RPGFan https://www.rpgfan.com Extensive RPG coverage since 1998 Wed, 12 Apr 2023 14:24:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.2 NIS Features Rhapsody II in New Spotlight Trailer https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/nis-features-rhapsody-ii-in-trailer/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/nis-features-rhapsody-ii-in-trailer/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247715 Read More »]]> With the release of Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3, RPG fans were able to relive the cult classic Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. However, with that nostalgia came a reminder that the game’s sequels never released in the West officially. That is finally changing with Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles! NIS America just introduced the first of the two sequels, Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess, with a brand new spotlight trailer.

The protagonist of Rhapsody II, Kururu, shows how she is just like her mother Cornet in the trailer below:

About Rhapsody II via the game’s Steam page:

Music meets adventure in Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess! This charming sequel to Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure features the young “Tomboy Princess” Kururu, who follows in the footsteps of her mother Cornet and sets out on her own journey to find her prince.

As the daughter of the Marl Kingdom’s ruler, Kururu dreams of finding her own knight in shining armor like her mother before her. Now twelve years old, she decides to embark on her own journey to find her true love. But Kururu will soon find that the path to happily ever after is not as enchanting as the stories make it seem, and is teeming with dangerous beasts, dark plots, and other unseen obstacles. Can she find the strength of heart to see her journey to its end and learn what true love really means? Complete with more songs, a new turn-based battle system, and a story both new yet familiar, Rhapsody II is ready to make its magical debut in the West and make your heart sing!

Key Features
• Immerse yourself in the musical magic like never before with improved visuals and music, as well as an expanded soundtrack.
• Centered around the journey of the “Tomboy Princess” Kururu, you will experience a robust story filled with charm, humor, and of course, love!
• Features a new turn-based battle system as well as polished, faster-paced gameplay makes combat just as engaging as the story.

Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles contains both Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess and Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom. The collection launches for PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC on August 29th in North America, September 1st in Europe, and September 8th in Australia. Stay tuned to RPGFan as we learn more about this classic series’ return to the spotlight!

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Parental Guidance: A Parent’s Guide to Cat Quest https://www.rpgfan.com/feature/parental-guidance-a-parents-guide-to-cat-quest/ Wed, 12 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=feature&p=246005 Read More »]]> This feature is intended to help parents determine if their children can successfully play the following video game.

As parents, it’s important to know what your child is playing, but sometimes the rating on the box isn’t enough. How hard will it be for them to control? How complicated is the strategy? Will they be able to read it? Are there mature themes hidden there that you would prefer they learn from you rather than a cartoon cat holding a sword? As a parent who has been surprised by content I thought was appropriate for my kids, I’m here for you. So today, let’s break down Cat Quest, a fun, friendly, and surprisingly layered game, and find out if it will suit your family’s needs.  

Cat Quest has a straightforward premise. You play as an adorable cat warrior whose sister was kidnapped by a mysterious White Cat. He searches the world for her with his spirit companion, Spirry, fighting monsters and undoing the White Cat’s evil deeds as he goes. As it turns out, he is the last of a race of Dragonblood cats, the only ones who can defeat dragons, which is a good thing since he needs to defeat several dragons sent by the White Cat before the final confrontation to free his sister. Players willing to look can find the origins and history of the Dragonbloods scattered around the world. Optional side quests provide the stories of the other cats in the world and how they are faring under the White Cat’s evil presence. Easy-to-follow quests will guide players through the main game and side content with a large white arrow pointing the way. That’s pretty much it. 

The hero's sister is kidnapped by the mysterious White Cat.
No time to wait. I have a sister to save!

The art style is cute and bright, and the game is packed to the whiskers with cat puns. The world map is easy to navigate and designed to look like the player is walking on an actual map, with towns, lakes, forests, and plains labeled right underfoot. Monsters visibly wander the map; spotting something new is a clear signal that you have walked into a higher-level area. In these moments, it only takes a few seconds to decide if you are out of your depth and need to run or if you are ready for a new challenge. Travel becomes easier after a few story quests that open up new skills. Players eventually learn to both walk on water and fly, skills sure to delight any kid. Every town has side quests ranging from funny to heartfelt to downright creepy. Players can choose what they want to do in any order, but quests and dungeons are marked with a recommended level to help players not wander too far in a dangerous direction. It’s a simple and fun adventure that introduces new players to RPGs. Cat Quest is rated E for everyone, but can everyone actually play it?


When my kids ask for a new game, my first question is: Can they operate the controls on this? Even the cutest game in the world can require complex motor skills. A very small child could hold the controller and wander the early portions of the Cat Quest map successfully. Attacking involves simply walking up to an enemy and pushing a single button. Great for a little who wants to participate but doesn’t care about progression. Of course, it does get more complicated than that. Enemies have attack patterns projected as bright red circles or lines radiating from them that kids need to remain aware of. There is usually plenty of time to walk out of the coming attack zone before getting hit. Dodge rolling is easier: it is a second button to push and becomes vital later in the game when enemies mix multiple attacks. Then along come the magic spells, which are mapped to shoulder buttons. The motor skills can be complex for little hands later in the game. Juggling attacks, dodges, and spells can become frustrating, especially on the dragon bosses who will use two or more attack patterns at once, with random enemies wandering in and joining the fight. Some of the fights taxed even my adult fine motor skills. Fortunately, the game is extremely forgiving. Dying takes the player back to the last place they slept, then it is time to head back and try again or take the time to level up before progressing.

Battling a dragon with lightning.
You know what happens to a dragon when it is struck by lightning?

Strategic Thinking

As well as controlling the character on the screen, RPGs involve varying degrees of strategy and planning. Armor and weapons come from chests and drop randomly from enemies. They all change your character’s appearance, but dressing in the coolest outfit doesn’t necessarily mean the gear is the best. To be successful, kids need to understand that aesthetics aren’t everything. Basic problem-solving skills are necessary to choose gear matching the player’s style and armor covering their defense needs. Gear upgrades randomly and automatically when the player gets a second piece of something, so it requires no extra effort unless they aren’t getting upgrades for their favorite pieces. Then it’s back to the menu to pick something new.

On the other hand, players must level magic spells in their original temple or a higher-level one. Then, players need to go into the menu to map spells to the shoulder buttons, allowing them to heal or attack in the same patterns available to the enemies. Spells add four more buttons, using a totally different part of the controller, and might cause players with smaller hands trouble. Spell upgrades cost a lot of money, so saving up or grinding for gold is a big part of the game. Players must be able to identify when their spells aren’t measuring up against more challenging enemies and find their way to the right temples with enough gold to buy an upgrade. This level of awareness can be beyond younger kids, so they might need reminders to buy upgrades or a parent to step in and take them shopping if they are getting stuck.

Cat Quest screenshot of the hero in a void-like space dimension with a white door and seven stone platforms arranged in a circle

Reading Level

Another big part of video games, especially RPGs, is reading. For many kids, playing video games is a great motivation to learn to read. Several staff members here at RPGFan learned to read from games. Cat Quest has plenty of dialog, but reading isn’t required to complete the game. With a few exceptions, every quest in the game has a giant arrow pointing the player exactly where they need to go, and everything that they can interact with is very clearly marked. If your child can follow arrows or footsteps, step on the giant glowing marks on the ground, and choose green for yes and red for no, they can get through this game. They might need someone sitting with them and reading aloud for the first fifteen or twenty minutes so they can learn the controls before setting off on their own.

Now, if your child is a strong reader, they are in for a treat. The cat puns are endless. It is a pawfect addition to a game as furring cute as Cat Quest. On the other hand, Spirry is a fairly rude character and uses sweet little puns in lieu of swearing, which he does a lot. Younger kids probably won’t catch it, but I sure did. The game has a sense of humor hidden in the dialog that most children will find delightful, but now and then, it goes in the other direction to some pretty mature places.

Maturity Level

Cat Quest can occasionally hit on some complex and even upsetting themes that some children might not be ready for. The game is mostly straightforward and a bit silly. Many situations will have kids laughing and quoting dialog at you for days. There can be a subtext to some side quests that younger children might not pick up on, but will give bigger kids a laugh. Then there are the things that can be flat-out upsetting. For example, there are identical empty towns with identical quests that turn out to be a byproduct of a cat pursuing necromancy to raise his dead sister, resulting in everyone dying and both siblings trapped haunting the towns, trying to save each other. Or the meat-obsessed cats tricked into eating monster meat and becoming monsters themselves. Then there are Santa Paws, and his evil twin Santa Claws, locked in a bitter fight over how Kitmas presents are distributed. I don’t want to spoil the heartbreaking twist at the end, but I got weepy. Now, don’t get me wrong. These quests are few and far between, but running into darker storylines unexpectedly can be upsetting for a very sensitive child. It is a matter of knowing what triggers your child and what they can brush off because it is an otherwise adorable way to spend some time. It also doesn’t hurt that you can skip any side quest simply by picking up a new one.

Screen shot of the quest menu in Cat Quest.
Cat Quest contains many smaller quests.

