My friends, life marches onward.
I’ve been with RPGFan for a little over two years. It’s not a long stretch of time really, but it’s been the best time in my life. Mike Salbato, our fearless leader, took a gamble on someone getting into games journalism a little on the later side in life, and because of that gamble, I’ve been able to turn this passion into a full-fledged career.
For over a year, I’ve done my best to balance my volunteer responsibilities here with my paid ones elsewhere. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s absolutely been worth it. Full disclosure: the first time I thought I’d have to leave the fam here due to potentially conflicting interests, I cried. My heart was gladdened to learn that Mike was kosher with me continuing on with this column even as I left the news team behind.
You surely deduced this within the first few sentences, but my point is that I am, sadly, saddling off into the sunset soon. Well, not “sadly.” If it were purely sad, I wouldn’t be doing it, so let’s label it “bittersweet” instead. The bitter bits are because it’s no longer mentally feasible for me to balance this column alongside my work quota. I’ve accepted that, so here we are. The sweet bits pertain less to leaving and more to the memories I’ve made here, and my absolute awe at the doorways RPGFan has opened for me.
It’s through those doors that I’ll continue to boldly go, and I may pop in here once in a while if an emergency arises and last-minute aid is needed, or if I can’t resist saying hi to y’all again. For now, just know this: after this week, I’ll only be here for one more Coming This Week article. So, you’re stuck with me today, and you’re stuck with me whenever you get to reading next week’s edition, and then you’re unstuck.
Somewhere out there, somebody who has never clicked on RPGs Coming This Week is wondering why the writer felt like wasting their time with four paragraphs of personal fluff, so let’s mosey.
The Tarnishing of Juxtia – July 26th (Steam)
No pressure, but you’re the final creation of the goddess, Juxtia. It’s up to you, and you alone, to traverse the ruins of two grand nations, battling the armies of the Tarnished along the way. If you’re wondering just how seriously the creators of The Tarnishing of Juxtia take their jobs, you should know that they named their company Actual Nerds. So, needless to say, they’re deadly serious about this game.
As you can see, The Tarnishing of Juxtia is a side-scrolling action-centric RPG. What’s less obvious at first blush is that its core combat dynamics revolve around a heavily risk-versus-reward system in which the most daring players will lunge perilously close to recklessly at their powerful foes, gaining mighty boosts to the regeneration of their mana and stamina stores if successful.
Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent – July 27th (iOS, Android)
Final Fantasy VII Remake has likely sold the highest number of copies, and Kingdom Hearts III is doubtless not far off. Final Fantasy XIV, with its fiercely dedicated (and rising number of) fans, is certainly the most profitable. But in terms of dramatic paradigm shifts, I would honestly say that the most important game Square Enix has released in the past four years is Octopath Traveler.
Not for the game itself, per se — though I think it’s a wonderful time — but for the engine. Octopath‘s HD-2D engine has been a huge breakthrough for Square’s development staff and close-knit partner studios, with the excellent Triangle Strategy using it earlier this year, new arrival LIVE A LIVE remaking a cult Japan-only classic with it, and an upcoming remake for Dragon Quest III along the way as well.
Octoipath Traveler: Champions of the Continent is not Octopath Traveler 2, which we know is en route… someday. But as far as mobile tie-in games are concerned, it is positively sprawling. Players wander gorgeous “HD-2D” lands through traditional exploration, albeit via touchscreens. Battles are just as spectacular as they were before. The game feels premium in key ways even if, yes, there are gacha mechanics baked into the pie.
It’s been out since October 2020(!) in Japan, but Western fans will finally get to experience it for themselves on July 27th. Count me in.
Bear and Breakfast – July 28th (Windows)
Here’s the pitch. You build and run a bed and breakfast hotel. Also, you’re a bear.
Bear and Breakfast is, I’m certain of this, the game we all grew up wishing we’d finally get to play. “Why can’t a bear run a bed and breakfast,” I asked my grandmother, and she told me, “Perhaps one day a game developer will make your dream a reality, but until that day, keep quiet, for if the wrong people were to overhear you, even I would not be able to save you.”
No, but seriously. It’s a novel concept, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. Yet if that’s all there was to it, the game could be of any genre. You wouldn’t know! It could be a horror game, which would ruin a perfectly polite, poignantly cute premise, but it could happen. Nay, this is indeed an RPG. For, you see, as you gradually build and expand your hotel, you’ll also partake in quests, a great many quests, and you’ll chat with NPCs, so many villagers and guests, yes, yes. (Why did I just turn into Tom Nook mid-paragraph?)
And did I mention you’re a bear? That’s the best part. Bear and Breakfast also has a Switch version en route, but it’s been delayed a bit. I hope we find out soon when it’ll pop up over there. I can “bear”-ly wait, haha!
