I don’t know if you’ve heard — I mean, just about everybody knows, but there are always a few societal stragglers — but Final Fantasy XIV has a limited-time event going on right now called the “Make it Rain” campaign.
Now, I cannot speak as to whether this is a nod to the poppy noise of Ed Sheeran or the punchier Fat Joe, who I understand enlisted the aid of one Lil Wayne during the making of his magnum opus. Technically, the good folks at Square Enix’s English localization branch could be referencing neither song. Instead, they may simply wish to express the colloquialism of “making money or otherwise experience good fortune, typically through one’s proactive endeavors.”
I do not know. Perhaps one of you knows. If you do know, pray tell me. But what matters most is that this three-word proclamation, this rainy-day summoning ritual of a phrase, has become a deluge through which RPGs both big and small have arrived.
Indeed, my noble friends, “Make it Rain” was heard far and wide. The pop/rap shot heard round the world. For it is with great glee — and an admittedly larger dosage of coffee than usual — that I present to you the longest list of RPGs coming this week since I began my tenure covering RPGs Coming This Week.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles – July 27th (PS4, Switch, Windows)
Who could possibly be better than Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright? Great Ace Attorney Ryunosuke Naruhodo. I mean, I don’t want to rush to conclusions, but it’s right there in the title. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles combines both The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and its direct sequel, The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve into one premium package for PS4, Switch, and Windows via Steam. Set during England’s Victorian era, the two games essentially transplant the characters, caricatures, case-by-case outlandishness, and memorably emotional moments of the mainline Phoenix Wright games into a new (well, old) setting.
They do so spectacularly, mind you, which naturally led to myriad lamentations from Western fans back in 2015 when it became apparent they’d never reach American shores, nor — most ironically of all — European realms. The surprise announcement of localizations erased this seemingly permanent misfortune, and six years of tears faded into glee. Now, we stand on the precipice. So if you want to help remind Capcom that there’s a real Phoenix Wright fandom beyond Japanese borders, be sure to snag this coming Tuesday.
NEO: The World Ends with You – July 27th (PS4, Switch, Windows)
Then again, who am I kidding? Phoenix Wright fans waited six years for the British Empire to shine upon them, yet fans of 2007’s cult-DS hit The World Ends With You were told repeatedly by the illustrious Tetsuya Nomura that a sequel would arrive eventually. But now it’s 2021, and we’ve had three different presidents in the United States since. Putting it another way, beanie babies attempted a comeback tour when TWEWY arrived, and now, each and every surviving beanie is a full-grown adult with midlife crises that none of us can possibly empathize with.
NEO: The World Ends with You takes us back to Shibuya for a second stylish adventure chock full of cool kids with cutting-edge slang. Certain technological advancements between the first and second games are readily apparent, such as switching from flip phones to smartphones. (Phones are all over the place in the TWEWY games, so this is more noteworthy than it might sound.) But at its heart, NEO: The World Ends with You looks like a proper successor, with plenty of flashy, comic-style cutscenes and the kind of combat only a mad genius like Nomura could envision. It’s a shame then that TWEWY fan Bob Richardson thought that this sequel missed the mark.
Chernobylite – July 28th (Windows)
I know what you’re thinking. Well, actually I don’t. It’s entirely possible you’re not thinking what I’m about to tell you that you’re thinking. But I’m going to assume I do know what you’re thinking. “Another Chernobyl game. Mutants, monsters, we get the idea already.” Your exasperation would be well-founded, but Chernobylite may be a breath of fresh air — erm, stagnant and irradiated air? — for the stuffed subgenre. Rather than taking liberties with Chernobyl’s geography, developers Farm 51 have opted to run a complete 3D scan of the haunting real-world locale as one part of their quest to deliver a pulse-pounding sci-fi survival RPG.
Set in the infamous Exclusion Zone, Chernobylite takes some… liberties with the depiction, resulting in surreal landscapes like the one you see above. The protagonist is Igor, a physicist and ex-employee of the Chernobyl Power Plant. That’s the sort of unique perspective these games need, and I’m excited to see how it translates into the storyline. From the looks of Abraham Kobylanski’s preview from earlier this year, it sounds like this is one to play with the lights off. Or on. Whatever your preference is.