My initial question was, can everyone play this? The short answer is yes. Anyone who can hold a controller can play this game to a certain extent. But let’s be real; if you set your kid down with a video game, you want them to be able to play it independently. The controls in Cat Quest are simple enough for most children, but don’t be surprised if your kid hands you the controller for help on a tricky dungeon trap or a boss fight. And although the game is playable without reading a word, emergent readers might need some help decoding unfamiliar words and the many puns in the game. Confident readers will find a lot of silliness and absurdity in the dialog and plot to keep them entertained. As for maturity level, you know your kid best. If they can handle ghosts, family conflicts, tragic backstories, and betrayal, there shouldn’t be much to give you pause in leaving your child alone with the game. Children mid-elementary and up should be fine playing this game unsupervised. If you are willing to sit with them so they understand how the game works and occasionally pop in to help play the tricky bits, even younger children can have a blast with Cat Quest. It is a fun and funny game with something to offer most ages.

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin Releases on Steam, Drops Price https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/stranger-of-paradise-final-fantasy-origin-releases-on-steam-drops-price/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/stranger-of-paradise-final-fantasy-origin-releases-on-steam-drops-price/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2023 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247734 Read More »]]> Square Enix just released Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin on PC via Steam and permanently reduced its price to $39.99 USD across all platforms, making the game more accessible now than ever before! If you’re in my boat and haven’t yet played this Souls-like Final Fantasy spinoff, check out this story recap trailer courtesy of Square Enix:

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is an action-oriented, Team Ninja-developed retelling of the original Final Fantasy. Hero Jack and his band of allies set off on a quest to defeat Chaos, as Jack infamously announces in just about all of the game’s many trailers. Square Enix has followed the game up with three expansions since its original release in March 2022, and all three are also available on Steam.

RPGFan’s Izzy Parsons dug the game’s fast-paced yet strategic combat, robust class system, and music, but they were less keen on the loot system and world design. In addition to Steam, Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is available on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Previews Gameplay in Overview Trailer https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/advance-wars-1-2-re-boot-camp-trailer/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/advance-wars-1-2-re-boot-camp-trailer/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2023 14:07:29 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247708 Read More »]]> With Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp finally around the corner, Nintendo has a lot of hype to build! In the game’s latest trailer, Nintendo does just that hype by giving players an overview of the turn-based battles along with some of the new quality-of-life updates.

Check out what makes battles tick in the overview trailer below:

Developer WayForward and Nintendo are bringing the classic Game Boy Advance strategy RPGs to the modern age with the same enjoyable combat and new quality-of-life features such as the ability to reset your current turn and fast forward through dialogue and animations. You’ll also be able to play online with up to four players in Versus Mode.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp launches for the Nintendo Switch on April 21. Stay tuned to RPGFan as we finally reach the collection’s release date!

Source: Gematsu

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Final Fantasy XVI Footage Coming in April 13th State of Play https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/final-fantasy-xvi-footage-state-of-play/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/12/final-fantasy-xvi-footage-state-of-play/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2023 13:59:26 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247786 Read More »]]> More than 20 minutes of glorious Final Fantasy XVI gameplay will dominate Sony’s upcoming State of Play this coming Thursday, April 13th. Fans can tune in live on YouTube or Twitch at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT.

The PlayStation Blog post hasn’t mentioned any other titles, so expect that the event will only be highlighting never-before-seen footage of FFXVI. Perhaps more Torgal scenes, Eikon fights, or possibly an upcoming demo launch date?

In case you haven’t noticed, Square Enix has actively been posting short action snippets on their official Final Fantasy social media channels.

Peek into our game page for all our coverage regarding trailershands-on impressionsbattle system breakdownsdeveloper interviews, and more.

It’s been almost three years since the game was first announced in 2020. The wait is almost over, and the release is locked in as it recently finished developmentFinal Fantasy XVI is slated to arrive exclusively for PS5 on June 22nd.

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The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog https://www.rpgfan.com/review/the-murder-of-sonic-the-hedgehog/ Tue, 11 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=review&p=247100 Read More »]]> The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog came out of nowhere: a visual novel “murder mystery” adventure starring many colorful characters from the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog series. However, what could’ve easily been a half-hearted attempt at an April Fools’ joke is a surprisingly solid adventure for both VN and Sonic fans. It’s a free game that’s approachable enough to pick up for a short yet entertaining whodunit.

The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog takes place on a fancy train called the Mirage Express. The main character, default name Barry, is starting their new job on the helpfully automated Mirage Express under the guidance of the friendly Conductor. The train is also the site of Amy Rose’s birthday celebration, and the giddy birthday girl has invited several of her close friends to participate in a murder mystery party. These guests include staples from the Sonic series, such as the innocent genius Tails, the brusque-yet-secretly-kind brawler Knuckles, the mischievous master thief Rouge, and the bluntly taciturn Shadow. Joining them are less prolific but equally memorable Sonic characters, such as the trying-to-be calm and collected Espio, the enthusiastically supportive Vector, and the dignified interdimensional-traveling princess Blaze. Of course, the heroic speedster Sonic the Hedgehog is also in attendance!

Barry is talking to Tails and Knuckles about an odd name on an arcade's high score list in The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Uncover clues in your quest for the truth!

Things go well following Barry and the Conductor collecting everyone’s tickets. It isn’t long until the party is in full swing, with everyone getting into their assigned murder mystery roles. However, the train enigmatically starts up, and shenanigans get out of hand when it looks like Sonic might be “murdered.” Only Barry seems to realize the actual severity of the situation, with everyone else still assuming it’s part of the mystery game. As the energetic Amy ventures ahead to discover what happened to Sonic, Tails and Barry team up to interview party guests and uncover clues. Can they piece together what’s happening, or will everyone fall victim to a murderer’s scheme? More importantly, is Sonic going to be okay?

To say more about The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog‘s plot would spoil it, as the game isn’t long. However, the story is surprisingly self-contained, and uncovering its riddles with such a colorful cast of likable characters is enjoyable. I’m not even the most knowledgeable person regarding Sonic the Hedgehog, having only vague knowledge of characters such as the ninja chameleon Espio. However, I enjoyed interacting with everyone in the cast! The narrative is well-written and engaging, with entertaining dialogue among the characters. I can easily picture long-time Sonic fans enjoying the game just as newcomers will. Barry’s “only sane one” reactions to all the craziness around them is a delight too!

Espio waxing poetic in The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Espio is not quite the poet he envisions himself to be.

The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog‘s gameplay is standard fare for the visual novel genre. You-as-Barry interact with characters during story scenes, providing a plethora of dialogue choices. There’s a point-and-click portion where you gather clues in a given location before approaching a character for an interrogation process. You’ll question the character on a specific plot point, with the game helpfully informing you when you’ve collected enough evidence. Then you present your findings to help prove your points, getting the character to reveal the truth eventually. It’s straightforward to pick up without real punishment if you need to try again.

Upon presenting clues, Barry must “think” about what they represent by playing a racing game as Sonic to acquire a specific number of rings to advance the story. These thinking segments are for gamers more familiar with the Sonic series. However, they align with the game’s casual feel overall, as you can activate an assist mode to tailor their difficulty to your preference. The further you advance in the story, the more challenging these segments become. Eventually, they culminate in a fierce “final” boss battle against a surprising foe. It’s a fun way to add a style of interactive element that you may not expect in a VN, and these segments are enjoyable in their own right.

A screenshot of the Think gameplay segment at work in The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog.
The thinking segments echo the traditional Sonic experience.

Visually, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is a colorful game with a bright, cartoony aesthetic. I love the backgrounds and how the characters pop into focus on the screen. The artwork for story scenes is a visual delight, and the character designs for original characters, such as the Conductor and Barry, fit nicely into the series’ overall graphic tone. If I have one complaint, it’s the “double-image” effect — an overlying copy of the same object a few pixels to the side — on items of importance in the backgrounds. I couldn’t tell if it’s intentionally to draw players’ attention their way, but it certainly is distracting. The game’s soundtrack and sound effects are fitting, particularly in the thinking portions where faster, more iconic beats in the vein of classic games of the Sonic series play and you hear the “catching” sound effect whenever Sonic grabs rings. The launch trailer is an accurate depiction of the visuals and soundscapes. The script and dialogue are wonderfully written, with nary an error.

The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is a very entertaining, casual-paced visual novel based on a beloved video game franchise. I enjoyed my time playing it, and I’m impressed by the level of detail and care put into a free title. The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is one April Fools’ Day joke that’s so much better than one initially expects it to be, and a part of me hopes there might be more games of this ilk in Sonic the Hedgehog’s future.

Forspoken Story DLC ‘In Tanta We Trust’ Explores the Past, Parkour in Late May https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/forspokens-in-tanta-we-trust-late-may/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/forspokens-in-tanta-we-trust-late-may/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2023 14:30:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247130 Read More »]]> Square Enix and Luminous Productions have announced Forspoken: In Tanta We Trust, a large-scale story DLC for the recently-released action RPG. It is set to launch on May 26th for PlayStation 5 and PC via the Steam, Epic Games, and Microsoft digital storefronts.

