Originally Posted on January 22, 2013: Link.
Whether you’re into Western RPGs, Japanese RPGs, dungeon crawlers, hack-and-slash, beat ’em ups, tactical, strategy, or whatever else you can think of, this year will have a wide assortment of games to indulge yourself with in each of these categories. My goal with this article is to run over a couple dozen of those games, providing a brief summary of the game along with some reasons why you may want to check it out yourself. Think of it as a small compendium for what 2013 has to offer.
Note that there is no particular order to how these games appear on this list, and all release dates are obviously subject to change. I also want to let you know beforehand that there are several games I did not include in this article. That is because I will be releasing another piece in the near future that will cover all the others that I am aware of along with short annotations. Look forward to it, but in the meantime, please enjoy!
Divinity: Original Sin (PC)
Release Date: Summer 2013
Developer: Larian Studios
Synopsis: A prequel to Divine Divinity (the first entry in the series), Original Sin tells the story of a world where hordes of orcs will soon overrun and decimate the last of the free human society. Their only hope is a warrior condemned to death who has been freed and a mystic heroine who has somehow been revived long after death. Both must find a means to work together while bearing some deep dark secrets they don’t dare to reveal.
Worth Noting: Unlike previous games in the Divinity series, combat takes place in a turn-based format with a focus on cooperative play. If players go the AI route, your partner has their own personality that influences their decisions both in and out of battle. This idea was toyed with in Beyond Divinity (an extremely mediocre title), but Larian Studios has promised that they have got it right this time. With environmental hazards, an extremely versatile level editor, and a real turn to roots for the developer, it’s a title to watch for.
Mistborn (PC, Mac, 360, PS3)
Release Date: Fall 2013
Developer: Little Orbit
Synopsis: Based on the series of popular fantasy novels by author Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn is set several hundreds of years before the first book. In a dark and dangerous world dominated by the immortal demon Lord Ruler, there are a select number of individuals who can use powerful magic known as Allomancy. This rule-based ability grants users to temporarily enhance their physical and mental capabilities by ingesting and “burning” pieces of metal. Those who are only able to burn a single metal are called Mistings, and those that can burn all metals are called Mistborn, the most powerful of their class. Fendin “Fiddle” Fathvell is a pretentious young nobleman who after realizing he himself possessed the powers of Allomancy must master them before a foreboding force destroys his family.
Worth Noting: Brandon Sanderson is already an accomplished author who not only penned the entire series of novels and will be doing the writing on Mistborn, but who also worked on Infinity Blade II and Infinity Blade: Awakening. He also took over for Robert Jordan after his passing to finish the wildly popular Wheel of Time series. Little Orbit may have very little experience as a game developer in the industry having only worked on a handful of titles few have ever heard about, but it will be interesting to see what they can come up with on a bigger budget.
Sacred 3 (PC, 360, PS3, Vita)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: Keen Studios
Synopsis: In the third major entry in the series, players are tasked to rise up and defeat Zane Ashen, the authoritarian ruler of the Ashen Empire, before he is able to locate and obtain a powerful artifact known as the Heart of Ancaria. The game will revolve around four-player co-operative play where your player and three other members will be around at all times. Each person wields a class-specific set of abilities to assist the party.
Worth Noting: Sacred 2 was an alluring but bug-ridden game that arguably failed to live up to its predecessor. Unlike the first two games, Sacred 3 will be helmed by an entirely new developer after publisher Deep Silver acquired the license from original owners Ascaron Entertainment. The reigns are now in the hands of Keen Studios who, much like Mistborn, haven’t been around that long and whose work has mostly been in licensed games or ports. So far from those I have talked to and from the articles I have read, it appears that people who have played it have come away impressed by a game that Deep Silver has also announced Sacred Citadel, a side-scrolling action brawler with a story set before the events of Sacred 3, will be released this year on XBLA, PSN, and Steam, and will be developed by Southend Interactive.
