Last week’s list was short. Unfortunately, this week’s list is not. Such is the way of the world.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I spend less time penning this column on lighter weeks than heavier ones. Of interest to no one save me, but I’ll tell you anyway, I always prepare for this writing session in exactly the same manner: I treat it like a titan, a behemoth, a gargantuan list seemingly without end. Morning meditation, some stretches and exercise, coffee or tea, Spotify set to Japanese video game composers and/or pop stars my colleagues might be shocked to learn I listen to… then it’s typing time. I put myself in the zone.
As you might imagine, by the time I was breaking a proverbial sweat last week, I was already writing the outro. This left me hot and bothered — not like that — so I booted up Monster Hunter Rise for the very first time. I’ll leave this one on a cliffhanger. Be good, read the list of RPGs coming this week, and at the end of the column, I’ll tell you what happened next. I know. I build suspense like I’m the best in the business. I’m like Stephen King’s unnamed successor over here.
Book of Travels (Entering Early Access) – October 11th (Windows)
It feels like we’ve been talking about this one forever, right? Book of Travels was originally slated to enter Early Access almost exactly one year ago. Developer Might and Delight pushed the date back to August 30th, but that didn’t quite pan out, either. Now we stand at the precipice of the true (soft) launch, and I’ve gotta tell ya, I’m excited. Book of Travels is a game that’s multiplayer in theory but not always in execution. Server sizes are rather limited, which makes encountering other players a meaningful and momentous occasion.
Might and Delight have warned that adventuring requires “planning and preparation,” further incentivizing the reward for being thorough. Hints and secrets abound, so real-world pen and paper are strongly advised. Honestly, all that sounds lovely. But is anything lovelier than the game’s art style? If you’re even half as nerdy for watercolor paintings as I am, go check out Book of Travels’ Steam page for more delightful pics.
Monster Crown (Exiting Early Access) – October 12th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)
There are only so many ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack when it comes to creature-collecting RPGs. One such approach is to paint your world in dark strokes — maybe the monsters aren’t so nice. Perhaps they even rule over us plebeian people. You still need to battle, tame, and breed these things, but in a setting that just does not play nice. As the above image illustrates, David would be wise to talk.
Monster Crown officially exits Early Access this week and also launches on consoles. Our very own Neal gave you a sneak peek at what the game will be like in a preview last year. He’ll be reviewing it in the coming weeks, too, so we’ll be sure to let you know what David decides to do. One of the monsters is called Traumata, which should back up any and all notions that this is essentially what would happen if Ash Ketchum wasn’t in Pallet Town anymore, Toto. This is Pokémon with a vengeance.
Dungeon Encounters – October 14th (PS4, Switch, Windows)
When Square Enix recently unveiled Dungeon Encounters at Tokyo Game Show, the response was… a bit mixed. Look, I don’t make a habit of glancing at YouTube comments. In fact, I make it a habit to tell others not to. But I dared to glance. And folks were not thrilled about the game’s seemingly limited visuals.
I get it. When you’re traversing levels in Dungeon Encounters, there’s not exactly a whole lot of scenery. It’s all very minimalist, though if you’re unfamiliar with the game’s debut trailer, I recommend at least taking a peek at our gallery because the battle art is pretty rad. And the core concept is equally cool. Dungeon Encounters features 100 floors, a labyrinthine dungeon, ATB combat, tons of obstacles, and what appears to be an ever-growing gang of party members to help you on your merry way.
What separates Dungeon Encounters from the rest of the dungeon-encountering pack, at least for Square Enix diehards who have wondered if one of their favorite directors was secretly demoted to janitor many moons ago, is that Hiroyuki Ito is finally back in the director’s chair. This man invented ATB. He also directed Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy XII. He even supervised the development of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, 2017’s stellar enhanced remaster; that was early proof he wasn’t just mopping floors at Square Enix HQ, though some wondered if it was his clone. So, yeah, I’m hyped about this one despite its simplicity. Let’s see what the board brings!
Stolen Realm (Entering Early Access) – October 14th (Windows)
It’s rude to steal realms, right? World history is rife with it, and it usually results in unsavory things. Developer Burst2Flame Entertainment is wise in this matter — they know it in their bones; just look at their name. Stolen Realm is a turn-based strategy game with action RPG elements that also happens to be a dungeon-crawling looter. It’s got co-op, it’s got tough fights, and it even features an ice-breathing dragon who is kind enough to keep no fewer than eight little fires going day and night. It’s frosty in there!
With its Early Access release, Stolen Realm will already include over 180 enemies as well as seven separate environments with their own regional maps and big bad bosses. So cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war upon this hex-based, fixed-camera slaughter-fest. And please look forward to the ragdoll effects. Nothing says “[that monster’s] dead, Jim” like ragdoll effects.
The Good Life – October 15th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)
In The Good Life, you can be a dog who pees.
It feels like that screenshot was custom-made to elicit reactions from games journalists. “I can’t believe this upcoming debt-repayment RPG lets you be a peeing dog!” “Check out this urinating good boi in The Good Life!” “What is this mess? Upcoming RPG looks gross.” (Even bad press is better than no press at all.) Well, I’m not falling for it. I’m not going to give this game those headlines. I’m just going to include them in the body text.
