Stop, children. What’s that sound? Everybody look, what’s goin’ down?
Or rather, up? Tales of Arise is upon us. It’s the first new console Tales game in five years. That’s the longest the series has ever gone without a brand new mainline entry. Though I’d argue the quality is often lofty enough not to deserve the phrase, this is a franchise that is frequently regarded as “the fast-food of JRPGs.” Part of being fast food means it’s speedy, and there is plenty of it, speed and quantity, but repeated delays for Arise have produced, well, a gorgeous-looking game. How is it, otherwise? Wait and see, wait and see.
Of course, that’s not all there is in the queue for RPGs Coming This Week. We’ve got plenty more for you to sink your proverbial teeth into. Or your real teeth, if discs and cartridges are your thing.
Wow, the things I’m allowed to type in this column.
Encased (Exiting Early Access) – September 7th (Windows)
When I was a kid, I used to think of the 1970s as the decade when automobile emissions and the like reached a fever pitch. I have no idea why I thought the 1980s reversed course — I’d like to live in that alternate reality, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, the alternate-reality 1970s in Encased is by no means what my kid self envisioned. In Encased, an enormous artifact has emerged in the desert, and everybody’s calling it The Dome. That show didn’t last long, nor was it particularly good, but at least it had Hank from Breaking Bad.
Encased wants you to fight, level up, and join forces with a faction of your choosing in a world that developer Dark Crystal Games describes as “ruined.” Okay, so the world is ruined, and the developers have the word “dark” in their name. So yeah, this is not my dreamland at all. On the bright side, we can never have too many isometric RPGs.
Crown Trick – September 8th (PS4, XB1)
It’s a port! But it’s not from PC to Switch for a change. (Probably because it launched on PC and Switch simultaneously. Clever devils.) Nope, this time it’s Sony and Microsoft fans who are feasting. You know those games with the randomly generated dungeons that shift every time you re-enter? This game is one of them. In Crown Trick, you’ll need to master the elements in order to thrive and survive. Shopkeepers sell all sorts of fun stuff, like strategic items and weaponry, and death will set you back a bit. Yes, it’s a rogue-like role-playing game. But the Steam reviews are super-positive, so if you’re itching for another, Crown Trick will likely suit you nicely.
Final Fantasy IV (Pixel Remaster) – September 8th (Windows, iOS, Android)
If you’ve been around the block a few times, you’ll remember the Final Fantasy I, II, and III Pixel Remasters from all the way back in late July. Despite a rough unveiling, they’re actually pretty good, and it’s great to finally have an official Western version of the original Final Fantasy III. The first three games were released all at once, but the fourth through sixth are launching individually at unannounced intervals. In the case of Final Fantasy IV‘s Pixel Remaster, it’s out this week, and it looks lovely.
With a music player, a bestiary that is genuinely useful (it shows the locations of each enemy!), and beautifully touched-up graphics, it’s worth the fetch. A newly-arranged soundtrack that will likely prove as impressive as the NES Pixel Remaster entries (which is to say, excellent) is icing on the cake. The downside, natch, is that the game is stuck on Steam and mobile devices for now. If those aren’t your scene, you may wish to wait for the semi-inevitable (because Square is sometimes odd) console ports.
Frontier Quest – September 8th (Switch)
Oh, my wee sapling. What am I to do with ye? Never calling on your dear, sweet Feo Ul when she knows ye should. Truly, such a baffling, troublesome, quarrelsome sapling.
Ack. Sorry. I got Shadowbringers in my throat again. Frontier Quest is — get this — a Switch port of a PC game. It didn’t seem to pick up much traction on Steam, so here’s hoping Stellar Advent Pty (what a name) sees success with the Big N! Frontier Quest is a puzzle RPG with those beloved “befriend everybody over time” mechanics responsible for my fresh playthroughs of Stardew Valley every time a new patch drops. You’ll need to get to know these folks to help you learn how to defeat all those scary, scary monsters threatenin’ this-here town, partner. Frontier Quest touts 50+ roads to venture across, which, honestly? I’ve never seen a game advertised as such. Ahh, reminds me of my Greyhound bus travelin’ years, that does.
World Flipper – September 8th (iOS, Android)
Every so often, a game comes along that is… not like other games. Perhaps someone picked on it at school for having a foreign accent (Same). Maybe it grew up without parents (Same). Maybe it’s a free-to-play mobile pinball-oriented RPG with crossover characters from Granblue Fantasy (Same).
I’m talking about World Flipper, and it is something. It’s an action RPG at its core, but it frequently involves touching the screen to trigger flippers that will ram into enemies to give you an advantage in battle. The gameplay consists of, well, doing that a lot. It’s not just a single-player pinball premise; multiple people can team up to pin powerful bosses into position via well-timed balls. The bosses, I should note, are specifically described as “evil.” So, uh, I guess… don’t feel too bad about balling them? Ball them to your heart’s content.
