My roommates and I are failing to find a Chinese takeout restaurant that’s both open this late on a Sunday night and also relatively inexpensive. The struggle is real. At this point, I’m inclined to believe we’re going to come up empty. In truth? I’d prefer authentic Chinese fare tonight, anyway. The nearest “real” Chinese joint is in the next city over.
It reminds me of all those JRPGs that never quite make it overseas. Time was, that was a lot of them, especially for our European friends, but things have gotten better over the years. Yet even so, if you’re anxiously awaiting a JRPG that isn’t attached to one of those bigger brands, it can be a long, grueling, process before localization is complete and the game is in your hands.
This week’s list of RPG releases has nothing to do with that age-old dilemma. In fact, none of these five titles are even Japanese. But I was determined to find a way to tell you all that I want Chinese food. And determination is a key theme in many RPGs. So my boss is going to let these three intro paragraphs slide, if barely. [Editor’s Note: An assumption that is somehow both safe and risky!] Let us embark!
The Immortal – March 8th (Windows)
Okay, we are leading today with something really weird. It’s not that releasing a 30-year-old video game on Steam is strange; I mean, it’s fairly uncommon, but it’s mostly just cool, right? The Immortal was the 1990 work of one Will Harvey, who saw his hack-and-slash project brought to — deep breath — Apple IIGS, Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS, NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES over the course of the next two summers. It recently arrived on Nintendo Switch Online, a real treat for old-school sorts who crave the sin and punishment of, well, old-school video games. It’s a whole thing, you see. So why in blazes, then, does The Immortal‘s Steam page not bother to mention this is the modern porting of an all-time classic? Sure, a few years ago that would seem rather self-evident. But these days, games with intentionally “outdated” vibes are a dime-a-dozen. Wouldn’t it be suave to advertise this as a big deal? Instead, we’re left with one of the most unintentionally funny Steam descriptions I’ve yet seen; not because it’s innately humorous, per se, but because it’s literally just… a description from the original release. Now, I’d be inclined to label that a quirky and willful wink if there was even a hint of reverence elsewhere in the page. Nope, this is a “3-D Adventure like you’ve never seen,” with “fully animated creatures and deaths.” As my boss rightly asked, why wouldn’t they be fully animated? It’s all too much. The game also warns us that it contains “frequent violence or gore,” meaning it isn’t suitable for all ages. But I’m a monster so the screenshot I selected is very much a bloody affair. If I have offended you, I do apologize, but to be frank, without context I’m not sure I’d know what I was looking at, anyway.
Unlikely Heroes – March 8th (Windows)
The first thing that hits my brain here is that Unlikely Heroes is dressed in rather likely vibes. The environments are a darling blend of the quintessentially classical 2D role-playing game, the character sprites are rather traditional, and the turn-based combat’s user interface is every bit the Final Fantasy. Oh, and as for the storyline? An evil lich king has done that thing that evil lich kings do best, rising from the ashes of a prior war in a reckless bid to demonstrate his profound ability to be evil, a lich, and even a king. All kidding aside, I admittedly get what publishers Valkyria Games are going for here. The protagonists are a ragtag bunch of folks who weren’t born into the profession of automatic heroism, but dare to challenge this global archnemesis nevertheless. I suppose that makes this all rather fitting; that, too, is in the spirit of the games which Unlikely Heroes aims to lovingly ape. It looks like a pleasantly nostalgic ol’ time!
Star Renegades – March 10th (PS4)
Hey! It’s that game that Greg Delmage really likes! He likes it so much, he listed it as one of his picks for Game of the Year! I bet I could keep making sentences that link to pages here at RPGFan and end with exclamation marks for an entire paragraph on this one! Star Renegades (okay, look, that’s the last time I drop a link) originally released back in September for Windows and macOS. Pretty soon, it landed on Switch and Xbox One, leaving one glaring omission until further notice. Indeed, the PlayStation Vita has finally gotten the port it deserves; fine, yes, that is a lie, it’s coming to PlayStation 4. Maybe it will play even better on PS5? I’m honestly not sure offhand, but Star Renegades is the sort of game with a luscious enough art style that I’d play the darn thing on my phone if I had to. And my phone… is not great. A strategy-centric turn-based RPG with roguelike elements baked into a vivid sci-fi world, the one thing Star Renegades lacks is a deep story. It makes up for that somewhat with fun characters whose bonding scenes are worth the price of admission. If you’ve not yet given this one a go and it looks even remotely promising to you, now’s your latest chance!
Battle Brothers – March 11th (Switch)
One of the coolest things about my job here is that I’m sometimes exposed to well-received titles that I would have otherwise scrolled straight past on some other website. I suppose that’s why a good number of y’all are here reading my weird blog-like articles, too! Battle Brothers is coming to Switch this week, and rather than the cheap cash grab I erroneously thought it might be, it’s a tried-and-true hit PC RPG. With nearly 12,000 reviews and counting (not to mention our own review), Steam’s community seems downright smitten with Battle Brothers, meaning the only thing that could stand in the way of it being a quality addition to Nintendo’s burgeoning library is if the port job itself is no bueno. I have no way of knowing whether or not that is the case just yet. But so long as it isn’t, I’m grabbing this game immediately! Ukiyo Publishing describes the game’s setting as “a gritty, low-power, medieval fantasy world.” Talk gritty to me, baby. I love that look. The whole adventure seems wrought with danger and difficult decision-making, but it evidently ends with a trio of terrifically tough shenanigans: warring noble houses, a “greenskin” invasion, and an undead scourge. Wait, I know the show butchered her character at the eleventh hour, but since when was Daenerys green?
Dungeon of Eyden – March 12th (Windows, macOS, Linux)
If Dungeon of Eyden had started with cute looks and stopped with the promise of decent co-op modes, I might have nodded approvingly and gone on my merry way. What popped out at me, however, is the speed at which the player slashes their surroundings with their steely swords. It is relentless. Ridiculous is another word for it. I guess it’s kind of always been this way; The Legend of Zelda‘s two-dimensional outings have often given fearless young Link arms capable of smashing to and fro at roughly 50 kilometers per hour. Maybe I’m just used to that. Heck, I’m playing through Bravely Default II right now, and if I had a nickel for every time Seth or Adelle sliced and diced like a steam engine on steroids, well, I’d have at least five bucks. There’s just something about the way Dungeon of Eyden‘s trailer showcases the swordplay that has me howling. It’s like someone grabbed a prequel-era Star Wars Jedi and said “you’re doing great out there, but let’s up the CG sword-swinging.” Please just see for yourself. If you don’t find it funny, I apologize for the letdown. Either way, if you’re searching for a fresh new hack-and-slash, maybe Dungeon of Eyden is up your alley.
We ended up settling for Thai. To be clear, it’s not so much settling as switching to something also terrific. I love Thai cuisine nearly as much as I love my Weltall figurine. Some days, Chinese just ain’t on the menu.
It’s kind of like with Final Fantasy XVI. I would very much prefer that the game were somehow already here, polished to a mirror sheen and awaiting my complete and utter attention. That’s not happening either. I’m grateful that the RPGs keep coming in the meantime, and yes, my food analogy is just falling apart at the seams.
We’ll be back next week with another fresh and sizzling installment of “RPGs Coming This Week,” so grab a bowl of piping-hot Panang curry with me and help yourself to the rice.