Final Fantasy I, II, and III (Pixel Remaster) – July 28th (Windows, Mac), July 29th (iOS, Android)
I’ll take care of the proverbial moogle-in-the-room right off the Nail Bat — what the hell, Square?
There, I’ve said it; now we can woefully move on. The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series is a faithful recreation of the first six games in the Final Fantasy franchise. They may not contain various bonus features found in the GBA and initial mobile versions of these titles, or maybe some of them will? Honestly, we’ll just have to wait a few days to find out firsthand. The front half of these, which naturally includes I, II, and III, all drop this Wednesday on Steam, and the next day for mobile devices. You’ll need to pick up each of these separately unless you’d prefer to shell out $74.82 for a Steam bundle which includes all six titles. There’s no definitive word yet on when IV, V, and VI will pop up, but I doubt it will be too long a wait.
The Forgotten City – July 28th (PS4, PS5, Switch, XB1, XSX, Windows)
How does one forget an entire city? Surely, there are internet archives pertaining to such a thing, if nothing else, unless The Forgotten City is set during the waning days of the Roman Empire, of course. Roman imperial internet traffic was probably at an all-time low at that point. The coolest dang thing about The Forgotten City is that it’s a repurposed Skyrim mod transformed from a Tamrielic setting into a historical one. This isn’t just any Skyrim mod, by the way. This thing won a national Writers’ Guild Award. Having played it myself, I can tell you there’s a very decent chance this reimagining is going to rule.
A “mystery adventure game of exploration and deduction,” The Forgotten City hosts a diverse cast of characters whom you’ll spend hours conversing with as you harness the power of time travel to unravel a grand conspiracy. Combat exists, but it’s seldom preferable to other optional approaches. Between that and my inexplicable love for Roman military gear, well, I’m in.
NieR Re[in]carnation – July 28th (iOS, Android)
Square Enix, how could you do this to us twice in one week? A hotly-anticipated title, skipping over console releases in favor of — oh, wait, this is a purely mobile game, not… that other thing.
NieR Re[in]carnation continues series creator Yoko Taro’s legacy of giving video games the sorts of names one would only expect to encounter in poorly-translated texts of Dark Ages pseudo-science medical journals. Given that it’s a gacha-based RPG, the publisher would like you to believe it’s a free-to-play game only until you’ve downloaded and installed it, at which point they will doubtless do everything they can to convince you otherwise. Take it slowly and pay modest sums at most, and if this turns out to be an enjoyable production your cellphone won’t be ringing off the hook with angry creditors who couldn’t seem to care less that you’ve unlocked a legendary-tier 2B.
The Ascent – July 29th (XB1, XSX, Windows)
Don’t you just hate it when a mega-corporation owns your very soul only to collapse, reverting the world around you into utter chaos? Yeah, I don’t know what I’d do if Google shut down, either. Switch to Bing, I guess. But the heroes of The Ascent cannot merely move to Microsoft, not even if this is an Xbox-exclusive. The titular Ascent Group has gone dark, and your entire district is imperiled. What to do? A solo and co-op action-shooter RPG means guns. Guns mean shooting people. Shooting people means you’ll probably want to go with DuckDuckGo instead.
IGN calls The Ascent “…a dash of Diablo with a healthy dose of twin-stick shooter.” So if that happens to be exactly what your doctor ordered, your refill will be ready this Thursday.
Christmas Tina – July 29th (Switch, Windows)
Christmas Tina seems promising. It’s a slice-of-life adventure that brings together dual protagonist Kanna, a high-schooler involved in a nasty traffic accident, and Jing, a Chinese lad who fails his university entrance exams and ends up in Tokyo. What makes it sizzle, or at least we hope makes it sizzle, is that the game spends a fair bit of time dealing with the rigors of minimum-wage jobs and the struggle to survive in a tough modern world. Unfortunately, there’s not much more I can say for this one since it’s originally a Chinese-language title, and details are somewhat scarce, but its Steam reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so here’s hoping!