Contrary to what I might have you believe, the star of The Good Life is not a dog. It’s Naomi Hayward, a journalist (just like me!) who is at the end of her rope (just like me when the dishes pile up in my kitchen!) and accepts a job offer to investigate a sleepy English town steeped in obligatory mysteries. The townsfolk turn into cats and dogs at night. Also, someone dies. Decent setup.
Naomi will do whatever it takes to crack the case, especially because she’s deeply in debt (just like me!). Snap photos, explore the Rainy Woods, unlock recipes, grow crops, try on suave clothing, renovate your house, and ride sheep. That’s The Good Life in a nutshell. And frankly, it does sound like an okay life.
The Riftbreaker – October 14th (PS5, XSX, Windows)
In some games, you’re a simple adventurer fresh on your journey — small-town origins, armed with a wooden sword and a shield made of plywood. You know the look. And then there are games like The Riftbreaker. You’re an elite scientist and commando who pilots a mech that can cross dimensions. Your mission isn’t a simple one, but you’re clearly armed for the job. Build your base, gather scientific samples in the wild (and pretty) landscape, and invent whatever it takes to survive. You’re on the far side of the Milky Way, and your bosses want you to construct a rift that will connect back to Earth to allow for colonization. Your acts of speciesist innovation won’t go unnoticed. The planet’s fauna and even its flora may steadily notice you’re a threat, behaving accordingly.
Grab your flashlight and venture out at night. Or move by day with full artillery. Just know you’re being watched. It’s like Metroid Dread, except for all the ways it isn’t.
The Sundew – October 14th (Switch, Windows)
Classic point-and-click gameplay leads the way in The Sundew, a story about a cyborg cop with a chip on her shoulder who finds herself at the center of a global conspiracy. It’s 2054, you’re in Japan, and the world is suffering from the aftermath of a devastating war. It’s a moody place with lots of rain — I’d love it there for like three days and then leave without looking back. Unfortunately, protagonist Anna Isobe doesn’t have it so easy.
The Sundew joins that ever-growing list of point-and-click indies that’s trying to reflect real-world problems. It also joins another elusive but growing list of being a game created by one person! Agnès Vuillaume from developer 2054 (see what she did there?) looks to have created something moody, atmospheric, and hard-hitting, and my eyes are locked firmly on this one.
Also Coming This Week
In addition to this week’s heavier hitters, here are a few noteworthy ports as well as somewhat smaller (but still worth a shout) releases.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut – October 12th (Switch, XB1, XSX)
“Disco Elysium will split your heart open with tectonic ferocity,” writes Eva Padilla in her review of the PS4 release of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, the near-perfect version of an already terrific game. It launched on PS4, PS5, and everyone’s favorite console, Stadia, earlier this year. Now, this robust tale makes its way to Nintendo and Microsoft fare.
Deep Rune – October 14th (Windows)
Side-scrollers don’t often pop up here at RPGFan, but Deep Rune has enough RPG fixings attached for me to make an exception. Top it off with a world steeped in Norse mythology, and this one’s worth a look.
Henchman Story – October 14th (Switch, Windows)
You’re not the hero of Henchman Story — just the henchman. And your boss? They’re not very bright. This narrative adventure sticks us in the unfortunate role of the yes-person to a bumbling supervillain.
Inspector Waffles – October 14th (Switch)
The titular Inspector Waffles is a talking cat with a crime to solve. His game was released on Steam back in March, and its trailer is absurdly cute. Now, Waffles is waffling around on Nintendo Switch. You don’t have to own a PC to help this feline stay sublime.
Tears of Avia – October 14th (Switch)
Like Waffles himself, Tears of Avia also hops from elsewhere onto Switch Thursday. A turn-based strategy RPG, Avia is set in a war-torn land.
Tales of the Black Death – October 15th (Windows)
If Tales of the Black Death belonged to the famous Tales JRPG franchise, it would surely be the darkest. “Black Death” ain’t exactly “Symphonia.” Italy. 1347. Not exactly the most common setting in interactive, text-based stories, but this morality-centric bit of software is a fittingly bleak work from Doubleton Game Studio.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town – October 15th (EU), October 26th (NA) (PS4, XB1)
Niki Fakhoori, my favorite fellow N fan (from Pokémon Black & White) on the entire planet, gave this one an 80 when it arrived on Switch a full 13 months ago. She knows her stuff. If you’ve been wanting to grab the game but hoping to do so with a different console, October 15th is your lucky day if you live in Europe like my editor. Or October 26th if you’re in the same country as me. Or… whenever you buy the game, I guess.
Monster Hunter Rise‘s title screen awed me with its lovely music. Then I saw how in-depth the character creator was. I spent an hour on my avatar, felt mentally exhausted from the ordeal, and suddenly it wanted me to design my cat and dog, too.
In typical Quinton fashion, I set the game on standby for nearly a week before finally getting back to it last night. Choice paralysis is a heck of a thing. But I’ll have you know, my friends, that my Palico and Palamute are stylish.