Dragon Age III: Inquisition (PC, 360, PS3)
Release Date: Late 2013
Synopsis: Once again taking place in the world of Thedas, a massive civil war has broken out between the Circle of Magi and the Templar Order. Along with a world that will be exponentially larger than its predecessors, equipment customization also plays a big role in the new title. Bioware has also promised that players will be able to import their saved games from the previous titles, and the decisions they made in those games will heavily impact the story and world around them. However, series writer David Gaider has said that Dragon Age III will include a new protagonist, but players may come across their previous characters during the game.
Worth Noting: Bioware can’t seem to do anything right. Ending anger, gay planets and, perhaps most justified and vitriolic, disappointment in Dragon Age II. BioWare is hoping to rectify this problem with some key changes. While the first game focused more on building a strategy through the heavy use of the Pause button and the second wanted to bring frenetic action combat to the forefront, Inquisition wants to hit that sweet spot in the middle and utilize the best of both worlds. By also having a new protagonist, this will allow skeptical gamers a chance to perhaps skip the other games altogether and hop right into the fray. Bioware seems to have trouble when it comes to the third entry in a series, but this is easily the biggest WRPG of the year.
Wasteland 2 (PC, Mac)
Release Date: October 2013
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Synopsis: The setting is identical to that of the original Wasteland. The world is recovering from a nuclear war that took place in the alternate-history year of 1998, and a group of self-named Desert Rangers made up of former U.S. Army Engineers have taken over a death row prison facility and turned it into a base. They have vowed to find and rescue as many survivors they can while exploring the mutated environment.
Worth Noting: Wasteland was easily one of the most compelling experiences I had growing up, with each party member having their own distinct personality, along with their own strengths and weaknesses in every fight. Even better is that thanks to the success of their Kickstarter, Obsidian Entertainment creative director Chris Avellone, who worked on the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series and also wrote Fallout New Vegas, will be assisting on the game’s development.
Anyone who is a fan of the traditional western style of RPGs needs to keep their attention focused on Wasteland 2.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3)
Release Date: Q2 2013
Developer: Square Enix
Synopsis: Inside the world of Hydaelyn is a land called Eorzea made up of four major city-states: the forest nation of Gridania; the desert nation of Ul’Dah; the island nation of Limsa Lominsa; and the mountainous nation of Ishgard. To the north of Eorzea is the feared Garlean Empire, who threatens to conquer the civilized world on a constant basis. Through a series of cataclysmic events, the Garlean Empire brought upon the destruction of the original land and thus led us right to what will happen in A Realm Reborn, whose plot has yet to be explained.
Worth Noting: To say that Square Enix has a lot riding on the success of A Realm Reborn would be a real understatement. After the atrocious launch of the original that was so bad we deemed it the Most Disappointing RPG of 2010, the game was made free for players for months as the developers tried different ways to help improve everything about the game including its core gameplay.
Only having played the game again about half a year ago, they have taken very big strides in offering a much more enjoyable experience for players. Sure, the moments before the game was taken offline in November had its own share of issues, but did you see that trailer? That alone had everyone talking enthusiastic voices.
Whether the video alone is enough to prove the point that the company is seriously trying to fix what was broken remains to be seen in the coming months, but with the strong guidance of Producer Naoki Yoshida, it will be very exciting to see how things turn out. From everything they have shown, whether it be in Producer Letters or other media, this has a good chance of living up to Final Fantasy XI’s brilliance.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (360, PS3)
Release Date: Fall 2013
Developer: Square Enix
Synopsis: With 13 days set until the end of the world, Lightning has been tasked as the Savior to guide the souls of mankind to a new world that will be created when the current one ends. Gran Pulse and Valhalla have merged aftr the events of XIII-2 into Nova Chrsyalia. The world of Nova Chrysalia (formerly known as Novus Partus) is a strange land. Four continents make up its base and include the city of light Luxerion; a vast natural landscape dotted with villages known as The Wildlands; and The Dead Dunes, a desert location featuring many dungeons hidden beneath ruins.
Having stopped aging, the people of Nova Chrysalia have become burdened. A heavy weight lies upon their hearts and now a group wishes to stop the Savior at all costs. Serial murders have started occuring in Luxerion, the victims resembling Lightning – it is clear that someone is out to get her. This particular city of God is soaked in blood, and after three people are killed in as many days, Lightning hunts to find the culprit.
