuring Paper Mario-inspired combat, a range of goofy mini-games, and one angry goose, we can't wait to get on our bikes and charge into battle.
There are many entrancing things about Lamplight City. Its steampunk atmosphere and pixelated graphics, to name a few. But what's most intriguing is how the name of the city ties everything together. Firstly, Lamplight City definitely lives up to its name. The streets are dimly lit with shadowy tones prevalent throughout the day, artistically imitating an actual lamplight. Next, we have the narrative itself. Beneath the advancements of the New World lies dark foundations. And what serves as its lamplight is Miles Fordham, a private investigator who's haunted by the spirit of his former partner. Is his light strong enough to illuminate the truth behind his partner's death? Or will he let the shadows of the city prevail?
Now here's an unexpected treat: an intimate, character-driven spin-off of Square Enix's elusive Front Mission series, directed by Armored Core alumnus Toshifumi Nabeshima and featuring art by none other than Yoji Shinkawa (Metal Gear Solid). Whereas previous Front Mission titles saw players command a platoon of Wanzer mechas, Left Alive takes place on the ground level, as three protagonists struggle to survive on a battlefield filled with towering robots. Your wits are more important than your guns, and you'll have to be stealthy and set traps to take down your goliathan adversaries. Left Alive is a take on giant robot fiction we don't often see, and we look forward to seeing more.
Legrand Legacy is the debut title from Indonesian developer SEMISOFT. Touted as a love letter to classic JRPGs, Legrand Legacy aims to recapture that wide-eyed wonder that games like Final Fantasy VII instilled. The available demo presents an enticing adventure in a foreboding world filled with corrupt characters. With stylish visuals, lush music, and engaging turn-based battles that feel like a refined combination of Legend of Dragoon's Additions and Shadow Hearts' Judgment Ring, Legrand Legacy shows a lot of potential.
Release: 2/13/2018 • Platform: Switch, PS Vita, PC • Official Site
What would you do if you woke up one day and standing right in front of you was a massive demon? People around you are telling you that this is the Demon King that you have to defeat. You don't recognize the faces of those around you. You don't even know who you are! What do you do? This is the premise of The Longest Five Minutes. Players have five in-game minutes to remember who they are and how they got to that point, or the Demon King kills you and your party. The game lets you relive your experiences up to the final battle in order to recall your powers and take down the Demon King. Now that sounds cool!
Tokyo RPG Factory had a lot of expectations to meet with its 2016 debut title, I am Setsuna. While the end result wasn't exactly the "new Chrono Trigger" people (perhaps unfairly) expected, Lost Sphear is looking to be a more polished and fleshed-out RPG of the same style. With a similar presentation to Chrono Trigger and Setsuna, the comparisons will continue, but we're hoping Lost Sphear proves to be a solid sophomore effort from the studio.
Now here's a game with a weird history. Initially a Wonder Boy-inspired sequel to the iOS cute-'em-up Flying Hamster, developer Game Atelier befriended Westone's Ryuichi Nishizawa and received his blessing to make a semi-official sequel to Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. Now titled Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, we can't wait to get our hands on this adorable side-scrolling action RPG.
Monster Hunter is a series whose enjoyment factor has routinely been described as esoteric thanks to some of its obtuse gameplay mechanics. However, this latest entry aims to make the franchise more accessible with numerous tweaks, such as letting players use items while moving and a revamped armor system, which makes it easier to understand than ever before (a more comprehensive look at the changes can be found in Nick's recent article). Monster Hunter has always been better with friends, and we can't wait to create a Squad with our buddies to explore these new, larger hunting grounds and take on the ferocious beasts that call them home!
Imagine stumbling upon a new café by happenstance. You walk inside and have a look around. Wooden tables are accompanied by matching chairs. A variety of drinks are neatly displayed behind the counter, and the smell of coffee and beer both permeate the air. From a quick glance, it seems like any other joint — though it's anything but. Welcome to the world of Necrobarista, a supernatural café situated between the border of life and death. Living or dead? Young or old? It doesn't matter. This is a place where interesting stories unfold and where visitors can barter for more time. They start taking orders this year!
Ni no Kuni was one of the top RPGs in 2013, so a sequel was something fans have been waiting for. In 2015, Level-5 announced that a sequel to Ni no Kuni would be coming. Although Studio Ghibli will not be involved in the game this time around, the core team from Ni no Kuni will return, and Joe Hisaishi is again composing the score. With revamped gameplay and a new cast of characters, Ni no Kuni II looks to recapture the charm of the original game.
The next game from Night in the Woods publisher Finji, Overland is a procedurally generated squad-based tactical road trip across a post-apocalyptic USA. Travelers will have to manage their resources as well as tough situations to survive a living hell, rendered in a stark low-poly style. Bleak and unique, those curious for an early look can buy into Overland's early access version at the game's itch.io page.
Obsidian Entertainment returns players to the gritty, dark fantasy world of Eora in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, the direct sequel to its critically acclaimed and crowdfunded original. Deadfire continues the efforts of its predecessor to modernize the isometric CRPG genre while improving on it in several ways. Perhaps most notably, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will feature an overhauled combat system that simplifies battles and improves party AI for a smoother, less cumbersome experience for players as they chase down a god everyone thought was dead.
Release: Q1 2018 • Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita, PC • Official Site
From its Kickstarter beginnings back in 2015, Pixel Noir has caught the attention of many with its 16-bit SNES-inspired graphics and unconventional JRPG approach in using a film noir premise. It stars an unnamed private eye who was incarcerated 10 years prior for a crime he was allegedly responsible for. Hoping to break free from the shackles of his past, he opens his agency which investigates the various mysteries plaguing Pinnacle City. If its alpha demo is any indicator of how the full game will be, then Pixel Noir definitely looks promising.
Release: 5/24/2018 (Japan) • Platform: PS4, PS Vita • Official Site
Every Persona game has excellent music, so we understood Atlus' decision to make a rhythm game spin-off of Persona 4 in 2015. Shoji Meguro's musical talents are perfect rhythm game fodder, after all. Still, the question lingered for many of us: Would we get one for Persona 3? With catchy and impactful songs like "Burn My Dread" and "Mass Destruction," some of this music was just meant to be experienced this way. Thankfully, a dual announcement of rhythm games means that in 2018 — in Japan, at least — Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night will fill us with "Determination." And other songs.
Release: 5/24/2018 (Japan) • Platform: PS4, PS Vita • Official Site
Every Persona game has excellent music, so we understood Atlus' decision to make a rhythm game spin-off of Persona 4 in 2015. Shoji Meguro's musical talents are perfect rhythm game fodder, after all. Still, the question lingered for many of us: Would we get one for Persona 5? With some of the best music we heard in all of 2017, Persona 5's incredible soundtrack deserves to be experienced, so we're glad it joins the ranks of Persona music games with Persona 5: Dancing Star Night. We won't only play "Rivers in the Desert" over and over, either. It's tempting, but P5's soundtrack is rich with musical bounties.