In Tanta We Trust is set 25 years prior to the events of Forspoken and has protagonist Frey Holland transported to a pivotal conflict known as the Purge of the Rheddig — a battle that sundered the world of Athia and drove the eponymous Tantas to madness. Within this landscape, Frey must once contend with the dangers of Athia and attempt to save it once more.

Square Enix has confirmed that the DLC will give players access to new magical abilities and will see Frey battle alongside Tanta Cinta, who acts as an iconic figure within the lore and story of Forspoken.

Players who purchased the Digital Deluxe Edition will receive early access to In Tanta We Trust on May 23rd. Players who bought the base game will be able to purchase the DLC separately. If you’re curious about what RPGFan thought of Forspoken, feel free to check out our review penned by Izzy Parsons!

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news Forspoken and RPG!

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Crymachina Ponders On Its Humanity In New ‘Introduction’ Trailer https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/crymachina-new-introduction-trailer/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/crymachina-new-introduction-trailer/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2023 13:30:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247135 Read More »]]> NIS America and FuRyu have released a new localized “Introduction” trailer for their upcoming action RPG Crymachina. It introduces the story and its primary cast of characters for the title alongside snippets of real-time gameplay. Check it out below!

The title follows the plight of mechanical girls created within a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has long been extinct. Players will take on the role of three playable protagonists and explore a large outer-space structure known as Eden as they seek to restore humanity. In that pursuit, players will fight real-time battles against mechanical enemies who hold the keys to the mysteries of the world and its current sordid state.

Crymachina will launch in Japan on July 6th. It will later release in North America and Europe during Fall 2023 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news Crymachina and RPG!

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Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai Releases Fall 2023 Worldwide https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/infinity-strash-releasing-fall-2023/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/infinity-strash-releasing-fall-2023/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2023 12:30:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247664 Read More »]]> Square Enix and developer KAI Graphics announced that Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai will launch worldwide this fall. The game is expected to release on multiple platforms (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam). Thank you, Gematsu, for the tweet translation.

Here’s a tease of the new character animation poses:

The upcoming action RPG Infinity Strash will be based on the storyline of the Japanese manga and anime series Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. The game will cover the plot up to the “Battle of Sovereign Rock Castle” arc. If you want to learn more about this title, our previous coverage goes into key information and 15 minutes of gameplay.

Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai Screenshots

There are no exact release dates or pre-orders yet, so stay tuned to RPGFan for future info coming regarding Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. In the meantime, you can check out the official Japanese website for more details.

Source: Gematsu

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Rumored Dev Footage of Persona 3 Remake Leaked Online https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/footage-persona-3-remake-leaked-online/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/11/footage-persona-3-remake-leaked-online/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2023 12:01:34 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247653 Read More »]]> In the last few days, we have seen a lot of fan activity on Reddit and ResetEra regarding a short clip of a potential Persona 3 remake. Boy, oh boy.

The Twitter account that originally posted the video no longer exists, but you’ll find a backup version below courtesy of the YouTube channel ChaosMoogle.

The five-second video shows Yukari summoning her persona and firing a barrage of magical arrows. At first glance, the animation and character model quality looks strong enough to indicate an actual leak. However, some fans have also pointed out that it could be a fan-made video with assets pulled from Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight.

To spice things up further, Gematsu shared the following:

The reel is reportedly from 2021, showcasing in-development footage of the two alleged unannounced titles, as well as the currently available Sonic Frontiers.

While we cannot verify the footage itself, Gematsu understands that a Persona 3 remake has been in development at Atlus for several years.

Here’s another thing to get our hopes up for a hypothetical Persona 3 Remake: Twitter user みどり (@MbKKssTBhz5) discovered that the domain P3RE.JP was registered on March 15th by an unknown entity. The domain provider is said to be the same one behind Persona 5 Royal‘s website.

Whether you’re on Team Real or Team Fake for the remake, we’re all just wishing that ATLUS and SEGA push through with this project and that this comes out before Persona 6

While waiting for any official announcements, you might want to direct your attention toward ATLUS’ online store, which posted that new Persona 3 Portable merchandise is coming out soon:

Source: Gematsu

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Random Encounter 265 – The Games that SHOULDN’T BE! https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/10/random-encounter-265-the-games-that-shouldnt-be/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/10/random-encounter-265-the-games-that-shouldnt-be/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2023 12:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247340 Read More »]]> On this week’s Random Encounter, we’re talking about two games that, frankly, we can’t believe exist. 

Many of us expect certain game series to “stay in their lane.” Mega Man is a platformer. Doom is an FPS. Metroid is, well, a Metroidvania. But when a series tries something completely different in a new genre, the results can vary in quality. Audra recently reviewed two such games, one that wildly succeeded and one that spectacularly failed. First up is The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, a game that takes the classic platforming characters and puts them into an Ace Attorney-style adventure game/visual novel. And then we are talking about Street Fighter: Duel, a mobile game that attempts to translate the classic fighting game into an RPG.

Featuring: Jono Logan, Audra Bowling; Edited by Jono Logan

Listen and subscribe where you please, and leave a rating if you can! Email us your feedback: podcast@rpgfan.com

More: Overcast | Pocket Casts | Castro | Podbean | Podcast Addict | Breaker | YouTube | View all Random Encounter posts

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RPGs Coming This Week, 4/9/23 https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/09/rpgs-coming-this-week-4-9-23/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/09/rpgs-coming-this-week-4-9-23/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2023 17:43:10 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247151 Read More »]]> Welcome to another edition of RPGs Coming This Week, the column where we talk about all the new, relevant-to-us releases in the next seven days. (Starting from today, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game come out on a Sunday.)

This time around, we’re covering a bunch of indies and a long-awaited compilation of a cult series dating back to the Game Boy Advance. Let’s get into it!

Process of Elimination – April 11th (PS4, Switch)

Screenshot of Process of Elimination, one of several RPGs coming this week

Process of Elimination features a group of accomplished detectives solving a mystery involving murders most foul. The nefarious Quartering Duke has killed over 100 victims already, so the Detective Alliance is tasked with uncovering the truth behind the crimes and stopping the murder spree. An average high schooler named Wato Hojo is announced as a new member of the alliance and forcibly taken to an unknown island. There, he must help fellow alliance members solve the mystery behind the Quartering Duke despite having no real special investigative skills of his own. Can he help figure out the truth by utilizing the other detectives’ specialties? Process of Elimination promises to be a mystery visual novel with high stakes.

by Audra Bowling

TRON: Identity – April 11th (Switch, Windows)

Screenshot of Tron Identity, one of several RPGs coming this week

I’ve had my eyes on TRON: Identity ever since it was announced, since I’ve got a soft spot for both the TRON series and visual novels. This VN sees players take on the role of an investigative program named Query in a brand-new Grid that’s been left to evolve under its own devices without creator influence. The narrative is said to be incredibly player choice-heavy with several differing plot results. Plus, there’s a puzzle component involving defragging Identity Discs to uncover hidden truths. TRON: Identity looks gorgeous and it certainly has an interesting premise that hopefully entices both TRON and visual novel enthusiasts alike.

by Audra Bowling

Wartales (Exiting Early Access) – April 12th (Windows)

Wartales screenshot of a grid-based battle system as multiple units decide on their plans of attack.

Wartales puts you in command of a ragtag mercenary company eking out a living in a medieval land ravaged by plague and societal collapse. Featuring a vast open-world sandbox and turn-based tactical combat, you are free to chart your own path in the harsh, unforgiving low-fantasy setting…so long as you don’t meet your end at the tip of a bandit’s blade! Party customization and management is a major focus, and you can even form mercenary bands with other players in online co-op. Wartales has seen a great deal of refinement during its year and a half in Early Access, and any fan of open-ended CRPGs or small squad SRPGs should check this one out.

by Ben Love

Hunt the Night – April 13th (Windows)

Screenshot of Hunt the Night, one of several RPGs coming this week

Our solitary action-based entry in our RPGs Coming This Week, Hunt the Night is an action RPG dripping with retro style boasting a dark fantasy tale. You play as Vesper, a member of a special group of humans known as the Stalkers that is combating the monstrous forces of the all-encroaching Night in the world of Medhram. Your goal? Trying to ensure humanity’s continued survival, of course!

The game’s combat is frenetic and action-packed, and boss battles look impressively challenging in scope. Skill and stats customization appear to play large strategic roles, and there’s a wealth of activities and locations to uncover throughout Medhram. The game’s soundtrack even includes collaborative work with legendary composer Hiroki Kikuta. Hunt the Night might be one action RPG fans of the genre could very well lose themselves in. April 13th marks the PC release, with PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch versions launching in the future.

by Audra Bowling

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection – April 14th (PS4, Switch, Windows)

Screenshot of Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection, one of several RPGs coming this week

We’ve wanted it, we’ve been waiting for it, and finally, it’s here! The Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection arrives this week collecting 10 (or more realistically, six, with some Pokémon-style divisions across a couple of ‘em) fantastic RPGs into two collections. Join Lan as he network battles new takes on classic robot masters alongside his buddy, NetNavi MegaMan.EXE! Along the way there are chips to collect, unlocking more unique moves for your virus-busting buddy, with new online play allowing you to trade chips or battle with friends. If you’re a Mega Man fan who loves RPGs, you really can’t get much better than this. Check it out for Switch, PlayStation 4, or Steam!