Worth Noting: Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, it is pretty obvious what makes this game notable. Not only is it the second sequel to a highly controversial game, but it does away with a lot of the traditional features in Final Fantasy as well as putting the focus directly on series’ mainstay Lightning herself.
It unearths thoughts of games like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII that tried to flip things on its head and came away rather successful doing so. I guess if you want to get fans interested, why not side with a well-received game?
I don’t really know how they’re going to appeal towards fans of the characters in FFXIII-2, but they have mentioned both Vanille and Noel will be meeting up with Lightning although their exact roles still have not been explained. Regardless, if you’d like to learn more, you can check out our Senior Editor Erren’s thoughts from the recent press event she attended.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan (3DS)
Release Date: February 2013
Synopsis: The Yggdrasil tree has been around as long as humans have, but no one has dared to explore its exact location since they never had the means to do so. By aligning with an Explorers Guild whose goal is to reach the Yggdrasil and discover what lies through the use of aircrafts called skyships, fame and fortune will be attainable.
Like earlier entries, the core gameplay consists of exploring and mapping out the different dungeons in the game. In the same vein of classic first-person dungeon crawlers, for every move or action a player makes, the enemy or the environment makes one in turn. While the top screen of the 3DS will be used to play through the game, the bottom consists of a small map that players can draw on using a set of pre-determined symbols to keep track of the level they are in. Parties are class-based, with random encounters that lead to turn-based battles.
Etrian Odyssey IV introduces features like customizable skyships, a fully-orchestrated soundtrack, and a Casual Mode that not only enable players to change the game’s difficulty at any time, but lets players warp back to town after they die without losing any progress using an infinite supply of warp items.
Worth Noting: For me, Etrian Odyssey has always been series that I have had a distant fondness of. After hearing of the punishing difficulty that put some of my friend’s off from playing the game altogether, knowing that they introduced a Casual Mode that allows players of any skill level to jump in and enjoy the experience has my attention drawn to it. There isn’t any sort of plot line that requires someone to play the other titles, so if you’re looking for a game that satiates the OCD in you, it may be worth checking Etrian Odyssey IV out.
Pokemon X and Y (3DS)
Release Date: October 2013
Developer: Game Freak
Synopsis: After years of relying heavily on 2D art assets with some exploration into the polygonal style, Pokemon X and Y is the first time game in the main series that will be rendered completely with 3D graphics. Like all the other games before it, players will take on the role of a Trainer and will travel across the land catching as many different Pokemon creatures as they can and using them to do battle with other trainers like them. Even more species of Pokemon will be introduced including three new starters: Chespin, a grass-type rodent; Fennakin, a fire-type vulpine; and Froakie, a water-type frog.
Worth Noting: While I am personally not well versed in Pokemon, there has been a good deal of excitement surrounding this game, especially riding off the success of Pokemon Black and White. The game is visually pleasing and promises players a lot more content by presenting even more Pokemon to be collected. By finally making the game 3D, it may also usher in a new group of players who may have been put with the old art design. I think it’s pretty safe to say that this game will sell a lot of copies. Sometimes I wonder if Nintendo is starting to run out of ideas with where to take Pokemon especially since this was the last major leap, but I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Witch and the Hundred Knights (PS3)
Release Date: Q1 2013
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Synopsis: The Witch and the Hundred Knights tells the story of two witches that are locked in a vicious, hundred-year feud. You play the role of Metallica (yes, you read that right), the Swamp Witch whose goal is to defeat her rival, the Forest Knight, and turn the world into a marshland. In order to do so, she has the command of 100 powerful knights to use at her disposal.
The game takes place in a massive, seamless open-world environment where players can take on quests from residents in different towns. However, in an interesting twist, players can refuse and even attack those same residents, and their treatment towards the player will change accordingly. This is based on a morality system where you can be either good or evil. Combat is hack-and-slash by design in an overhead perspective, and you are only in direct control of one of those soldiers with the 99 others able to be summoned but only for brief periods.
