On this edition of RPGs Coming This Week: a whole lot of mystery! Mystery in the sense that a not-insignificant number of detective games appear to be releasing in the same timeframe. Also, many of these titles were, until now, unknown to me, and I’m excited to check out what potential hidden gems we have on our hands. Let’s investigate!
Sovereign Syndicate – January 15th (Windows)
Need more Disco Elysium in your life? If flowery dialogue, social commentary, and deep CRPG gameplay are what you want, Sovereign Syndicate may indeed scratch that itch. If you’re looking for a grimy post-Communist setting in your video game… uh, have you tried Disco Elysium‘s Jamais Vu update yet? There isn’t anything quite like Disco Elysium, but you may find a lot to love about Sovereign Syndicate‘s Victorian-era steampunk/fantasy hybrid city.
It’s a CRPG through and through, which means branching paths, dice rolls, and a suitably open world to maximize players’ freedom of expression. There are three main characters to choose from, and one of them is an alcoholic minotaur magician, which is an amazing concept. Their stories all intertwine, of course, and the fun of the game will be from seeing how the narrative all unfolds.
I have nothing to add that our own Abe Kobylanski didn’t already articulate thoroughly in his Sovereign Syndicate review. Well, I can share that the developers say the game runs well on Steam Deck, which is always good to know.
by Gio Castillo
Atlas Wept – January 17th (Windows)
Just for fun, let’s keep track of how many Mother series-inspired games come out this year. We got Crystal Story: Dawn of Dusk last week, and this week we’re getting Atlas Wept, so the tally so far stands at two. I adore the Mother games, and what better way to commemorate EarthBound turning 30 than highlighting everything it inspired?
Atlas Wept is exceptionally bold at taking cues from its forebears, from its trippy battle backgrounds to its themes of sincerity and empathy right down to its font, which I strongly suspect to be based on the main EarthBound typeface. I kind of love everything about it.
I recommend checking out the release date trailer, which uses a monotone AI(?) voiceover to create a uniquely eerie vibe. If Atlas Wept is as trippy as its marketing suggests, I’m 100 percent picking it up.
by Gio Castillo
Golden Sun & Golden Sun: The Lost Age – January 17th (Switch)
Golden Sun follows heroes Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia as they adventure to prevent an ancient power from being unleashed on their home world of Weyard. It’s pretty standard JRPG stuff, but the Djinn system, where you can mix and match little monsters as if they were Materia from Final Fantasy VII or Quartz from the Trails series, is something that has stayed interesting even 20 years on.
The Lost Age, meanwhile, is a direct sequel that presents an interesting narrative twist as it follows Felix—a young Adept (or magic user) who was the antagonist of the first game—on a mission to prove that alchemy isn’t a destructive force, but one that could save Weyard after all. This premise alone warrants a look from anyone who enjoys the first game.
by Kyle Cantelon
No Case Should Remain Unsolved – January 17th (Windows, macOS)
South Korean developer Somi makes detective games. Actual detective games where the player does the sleuthing instead of being railroaded through a linear story. In 2022’s Replica, for example, you play as a state agent poring through a suspect’s cellphone and social media to uncover the truth. By most accounts, it’s a well-executed take on the kind of mystery game we really ought to be getting more of.
No Case Should Remain Unsolved is Somi’s latest, and it’s certainly a more complex attempt at what he was going for with Replica. This time, you play as an ex-detective who’s trying to piece together a missing persons case that seemingly went cold a long time ago. The player has to review memories and tell apart lies from the truth. If you’re into mystery games, definitely keep an eye on this.
by Gio Castillo
Pixel Noir – January 18th (Windows, macOS, Linux)
Pixel Noir easily caught my attention, not only for its nostalgic, SNES-inspired graphics but also mainly because I enjoy diving into mysteries and putting my investigation skills to the test. The game also features a dark, noirish setting to explore; the eerie Pinnacle City appears to mimic the streets and alleys of a decaying American metropolis. Do you mean I get to play detective with turn-based combat, isometric pixel-perfect visuals, and music contributions by Hiroki Kikuta? Oh yes, count me in.
After over four years in Early Access and eight years since its Kickstarter announcement, Pixel Noir is officially launching on macOS, Linux, and PC via Steam.
by Tin Manuel
Another Code: Recollection – January 19th (Switch)
I contributed a write-up in our Most Anticipated feature about why I’m excited about Another Code: Recollection so I’ll keep it brief. Trace Memory was a vibes-heavy puzzle adventure game that was just the right length to not outstay its welcome. It left a lasting impression on people who played it, even if it is pretty basic compared to other games of its ilk.
Trace Memory and its Wii sequel Another Code: R, which never came to North America, were thought to be relegated to Nintendo’s vault of dead IPs, never to be seen again. It’s genuinely surprising that Nintendo decided to resurrect these two games from the dead, and it opens the door for a lot of other games by the now-defunct studio Cing to return.
I can’t understate how weird and special Another Code: Recollection‘s existence is, and I hope its release helps cultivate a new generation of RPG enthusiasts with a taste for games off the beaten track.
by Gio Castillo
Also Coming This Week
Bahnsen Knights – January 18th (PS5, XSX, PS4, XB1, Switch)
The pulpy adventure game Bahnsen Knights is finally coming to consoles after a last-minute delay last month.