Do you know what’s nuts? I still think of the “20s” like the 1920s. If someone says to me, “welcome to the 20s,” I’m going to wonder if I took a trip through time. But no, here we are. In the 20s. The 2020s. Which gets me thinking, right? Maybe I should be labeling these articles with the full year, not the abbreviation. Not “21” but “2021.” Just in case, you know? Someone’s reading this in 2121 and they’re mega-confused because I’m talking about ancient games that have since been remastered on everything from the Nintendo Swoosh to the Xbox Series We Basically Just Give Away Free Games Now (Xbox SWBJGAFGN, for short) and the PlayStation Vita 7. (That’ll be a thing, mark my words.)
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’ve got ourselves a busy one this week, with enough ports to attend any number of stranded ships over at the Suez Canal. There’s also a hot new Square Enix shlooter, and I’m never typing “shlooter” again, so don’t worry. We’ll be wishing a knight goodnight, dividing our reigns accordingly, and finding a way to reference a certain singer/songwriter two weeks in a row. Don’t know what any of that means? I guess it’s a good thing I’m here to let you know!
Shades of Rayna (Early Access) – March 29th (Windows)
It would be an easy lie to tell you, based on the above screenshot, that Shades of Rayna is a game about holding a gun upright in a room filled with every kind of gold on earth. We’ve got treasure chests, bigger treasure chests, treasure chests that are gilded in six separate fashions, treasure chests that are buried beneath other treasure chests… wait, I see a pelt, too. And a fang. And a blade. And some stone. Okay, I guess the lie won’t hold weight, but I bet you can fairly deduce what the deal is here via context clues alone. Shades of Rayna is, in actuality, a free-to-play, Early Access, action RPG with loot and what developer QuickSave calls “endless gameplay content.” You’ll take on the role of Princess Enya, not to be confused with last week’s Enya, and sadly not the ultra-powerful Enya, either. But hey, that’s okay. This Enya got a bow for her ninth birthday, and if I understand things correctly, nine-year-old Enya is about to start her very own
Pokémon journey blood-soaked quest. What could go wrong?
Aron’s Adventure – March 30th (Windows)
I don’t envy Aron. An ancient evil awakens in the fantasy land of Elor, and Aron’s Adventure quickly begins. The problem for Aron, besides the fact that he’s entrusted to save the world and all that jazz, is that he’s quite new to this hero business and has to master newfound abilities in short order. Making matters worse, Aron must find a way to diplomatically unite the peoples of Elor to his cause like some kind of Dragon Age protagonist. Except he doesn’t even have a cool castle, and his romance interests are likely limited to weaponry. If you think fending off over 40 unique monsters is the 9-to-5 for Aron, then the platforming puzzles, crafting system, environmental mysteries, and high number of sidequests must be his second full-time job. Like I said, I don’t envy Aron. But if you fancy helping the poor lad, you can do so starting this very week!
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut – March 30th (PS4, PS5, Stadia)
I know I mention it kind of often, but one of the perks — and pitfalls! — of writing this weekly column is that it sometimes reminds me just how vast a backlog I have. A new game will pop up and I’ll think, “shiny,” but I know I’ve got other stuff ahead of it. Or, as is the case with Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, I’m tempted by the prospect of a presumably even better version of a great game I missed out on the first time around. I had to consult my friend Mark Tjan’s recent article to reacquaint myself with Disco Elysium for this piece, but I’ll tell ya, I’m glad I did. Being reminded that this morally grey detective game touts an open world, tons of engaging dialogue, and somehow manages to be combat-free all-the-while has me strongly considering letting Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, uh, cut in line in front of plenty of other backlog titles. What makes this definitive re-release so noteworthy? A great deal more voice acting, four new Political Vision quests, numerous quality-of-life enhancements, and an improved frame rate! If you already own the original Disco Elysium, this upgrade’s free-of-charge. I love it when that happens.
Kingdom Hearts HD I.5 + 2.5 ReMix, Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind, Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory – March 30th (Windows)
In the fabled Kingdom Hearts franchise, Haley Joel Osment goes to war against the nefarious Lance Bass with esteemed allies like David Boreanaz and Mandy Moore as well as trusted friends like an anthropomorphic dog and a quasi-anthropomorphic duck, both of whom take orders from an anthropomorphic mouse. As the series unfolds — the entirety of which will be available for PC this week via the Epic Games Store — young Haley wises up to the fact that Lance Bass is tearin’ up his heart when he’s with you, but when we are apart, he feels it, too. This acute revelation sticks in Haley’s mind as he travels across worlds out of cultural folklore that has been transformed into the many-splendored realms of bubbly cartoons. Some of these worlds have no historic origin; indeed, the one about the robot healthcare worker has nothing to do with any Asimov tale I’ve read. Eventually, Haley discovers that Jesse McCartney once tangled with Mark Hamill and Leonard Nimoy, which is honestly rad. Players will slowly piece together a crystal-clear plot: anything and everything is Tetsuya Nomura’s wild ride, and we’re all aboard his Magic Carousel. If literally any of that sounds like a good time, take my advice and go hang out with Sora and his friends posthaste. “Wait, who’s Sora?”
