My mouth remains on fire.
For my birthday on Saturday, my roommates treated me to delicious Korean fried chicken. I ordered it with two sauces. One was “SoGa,” which is a catchy term for a traditional soy and garlic blend. The other was “North Carolina Hot and Spicy.” I didn’t find the food all that hot to begin with. Sweeter, with a nice dose of spice, but not hot. As it happens, it’s a building heat. And I built that heat. Oh, I built it.
I’m trying to focus on RPGs, but half of me wants more chicken, and the other half wants to sleep. Have you ever experienced this phenomenon? This poultry-or-hibernate mania? It’s a whole thing, let me tell you.
But that’s OK. My present stupor is in service of a good cause; that chicken was incredible.
And now for your regularly scheduled list of new games and DLCs, including conveniently attached screenshots to enhance your rudimentary understanding and potentially motivate you into learning more. It’s a public service, and you, my friends, are the public.
Demon Strikes Back – August 16th (Windows)
I hadn’t realized I’d done something to offend the demon, yet here the demon is, striking back. There’s a moral in here somewhere, but to be honest, I’m too tired to find it. So why not look for it yourself in this roguelike action game coming exclusively to PC this week? Dungeon-diving will feel like a rush, but assimilating your foes’ souls and using them to repair your shattered village? That’s smarts, kid. Developer WildPlanet claims you’ll never get bored, too, so if there’s one game to bring with you to a desert island, it’s Xenogears.
But! If you have another spare slot, consider Demon Strikes Back.
The Doors of Trithius (Early Access) – August 16th (Windows)
So let’s say that, for whatever reason, you refuse to acknowledge that Demon Strikes Back. Instead, you consider yourself above such frivolous matters. Yet you still want a roguelike RPG to chew on this week. The Doors of Trithius could be the game for you.
“But why, Quinton? Why would The Doors of Trithius satiate me?” I hear you. Well, what if I told you that this multitude of doors allows you to cook? And to read? And to explore the mysterious world of alchemy? And what if leveling was not enough to master the game, but rather, exploration and experimentation are required to ascertain how to become powerful enough to win? You’ll need to interact with trainers and poke around the world if you are ever going to be able to save it. All of this could be yours when the game launches in Early Access this week.
Road 96 – August 16th (Switch, Windows)
It’s not the route to get your kicks, but at least it is Road 96. OK, so get this. You aren’t in the mood for demons nor doorways. But you still want something with an element of procedural generation and trial-and-error gameplay. Road 96 has you covered with procedurally-generated roads. So hitchhike your way to freedom, fam. It’s the authoritarian nation of Petria, and you’ve got to find your own way around. You’ll meet a wealth of diverse characters, including romantic souls and common thugs.
Inspired by Tarantino, the Cohen brothers, and Bong-Joon-ho, Road 96 is perhaps the most genuinely original-looking game this week. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’ll have the chance to check it out straightaway, so I demand that you let me know what you think if you do.
Or I could just read Bob Richardson’s review, where he says “Road 96 offers a unique style and storytelling that the gaming industry desperately needs right now.” Now that is high praise indeed, and there it creeps up the wishlist…
Ambition: A Minuet in Power – August 17th (Windows, macOS)
“Man,” you say. “Forget procedural generation entirely. I just want to date people in 18th-century Paris.” Worry not; we all go through this phase. Ambition: A Minuet in Power, releasing this week on PC and sometime relatively soon on Switch, puts players in the role of a fashionable woman whose goal is to survive the tumultuous times of her era. Throughout your endeavors, you may find yourself dating one, or perhaps many, eligible lovers. Gossip is your greatest weapon, but it is also a double-edged sword. It will just as likely send you to the guillotine as grant you favors and amass wealth.
Just like the real world, right?
Marvel’s Avengers: War for Wakanda – August 17th (PS4, PS5, XB1, XSX, Windows, Stadia)
Marvel’s Avengers hasn’t had an easy time of things. It’s undersold and evidently underdelivered, yet there is a visible degree of hype in the gaming world for this notable, sizable, DLC. War for Wakanda follows the footsteps of the superb superhero Black Panther, AKA King T’Challa. While the base game is commonly considered to be bogged down by its “Games as a Service” multiplayer, Avengers’ single-player campaign has reviewed better, and fans are looking forward to an allegedly meaty additional campaign taking place in titular Wakanda.
With a new hero, a new villain, and a brand new story to showcase them, Square Enix is clearly hoping to right a somewhat sunken ship with War for Wakanda. It will be interesting to see how things shake up for this struggling licensed AAA behemoth in the days and weeks to come.
Mortal Shell: The Virtuous Cycle – August 18th (PS4, PS5, XB1, XSX, Windows)
Dark fantasy Souls-like Mortal Shell first hopped onto the scene about a year ago for PS4, Xbox One, and Windows before adorning the shiny new PS5 and Xbox Series X|S with prettier ports back in March. It’s been a while, but the game’s big DLC, The Virtuous Cycle, is finally coming out for all platforms. Free to download for its first five days on the market, “The Virtuous Cycle” adds an ever-popular (I mean, just look at this week) roguelike element to the game with over 100 new abilities for hungry players to feast upon. (That’s a metaphor; they aren’t food-based. At least, I don’t think they are.)
Amusingly, the developers are apparently looking forward to players discovering certain ability combinations that could outright break the new roguelike mode. I wonder if Kitase thought the same thing when Triple Triad’s card system broke Final Fantasy VIII.