I promise I’m not leaving because Mike had enough and fired me
Lost Epic (Exiting Early Access) – July 28th (Windows)
“LOST EPIC is a 2D side-scrolling action RPG about a war between gods and humanity. The player becomes the deity-defying knight, God Slayer, and explores the world known as Sanctum to bring the Pantheon of Six to their knees.”
I usually avoid pulling direct quotes from storefront pages like the plague because, if all I’m doing is regurgitating information available elsewhere word-for-word, why don’t we just link you and call it a day? But in Lost Epic‘s case, I feel like there is something to be said for just getting that premise out there right off the bat.
The gods are at war with humankind. You take on the role of God Slayer, a hero who, natch, slays gods. Within the Sanctum, you will find the Pantheon of the Six. As you are a god slayer, it’s reasonable to assume there will be boss battles. As the game is called Lost Epic, I do believe developer Team EARTH WARS intends to portray these battles in epic fashion.
Lost Epic‘s combat is reliant upon carefully-inputted combos, so fighting game fans may have an edge over the competition. It exits Early Access this week after a little over a year on the market in unfinished form, so you’ll have plenty of reviews of the pre-completed product to read if you’re wondering what others think about all this god-slaying business.
Digimon Survive – July 29th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)
Fancy me a Quinton opinion, will you? It’s unfair. It’s unconscionable. Out of every week in this admittedly RPG-packed 2022, Bandai Namco finally locks down Digimon Survive‘s release date… and they choose the same day as the game right below this? Are you kiddin’ me? My hype for the new Xenoblade is through the roof, but the Digimon diehard in me has to wonder if they’re sending this poor game out to die. The buyer demographic overlap surely can’t be slim, but the one with the Monado in it is absolutely the bigger crowd pleaser.
Digimon Survive is not the next installment in Digimon Story, the fabled follow-up to the rather excellent Cyber Sleuth that so many of us are waiting for. That game is more of a straightforward JRPG, whereas this — still a JRPG — plays out like a visual novel with periodic tactical RPG combat. It’s an inspired choice, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.
Over 100 Digimon are along for the ride, and the outcome of the game’s story is on your shoulders. It sounds like some endings will be substantially darker than others too. The current anime, Ghost Game, has some bleak spots, and I stand by Savers being darker than people tend to give it credit for. But the constant benchmark in fandom for “how bleak is the bleakest we’ve seen?” is always going to be Tamers, and, yeah, I get the impression Digimon Survive is gunning for something on that level.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – July 29th (Switch)
Okay, I’m feeling it.
If you’ve been around for the bulk of my tenure as the this column’s word typer, you know my favorite game is Xenogears. My passion for Takahashi’s follow-ups through the years is… varied, but at the end of the day, I consider him (and several of his close creative colleagues, including his wife Soraya Saga!) to be tremendously gifted people. And Monolith Soft’s world-building ability in the Xenoblade games has to be played to be believed; within the realm of JRPGs, nothing tops their level design and bonkers environmental creativity.
It’s been nearly five years since Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and almost four since that game’s big expansion Torna: The Golden Country. Rex and Pyra’s adventure was probably the franchise’s real breakout moment, so we all knew there was going to be more to come, but the wait must have been rough. (I can’t speak firsthand since I am getting into Xenoblade 2 extremely late. Shhh.)
The fact that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was finally announced with an eight-month window to launch, and then even that was shaved off by two months, is a testament to Monolith Soft’s ability to play their cards close to their chest. Five years past the last game, yet this one feels like it snuck up on us like Shulk looking for a well-timed Back Slash.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 looks dark, but seems to maintain the solid cast chemistry the series is known for. It also looks gorgeous, taking fuller, richer advantage of the Switch’s hardware now that the development team has so much experience with it. This game is going to be something special. Just how special, and for what specific reasons, is something the world’s just days away from finding out.
Also Coming This Week
The industry can’t let itself catch its own breath even in a heavy week like this one, so there’s a port on the horizon, too.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – July 26th (PS4)
The latest entry in the famed franchise about tales told within climate-concerning quarterly chunks, or as you humans call it, Story of Seasons, finally paves its Olive Town way to PlayStation 4. If you’re happy and you know it, till your fields.
This is my penultimate outro, and yet, I find myself at a loss for what to say. I feel like I got the important stuff out of the way (and then some) in the intro. We’ll leave next week’s outro for the long farewell. Instead, I’ll simply say…
Stay safe, stay hydrated, play some RPGs, and please, for the love of mercy, let Ash win the anime’s current iteration of the Pokemon League. If you don’t know what that last part means, it’s okay. All I need is your positive energy; your understanding is merely a potential bonus.