Eldest Souls – July 29th (PS4, PS5, Switch, XB1, XSX, Windows)
You have to be pretty old to be among the eldest souls, but Eldest Souls seems relatively spry; it’s a boss-rush RPG with pulse-pounding encounters, after all. Players will explore Citadel, an ancient locale with dozens of denizens, and undertake numerous quests on the road to bringing down the Old Gods. Man, the gaming industry really has a bone to pick with gods over the age of, like, 2000 or so.
There’s a wondrous pixel-art vibe to Eldest Souls with an isometric camera that’ll ensure you soak it all in accordingly. Just be careful out there. Any game featuring purple octopus tentacles at any point is clearly a jump-scary and ultraviolent horror flick.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel – July 29th (PS4, PS5, Switch, XB1, XSX, Windows)
Have you heard of the Little Tail Bronx series? It is not a story of cats and dogs in my bustling NYC hometown to my moderate chagrin. There are cats and dogs, though, so it’s not a total loss. The friendly critters happen to stand up on two legs and live in a steampunk-inspired world filled with floating islands. They also raise sheep, I guess? It’s not the most well-known series of RPGs in the world, to be sure, but it sounds kind of neat.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel is the fourth game in this 21-year-old franchise. Twelve children stumble upon a deadly tank, decide to call it their mobile home of sorts, and search for their missing families in the middle of a terrible war. That sounds… fantastic? There’s potential here for some heartstring tugs that’ll stick. I look forward to hearing more about this one soon!
Alone With You – July 30th (Switch)
Alone With You is the latest in a long line of former PC-exclusives making the leap to Switch. We see at least one of these pretty much every week here, and as I’ve said in the past, it does a grand job illustrating the degree to which Nintendo has found success in a market that doesn’t always cater to other consoles. The premise is intriguing — the player character must work together with an AI to escape an uninhabitable planet that had, at one time, been a promising candidate for terraforming. Unfortunately, our stalwart reviewer Bob Richardson opines that not a whole lot tends to happen in Alone With You. Furthermore, he considers it “hollow,” with “mismatched visuals” and an inconsequential story. Never forget: your mileage may vary!
Bustafellows – July 30th (Switch, Windows)
Murder mystery otome games tend to receive labels like “guilty pleasures” and “goofy stuff.” Then I glance over at something as popular as Persona 5 and remember we still can’t romance dudes, so… I don’t know, it just feels like a bit of a double standard. Really, what I want to do is say nice things about a game called Bustafellows that dares to name a hot lawyer “Limbo.”
You’re Teuta, a razor-smart gal in a fictional American town called New Sieg. There’s also some guy who possesses a chameleon-like ability to change his appearance on a whim, an adorable lad who talks to corpses, and a chain-smoker whose blackened lungs can’t stop him from success in the martial arts. What’s not to love here?
Sovereign Tea – July 30th (Windows)
“Command the Tea Princesses to victory over the Coffee Empire in this adorable Strategy RPG!”
OK, what? Hello, I’m sorry, what? The Coffee Empire? Are you trying to tell me coffee is evil and tea is some sort of royal rebellion against an authoritarian regime? Sure, I’ll readily admit my resting heart rate would be a bit lower if I didn’t inject coffee into my veins on a routine basis. I’ll grant you that coffee, ergo, might be killing me. But it’s a rich, aromatic murder. It’s the Dexter of dying. Your turn-based, isometric, propagandist, Tea Party RPG is making me feel things, publisher 3 Halves Games. Just you wait. I’ll buy your game, your dreary Sovereign Tea… and I will purposefully get a game over.
Wowza meowza, there are a heckin’ lot of role-playing games coming this week. And here I am happily enjoying The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. If the video game industry took a few years off, it’s possible I’d be out of a job. More crushingly, hundreds of thousands of talented creators would also be out of jobs. And we wouldn’t have this lovely column every week, or every month, or even every year.
I’m not sure my backlog would even notice the difference.