Worth Noting: This game looks like it would be right up my alley. Nippon Ichi have already said that they are going pretty dark and there will be a lot of scenes with blood and viciousness (my favorite). As far as I can tell, this will be Prinny Team’s first foray into the action RPG arena. and everything they have shown from this game has been . By creating a seamless world that gives players the ability to move from town to field without any loading screens, there’s this great sense of exploration that feels somewhat lost in today’s games. The morality system is an especially fascinating concept that I am sure will bring a lot of replayability to the fold. Witch and the Hundred Knights appears to have the right blend of elements that I love to indulge in, and I look forward to playing it.
Tales of Xillia (PS3)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Synopsis: Set in the world of Rise Maxia, Tales of Xillia sees humans and monsters coexist with spirits that have the ability to grant wishes. Two powerful countries are in the midst of a struggle to gain sovereignty over the planet: La Shugall, an empire that promotes the free use of Spirit Power which in turn has garnered them prosperity; and Ajule, a developing nation that uses the strength of monsters and its military to gain power.
Unlike previous Tales games, there are two main characters in the story. Jude Mathis is a young medical student living in the capital of La Shugall who meets Milla Maxwell, who is investigating what she has sensed to be a recent string of spirits’ deaths. While inspecting a military base that was the scene of a failed Spirit Arte that left many people hospitalized, they discover a shocking secret that leads to them being chased out of the country by the La Shugall military. With the help of the allies that they will meet during their travels, Jude and Milla will attempt to uncover more of what they saw in that military base and try to bring balance to the tumultuous world around them.
Combat will use what’s the developers call the Double Raid Linear Motion Battle System (good lord), which consists of two characters teaming up to assist one another in taking down an enemy. The player-controlled party member will be the one dishing out the damage while the AI-controlled partner will take action by either protecting you or distract the adversary in the meantime. Players can also tie skills together in what’s called “Link Artes” which are powerful team-based moves that are far more effective.
Worth Noting: Aside from this being the first major Tales release on an HD platform in years (I shake my fist at Namco for not releasing the PS3 version of Vesperia here in the West), Xillia introduced a lot of great new systems and story elements not seen in earlier entries. The game was both a critical and financial success for the company in Japan, quickly becoming one of the best-selling titles in the series. The game looks fantastic, and breaks a lot of new ground in the JRPG arena. One can only hope that based on the success of Tales of Xillia that Namco will see fit to release its sequel which has been out in Japan already for months.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Release Date: January 2013
Developer: Level-5 and Studio Ghibli
Synopsis: Ni no Kuni’s story starts off with a heartbreak. Oliver, a thirteen-year old boy and resident of the town of Motorville, is grieving from the sudden death of his mother. A doll that was given to him by his mother is magically brought to life by his tears and turns out to be a fairy named Drippy. The male fairy gives him a magic book that grants him the power of magic along with the ability to enter the world of Ni no Kuni, a parallel reality. It is there that Drippy says he may be able to find his mother. Inside this world Oliver will meet and befriend familiars, or creatures that he will be able to control in combat. After commanding a familiar to do a certain action, players will actually be able to move them around the field of battle, bringing a unique sense of strategy to a turn-based format.
Worth Noting: A game crafted by a powerhouse RPG developer and one of the most beloved animation studios in cinematic history, there’s a lot to be fascinated by with Ni no Kuni. Of course, the team doesn’t just cough up a game and call it a day. Instead, they have crafted an adventure that has got a lot of people talking. By offering simple mechanics inside a deep and rich world, fans of either company may find a lot to enjoy in this title. From the amount that I was able to play back at E3, not only was game visually mind-blowing, but the voice acting and the music (made by Ghibli veteran Joe Hisaishi who composed the soundtracks for classics like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky) were superb and really fit the game. It’s on almost every staff member’s list that you can see at the bottom of the this article, so you can tell that we are excited as well!
The Elder Scrolls Online (PC, Mac)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Synopsis: Featuring a all-new story set in Tamriel like all of the other Elder Scrolls games, The Elder Scrolls Online is set a thousand years before the events of Skyrim during what the game calls the “Age of Heroes”. There is a giant battle going on that encompasses all of Tamriel, with three warring factions fighting over the middle nation of Cyrodil: the Daggerfall Covenant of Daggerfall; the Aldmeri Dominion of Hammerfall; and the Ebonheart Pact of Morrowind. Whoever controls the Imperial City can become emperor of the world. The Daedric Prince Molag Bal, who currently rules Cyrodil, has stolen your soul and now you need to save the world while attempting to retrieve it.
