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RPGs Coming This Week, 8/2/21

The big eye watches you in Death Trash

I connected my PS5 DualSense controller to my laptop this week to play the Pixel Remaster version of Final Fantasy in a manner similar to how my childhood self enjoyed Final Fantasy Origins. This may or may not surprise you, given my profession, but I had no clue what hooking up a controller to Steam would entail going into this process. I feared a long, complicated ordeal.

Indeed, I am not a PC gamer. I have nothing but respect for PC gamers, just as I hope PC gamers have nothing but respect for a silly console lad like myself. But I’ll admit, I feel extraordinarily silly in retrospect after finding out how easy it was to get Steam to, uh, sense the DualSense.

Though most of my time this past week has been dedicated to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (I’ll have a review up soon!), I’ve really been enjoying this new release of Final Fantasy. It feels like so much of the critique toward this new project fizzled like flat soda once folks got their hands on the games. For the most part, I concur with the positivity. However, it still bums me out that the added content from Dawn of Souls and the PSP rerelease isn’t here in the first two titles. It bums me out more significantly that there’s a pretty good chance Final Fantasy V and VI‘s remasters will lack their excellent old “Finest Fantasy for Advance” treatment from the mid-2000s.

But you know, and I’m not excusing their omission here, there’s something to be said for a return to simplicity. Navigating through dicey, randomly generated dungeons in-between each Crystal capture was honestly never all that fun, anyway, and Final Fantasy II‘s postgame shenanigans were hardly anything to write home about. These ports feel focused.

Do you know what doesn’t feel “focused”? An “RPGs Coming This Week” column beginning with five paragraphs about the author’s thoughts on an RPG that arrived sooner than this week.

Dragon’s Vengeance – August 2nd (Windows)

A man, who has dark hair and facial hair, with a plan in Dragon's Vengeance

We haven’t seen a new release in the “straightforwardly RPG” cWe haven’t seen a new release in the category of “straightforwardly RPG” for a couple of weeks. What I mean by that is the sort of game that clearly takes more than a few pages out of the 16-bit JRPG playbook and might very well be a custom RPG Maker project. Dragon’s Vengeance looks like it fits that bill. Let me be clear here — there are some slam-dunk, positively brilliant indie games that have emerged from the RPG Maker scene over the decades. Dragon’s Vengeance could be one of them. There’s a bit of a twist behind the usual tropes here; your band of stalwart heroes isn’t technically tailing a tyrant to save the world. At least, not at first. Developer Dreamscape Games says you’re chasing an exiled genius who could become a tyrant. Neat.

I’m guessing the genius turns into a tyrant before all is said and done, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Zuke up there kicks the bucket before the end. But I’m also a terrible gambler so I could be dead wrong.

Dragon Star Varnir – August 3rd (Switch)

A plague doctor creature hands rewards you for handing in a quest in Dragon Star Varnier

This one first popped up back in 2018 as a PS4 exclusive courtesy of Idea Factory and Compile Heart. Within a year, it made its way overseas and hopped onto the Steam train, too. Now, Dragon Star Varnir completes the journey of most solid mid-budget JRPGs with its grand Switch debut. I was browsing the Wikipedia page for more information about Varnir and, lo and behold, it dutifully informed me that my colleague Zach Wilkerson gave the PS4 version a 79. He cited likable characters, a solid story, and outstanding gameplay as the positives whilst questioning some of the character models and dicey voice acting. That sounds like an upper-tier Compile Hearts title to me.

Blood of the Alchemists – August 5th (Windows)

Ambiant town lighting in Blood of the Alchemists

Magic’s gone. Done. Dusted. Out. No soup for magic. The only hope for giving the world something similar rests with the alchemists, whose blood I assume is vital in some fashion. In Blood of the Alchemists, you’ll craft to your heart’s content, brew to your drunk uncle’s content, and discover the mysteries of the past. For the record, I added that bit about drunk uncles myself, so please do not email Northward Games with complaints about a lack of representation in the field of fathers’ drunken brothers. More seriously, the game has a beautiful world map and a mean, no-good, magical storm. I love beautiful world maps and mean no-good, magical storms. It’s already on my Steam Wishlist.

CrossCode: A New Home DLC – August 5th (PS4, Switch, XB1)

Lea, Emilie and C'tron running through a beach in CrossCode: A New Home

CrossCode is one of those indie darlings full of boundless energy, excited to show you everything it has, as well as its love for classic action RPGs. It’s a massive hit with many here, and earlier this year, the long-awaited DLC A New Home dropped on PCs across the world. At the time, Radical Fish Games confirmed that console releases would follow “soon,” and, well, I’m positively delighted to say that “soon” means this week! Bringing a handful of new locations, a gigantic new dungeon, and a plethora of new puzzles, A New Home is just more of the very best of CrossCode, and that sounds swell to me. It’s also just bursting full of heart and character, something with Alana Hagues honed in on in her glowing review. Just… be prepared to get the cogs in your brain spinning for a few of those puzzle solutions.

Death Trash (Early Access) – August 5th (Windows)

Massive dragon's head cavern opening in Death Trash

Cosmic horrors long for humanity. What they find instead are a bunch of punks with shotguns. OK, this time, I am quoting the back of the proverbial box. Death Trash is entering Early Access this week and you can give it a taste of your time after a whopping five years of development — that’s what happens when your team consists of a single person. Death Trash aims to tell a complex story within its visually striking realm; the Early Access version contains only the first chapter, but I’m pretty sure there’s a pulsing four-tentacled pink eldritch… thing. What’s not to love?