START AGAIN: a prologue – August 18th (Windows)
If you’re thinking START AGAIN: a prologue isn’t a wild enough name for a game with that thing in it, I have some good (?) news: technically, the full title is START AGAIN START AGAIN START AGAIN: A PROLOGUE.
START AGAIN is a time loop game that looks heavy on the depression and angst factor. Which, frankly, is a great recipe for time loop games. Steins;Gate, anyone? Or that Star Trek: Voyager two-parter? (Look, it’s been months since I subtly injected a Star Trek reference into Coming This Week. It was overdue.) And needless to say, but saying it anyway — this game’s art style is striking. It’s a turn-based RPG, too, which I didn’t expect from some of the screenshots. But then again, I have no idea what I expected from the screenshots.
Live and die to your heart’s content as you unravel the mystery behind a curse. I will be hiding behind you. The game is coming to Steam this week, but you can also already lend your support on itch.io if that’s more your jam.
Sword & Souls: Neverseen – August 18th (Switch)
I love it when positively-received Steam games come to Switch. I think I made a joke just recently about how often that happens; the Switch is like a suction cup for good Steam games. It’s a wonderful synergy these two platforms have going on, and all evidence suggests Sword & Souls: Neverseen continues the tradition. You are shipwrecked and caught in a struggle between a witch and wonky townsfolk, and your only hope is to train. And train. And train some more. Combat-focused, Sword & Souls: Neverseen has plenty going for it — tame monsters and befriend mercenaries to fight alongside you; upgrade your home and training grounds to boost the experience points you gain from all your hard work; invest in the local museum (genuinely surprising); even go fishing (not at all surprising, this is an RPG).
The story is lighthearted, which makes sense, as the colors are poppy and the UI font is bubblicious. That’s not a word, but it is a brand of gum, so when she proofreads this article, the illustrious Alana Hagues is going to let it slide. Please. (Editor’s note: Even if it wasn’t a bubble gum brand, that’s a fabulous word. Of course I’m going to let it slide. Also, thanks for leaking my identity. No one is meant to know who your illustrious editor is…)
Twelve Minutes – August 19th (XB1, XSX, Windows)
Two things spring to mind. “Oh, this is a big release!” That’s the first. “I, myself, appear to be caught in a time loop.” That’s the second.
Twelve Minutes is the second time loop game on this week’s list. That’s roughly two more than the batting average. Similar to START AGAIN: a prologue, Twelve Minutes stars a man caught in a spiral. Unlike START AGAIN, Twelve Minutes stars Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, and James McAvoy. I’d say the big teddy bear thing gives START AGAIN the horror edge here, but have you heard Dafoe at his most frightening? I don’t know. It’s close.
You’re spending a romantic evening with your wife, which is cute. Suddenly, a police detective busts down the door, accuses your wife of murder, and then promptly beats you to death, which is far less cute. The loop? It’s you, opening the front door on your way to the romance. You’ll need to use the knowledge gained with every loop to prevent these terrible things from happening forever.
Or you could just, like, play Stardew Valley or something. I don’t know, I want this game, but I feel so stressed just writing about it…
Monster Train First Class – August 19th (Switch)
Deckbuilding. Roguelike. Tower Defense. OK, the first two have gone together like curry on rice over the past several years, but that last one’s a bit less commonly blended. Monster Train, a 2020 title the good Bob Richardson praised for its customization and meaningful choices but criticized for its weak story and “ho-hum” presentation, is taking another trip on the tracks with First Class, the Switch port of a successful Steam game.
Further evidence I’m in a time loop: I swear I just wrote that.
Monster Train: First Class ports not only the base game but The Last Divinity DLC as well. (Which Bob also covered for us because he’s awesome, and nothing can stop him!) Bonus cards? Check. Bonus features? Check. Every update to the original version? Check. So get on with it, then; go off the rails on this crazy train.
The Vale: Shadow of the Crown – August 19th (Windows)
The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is an “audio-based” action-adventure RPG. The kicker is, you’re blind. You’re a blind adventurer, my friends. You can’t see a thing. The game shines, or at least, hopefully, will shine, in that its 3D audio aims to be as immersive as modern technology allows. The Vale will purportedly contain an emotionally gripping story with quality voice performances; more impressively, it is designed from the ground up to be fully playable by folks who are blind in real life. I love that.
Arietta of Spirits – August 20th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)
Arietta’s on a mission. She’s going to solve the mysteries of the Spirit Realm, and you’re going to help her. That is if you purchase Arietta of Spirits this week, which shouldn’t prove overly difficult given that it’s launching for PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and Windows. If you elect not to do so, Arietta will be alone. You don’t want that, do you?
OK, now that I’ve gotten “slimy car salesman Quinton” out of my system for another… decade, here’s the premise: Arietta and her family visit her grandmother’s cabin for the first time since the poor old lady passed away a year prior. Arietta soon meets a mysterious new friend and gains the ability to see all the strange spirits inhabiting the island her grandmother’s cabin occupies. Hedging bets, is the mysterious friend secretly her grandmother? I don’t know, but if I were a dead grandmother, I’d totally befriend my granddaughter anonymously. That’s just me.
The most remarkable thing about writing all of these entries this week is that my mouth is no longer on fire. Now, the heat is a distant memory, and I can get up, stretch, maybe even vacuum the living room with an average-temperature mouth. Just the way I like it.
Do you know what else I’m going to do all day? Play RPGs. Do you know why? Because I’m a walking, talking, chicken-eating cliché, and I write about RPGs all week, every week, and play them when I’m neither writing nor unconscious.
Go do something bold and beautiful this week!
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