Offering a different take on the dungeon-exploring process, there are group instances where you and your buddies take part in your own battle; heroic dungeons that let you set the difficulty to challenge yourself and garner more experience and better loot; puzzle rooms, which offer things like arranging floor patterns in a specific sequence; and finally public dungeons, which aren’t instanced and encourage people to help each other out to overcome challenging obstacles. PVP battles will contain hundreds of players who can utilize siege weaponry to capture territory.
Worth Noting: I have already expressed how I feel about Elder Scrolls Online after partaking in a preview of the game, but Alex was able to attend an actual hands-on session just a few months ago and came away impressed with what ZeniMax is hoping to accomplish.
Whether putting the tried-and-true formula of Elder Scrolls into an online environment will allow it to flourish on its own and satisfy those who have been calling for such a thing for years will be a curious experiment. But just like A Realm Reborn, it has a lot to prove when it comes to offering a subscription model that people would still be willing to open their wallets for. However, with low expectations comes a chance for the developers to completely blow us away.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3)
Release Date: March 2013
Synopsis: Following a young orphan girl who has taken over her grandfather’s herbal workshop after he died and her sister Nio mysteriously shortly afterwards, Ayesha Atugle lives and works alone selling medicine to support herself. After discovering that her sister is alive somewhere in the world, she is goes on a search to find her.
Atelier Ayesha is more serious in tone than earlier entries, with the players watching as the titular character starts to grow through the game as she overcomes her sadness from the loss of her grandfather and her missing sister. Combat is turn-based, but players will be able to position themselves around the field of battle and utilize the distance from the enemy to offer the best advantage. Item Synthesis is also heavily emphasized, and Ayesha will be use her Diary to keep track of different recipes that will help her create stronger and more detailed items.
Worth Noting: Although I have barely played the other Atelier games, the thing that draws me to Atelier Ayesha is that the game is visually far more interesting than it has been. Part of this is because Kishida Mel is no longer the illustrator as he was for the three other games released this generation, instead bringing in Hidari who has previously worked on the anime Fractale and currently contributing to the now-airing Vividred Operation.
The other is the change of tone that has got me interested. Call me a sadist, but I become far more engaged in stories that consist of melancholy and despair. It makes me care more about the characters when I witness them pulling themselves from out of the hole they are in and resolve their emotions at the end. The game was well-received in Japan, so I look forward to playing it when it is released later this year.
South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, 360, PS3)
Release Date: March 2013
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Synopsis: Playing therole of a new kid in town looking to find and make friends, the town of South Park is locked in a city-wide, live-action-role-playing game, casting imaginary spells and swinging fake swords. What begins as a simple children’s game escalates into a battle of good and evil that threatens to consume the world. With weapons of legend at your disposal, you will come across crabpeople, underpants gnomes, hippies and other minions of darkness. You must locate the lost Stick of Truth and earn your place at the side of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as their new friend, cementing your social status at South Park Elementary. South Park: The Stick of Truth will feature turn-based combat; heavily customizable equipment, clothing and characters; and a story written by the series’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Worth Noting: To say that is an ambitious undertaking would be selling it short. By taking the ridiculously ugly, cardboard-cutout world of South Park and recreating it into video game form sounds like real headache for Obsidian. From what we have seen so far, it looks like they have been successful at least when it comes to the art design. Whether that translates to an enjoyable game remains to be seen.
The developer has always been really good when it comes to telling a good story, and with the help of the Trey and Matt, should at least have that taken care of – the trademark humor that made South Park famous is definitely there. The problem is whether they can deliver enjoyable gameplay which has always been something they have had some trouble with.
At the moment, the game may or may not meet its expected launch date due to its publisher THQ going through bankruptcy, but one can only hope the game pulls through unscatched and on-time.
Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC, Vita)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Synopsis: Phantasy Star Online 2 builds upon the massive success of the original by offering an entirely new story, areas, quests, characters, and much more. Players will be able to choose between three different main character classes: the Hunter, a melee class that thrives in close combat; the Ranger, a ranged class that relies on long-distance damage through the use of rifles and launchers; and Force, the mage of the group that employs magical abilities and relies both offensive defensive spells to help in battle. Although it relies on the use of microtransactions to support itself, Sega has promised that any payable content is only cosmetic in nature and doesn’t give one player an advantage over the other during actual combat.
PlayStation Vita, iOS, and Android versions have all been announced and will feature cross-server play, although the mobile versions will be reduced in scale to accommodate.
Worth Noting: I can’t begin to describe the fantastic experiences I had playing this series back when it was first released on the Sega Dreamcast, building up my FoNewm into a magic-wielding force of destruction. Not only was the fact that I was playing a game online on a console enough to blow me away, but that I was able to meet all these fantastic people that I had to work with in order to take down some of the baddest monsters I had ever seen.
Sega is taking a real chance by releasing the game as free-to-play in a crowded arena especially on such a high budget as they have given PSO2, but if they’re able to build on an already strong core and produce enough content to keep their coffers full and players satisfied all the while, that should be good all that is required. Expectations are high going into this one, but with all the positive feedback that people who have already had a chance to play the Japanese release, there will certainly be a lot to enjoy for both series veterans and newcomers alike.
Toki to Towa (PS3)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: Imageepoch and Satelight
Synopsis: Toki to Towa begins with a wedding taking place between the Princess Toki and her knight, Zack (I like it already). After being warned by the fortune teller Makimona that someone will be killed at her wedding, she has chosen to ignore the prediction and allow the occasion to proceed as normal. Before the princess is able to seal the vow with a kiss, an assassin leaps from the shadows and murders her husband-to-be.
Inflamed with anger, Princess Toki’s other personality, Towa, awakens and fights off the assassin. In order to learn of the connection between the witch, the assassin, and to find a way to prevent her beloved knight from dying, Toki and Towa travel back in time 6 months before the wedding. The time travelling mechanic is a focal point of the game.
After encountering different enemies sprawled in the field, battles are played out in sort of a rhythm-based format. The player can attack as many times as they want, building up a combo meter along the way. However, they have to learn and adapt for when the enemy will strike in order to dodge or even counter it and keep their combo going.
Worth Noting: Okay, I know this is a bit of a long shot. Although it lacks an official release date, Producer Kay Hirino said that the game would be released in the West in the near future, along with news that Namco Bandai recently filed a trademark for its translated name “Time and Eternity”. Kudos to them for giving a quirky game like this one a try over here! I have personally enjoyed looking at video of this game in action. Sure, some of the animation looks stiff, but after growing up playing games like Thousand Arms, I have become sort of numb to the small stuff and would love to get my hands on this.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory (PS3)
Release Date: March 2013
Developer: Compile Heart and Idea Factory
Synopsis: The third installment in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, Victory follows the events of mk2. Gameindustri has finally achieved some semblance of peace after defeating Arfoire’s revival, with the CPUs living in harmony. Suddenly, the CPU of Planeptune, Neptune, is thrown into a new dimension that feels a lot like Gameindustri but has a 1980’s look to it.. It is here that Neptune discovers that a group of villains calling themselves the “Seven Sages” are trying to create a world without CPUs. By banding together with different allies she will meet, Neptune sets out to protect this dimension’s version of Gameindustri.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory has a soundtrack written by legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu (yes, you read that correctly) along with his band the Earthbound Papas.
Worth Noting: While much like the Atelier series, I have never played any of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games, the fact that Nobuo Uematsu of all people will be composing the music is enough for any red-blooded RPG fan to sit up and take notice. I have read that the series has been slowly improving in quality over time and is a lot more balanced than it has been prior. Also, there is far more content to delve into. From what I’ve gathered, it should be more than satiate those who have played the games, and those looking to jump in can start from Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 and go ahead as they have little in common with the first entry.
