It feels like just 51 weeks ago that I wished everyone a Happy Halloween. Yet here we are again, further proving that Earth revolves around a star with a roughly 365-day cycle.
My grandmother always said, “You can’t celebrate a holiday without an RPG.” Grandmother always cracked the most questionable jokes ever — she was referring to a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. As far as I’m aware, she never actually owned a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (she was a staunch pacifist, a long-distance student of Gandhi’s after a fashion!), but she said these things, anyway. It was enough to make a child nervous.
You see where this is going.
I cannot in good conscience celebrate a holiday without an RPG. For a blessing, I’m referring to the “RPGs” that you’re presumably here to read about. As we approach All Hallows’ Eve, we are gifted with a multitude of RPGs… coming this week.
Darkest Dungeon II (Early Access) – October 26th (Windows)
I’m a tad underwhelmed, but not with the game! I’ve not played Darkest Dungeon II yet; I mean, how many people have? The game enters Early Access this week, so the number must be slim. I’m sure it’s going to be a wild ride; the first game sure was.
It’s just… couldn’t they have called this Darker-est Dungeon? Or Even Darker Darkest Dungeon? Or Vantablack Dungeon? Listen, I’m exceptionally good at marketing. I once sold no fewer than 20 glasses of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. How did I do it? I was a cute kid, that’s how. I may no longer be a cute kid, but I like to think I’m still cute. And what’s cuter than admitting you messed up the first time around and going all-in on a ridiculously named sequel?
I suppose you want to know more Darkest Dungeon II instead of seeing me drone on and on about this clear and present catastrophe. Fine. Here’s a trailer! Honestly, no respect…
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – October 26th (PS4, PS5, Switch [Cloud Version], XB1, XSX, Windows)
Some games are announced far ahead of their release. Some remain long-rumored until, when at last they’re announced, it’s a matter of mere months before their arrival. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy belongs to the latter camp. It was just this past June that we received word, and while there are valid critiques to be made that Square should not have dedicated such a huge percentage of its E3 presentation to the unveiling, none can argue we didn’t get a rich taste of what’s in store for us this week.
An action-adventure with RPG elements and the cast of eccentric characters we’ve come to expect, Guardians has a lot riding on its shoulders. Marvel’s Avengers disappointed enough players (though there were more positive reactions scattered among the rest, like Audra’s!) that the Guardians of the Galaxy reveal seemed to garner a more muted reception than Square may have anticipated.
But honestly? I like what I’ve seen from this one. And our Abraham Kobylanski can back up these positive impressions, as his review dropped earlier today! By the looks of things, centering the game on a single-player campaign without the mixed frills of a games-as-a-service model, the teams at Eidos-Montréal and Crystal Dynamics have delivered something that’s strong on its own merits, not the merits of what’s slated to come.
Super Robot Wars 30 – October 28th (Windows)
I have a friend. We’ll call him Craig. Craig was stunned sublime when he found out that Super Robot Wars 30 is actually getting a Western release. Craig grew up on shows like Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Code Geass. The prospect of a tactical RPG chock full of Gundams and other mecha, which is also a crossover bonanza, is pretty much Craig’s dream. He will not stop talking to me about how hyped he is to bring Char Aznable into battle. I think he’s obsessed.
It’s me. I’m Craig.
There are plenty of recognizable anime theme songs to go around as we blast our path with beam rifles, slash our way to victory with beam sabers, and generally just beam forward. I’m beaming. Beaming enough that I might just bite the bullet on the Ultimate Edition. Gotta let Bandai Namco know I’m grateful somehow!
Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi – October 28th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)
Those character icons ooze style, don’t they? Like little calling cards for an eclectic bunch of heroes. Those heroes are the Undernauts, subterranean adventurers willing to brave an underground labyrinth chock full of monsters galore. Progress involves traveling a grid system in search of the way forward, which sort of reminds me of Midlight’s Deep in Final Fantasy Tactics? Or I suppose you’d call it Deep Dungeon if you prefer the PlayStation translation over the PSP one. But if you do, don’t tell me. Keep that skeleton in your closet.
You should be aware that Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi requires a controller on PC, which I would not have known had its Steam page not dutifully informed me. You should also know that your party will consist of six people, which is cool.
Don’t fall on the spikes. Please.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars – October 28th (PS4, Switch, Windows)
What do you get when, historically speaking, you combine Yoko Taro, Yosuke Saito, Keiichi Okabe, and Kimihiko Fujisaka? You get Drakengard. Or NieR. That’s what you’re supposed to get. That’s what they tell me on the tin that I I should expect to receive.