By Wes Iliff

And that’s it for RPGs Coming This Week! I’ve been pretty excited about Mega Man myself, but I’m still making my way through Like a Dragon: Ishin! and the rest of my wretched backlog. I feel like I need to clear the way a bit for the absolute deluge crashing down on us from mid-April onwards. Until next time, readers!

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Pokémon Stadium Arrives on Switch April 12th https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/08/pokemon-stadium-switch-april-12th/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/08/pokemon-stadium-switch-april-12th/#respond Sat, 08 Apr 2023 22:11:05 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247229 Read More »]]> Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscribers can play 2000’s Pokémon Stadium starting April 12th! This fan-favorite Nintendo 64 title will feature online multiplayer for the first time, enabling players to battle with their friends using the series’s original 151 Pokémon. Ten-year-old me’s head just exploded!

Players can battle it out with up to three friends in Free Battle mode and enjoy some very Mario Party-esque minigames in Kids Club, which I recall being far more challenging than its name suggests! Stadium includes a boatload of single-player content: your chosen party of six can face off against Kanto’s elite trainers in Stadium mode, and you can take on Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow’s gym leaders in Gym Leader Castle.

Pokémon Stadium‘s return is disappointing in at least one significant respect, though. Unlike in the original game, you can’t transfer your own Pokémon to the game. I have countless hours of cherished memories of sending my Red, Blue, and Yellow favorites on a trip to Pokémon Stadium and watching them battle in 3D glory! Of course, you can borrow rental Pokémon in Pokémon Stadium, but I always found that far less satisfying than playing with my own brawlers.

Pokémon Stadium‘s arrival on Nintendo Switch Online marks the service’s 23rd Nintendo 64 game. Other available titles include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Pokémon Snap, GoldenEye 007, and many other classics. In its September 2022 Direct, Nintendo announced that Pokémon Stadium 2 was also headed to the service, which costs an individual subscriber $49.99 USD per year.

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Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters Hit PS4 and Switch April 19th with New Features https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/08/final-fantasy-pixel-remasters-ps4-switch-april-19th/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/08/final-fantasy-pixel-remasters-ps4-switch-april-19th/#respond Sat, 08 Apr 2023 22:03:18 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247083 Read More »]]> It’s almost time to return to the classics again, kupo. All six Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster games are coming to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, which began in 2021 with a modern rendition of the first game in this storied series and concluded half a year later with the sixth, was notable for a handful of things — some good, some not-so-good.

On the bright side, these are gorgeous versions through and through, with stellar rearranged soundtracks that stay true to the source material and some smart gameplay tweaks that add up to a polished experience. Just look what our very own Audra Bowling had to say about Final Fantasy VI! You can also check out the Switch and PS4 release date announcement trailer below!

But then there are the bones of contention, including a lack of the bonus content found in the Game Boy Advance and original Steam and mobile releases. Speaking of Steam and mobile, Pixel Remaster was only made available on PC, iOS, and Android at launch — rough tides for console-lovers. Last but (arguably) not least, there was the font. Oh, the font.

Now, with the Switch and PS4 versions of the 2D mainline FFs finally en route, two of those three problems are resolved. Not just will a wider group of fans get to relive the legend, but Square Enix has heard complaints of the font loud and clear, and now offers the option for a much-improved pixel font style. That bonus content looks to be lost forever, but if you ever get a hankering to redo stuff like Final Fantasy V‘s Sealed Temple, well, hopefully you’ve still got a GBA cartridge on tap. You can see the new font in the screenshots below:

Also, just to illustrate the difference, here’s a side-by-side comparison with everyone’s favorite RPG octopus (original font, followed by new pixel font):

Further bells and whistles await folks with the console Pixel Remaster ports. While the aforementioned soundtrack is fantastic, you may wish to listen to the original tunes nonetheless; that’ll now be an option. You’ll also be able to toggle random encounters off whenever you’d like, and you can increase the amount of experience points earned at any time (by as much as 400%!) to hasten that vintage grind.

No word yet on whether and when these savvy perks will come to PC and mobile versions of the games, but here’s hoping Square Enix doesn’t leave early adopters in the dark.

You can purchase all six games bundled on the Nintendo eShop or opt to pick and choose your favorite individual entries. The PS4 versions are expected to be the same in this regard, but there’s no pre-order link for Sony’s platform just yet.

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Tune In for Summer of Cold Steel II on Twitch TODAY! https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/08/tune-in-for-summer-of-cold-steel-ii-on-twitch-today/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/08/tune-in-for-summer-of-cold-steel-ii-on-twitch-today/#respond Sat, 08 Apr 2023 20:10:02 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=247252 Read More »]]> Okay yes, it’s still spring, but summer is coming soon, and that means another long-term marathon on our Twitch channel. Last year, Scott gave us Xenosummer, playing all the Xeno series games leading up to Xenoblade Chronicles 3‘s release. This year, with The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie coming up on July 7th, he’s diving into Trails for a second time, with the Summer of Cold Steel II! That means three months of Trails games, multiple giveaways for viewers, and more! The marathon kicks off TODAY, so check out the marathon schedule at the end of this post. In the meantime, here’s how it will work this year:

Between today and early July, Scott will be playing Trails of Cold Steel I, II, III, IV, and Trails into Reverie upon release, and just to make things spicy, he will be playing on Nightmare mode. Upon completing each game, he will give away a prize to one lucky winner. To keep things both interesting and interactive, entries are earned by finding ways to help kill off Rean.

Yes, really.

There will be both channel commands and community methods, and participating will give people entries in the giveaways. Scott will be playing by some rules, such as requiring Rean to always be in the active party when possible, and he will have to follow channel commands such as muting (stop casting spells for a set time), seal (stop using techniques for a certain amount of time) forcing certain party members, etc. If chat works in tandem and Rean dies, then everyone that helped in battle gets another ticket they can redeem when the giveaways come around.

So, watch more, interact more, and you get more chances to win.

Scott will also have some “stretch goals” for the duration of Summer of Cold Steel II to make things even more exciting, especially for regular viewers. If, as a community, we hit 75 congruent viewers during this marathon and finally reach Twitch Partner status, then Scott has committed to doing, as he puts it, “additional stuff that I have never wanted to such as cosplays (Rean etc.), playing games that I dislike after the marathon is over, and a few other surprises.

Summer of Cold Steel II Schedule

  • Tuesdays at 5:30pm PT / 8:30pm ET
  • Thursdays at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET
  • Friday and Saturdays at 2:00pm PT / 5:00pm ET
  • Sundays at 4:00pm PT / 7:00pm ET (except April 9th, which will be at 2:00pm PT / 5:00pm ET)
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Dredge https://www.rpgfan.com/review/dredge/ Sat, 08 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=review&p=246528 Read More »]]> I have immense admiration for creators and artists who attempt earnestly to capture what H.P. Lovecraft wrote about over a hundred years ago. A sub-genre in their own right, Lovecraftian books, board games, video games, and on and on probe that which cannot be probed. They attempt to conceive of that which cannot be conceived. Angles, colors, dreams, and elder gods that exist beyond our perception of reality. How exactly does one communicate this in a video game? This Sisyphean feat may actually be impossible, but the more important question is whether or not the attempt is engaging for the player.

Dredge culls up what hasn’t been forgotten: monsters hiding in the dark recesses of the sea. And, no, I’m not talking about angler fish. We’ve had more than enough of that in Outer Wilds. With children’s book adaptations, comedic RPGs, and plushies on the market centered around Cthulhu, the entire premise has the fangs — or tentacles — taken out of it. Regardless, I’d say Dredge does better than most modern-day recreations of the mythos.

You are an errant fisherman who, after a catastrophe at sea, wakes up in a small island town in an archipelago. Armed with rusty garbage for boat supplies — engine, fishing rod, lights, and hull — you are initially tasked with paying off our debt to the town’s mayor. After quickly accomplishing this mission, you continue to collect fish and dredge up trash so that you can sell your findings and use said trash to improve your ship. By upgrading your rods, you can fish more quickly and pull fish from different kinds of waters, and upgrading your engine helps you venture out of your immediate area to new locales. But what’s this? That fish doesn’t look right. It’s glowing. And this one has too many teeth. Is it grinning?

Buying ship supplies at a merchant in Dredge.
Could also be played as an inventory management simulator.

Yes, you soon realize that Dredge is more than a mere fishing-economy game, but not by much. Fishmongers and other odd individuals prefer the unusual fish, but they all sell. Once the you venture out, you discover little towns and huts that offer core missions and side quests. You are pushed in a central direction, but Dredge spiders out into all sorts of quests. These quests seem like side affairs, but they may actually lead to a different ending and new information.