Dragon’s Crown (PS3, Vita)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Synopsis: The first HD video game by Vanillaware, the developers behind Odin Sphere and Muramasa, Dragon’s Crown is another side-scrolling beat ‘em up with a multiplayer focus that has players teaming up with up to four players to traverse different monster-infested dungeons on the hunt for gold and other inordinate treasure. Players will choose between a group of six different characters – Amazon, Elf, Gnome, Fighter, Sorceress, and Wizard. Each has their pros and cons, and all they all are on a progression system.
The story follows this group of adventurers as they seek out and obtain the legendary item known as the “Dragon’s Crown” before those of a more nefarious nature are able to. There are also branching paths that change based on the decisions that players make during several moments in each level, as well as a magnitude of quests that can be undertaken. Members of the internal development team at Atlus, including those who worked on the Persona series, will be assisting as producers for the title.
Worth Noting: It’s been a long-time coming, but Atlus announced several months ago that Dragon’s Crown will finally be releasing in the West in 2013 after years of turbulence. They have promised that both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions will still be released here, but there has been very little shared with the public since the news broke nearly a year ago. However, if there is anyone who is the most capable of delivering a strong RPG product, it’s Atlus.
Soul Sacrifice (Vita)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: Marvelous AQL and SCE Japan Studio
Synopsis: In a world heavily imbued in fantasy and mythology, Soul Sacrifice has players embodying the role of a young man enslaved to a powerful sorceress who is about to be sacrificed, a demonic book appears before him as he lays bruised and broken in a cage. Inside the book is a collection of past events that describe encounters between different monsters and the sorceress. This time-traveling element will grant players a chance to jump into these different key moments and alter history while gaining strength by sapping the abilities of those monsters to help him fight back in the present.
The game is a third-person action title where decisions to either “Save” or “Sacrifice” every enemy and boss they come across has different implications – sacrificing will grant different buffs at the cost of morality and your actual physical form. In order to use powerful magic, players may have to sacrifice a part of their body, an item, or even a life. Saving, on the other hand, may unlock new quests down the line. For example, by saving a boss characters, you may come across one of their descendents in a later part of the timeline who gives you a quest to obtain a rare item.
Worth Noting: I was able to play about 20 minutes of this game at last year’s E3, and came away wildly impressed. I loved the idea that the you can heavily alter the world around you and that it may open or close doors in the future based on those decisions. That it happens with every encounter makes it even more impactful. The writing was very provocative and the music was incredible. To this day, I still remember succinctly what happened during my very positive hands-on session, and if that isn’t a sign that this game is of quality, I don’t know what is. The game has yet to be confirmed for a 2013 release, but based on how the demo I played was all in English, it is a pretty safe bet.
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Synopsis: In the near-future, the world has become so heavily dependent on the technology that they use – so much so that they have stopped thinking about just who is controlling their data and for what purpose. Set in an alternative version of Chicago, a supercomputer called the “CtOS” (or the Central Operating System) is a database of information of all the residents and their daily activities, as well as running all the technology in the city. Players will control the anti-hero Aiden Pearce, a highly-skilled individual who is well-versed in the use of hacking and surveillance. With the technical know-how to hack into CtOS and wreak havoc on the populace by doing everything from tapping into cell phones and accessing a full profile of every single person they come across, to manipulating traffic lights to cause pile-ups and other means of distraction.
Worth Noting: While very little is known about Watch_Dogs (yes, the underscore is in the title) and whether it will truly have RPG mechanics, from what was shown last year at E3, it is easy to see that players will be starting off small when it comes to their abilities and grow from there. By creating a sprawling metropolis where players can create untold havoc by hacking into the power grid that the citizens are heavily reliant on is a fascinating idea that appears to be wonderfully implemented here. By also including cooperative play where one person may be causing a diversion in one part of the city while another is setting up a trap someplace else is exciting.
I don’t need to tell you that the game visually looks absolutely incredible, and it will be interesting to see whether this will arrive on current platforms or skip right to the next generation as many are speculating. Regardless, Watch_Dogs is easily one of the biggest games of the year and worth watching.
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
Release Date: February 2013
Developer: Intelligent Systems and Red Entertainment
Synopsis: Set nearly 2000 years after Marth’s adventures in Radiant Dawn, players take the role of the blue-haired swordsman Chrome, the prince of the Halidom of Ylisse and leader of a vigilante band known as the Shepherds.
