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It’s snowing in Toronto. I don’t live in Toronto, but I have a close friend who does, and she’s been showing me pictures of the snow there. It’s all quite lovely, so long as you love snow. Which I do, so the loveliness prevails. Do you enjoy the snow?
Every year at about this time, I start thinking about my favorite RPG snowy areas. Final Fantasy VI has a superb opening sequence, and I think a lot of its atmosphere is thanks to that aspect. Terra’s under Imperial control; her emotionless state is quite cold, don’t you think? But she learns Fire soon into the game. She’s thawing. Am I stretching? Yeah, but who cares? Stretching is fun!
Toward the tail end of Xenogears, the penultimate location in the game is covered in snow. It’s a winter wonderland, but not a happy one. Still, it enriches several scenes quite nicely.
Oh, oh, and in Dragon Age: Inquisition, your organization begins in an old fortress surrounded by snowfields. It’s great! Do you think we’ll get Dragon Age 4 before 2034? I sure hope so. I want there to be people who are still alive to comprehend the significance of continuing that story after Inquisition ended on a heck of a cliffhanger!
Anyway, here are some RPGs coming this week.
Archvale – December 2nd (Switch, XB1, Windows)
Some people like their RPGs turn-based, where you can take your time and strategize with no action-oriented pressure. Some enjoy the more frenetic and fast-paced fare seen in plenty of modern role-playing titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake. And I’ll admit that I’m definitely not one of them. On the other hand, there are others who love Undertale’s bullet-hell mechanics and want more.
If you’re in either of the latter two camps, Archvale, from publisher Humble Games and developer idoz & Phops, is probably for you. The Undying Guardians are no-good, rotten, do-badders, and it’s up to you to stop them. But they and their minions intend to rain hell down upon you, so dodge, dodge, and dodge some more. Along the way, you’ll acquire badges that improve your stats as well as a smorgasbord of weapons to use to fight back against those bullets.
I really like the word smorgasbord, so if you ever see it pop up twice in a single article, that’s why. Which technically just happened.
Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani – December 2nd (Switch)
One time, my TV kept spamming me with ads, and I got super-duper frustrated, and I’m pretty sure I exclaimed: “Die, Roku!”
Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani stars Shino Akitsu. Shino’s got a special gift, and it’s the kind I’d be tempted to return to my nearest Walmart, but that’s just me. She can see “spirits, apparitions, and indescribable creatures.” What troubles me here is that I can describe a lot of things. Most people can. I’m willing to bet that savvy Shino is one of them. If she’s got nothing, then they’re either dreadfully terrifying or sickeningly cute. Either way, I’m out.
Shino works in the interdimensional village of Sakuratani. She’s about to meet all sorts of strange characters, including a nine-tailed fox. Most are very pretty and probably seductive. You know how it is. Dairoku‘s narrative is largely dictated by player decisions, and you will travel between realms and discover multiple. Will you bring glory to the Occult Action Department? Or shall you steer Shino Akitsu toward despair? Or, you know, both? Because you can replay the game?
Mechajammer – December 2nd (Windows)
Friends, there is nothing I love more than jamming mecha. Do you feel me? Well, Mechajammer looks rad, but truth be told, I’m not sure Whalenought Studios understands that I want to prevent Char Aznable’s ruby-red Zaku II from sending signals back to Zeon. Instead, the developer is chiefly concerned with creating a cyberpunk turn-based RPG with motorbikes straight out of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and the sort of headwear I would seriously consider plucking off someone else’s head if only to try it on for a few gorgeous seconds.
Mechajammer is set in a dystopian colony world, which is totally fair in my opinion because most colony worlds will turn into dystopias faster than most of us would like to admit. Mercenaries, gang members, and thieves will fill up your battle party, so, uh, I guess those thieves can pilfer that hat for me.
You can bribe people. You can gather and unleash rumors, which are more powerful than any technological terror. I’m adding that part; that’s not the developer’s official statement. But seriously, I’d rather get struck down by a Death Star superlaser than have some rude dude gossiping about me. “That Quinton, they can cook a great steak. Go ask them to make you a steak.” And then people line up, but I am terrible at cooking steak, and it’s all quite embarrassing.
Danganronpa Decadence – December 3rd (Switch)
Danganronpa is one of those series that keeps eluding me, and I don’t even know why. Every time I’ve sat down and told myself I’d get started, something prevents me from doing so. It’s been this way for years.
Danganronpa Decadence might finally be what hooks me. It’s a collection of the first three games, plus the new Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, which is less “puzzle-based visual novel” and more board-game. Players have 50 turns to build their characters via a multitude of minigames. You can buy weapons, obtain new skills, and even ascend a 200-floor tower. If you’re getting the collection, you could have a peruse at this new version of Jabberwock Island, but by the sound of Alana’s review, it’s not going to offer anything more interesting than some fun beach shenanigans.