The game loop is clear: collect fish, sell fish, and spend money on boat upgrades so that you can collect more fish and sell more fish. On and on we go. But Dredge offers more. While this is the central driving force of the game, you are tasked to discover new locations, solve mysteries, and complete several quests over the course of this 10-hour game. Quests vary from fetch quests to finding unique places to figuring out how to satisfy what an altar demands. Remember, fishing is the core mechanic here.

Fishing is a simple enough task. When you find bubbles in the water and fish darting around just underneath the surface in third-person view, you can begin fishing. Time presses when the slider moves over the green area, and, voila, fish is caught. There’s not much more to it than that; some fish require different kinds of timed presses, but they’re all simple and not worth discussing. The real meat is in exploration, the writing, and solving mysteries.

The player acquires a fish in Dredge. The game describes the catch with the tag "Stock: low."
Dredge spares no jabs at a fish’s character.

Dredge’s map cuts the archipelago into distinct quadrants with the starting area falling at the center. While four labeled sections exist with their own land formations and characteristics, little islands are peppered here and there, often with unique spots of interest like abandoned camps, hermits, or altars.

Early on, you are led from one quadrant to the next in a progression that makes sense from a design perspective. You can certainly go wherever you want, but you can’t expect to catch many fish with just a starter rod or to have an easy time getting anywhere with a weak engine. Anyone with some video gaming years under their belt knows that while a literal wall doesn’t block your path, the gating is clear.

Upon completing quests and dredging up trash, you collect research components that can upgrade fishing rods, engines, and so on. This is your skill tree, though, again, the progression here is clear. Don’t know where volcanic fish are? Probably shouldn’t waste hard-earned research on a rod that can exclusively collect fish from this biome. Tired of not being able to hook oceanic fish? Maybe go for that one. Wasting too much time slowly meandering around before night falls? Upgrade that engine. For the love of God — or whatever ancient being you worship — make sure you have some decent lights.

Night plays a big role in Dredge. All sorts of eerie events occur at night, such as psychedelic fog that causes the protagonist to panic at sea, seeing all sorts of monstrosities or rocks where they shouldn’t be. Maybe a fishing boat appears out of nowhere that — wait, is that a fishing boat? Why is it speeding at me? Okay, maybe don’t stay out at night so much, but some fish can only be discovered at night. While risky, nighttime fishing can be good for not only the wallet, but your fishing journal.

Black, red-eyed birds circle the boat as it passes through a thin vein gulleyed between cliffs in Dredge.
Enjoy learning about Dredge’s diverse wildlife with red, glowing eyes.

For those who want to just enjoy Dredge as a collect-‘em-all fishing game, well over a hundred normal and freakishly abnormal fish are waiting to be discovered, though this isn’t at all necessary for the core experience. I enjoyed doing a little extra fishing just because I enjoyed the artistry and wondering what new Lovecraftian sea creatures were waiting to be discovered if I should get lucky. As far as fishing games go, I’m not a huge fan, but the presentation and overall atmosphere make the experience more enticing than I expected.

Musically and visually, Dredge isn’t the gloomiest and grittiest Lovecraftian title out there, but it scratches the itch. People in town have a blurry, oil-painting-esque quality, and no one looks 100% right. Everyone — including the seemingly sane people — has an odd edge to them, as if they’re slowly being shaped by this region of the world. Something’s not right here, and if the visuals won’t do it for you, the unsettlingly somber horns and strings at sea will drive the message.

While not a hardcore gaming experience, Dredge certainly sates the thirst for Lovecraftian vibes. Though the game can get a bit repetitive by the end, the majority of Dredge is enjoyable enough to warrant a purchase. I left a few mysteries unsolved in my playthrough, and I may jump back in to check those off in hopes that I can hit “snooze” on the elder gods’ alarm clock.

Symphonic Tale: The Rune of Beginning (Music from Suikoden II) https://www.rpgfan.com/music-review/symphonic-tale-the-rune-of-beginning-music-from-suikoden-ii/ Fri, 07 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=music-review&p=242963 Read More »]]> Suikoden is a legendary and classic RPG series. The games are however very underrated and never really received the attention they deserved. Despite this, anyone who played these games was in for a treat with a story full of political intrigue that focuses on how political movements affect people’s lives, and how characters grow, change, and adapt to change.

Suikoden II is the most popular game in the franchise, and it wears that crown deservedly; Suikoden II is an emotional roller coaster of political movements, character growth and interaction, and tragedy and betrayal all around. It encapsulates the spirit of what Suikoden is and would be for the next few games in the series’ sadly short lifespan. It is beloved by many and, despite a rocky translation, proves that video games as a medium can transcend languages by telling a captivating and moving story.

While I could go on all day about these games, we’re here today to look at a kickstarted album titled Symphonic Tale: The Rune of Beginning (Music from Suikoden II). The music in the early entries of the series was done by Miki Higashino, who managed to create an intricate, beautiful, and majestic soundtrack that added a lot to the story and characters, so much so that I often think of said characters and scenes just by listening to the music. Indeed the cutscenes in the game would come nowhere close to how good they are without the masterful soundtrack.

The Rune of Beginning was done by VGM Classics, who had set out to create orchestral albums for various video games, including Star Fox 64 and Fire Emblem Echoes. However, the Kickstarter pages for those two games are hidden and only the Suikoden II album seems to have come to fruition. The music was composed and directed by Kentaro Sato and performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra.

So how is the actual music from The Rune of Beginning? In a word, stunning. I’ve listened to this album many times because I love it so much. Every single track is handled with delicacy and care and a real love for the source material. Each performance is extremely well done, and you can feel the passion in the music just from how powerful the performances are.

“Prologue” starts powerfully, and is a good barometer for how the rest of the album is going to sound. True to its source material, it’s a powerful song with a sweeping orchestral performance that perfectly achieves what it sets out to do in being an orchestral cover of the original. The original song itself is also orchestral within the constraints of the PlayStation hardware, yet in a way this almost feels like a closer rendition of what Higashino wanted the song to be.

Immediately following that is “Reminiscence.” This is my favorite song from the game, and this version of the song brought actual tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. “Reminiscence” was itself already a powerful song played at the beginning of the game, during a flashback, and properly set the tone for the story to follow. Starting with a beautiful piano solo, the song adds other instruments over time, yet the piano remains the strongest part of the song as the other instruments provide an excellent backup. Just like its source, the song is short at just under three minutes, but every single second of those short three minutes is well spent.

From there we move to “Beautiful Morning” and “Adventurous Journey,” both of which are good in their own right. By this point the album establishes that it adheres to the source material very closely, and in fact a lot of songs sound the way I would expect them to, knowing their source. This is by no stretch a bad thing, and in fact is just more Suikoden music, which is never a bad thing in its own right. I could listen to either version and be just as satisfied, and I think that says a lot about how good this album is.

I’d like to take a special look as well at the final few tracks in the album, “Reunion,” “A New Beginning,” and “Epilogue: 108 Stars of Destiny.” While these songs are similar to the source, they all mesh together very well, as if they were all meant to be a medley in one single song. In fact on casual listens I sometimes never even notice the changing of a track because of how beautifully they flow into each other. I would even go so far as to say that these tracks work so well with each other that missing one would be like taking a part out of the song, maybe in a similar vein to classical music such as “Piano Sonata No. 14”, popularly known as “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven, which has multiple movements that link to each other to create a whole.

Next up is “Passion Sets History in Motion,” a track that was sadly omitted from the Western version of the game during the ending sequence. That being the case, I imagine a lot of fans might not even know that this song exists, despite it being an extremely powerful yet short vocal theme in Italian with lyrics that properly summarize the theme of the game.

This version contains no lyrics, but still manages to stand on its own as an excellent piece in its own right, driving the album towards its conclusion with proper aplomb. With a similar sound to the first song on the album, “Prologue,” this track seems to lead into a conclusion that mirrors the beginning, making the whole package feel complete.

Lastly we have “Victory and Beyond,” a track that wraps The Rune of Beginning up in a nice package. It contains motifs from the first song in the album, “Prologue,” bringing the album back to the beginning in a cohesive and meaningful way, which makes it a fantastic finale and conclusion overall.

Suikoden as a series resides in a special place in my heart. It’s thanks to these games and their wonderful stories and soundtracks that I was inspired to try writing. For me, this album elicits a ton of emotions which contributed to my wanting to put thoughts to paper. Because I feel this way, I think this album is an absolute masterpiece, beginning to end. From performance to track selection, this album was all I’d hoped it would be and more.