Fire Emblem: Awakening introduces a lot of new and improved features into what has already become a powerful experience. Highlights include as being able to create and customize your own character who will act as a strategist for Chrom; an all new art design; and a full-fledged tutorial make this game the most ambitious one yet. Players will even be able to develop relationships with the characters that they fight alongside that can culminate in marriage and even have children, whom eventually grow up and joining the battle themselves.
Using the Nintendo 3DS’s StreetPass, players will be able to have their Avatar party appear inside another’s world and subsequently allow them to either recruit or purchase items off of them. The game will also include a local multiplayer option called ‘Dual Tag’ that has both parties teaming up to take down enemies to gain renown and even earn items.
Worth Noting: It is very easy to see that Nintendo is trying their best to market Fire Emblem: Awakening to a much wider audience than before. By featuring the game prominently during their recent press events, The game has already proven to be a massive success in Japan – not only was it critically acclaimed for its new, incredibly attractive art style and fun new mechanics, but it also became the fastest-selling title in the series’ history.
I have heard that game includes a fairly robust tutorial mode that is clear and information, providing new players a means to ease into the experience. You can even do away with the infamous permadeath mechanic. It all sounds very inviting, and as a big fan of the tactical RPG genre, excited to see how it performs in the West and what it will mean to the future of the series.
God and the Fate Revolution Paradox (PS3)
Release Date: TBA 2013
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Synopsis: War has broken out between the realms of Heaven and Hell. After the massacre of angels, a new God must be chosen. A high school student by the name of Renya Kagurazaka randomly wins a chance to become God and several angels work together to help train Renya. This training consists of making wishes come true for people, usually fairytale figures like Cinderella, by manipulating their fate to allow the wish to come true.
A spiritual successor to Zettai Hero Project, a roguelike-esque dungeon crawler, The God and Fate Revolution Paradoxshares many of the same core mechanics. Players will be able to enter dungeons with another party member and assist each other in combat by doing everything from creating combos and throw them to better positions on the stage like in Disgaea. The game will also feature giant bosses that take up most of the battle arena, three dimensional or cube-like geometry for levels, and “God Mode”, a state that grants Renya almighty power for a limited time.
Worth Noting: From the gameplay footage alone, this game looks incredibly unique. The crazy level geometry and over-the-top action is enough to hook you in, and the concept of playing a God character in the form of a high school student is just too good to pass up. Admittedly, I have always been a bit of sucker for dungeon crawlers, as you might tell with my review for Legasista, so I am already sold on this game.
Just like Toki to Towa, God and the Fate Revolution Paradox does not have a release date, but given NIS America’s track record for releasing English versions of the games only months after their Japanese counterpart, this feels like yet another safe bet.
Project X Zone (3DS)
Release Date: Summer 2013
Developer: Banpresto and Monolith Soft
Synopsis: Featuring over 50 different characters from the pantheon of Namco Bandai, Capcom, and Sega, Project X Zone is a tactical RPG featuring locations from the titles highlighted in the game. Each unit in combat is made up of a pair of preset characters that each represent their specific game, such as Yuri and Estellise from Tales of Vesperia or Kite and BlackRose from .hack. There are also solo units that can be called upon to assist pairs in battle, like Tron Bonne and the Servbots from Mega Man Legends or Arthur from Ghost’n Goblins.
Battles take place on grids with players being able to freely move about their designated range. When an enemy is confronted, the fight changes over to the Cross Active Battle System where players will use a combination of button presses to unleash attack combos as well as different skills and abilities. The Western version of the game will feature the original Japanese voices with English subs. The plot… well, who cares, really?
Worth Noting: Talk about one hell of an announcement! After Namco x Capcom was launched in Japan and never released in the West, everyone thought it was pretty much a given that whenever these crazy crossover titles that are packed to the brim with characters were released, there is no chance that we would ever see something like that localized unless it had the name Smash Bros. in the title. Much to the surprise of said everyone, Namco Bandai said that they will be bringing the Nintendo 3DS title over sometime this year and will be serving as publisher. I think the only heartbreaking part of this whole collection is that it will present characters from Valkyria Chronicles 3. How cruel!