Hindsight 20/20 – Wrath of Rakshasa – September 9th (PS4, PS5, Switch, XB1, XSX, Windows)
Pop quiz! What do you get when you put a bunch of former BioWare and Sucker Punch developers together in a room for a couple of years, with the edict to make player choices matter and the artistic decision to turn everything into a bubbly, cartoon-like cascade? If you answered “probably the game that this paragraph portends,” you’re wrong!
Okay, fine, you’re right.
Hindsight 20/20 – Wrath of Rakshasa is a third-person action RPG that puts you in the shoes of a one-armed warrior named Jehan. You can opt to respect the values of live-and-let-live a la your homeland or fight violence with violence; basically, you can be Jean-Luc Picard or Cersei Lannister? To that end, you’ll be able to incapacitate your foes with a
phaser stun rod or slay them with a sword. The nearby town and its denizens will change in meaningful ways depending on your decisions, inviting multiple playthroughs. With ten different endings, Wrath of Rakshasa ensures you’ll have a grand time, presuming that the game is as good as it sounds.
Life is Strange: True Colors – September 10th (PS4, PS5, XB1, XSX, Windows, Stadia)
Yeah, I know. I spent all that time at the start hyping up Tales of Arise when the least I could have done is throw Life is Strange: True Colors a name drop. Square Enix’s latest in the line of coming-of-age adventure games is surely just as highly anticipated. Heroine Alex Chen returns home to reunite with her brother, only for her brother to kick the bucket under mysterious circumstances. (Don’t worry. It’s in all the trailers.)
Alex’s unique gift allows her to sense what people are feeling, perceiving those feelings in the form of colors. I once thought I could do the same, but I was just very, very drunk as it happens. You will be guiding Alex on her quest to unravel the truth behind her brother’s death, so make sure you pack some tissues. Actually, pack a lot of tissues. Life is Strange games tend to do this weird thing to me where, like, my eyes water uncontrollably on multiple occasions.
Olympia Soirée – September 9th (Switch)
Okay, before I start, who wouldn’t go to an evening party with either of these two handsome people? Well, in Olympia Soirée, the latest Idea Factory visual novel hitting the Switch, that’s exactly what you get to do! Kind of…? Our snowy-haired heroine Olympia is the last of her clan, and she must head to Tenguu Island to perform a ritual to bring back the sun to the world. While on the island, Olympia will also need to help the “colorless,” and among the achromatically-named group of people will be Olympia’s soulmate. If she’s devoted to saving the world, she must reveal her true self to her true love.
That all sounds very passionate, doesn’t it? But, right now, the most important thing to get passionate about is Olympia Soiree‘s art, because wow. I’m told the game’s artist, Satoi, is incredibly well-regarded in otome circles. So it’s got beauty going for it in spades. That’s more than enough to get me interested.
Tales of Arise – September 10th (PS4, PS5, XB1, XSX, Windows)
And here it is, folks. If you haven’t played the Tales of Arise demo yet, I recommend doing so, because my gosh, it looks gorgeous and sounds wonderful. Truly, it could be the legendary Motoi Sakuraba’s finest work in years, which, given the time crunch and turnaround of previous Tales soundtracks, is surprising! It’s also fun. The cast is nifty, and the banter entertaining. Skits are sure to prove divisive among long-time fans, eschewing the trademark anime talking heads Tales is known for in favor of more animated graphic novel vibes. But I like them.
I’m not sure I can say much else. Have you detected, perhaps, an overall positive reception from yours truly? At least as of the point in the game that I’ve reached thus far? That’s on you to decide! I’ll nod once for yes, but that’s the only hint you’re going to get. We might have to wait until the end of the week for the biggest release, but compared to the five year wait fans have had to endure, that’s nothing.
Phew. Another week down. Hey, did you know that September 8th is Star Trek Day? There’s going to be live panels with each of the casts, so I bet there will be exciting news! Maybe even trailers for upcoming seasons! I know, I know. There’s a decent chance you don’t care! But I care! I’m one of those weirdos who is absolutely into all the new shows. So I’m happy and excited.
What does stand a good chance of exciting not just me, but you as well, is Sony’s PlayStation Showcase on September 9th. Here’s hoping we’ve got plenty of RPG goodness to report on immediately afterward. You would like that, wouldn’t you? RPG news that is. So would we. So would we.
Do you reckon it’s time for more Final Fantasy XVI footage despite Naoki Yoshida saying there’s probably nothing in the works for Tokyo Game Show, which is a few weeks past this event? Personally, I have a good feeling. But it’s just a feeling, so don’t shout at me if I’m wrong! I’m just one Quinton.
And this one Quinton will catch ya next week, friends. <3
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