To be able to write about Suikoden in any capacity is a huge honor just because of what this series means to me. The music ultimately elicits the same feelings that the games did, so this album was nostalgic for me in many ways: not just in terms of the music and my memories of the game, but how I’ve grown and changed as a person and as a writer. It’s a reminder of how powerful music can be when the material can transcend beyond its intentions. Being able to write about this album helped revitalize those feelings and reminded me of the passion and love that I have for games, VGM, and writing as a whole. It should come as no surprise then that I recommend this album with full marks. The Rune of Beginning is a tribute to a game that is far more than the sum of its parts in what it has represented and done for people, and to a criminally underrated series that means so much to me and so many others, and it is worthy of respect and admiration.

Win a Signed Print of the Lacrimosa of Dana Novel Cover Art! https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/win-a-signed-print-of-the-lacrimosa-of-dana-novel-cover-art/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/win-a-signed-print-of-the-lacrimosa-of-dana-novel-cover-art/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2023 19:01:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246923 Read More »]]> As we just reported on, book publisher Dragonwell Publishing has revealed the cover art for author Anna Kashina’s official novelization of Falcom’s Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. In addition, pre-orders are live for the digital version of the book — check out all the details in our earlier post.

In addition, RPGFan is pleased to be working with Dragonwell Publishing to offer an 11″ x 17″ signed print of the Lacrimosa of Dana cover art to one lucky reader (or podcast fan, or Twitch viewer). As we like to do, we’re keeping the rules simple: Fill in the form below for a chance to win!

April 10th, 2023: This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered, and look forward to more coverage on the Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana novel leading up to its release!

Good luck, and stay tuned to RPGFan for more information leading up to the October 18th, 2023 release of the Lacrimosa of Dana novelization!

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Check Out the Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Novelization Cover https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/ys-viii-lacrimosa-of-dana-novel-cover/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/ys-viii-lacrimosa-of-dana-novel-cover/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2023 19:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246633 Read More »]]> Ys fans who want more Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana as they await the release of Ys X: Nordics, this is exciting news for you! As we reported on in February, developer Falcom has teamed up with Dragonwell Publishing to bring Adol’s adventures on Seiren Island to the printed page. Anna Kashina, author of The Majat Code series and known Ys VIII fan, is handling the official novelization of the 2017 action RPG. For a closer look, here’s the existing excerpt:

When Adol Christin boards the sea liner Lombardia for what he expects to be an easy voyage across the Gaete Sea, he has no idea his journey will end in catastrophe. Shipwrecked on the mysterious Seiren Island along with a handful of other Lombardia survivors, he must face the ancient curse that had haunted Seiren for millennia and find a way to defeat it.

Adol’s search for escape brings his party to the ruins of the ancient civilization of Eternia. Among the ruins, Adol discovers a survivor, Dana, who had managed to preserve herself in a magical cocoon through her gift of Essence. But when she awakens and gradually regains her memories, Adol and his friends learn the horrible truth. Humanity is destined for destruction by the same forces that destroyed Eternia millennia ago. Even Dana’s gift can do little to avert this fate.

Adol and Dana must join forces and throw all their powers into the fight. But will this be enough to defy the ancient gods, and the natural order of the world?

Ah, good ‘ol Adol, shipwrecked and at it again. But at least it’s an idyllic island setting? The full account of his journey is planned to release October 18th, 2023. Today, the Dragonwell team has revealed the cover art for Lacrimosa of Dana, seen below, featuring Adol and the mysterious and powerful Dana, his ally as he learns the island’s secrets and once again has to help avert catastrophe. The slight variation between Adol’s background and Dana’s really emphasizes her connection to the lost Eternian civilization and its role in the story. If this cover art or the description grab your interest, check out the book’s website, where you can find more information and sign up for updates on this novelization.

Also, if you’re enjoying the look of the cover, don’t miss our brand-new giveaway, where one lucky fan can win a signed print of the artwork!

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Novelization by Anna Kashina Cover featuring the title and Adol and Dana back to back
Lacrimosa of Dana by Anna Kashina cover art

Preorders are also live for the ebook version if you want forge straight ahead to ordering. Details on the paperback version will be forthcoming at a later date.

For now, enjoy the official cover art for Lacrimosa of Dana, get excited for a good read, and stay tuned here at RPGFan for more updates on this project as it gets closer to the release date. Which, again, is currently planned for October 18th, 2023.

Note: RPGFan is an affiliate with Amazon, and purchases made via affiliate links may financially benefit the site.

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All 3 Xenoblade Chronicles Soundtracks Are Now Available for Pre-Order https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/xenoblade-chronicles-ost-for-pre-order/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/xenoblade-chronicles-ost-for-pre-order/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2023 13:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246998 Read More »]]> The long-awaited Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Original Soundtrack officially debuts on July 29th, the game’s first anniversary. An important thing to note is that the music from volume four of the game’s expansion pass will be included. Let’s hope for the best and anticipate that the DLC updates arrive sooner than expected.

Get your wallets ready: apart from the Regular Edition, there’s a packed Limited Edition that’ll come with two one-third scale mini replicas of Noah and Mio’s flutes and many more. Procyon Studio opened pre-orders yesterday on their official store until April 30th at 11:59 p.m. JST/10:59 a.m. EST. 

Together with the announcement, the studio will offer a Trinity Box that includes soundtracks from the entire Xenoblade Chronicles franchise. According to the online portal, fans appear to also be getting a separate five-disc version of the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition OST. Read below for the full details and contents of each version.

Trinity Box JPY ¥20,000 / USD $154.00 (Release: July 29th – Procyon Store Exclusive)

Xenoblade Chronicles OST Trinity Box

The Xenoblade Chronicles Original Soundtrack Trinity Box contains the following four original soundtracks: the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition Original Soundtrack, the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Original Soundtrack, the Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country Original Soundtrack and the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Original Soundtrack. It also includes a 56-page booklet featuring messages by the Xenoblade Chronicles series’ Executive Director Tetsuya Takahashi and main composers, Yasunori Mitsuda, ACE (TOMOri Kudo, CHiCO), Kenji Hiramatsu and Manami Kiyota. The messages are also in English!

  • CDs (20 discs)
  • Booklet (56 pages)
  • Deluxe Box
  • Digipacks (20 packs)

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Limited Edition OST JPY ¥16,800 / USD $130.00 (Release: July 29th – Procyon Store Exclusive)

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 OST

The Limited Edition was created resembling a time capsule containing Noah, Mio, Eunie, Taion, Lanz and Sena’s memories of their journey through the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Together with their memories, we hope that you—as the player—can cherish your memories of the game with this Original Soundtrack.

  • CDs (9 dics)
  • Deluxe Booklet (80 pages)
  • Deluxe Box
  • Digipacks
  • Seishin no Fue (Noah’s flute) 1/3 Scale Mini Replica
  • Kishin no Fue (Mio’s flute) 1/3 Scale Mini Replica
  • Photograph-style Illustration
  • Composers’ Autograph and Message Card

*The CDs (9 discs) have the same music as the Regular Edition.

*The Mini Replicas cannot be played as an instrument.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Regular Edition OST JPY ¥6,600 / USD $50.16 (Release: August 2nd – CDJapan)

  • CDs (9 discs)
  • Booklet (12 pages)

*The CDs (9 discs) have the same music as the Limited Edition.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition OST JPY ¥5,000 / USD $38.00 (Release: August 2nd – CDJapan)

Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition OST

This 5 disc original soundtrack features the music used in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, the video game released by Nintendo on May 29, 2020 for the Nintendo Switch. Including the 54 tracks that were reborn through new arrangements and the completely new tracks featured in Future Connected, the soundtrack totals at 99 tracks. The tracklist follows the order of the game’s story, so it will be easy to experience the journey Shulk and company’s journey through the music. The music was composed by an impressive lineup of composers, including Yoko Shimomura, ACE (TOMOri Kudo, CHiCO), Kenji Hiramatsu, Manami Kiyota and Yasunori Mitsuda. The beginning of the Xenoblade Chronicles series is back!

Talk about a grand arrival for one of RPGFan’s Music of the Year 2022, eh? XC3 might not have won Best Score and Music at The Game Awards, but we’re still glad that it was nominated along with the other big titles. While waiting for the July 29th release, you might want to listen to a few tracks we discussed in episode 103 of Rhythm Encounter, which was dedicated to the music of the Xeno series.

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Final Fantasy XI Gets New Producer, Downsized Development Team https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/final-fantasy-xi-gets-new-producer/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/05/final-fantasy-xi-gets-new-producer/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2023 11:57:11 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246973 Read More »]]> Yoji Fujito is taking over as producer of Final Fantasy XI, replacing Akihiko Matsui. Fujito has been the game’s lead director since 2016. In Fujito’s announcement, he teased plans for the 20-year-old MMORPG and confirmed that Square Enix will continue updating and supporting Final Fantasy XI through the “long term”!

Fujito plans to focus the game’s development team on three things in 2023: Ambuscade updates, Prime Weapon reforging, and Master Trials. He didn’t provide details on these items, but he said he’s also interested in “holding live events in the real world and releasing new merchandise.”