But Yoko Taro probably got his doctorate in trolling, so along comes Voice of the Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars. This is a game that tells its entire narrative via playable cards as you listen to the dulcet tones of the narrator — excuse me, Game Master — Todd Haberkorn. The protagonist of Voice of the Cards has set off on a journey to slay Dragon, a creature that is presumably a dragon. Joining the hero are Melanie and Mar, who probably share some strange, distorted, and most assuredly tragic past. Because Yoko Taro.
The whole thing looks and feels like a tabletop adventure your married friends host every Thursday evening, complete with the undertones of a marriage on the rocks that always seem to play out on the board when one partner refuses to split the loot despite the other partner’s hard work. Except there are also cards. So, now it’s like the aforementioned tabletop adventure followed by the secret game of Yu-Gi-Oh that you and the rest of your unmarried friends play at IHOP afterward to take their minds off the awkwardness.
Also Coming This Week
Wait, you mean to tell me there are even more RPGs coming this week? Well, yes, self, and may I just say, talking to yourself is unbecoming in professional discourse.
Well, self, riddle me this one: if this is soooo professional, why does your editor let you get away with this useless and amateur fluff week after week?
OK. You’ve got me there. [Editor’s Note: Your regular editor is back this week. Not sure what last week’s substitute thinks, but I’ll let it slip through the cracks…]
Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut – October 26th (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Back in March, I told everyone to get back on the Katmobile for Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut. You didn’t think I was jesting, did you? Do you actually believe I would ever do that to you? I meant it. Director’s Cut is like Kathy Rain intensified. The developers intend to use everything they’ve learned in the five years since the original version’s release to make this the definitive edition you might have known you wanted if you, like the man John Tucker himself, felt that the game was good but the gaps in its backstory needed to be addressed.
Moonglow Bay – October 26th (XB1, XSX, Windows)
The Eastern United States coastline. The 1980s. A relaxing slice-of-life fishing RPG. That’s right — fishing RPG. Moonglow Bay looks to tell an emotionally driven tale; your late partner’s last wish was to keep a fishing business afloat, so it’s up to you, rookie angler, to keep the dream alive.
They say every RPG has a fishing minigame these days. So it’s time to drop the mini.
Backbone – October 28th (PS4, PS5, XB1, XSX)
If fishing isn’t your scene, perhaps you’d prefer to inhabit the role of a rookie raccoon detective instead. Backbone‘s got your, er, back. It’s not the sequel Caitlin Argyros felt was necessary, but hey, at least it’s a port. Maybe the sequel will follow.
Hermitage: Strange Case Files – October 28th (Switch, Windows)
Let’s say you harbor no interest in fishing. Let’s take things further and presume you’re unstirred by the prospect of playing a raccoon. What about a haunted bookstore? Does the idea of being a disinterested bookstore owner appeal to you? Honestly, it appeals to me. Except I wouldn’t be disinterested. Certainly not when the regulars at my shop are all weirdos with a penchant for the paranormal. Then maybe I should check out Hermitage: Strange Case Files.
VirtuaVerse – October 28th (PS4, Switch, XB1)
Technomancers. Cryptoshamans. Virtual reality debauchery. It’s VirtuaVerse, a 2020 indie point-and-click that’s coming to a Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft outlet near you.
Louder than Words – October 29th (Windows)
A coming-of-age story with a field trip backdrop, Louder than Words sports a friendly, funky anime aesthetic that follows a young man as he finishes high school and enters the “real world” of young adulthood. But, oh god, if this is anything like Clannad, I’m going to need a tissue. Or, like, a thousand of them.
Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair – October 29th (Switch)
A secluded mountain resort hosts ten friends for the evening. It’s all fun and games, except one friend is a murderer. If you guessed that you must figure out who’s responsible or bear the burden of selecting someone innocent, congratulations, you’ve seen this setup before. Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair might not be the best-known 2016 Steam release, but it’s sure to catch a second wind this week courtesy of Nintendo Switch.
That’s a lot of games! And they’re nearly all RPGs, to boot. So which ones are a real treat? And which among them is a qualitative trick? It’s a spooky query, and subjective, too. Only you can know the answer to that question, and that involves spending a great deal of money.
So don’t do that.
Pick what sounds the most exciting and have a blast. Hopefully. But do be sure to stock some candy if kids are likely to knock at your door. Or turn the lights off and pretend you’re sleeping whilst redecorating your island in Animal Crossing.
N-not that I’d ever do that.