Oh! Our very own Abraham Koblyanski had a great time with the game back in late June. Trust in Abraham! Check out his thoughts.

Dreamscaper – August 5th (Switch, Windows)

Dreamscaper Screenshot of Soft Lighting and Treehouse

We write a lot about “RPGs coming this week” that are entering Early Access, and by we, I mean me, but it’s always more fun to celebrate when a promising game exits Early Access and spreads its wings like the newfound butterfly that it is. Dreamscaper is this week’s butterfly, emerging from stasis for a simultaneous Switch and PC launch just a bit shy of a year past its August 14th, 2020 Early Access caterpillar form. August 14th is my birthday, by the way! Please do not ask me how old I turn. Thinking about it gives me nightmares. (Editor’s note: It probably won’t make Quinton feel any better if I tell them how old I, Alana, turn this year.)

Nightmares that players will conquer in Dreamscaper after forging dreams during its daytime segments! It’s an endlessly replayable rogue-like, or at least that’s what it says on the tin, and you’ll battle bosses that embody Fear, Negativity, Loss, and More™. If overcoming Loss™ is what propels you forward in a rogue-like RPG, Dreamscaper might just be your cup of NyQuil. To keep you healthy until Thursday, why not give Jono Logan’s preview from E3 a read.

Dodgeball Academia – August 5th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)

Dodgeball Academia Menu

You’ve heard of My Hero Academia. You’ve heard of Little Witch Academia. And you, like me, may have never seen a single episode of either show or read a single page of either manga series. Now… prepare yourself for Dodgeball Academia! This is a video game rather than a popular Japanese media series, and in fact, looks nothing like either. No, no; this is a fast-paced “sports RPG” starring Otto and friends as they train to dominate “on and off the courts.” This game’s got a main story. It’s got side quests. It’s got action-packed dodgeball matches that’ll go north or south for you based on your team’s stats and your own will to win. It’s Blitzball Academia, my friends, except it isn’t underwater. Or set in Spira. Or a soccer-esque fictional sport. Or anything like blitzball whatsoever.

Jupiter Hell – August 5th (Windows)

Jupiter Hell Screenshot of Vintage Retro Text

Hey, here’s another game that’s exiting Early Access this week! Good work, August. “A turn-based shooter” that’s “built on a classic rogue-like framework,” Jupiter Hell has pretty much everything my roommate could possibly want — zombies, demons, chainsaws, spooky corridors, and most importantly of all, heavy metal. The game’s title is undeniable; I cannot imagine dealing with the planet Jupiter and describing it as a heavenly experience. I dig the old-school text for character customization sequences. Overall reception to Jupiter Hell‘s Early Access phase has been quite positive. Please look forward to a review, RPGFan-kun.

The Falconeer – August 5th (PS4, PS5, Switch)

The Falconeer Screenshot of Flying Over Flames

It feels like just nine months ago that I wrote a blurb about The Falconeer. The game about one bird’s quest to never fall into lava because getting killed hurts more than it should now soars to Sony and Nintendo systems. This bird flies again, crossing console boundaries in its ascent toward a higher number of units sold. It sails the skies of PlayStation 4 and 5. It flaps its wings to the tune of the iconic Nintendo Switch’s clicking noise. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, wait. Yep, it’s a bird.

Look, I’m just preempting every other publication here. It’s like whenever Star Trek is in the news and Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, even your cousin’s blog all think they’re clever by using the phrase “boldly go” at some point in their articles. The gaming media is going to be talking about The Falconeer in uninspired aerial metaphors this week. You know it, I know it, we know it.

Bless Unleashed – August 6th (Windows)

Bless Unleashed Screenshot Knight Against Giant

In Bless Unleashed, a free-to-play MMO from Round8 Studio, prospective players will immediately have to make perhaps the most pivotal decision the game will ever offer: whether or not to hurry up and pre-register ahead of its August 6th release in order to snag a duck that looks suspiciously like a duck suspiciously masquerading as an inconspicuous and not at all suspicious chocobo. Say that sentence five times fast. I dare you.

Bless Unleashed has got itself some dungeons. It’s got itself an open world. It parades onto the scene with intense combat and bloodthirsty fiends. As a result, it’s in precisely the right position to either succeed or fail on PC based upon the merits of its pre-existing PS4 and Xbox One versions’ quality. Judging by its Metacritic score, I’m not sure it’s the next coming of the Wrath of the Lich King or anything, but your giant-slaying mileage may vary.

Full disclosure: I wrote the intro to this week’s column at about seven o’clock in the morning. I’m only finishing things up with a suitable outro just, at nearly eleven in the evening. I’ve lived an entire day between intro and outro. I’ve existed. I’ve done things. Seen things. Survived. (Editor’s note: Proud of you.)

I cannot conceivably offer another five paragraphs’ worth of material again. I do not have it in me. Just go and play RPGs, people! Come back next week to learn about more RPGs. We are your wellspring of role-playing culture. You color that culture with your choices of what to play and when. We’re symbiotic.

I’m going to sleep now. But I will likely be awake when you’re reading this. Maybe.

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