Unfortunately, Fujito also announced that Square Enix is downscaling Final Fantasy XI‘s development team to “provide more leeway for [the game’s] operations to continue.” As a result, adventurers should expect the scope of the game’s version updates to be “quite compact.” Downsizing is a bummer, but it may be a boon to some of the relocated developers, who should be better positioned to work on titles that use modern technology and offer more room for growth.

Players may also experience longer-than-usual maintenance times in the future, as Fujito’s team is working on replacing the very outdated backend hardware that supports Final Fantasy XI. While this might give some players a headache, Fujito stressed that this change will help “ensure the long-term stability of operations.”

I played Final Fantasy XI on the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s and have many fond memories of Vana’diel. The fact that the game continues to earn new subscribers warms my heart, so I’m grateful that Fujito and Square Enix are committed to its survival. Final Fantasy XI remains accessible today on PC!

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RPG Maker Unite Delayed Indefinitely on PC, macOS https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/rpg-maker-unite-delayed-indefinitely/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/rpg-maker-unite-delayed-indefinitely/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2023 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246806 Read More »]]> Gotcha Gotcha Games has announced an indefinite delay of its upcoming dev-tool software RPG Maker Unite ahead of its previously scheduled release date of April 6th. The announcement came via an official statement posted to the developer’s support page.

The statement cites that the delay is “…a necessary step to further improve the product’s quality and stability.”, expressing regret and apologizing to awaiting fans looking to use RPG Maker Unite to create new games.

RPG Maker Unite is the latest iteration of role-playing game development tools meant to give players an approachable canvas with which to make RPGs. Unite is the first entry in the series to be built on top of the industry-standard Unity Engine and will boast a suite of enhanced features as listed below. Further details can be found on their official website.

RPG Maker Unite Feature List

  • Native development for smartphones and browsers utilising the Unity Editor
  • Revised user interface and experience allowing for real-time editing
  • 1080p rendering
  • An outline editor aimed at assisting players with a bird’s-eye view of their story and scenarios
  • An “Auto-Guide” feature that aids players in overall game balance
  • An enhanced map editor
  • enhanced character animations
  • An editable sample game

Personally, I sympathize with the developers at Gotcha Gotcha Games and wish them well in the game’s continual development. I believe in a wider variety of development tools for creators; if Unite delivers on what it has promised, more RPGs have the potential to get made. For fans and creators of RPGs, that seems to be a net positive!

RPG Maker Unite is set to release on PC and macOS systems via Steam and Unity. Existing Unity users who have access to a Personal or Student License will be able to use the software free of charge upon its eventual release.

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news RPG Maker Unite and RPG!

Source: Gematsu

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Dragon Quest Producer Ryutaro Ichimura Leaves Square Enix https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/dragon-quest-ryutaro-ichimura-leaves/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/dragon-quest-ryutaro-ichimura-leaves/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2023 14:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246748 Read More »]]> Dragon Quest series producer Ryutaro Ichimura has departed from JRPG developer and publisher Square Enix after nearly 20 years of working with them. Ichimura announced the news on March 31st via his personal Twitter account as seen below:

“I’ve started to count how many more games I’ll be able to make in my lifetime,” Ichimura says via a translation of the tweet provided by and with thanks to Gematsu. “Especially now, when it takes three to four years to make a game, we have to carefully consider each title we make.”

Ichimura states further within the memo that after a period of rest and reflection, he will continue working within the games industry. He writes “…I’d like to leave this blessed environment, and explore what can be made if I dare to push myself into a higher-risk environment.”

Ichimura worked as a producer on titles such as the beloved Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. He also worked within the development team on spinoff games such as Dragon Quest Builders and Dragon Quest Heroes. His last project was Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventures of Dai, which recently got a worldwide release date.

Personally, I wish him nothing but goodwill as he seeks greater challenges and meaning beyond the beloved titles he has helped deliver to fans far and wide.

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news RPG!

Source: Gematsu

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Not a Fantasy—Final Fantasy XVI Goes Gold https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/not-fantasy-final-fantasy-xvi-goes-gold/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/not-fantasy-final-fantasy-xvi-goes-gold/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2023 13:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246698 Read More »]]> With messy production schedules for Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV, fans wouldn’t be wrong to be worried about future woes. However, Final Fantasy XVI is looking to break the curse! Square Enix announced that their latest entry in the classic series has gone gold, meaning development is complete.

Square Enix has been feeding us extensively over the last few months with hands-on previews and trailers. PAX East 2023 included an hour-long panel with Koji Fox and Naoki Yoshida along with an environment trailer. Our very own Scott Clay got his hands on a demo and shared his thoughts in text and video.

Final Fantasy XVI launches worldwide for PlayStation 5 on June 22nd. Stay tuned to RPGFan as we grow closer to the game’s release date!

Source: Gematsu

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Suikoden Soundtrack Gets Vinyl Treatment; Pre-Orders Available Ahead of Q3 Release https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/suikodens-original-soundtrack-gets-vinyl/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/suikodens-original-soundtrack-gets-vinyl/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2023 12:04:56 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246788 Read More »]]> Ship to Shore PhonoCo has announced that they will release a vinyl edition of the original soundtrack for the beloved JRPG Suikoden. The records will be printed on two marble discs in ocean blue or marble colouring with original Japanese artwork of the game printed on the outer sleeves. The announcement came via the company’s official Twitter account, accompanied by a sliver of the music listeners can expect. Check out below!

Suikoden was originally released for the Sony PlayStation in 1995 and acts as the first entry in a longstanding JRPG series. Its story focuses on conflict and intrigue rife in a realm known as the Northern Continent, framed alongside a series-spanning game conceit known as the 108 Stars of Destiny. In Suikoden and its four sequels, each of the Stars of Destiny is a recruitable character.

If your curiosity for the series is piqued, Konami has recently announced that the first and second games are set to be fully remastered in the form of Suikoden I & II HD Remaster: Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars and released in 2023 at an unspecified date. If you’re curious about what RPGFan thinks of the series, feel free to check out our extensive primer penned by Wes Iliff.

The record is available now to pre-order with Ship to Shore PhonoCo handling US distribution ($40 USD), Black Screen Records handling European distribution (€42 EUR), Vinyl Guru handling UK distribution (£42.99 GBP), and Very OK Vinyl handing Canadian distribution ($58 CAD). Ship to Shore expects orders to ship in Q3 2023.

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news Suikoden and RPG!

Source: Siliconera

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Rhythm Encounter 106 – Rhythm de Chocobo https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/rhythm-encounter-106-rhythm-de-chocobo/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/03/rhythm-encounter-106-rhythm-de-chocobo/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2023 12:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=245507 Read More »]]> In preparation for April Fool’s Day, someone at RPGFan suggested we finally tackle a long-standing idea: a joke episode that features only chocobo music from Final Fantasy. We loved the idea, but then a funny thing happened — a perfectly normal episode celebrating Nobuo Uematsu’s iconic theme and its many, many iterations over the years. The idea was funny, but we love this little ditty too much for our praise to be anything but sincere. So gas up your chocobo with some greens and let’s go!

Featuring: Mike Salbato, Jono Logan, Patrick Gann, Ben Schuster; Edited by Jono Logan

Links for this episode


Origins de Chocobo
0:06:22 – Jono – Chocobo Theme (Nobuo Uematsu) – Final Fantasy II
0:06:57 – Jono – Chocobo-Chocobo (Nobuo Uematsu) – Final Fantasy IV

Whiplash de Chocobo
0:26:14 – Pat – Crazy Chocobo (arr&perf Shootie HG) – Final Fantasy XIII-2
0:28:06 – Pat – Cinco de Chocobo (arr Shiro Hamaguchi, perf Seiji Honda) – Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII

Bop de Chocobo
0:53:31 – Mike – Mambo de Chocobo (Nobuo Uematsu, arr. Yasumasa Sato, performed by the Siena Wind Orchestra) – BRA★BRA FINAL FANTASY BRASS de BRAVO 2 (and FFV)
0:56:45 – Ben – Pulse de Chocobo (Masashi Hamauzu) – Final Fantasy XIII

Chill de Chocobo
1:17:48 – Mike – Bluesy Chocobo (Nobuo Uematsu, arr. Naoshi Mizuta & Masashi Kimura) – Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
1:22:18 – Ben – Rodeo de Chocobo (Yoko Shimomura) – Final Fantasy XV
1:53:14 – Mike’s Bonus Track!

Album Links


Final Fantasy II Pixel Remaster Original Soundtrack

Final Fantasy IV (Original Soundtrack)

Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Original Soundtrack

Final Fantasy XV Original Soundtrack

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack

Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII

Listen and subscribe where you please, and leave a rating if you can! Email us your feedback: music@rpgfan.com

More: Overcast | Pocket Casts | Castro | Podbean | Podcast Addict | Breaker | View all Rhythm Encounter posts

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RPGs Coming This Week, 4/2/23 https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/02/rpgs-coming-this-week-4-2-23/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/02/rpgs-coming-this-week-4-2-23/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246286 Read More »]]> It is time once again to discuss the RPGs Coming This Week. We’ve got a major rerelease from one of gaming’s most visually distinctive developers, a hefty chunk of new content for one of 2023’s biggest releases so far, and a port of an indie title we liked quite a bit. Let’s get into it!