Luckily, the core of Decadence is those main entries. Casts of characters are kidnapped and forced to engage in witty repartee. People will die, which sucks. Your enemy is a patchwork black-and-white teddy bear, which is horrifying. Everyone you meet inhabits a certain anime archetype, which is neat! But, again, killing and being killed, that’s a big part of the games. And that’s just plain deadly!
Also Coming This Week
Lots to choose from here! Something for everybody! I’m using a lot of exclamation marks this week, and I’m not sure why!
Beyond a Steel Sky – November 30th (PS4, PS5, Switch, XB1, XSX)
Beyond a Steel Sky, the long-awaited sequel to 1994’s Beneath a Steel Sky, debuted on Apple Arcade in June 2020, and Revolution Software, Ltd. had plans for console ports from the get-go, which was exciting news. What I didn’t expect was for all those ports to pop up at once. Now that the odds are solid that you own at least one piece of hardware that can play it, what is Beyond a Steel Sky about? AIs control the world in a dark future. Social control, unrest, and surveillance play big roles. Scary stuff. Also, David Gibbons delivered plenty of the game’s artwork, and he drew the entirety of Watchmen, so that’s cool.
Mind Scanners – November 30th (Switch)
“Greetings. Your Mind Scanner request has been approved. Your duty is to diagnose and treat the citizens of The Structure. The patient list is long so don’t waste your time. We’ll let you see your daughter soon…” I refrain from directly quoting a game’s marketing team whenever possible because if all I’m going to do is copy and paste what others have said, I’m just a low-key transcriptionist with nothing to say. But developer The Outer Zone hit the ball out of the park with the blurb for Mind Scanners. So, let’s make an exception. And let’s all do our best to sleep tonight, too.
World’s End Club – November 30th (Windows)
The preceding pair of games were ports, and this one’s also a port. You might notice we have a thing for listing all but the most earth-shaking ports down here in “Also Coming This Week.” Zero Escape‘s Kotaro Uchikoshi helms World’s End Club‘s script, and Danganronpa‘s Kazuta Kodaka serves as director. Much of the game plays out like a visual novel, but there are all kinds of 2D side-scrolling moments as well. It’s a weird mix. But then, so is butter and pecans, if you really think about it, and I’m downing some butter pecan ice cream as we speak.
Wartales (Entering Early Access) – December 1st (Windows)
Did any of you watch the 2017-2021 DuckTales reboot? I didn’t, but I just found out it starred David Tennant, which is neat! It concluded with a 67-minute series finale. That’s a lot of minutes for a show like this! I hope the fans were satisfied. Wartales has nothing to do with DuckTales. Your mileage may vary on whether or not that’s a good thing. Instead, it’s an open-world RPG. It doesn’t star David Tennant, but it would be fun if it did! Instead, you lead a band of mercenaries in search of wealth during a fantasy setting modeled after the medieval era. Since it’s in Early Access for the next year or so, maybe there’s still time for me to pitch the idea that one of the mercenaries is a duck.
Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition – December 3rd (XB1)
What makes a grimdawn definitive? Is there a grimmer than all the other grim dawns? You know what, maybe there is. Countless foes, massive dungeons, and — most intriguingly! — a dark world based loosely on the Victorian era. I think it’s that last bit, yeah. That’s what makes for a Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition. (Or, if I’m being less Quinton about this and more, you know, genuinely informative, the answer is that the game is coming to Xbox this week, and it includes both expansions.)
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos – December 3rd (PS5, XSX)
This game’s got an interesting history behind it. Le donjon de Naheulbeuk was a 2001 French radio drama series parodying “heroic fantasy role-playing games.” It was something of a spoof, but spoofs with memorable settings can still be rife for more serious-minded adaptations. Novels? Yep, those exist? A graphic novel? Indeed, so does that! A video game? Yes, The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: Amulet of Chaos launched last year for Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and macOS! Now, the dungeon returns for the new generation of consoles with shinier bells and smoother whistles.
If you’re a Final Fantasy XIV player — and boy, am I indeed — then you’re probably reading this article a bit befuddled. Well, thousands of Warriors of Light will be descending on the moon on Friday as Endwalker enters Early Access. Those lucky enough to have both pre-ordered the expansion, and have finished the main story, will finally get to dive in after a short two-week delay. Lots of our staff are excited. I’m excited. Even my editor is ferociously excited! [Editor’s Note: You’re darn right!]
More on that big release next week. Instead, I’m going to finish this week’s column with an unexpected plug for my friend and colleague Joshua Lindquist’s Ogre Battle fansite, OgreBattle64.net. Check it out if you love that long-dormant series. Check it out if you don’t! It’s super well-made, and I live in steady hope that one day, somehow, some way, the franchise will continue.
Are you interested in one or more of these titles? The talented David Lloyd has put together a Direct-style composite of the trailers for all these games so that you can see what they look like in motion!
Be excellent to each other, fam!