Before we begin, pray allow me to address the elephant in the room.
OK, I addressed him. He’s fine.
Now, if you’re a regular reader of this feature, you might be wondering how exactly I fell off a roof! Or perhaps you don’t care. Which is fine! It’s not like it was your roof. But I’ll explain nevertheless: I was helping a friend perform basic repairs on a roof (quite basic; I barely knew what I was doing) and was directed to a spot that, lo and behold, needed more repairs than anybody realized. Cue a tumble down into the house! I reached out with my arms and, miraculously, only suffered a broken hand for my trouble! Well, that and a sprained arm, but who’s counting?
One lengthy hospital visit later followed by several much-appreciated reminders to rest, and I’m back and at ’em! I’m nowhere near fully healed yet, but you know what Morgan Freeman said at the end of The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy tellin’ people about upcoming RPGs or get busy dyin’.” Hear, hear, Morgan. Let’s talk RPGs!
Foregone – March 1st (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Windows)
We don’t always cover Metroidvanias here at RPGFan, much to the disappointment of those among us who want to talk about Hollow Knight amongst these hallowed… pages. But when we do, it’s because there’s enough RPG to them that they fall into our coverage like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and its portable successors. Foregone is the latest such title, which, while billed as a Souls-like action platformer, has enough skill trees, upgrades, loot, character customization, and strategic combat in its demo alone that we find it’s a good fit for our niche. As you can see above, Foregone‘s stylish pixel art is a delight, and it looks even better in motion. You (if you play it, anyway) take on the role of The Arbiter, a super-soldier tasked with investigating why the city of Calagan is being attacked by a force called the Harrow. And you will embark on this action-packed adventure armed with everything from handguns to bows to swords to scythes to… yes, to gunchucks. If you thought FFXIV‘s Garlean Empire tried too hard to work guns into melee weapons, well, even they stopped short of this madness. Though the real question is: are gunchucks a better or worse idea than sword-chucks, yo?
Harvest Moon: One World – March 2nd (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Have you ever dreamed of owning a farm in a video game without being told directly where to start tilling the soil and planting crops? Thanks to the power of the Expando-Farm Tool, you can not only choose where to begin but you can even move that farm all over the world. That’s the first and loudest pitch that developer Natsume has broadcast with regard to Harvest Moon: One World, the latest in a long line of moons in need of harvesting. It’s a cute enough affair, with animals to raise, weather to watch out for, and bachelors and bachelorettes to court. (Sadly, same-sex marriage is not on the menu.) But I’d be remiss if I didn’t attach an asterisk here. Harvest Moon: One World is being made by folks who did not, in fact, work on the older titles in the franchise. Those lads and lasses moved on and created the Story of Seasons games, the next of which is out in just a few weeks. Some have criticized One World for what they perceive as comparably generic visuals and so forth, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you can’t choose between Harvest Moon: One World and Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, why not just get both? I’m sure your electricity and internet service providers will understand the tardy payment.
Neptunia Virtual Stars – March 2nd (PS4)
The time is nigh for yet another entry in the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise! By my possibly-flawed count, this is the sixteenth installment since the series began in 2010. The gist behind most Neptunia games is that they’re RPGs starring young women who live in a world called Gamindustri, which is divided into regions that are each ruled by a “CPU.” There’s an ongoing “console war,” and each of the four kingdoms represents a real-world gaming franchise. As you can probably tell, it’s all quite cheeky. What does Neptunia Virtual Stars bring to the foray? Fast-paced action and a focus on the Japanese idol industry, that’s what. Is that your kind of jam? Did you play through Persona 4 and think, “Man, I enjoyed that game, but I wish it was about four Rise Kujikawas and constantly broke the fourth wall?” That’s a fairly niche dilemma, true. But if it happens to you, Neptunia Virtual Stars has your song-and-dance number, friend.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon – March 2nd (PS5)
Ah, Yakuza: Like a Dragon. We love you. Well, technically I’m calling attention to the fact that our reviewer, Jonathan Logan, loves you. But Jonathan can share the love. One of the best and brightest cult favorite game series around, Yakuza has always been a great many things. Family drama, societal strife, action-based brawler combat. Not to mention the greatest collection of absurd mini-games you will ever see. And yes, I have played Mario Party 4. One thing Yakuza has never been is a JRPG… until now. Or rather, until last November. The brilliant and bizarre Like a Dragon debuted with previous-gen visual fidelity four months back, leaving some fans waiting for this week’s prettier PlayStation 5 port. If that’s you, your patience paid off. On the other hand, maybe you’ve never even considered picking it up until now, in which case, hey. Grab it for PS5. (Insert “if you even have a PS5” joke here. Alas.)