Outriders – April 1st (PS4, PS5, XB1, XSX, Windows, Stadia)
Several of us here at RPGFan tend to forget sometimes that in addition to a dizzying number of tantalizing JRPG franchises, Square Enix also publishes a fair few titles from Western developers. A recent Digital Showcase event reminded me of that fact with a bang, with the world-premiere footage of Life is Strange: True Colors (personally) stealing the show. But another game, a game that’s available this very week, is Square’s cooperative role-playing third-person shooter, Outriders. And yes, I did check Wikipedia for that description, because sometimes there is simply entirely too much going on with a video game’s genre for me to remember. While developer People Can Fly’s sci-fi looter-shooter extravaganza might be slightly out of our usual wheelhouse here, the depth of its upgrade systems, a staggering amount of weapons-and-armor pieces, and a front-and-center effort to build a reasonably deep narrative check several requisite boxes. Outriders isn’t exactly my most anticipated launch of 2021, but I know a lot of folks who are stoked to stake out the planet Enoch with their friends. Enoch’s a rough-and-tumble sort of place, but a superstorm grants you superpowers, which is all well and super; you’ll need to put those powers to the test to survive in this flashy, dangerous world.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III & Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – April 1st (Stadia)
Say what you will about Google Stadia. Shuttering its in-house development studios wasn’t the greatest shock in gaming history, perhaps, but the timing of that announcement wasn’t fun for the hard-working employees therein. It’s a raw deal, one which has led internet armchair analysts to estimate Stadia’s overall life expectancy will be on the shorter end. Certainly, Google is no stranger to shutting down entire systems at alarming rates. So hey, maybe that’ll happen, yeah. But in the meantime, a bevy of games are being ported to the cloud service at an impressive pace, including two of Falcom’s excellent RPGs, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. The former is difficult to recommend on its own; not because it’s by any means bad, but because it fundamentally relies upon player knowledge of the events of at least the previous two entries in Trails of Cold Steel, if not several other games from across The Legend of Heroes‘ rich tapestry. (Let’s say you want to get into the Trails franchise, then. Five out of five Quintons recommend clicking here for more information.) That said, it must be emphasized that Cold Steel III is still a terrific experience and well worth dabbling in. As for Ys VIII, it’s a fair degree more standalone, though there’s plenty of connective tissues with prior entries in the Ys franchise. You really can’t go wrong with either of these games, so if Stadia’s still your jam and JRPGs, your fam, this week’s your bam, with two additional Falcom games coming to the service in the near future.
Good Night, Knight (Early Access) – April 2nd (Switch)
Indie. Action. Roguelite. Three words, one destiny: Good Night, Knight, a game that refuses to allow its Early Access status deter it from making the leap from PC to Nintendo Switch. That’s bravery. Our own Bob Richardson recently previewed Good Night, Knight, and he had mostly nice things to say to the sleepy soldier. At present, the simplistic combat feels strangely sluggish, but the FFIX-like equipment upgrade system shines and the local co-op performs respectably. Bob praised some of the dialogue as laugh-out-loud whilst mildly lamenting the full-blown tropes written elsewhere, but if the monsters all have excellent lines like the one seen above I’m sure I’ll be pleased as punch with a potential purchase. Whatever state Good Night, Knight shapes into in the months and years to come, you could definitely do worse laying in bed with your head to a pillow and your hands to snapped-in Joy-Cons. We should note that the game is still in Early Access on Steam, while the eShop does not typically offer such designations. Because of this, if we learn this week’s launch is a placeholder date that changes as the week goes on (it’s happened), we will update this post.
Divided Reigns – April 2nd (Windows)
You know what they say about reigns. Best not divide them. Someone’s surely said that at least once, right? Regardless, publisher Nostalgia Addict Games clearly either didn’t get the memo or has willfully avoided reading it. Either way, I get it. You can’t have a classic JRPG storyline without some mistakes being made along the way. And “classic” is precisely the word we’re going for here, because it says right there on the Steam page that Divided Reigns is “the full-scale, epic fantasy role-playing experience you’ve wanted for decades.” (I think I got that one from Octopath Traveler, but your mileage may vary.) It’s a lofty claim and one which RPG enthusiasts will no doubt take to the court in the coming days. Not the literal court, or at least I hope not, but the court of common opinion still holds sway in an industry bursting with new games every time we blink. I hope I don’t come across as disinterested. I actually think Divided Reigns is going for the gold, with talk of strategic battles, memorable characters, and a rich storyline! I hope we have a winner here, because I’ll never tire of solid new titles with the bells and whistles of traditional JRPGs.
But that’s enough about RPGs for one week. How are things with you? Family doing OK? Have you been vaccinated yet? Are you eating three square meals a day? Getting enough sleep at night? I hope you’re all living fabulously. Drop us a line anytime in the comments section below, listen to our stellar podcasts whenever you like, and remember to brush your teeth after every meal.
You are excellent, each and all!