Everhood – March 4th (Switch, Windows)
Feel the rhythm in Everhood, an offbeat dance RPG from a company called Foreign Gnomes. You can admit it, the most impressive thing about that sentence was “Foreign Gnomes.” Still, don’t discount the game itself. Everhood puts you in the shoes of a reanimated doll whose nemeses include punk rocker elves and evil ATMs. (So basically just… ATMs. I totally lost a debit card to one back in December.) The style is sleek, the battles look fun, and there are race karts. I’d call that last one a unique selling point, but full disclosure, Yakuza: Like a Dragon also has race karts. Dragon race karts. It might have Everhood beat in that department. Where Everhood shines, by contrast, is in its poppy sounds and a clear and present love letter to new-school vintage hits like Undertale. Are you in? I think I am. We’ll have a review up for Everhood sometime soon, so keep dancing to the beat!
Gnosia – March 4th (Switch)
I like to think I do a passable job hyping up most of the games I mention every week. Sometimes, when I think a little upfront criticism is warranted, I’ll note potential problems. But generally speaking, I like to shoot for “nuanced excitement.” Of course, there are going to be times when a game has me especially intrigued. When that happens, all bets are off. Gnosia, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, is one of these games. It. Looks. So. Good. Originally released in Japan two years ago for the PlayStation Vita, Gnosia arrives upon Western shores this week for the Nintendo Switch. Are you familiar with visual novels? Specifically, the interactive kinds that force players to make decisions that can and will affect the way a story plays out? Great. What about “social deduction” games? Werewolf is one example. Mafia is another. These originated as face-to-face ordeals in which certain players belong to a darker sort of organization but everyone claims to be innocent. It’s up to other players to work together to figure out who’s lying before they’re all taken out of the game by the aforementioned liars.
In recent days, a certain video game sensation called Among Us has brought the genre back into the spotlight. Gnosia is like Among Us if Among Us had a lush art style and memorable characters. (Heck, you’re even aboard a spaceship in both titles.) The crazy thing is, like those other games, the villain(s) in Gnosia change between the sprawling cast each time you play. It’s a constant mash-up, meaning you have to stay on your toes because one round’s friend is another round’s murderer. But you have zero back-ups from other players; this is a tried-and-true single-player role-playing game that relies on your ability to separate fact from fiction. Gnosia received glowing reviews in native Japan, so I’m counting down the days for this one.
Loop Hero – March 4th (Switch, Windows, macOS)
The thing about most roguelikes is that you try and try and try, and inevitably falter, learn from the errors that caused your death, and dive back in with knowledge gained. You never know what’s lurking around the next corner, creating a tense experience that tests your talent for reacting on the fly. Loop Hero‘s a little different. Devolver Digital, the excellent indie publisher with hilarious parodic press conferences, has once again sought to — perhaps not reinvent the wheel — but surely realign it. At first glance, it all seems the same; there’s a hero facing the unknown, some Commodore 64-esque graphics, plenty of loot… you know, the usual. Here’s the twist. You’re the DM. The dungeon master, the game designer, the God of Pestilence, whatever you’d call yourself if and when you serve as storyteller and death-dealer during Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. It’s up to you to build the hero’s course with monsters, meadows, mountains, mansions, and a bunch of stuff that doesn’t begin with “m” that I’m not going to bother mentioning because it would bust up my groove here. Don’t stack things up too much against your hero or they’ll falter and the “loop” will begin anew. Conversely, don’t make it too easy, because much like with genuine tabletop games, the adventure loses all its flavor the minute your players can one-shot anything that comes their way. It’s a balancing act, and it puts a fresh spin on a somewhat stagnant subgenre. It’s Loop Hero.
My hand hurts. Don’t worry, I’ll rest soon. I’ll rest with some Bravely Default II, in fact. What’s a Sunday without an RPG? A miserable little pile of secrets, that’s what. I’m also going to eat a donut. I’m effectively throwing caution to the wind today. I’m taking things to the next level, I know.
Hey, depending on where you live, the weather may be nice today. Full disclosure, you should actually go out and get some fresh air if so. It’s a lovely Sunday here, and I’m going to sit outside with my Switch and grind job classes whilst surrounded by squirrels, birds, and the occasional neighbor. Bonjour, good people, and I’ll catch you next week right here at RPGFan.