GrimGrimoire OnceMore – April 4th (PS5, PS4, Switch)

Screenshot of GrimGrimoire OnceMore, one of several RPGs coming this week

First up this week is less of an RPG and more of a real-time strategy game. GrimGrimoire was originally released in April 2007 for the PlayStation 2. Take on the role of Lillet Blan, a magic academy student who survived a brutal attack on her school. Sent back in time, it’s up to her to figure out what caused this disaster and how to stop it to save the lives of those lost at the academy.

GrimGrimoire is a magical fantasy RTS where you’ll use grimoires to summon familiars to fight and defend against your enemies. Similar to the battles in 13 Sentinels, the battles are in real-time. However, the battlefield is on a 2D plane.

GrimGrimoire OnceMore boasts improved gameplay and visuals, including an altered screen ratio for widescreen and updated resolution. Likewise, they appear to have added Grand Magic spells, allowing you to deal damage to a large area or resurrect your familiars. Also new to OnceMore is the addition of a skill tree, allowing you to enhance familiars for battle. Finally, a very important addition—a fast-forward function and ability to save mid-battle has been added, offering a huge quality-of-life bump in addition to the graphical and systems-level improvements as well as a more challenging Hard difficulty. OnceMore appears to be the definitive version of GrimGrimoire. If you’re interested, you can pick it up on the PlayStation 4 and 5 and the Nintendo Switch on April 4th.

by Nick Mangiaracina

Fire Emblem Engage Fell Xenologue (DLC) – April 5th (Switch)

Screenshot of Fire Emblem Engage, one of several RPGs coming this week

Fire Emblem Engage is coming out with its final round of DLC. Known as Fell Xenologue, the DLC takes the player character Alear to an alternate reality where they must team up with mysterious siblings Nel and Nil along with familiar-yet-different versions of the normally antagonistic Four Hounds, known in this alternate reality as the Four Winds. New locations and classes will feature throughout the DLC, and Alear will come face-to-face in battle with those who are normally their allies. The DLC plays differently from the base game by restricting characters to set beginning levels and classes. Plus, the trio of Alear, Nel, and Nil must survive every fight. Though characters return after fights if defeated, it seems like Fell Xenologue might be an overall challenging tactical experience. I’m looking forward to figuring it out when it releases this week! You can also read up on Brian Mackenzie’s thoughts on the main game while we wait!

by Audra Bowling

Also Coming This Week

Batora: Lost Haven – April 6th (Switch)

Batora: Lost Haven is coming to the Switch! Avril is tasked with restoring Earth to its former glory by the guardian deities Sun and Moon after a devastating event. As she travels to various alien worlds on her mission, she starts to question if the pair can truly be trusted. Batora features a choice-heavy narrative, enjoyable action RPG gameplay centered around dual combat styles, and an impressive soundtrack. I enjoyed my time with this game when I reviewed it last year, and I’m glad to see Batora: Lost Haven is making its way to more gamers on the Switch.

by Audra Bowling

And that concludes this week’s column! I feel like Vanillaware has to be preparing to issue a formal announcement on that medieval fantasy game in the works, right? My prediction is that GrimGrimoire won’t be the last we’ll hear from Vanillaware in 2023. This, however, is the last you’ll hear from us until next week. Until next time, readers!

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Mato Anomalies https://www.rpgfan.com/review/mato-anomalies/ Sun, 02 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=review&p=245571 Read More »]]> Mato Anomalies is a tale of duality. The game switches between two protagonists during pivotal story moments, provides two different-yet-interconnected worlds to explore, and offers two different plots as you progress through the narrative. Most of the time, these converging threads weave together to create an enjoyable tapestry. However, toward the end of the game, the weave unravels under its weight, creating a tangled mess of yarn, which is truly a shame, as a solid RPG experience lies at Mato Anomalies’ core.

Private detective Doe is simply trying to make a living in a mysteriously self-contained futuristic city called Mato when his investigative services are called upon by the enigmatic information broker Nightshade. She wants him to find as much information as possible about an illicit substance called Handout that’s been making the rounds through Mato’s underbelly. No sooner has Doe taken on the assignment than he gets dragged into a strange, nightmarish dimension known as a lair. He’s saved from a gruesome death by a taciturn, scarred swordsman named Gram. Gram and his android companion SkyEye promptly fill Doe in on the situation: lairs are homes to monstrous creatures known as Bane Tide. These monsters occasionally bleed into Mato through inter-dimensional rifts, now appearing at an increased frequency somehow linked to Handout. Doe and Gram’s goals align: Doe is investigating Handout while Gram wants to destroy Bane Tide, and the two agree to a tentative partnership. Doe investigates Mato while Gram takes care of anything supernatural he uncovers. But can their newfound alliance survive when larger conspiracies and bigger mysteries come to light, especially when they threaten not only Mato but reality itself?

Doe explores the city of Mato in Mato Anomalies.
Believe it or not, the giant hologram turns out to be one of your party members!

Mato as a setting wonderfully fits with an Asian-inspired cyberpunk motif à la such sci-fi noir classics as Blade Runner. A lot of fun is had exploring each new locale of the city that opens up as you play. The city map becomes quite expansive! You’ll encounter various residents, eventually learning how their struggles inexplicably link to rifts and the Bane Tide. While exploring Mato, you control Doe and gather information by talking to people or performing quests. Thanks to help from SkyEye, Doe has access to cyber techniques such as perception sharing, which allows him to see memories from someone else’s perspective. Also, he can Mind/Hack those reluctant to talk to get them to reveal hidden truths. Mind/Hacking is an interrogation that plays like a card game. Specialized decks represent the different personality types of your various party members. Then you “battle” the person you’re questioning, whittling away their resistance. It is an engaging gameplay element, and the different tactical approaches one can take to these sequences are fascinating.

Once Doe finds enough intel on his end, SkyEye helpfully detects a rift location, sending Gram in with the party to clear the newly accessible Bane Tide lair. This portion of the game is similar to the Shin Megami Tensei series, especially the dungeon explorations in the Persona subseries. Lairs have disturbingly otherworldly atmospheres, and Bane Tide’s appearances can be quite unsettling. You-as-Gram traverse the lair, fighting Bane Tide until you reach that stage’s boss. Then you return to Mato, and the investigative cycle repeats until the following rift location is revealed.

Gram and Doe are not alone in their struggles. Aside from the NPC SkyEye’s assistance, a handful of characters also join their investigations for their own reasons. Butterfly is a thief who steals from the corrupt upper class to inspire the oppressed and impoverished workers of Mato, always on the offensive but earnest in her desire to help. Smoker is an older veteran suffering from lingering and horrific trauma in his past, gruff and to the point but also caring. Mist is an electronic idol who shed her physical body and now exists solely on the information network, having to find ways to come to terms with her new existence; she also has a mysterious connection to Nightshade. Lady Edelweiss is the bloodthirsty leader of the Edelweiss gang from one of Mato’s rough areas, always quick to end threats in as destructive a manner as possible. Finally, Ringless is a young messenger of an underground denizen group known as the Rats, who have an eye and ear just about everywhere in Mato, providing Doe with vital information at the most appreciated times. These five make up the remainder of Gram’s battle party and are genuinely compelling characters in their own rights.

Gram and Butterfly in a boss fight in Mato Anomalies.
There are several interesting enemy designs throughout the game.

Every party member has two types of weapons that they can wield in combat. Smoker is a capable attacker with a handgun and spear, while the gun-aficionado Lady Edelweiss can wield a shotgun or a submachine gun to tear her enemies apart. More often than not, a party member’s available skills come from the weapon type equipped. Because combat skills often connect to weapons, I usually picked a playstyle for a particular character and upgraded that specific weapon type instead of switching things up. For instance, I got so used to Gram’s sword skills and Butterfly’s darts that I never opted to try their other weapon types out. The Bane Tide often have specific weapon weaknesses or resistances, so having a varied four-member party for lair exploration proves beneficial.

Party members share pooled health, levels, and talent points. Whenever a new party member joins, the HP pool for everyone gets that much more extensive. An attack on one character damages everyone, while healing also affects everyone. It puts a unique tactical spin on combat. At first, I thought the shared health would be detrimental to battle, but I quickly learned how to use it to my advantage, especially for healing. Everyone levels up simultaneously with a shared team experience bar, and whenever you acquire a talent or skill point through leveling, each party member gains one to use to strengthen their skill and status tree. The game features a simplistic skill tree system that opens up with higher-level boosts as you unlock them. You can create powerful character builds depending on which abilities you choose to strengthen. You can even unlock new character abilities that aren’t tied to weapon types later on.

The equipment also has levels, with higher-level weapons and grades leading to more skills at your disposal and better stat boosts. You can also equip gears to the party that help bolster stats or abilities for the entire team as an additional form of armor. Generally speaking, you can purchase gears and weapons at stores but also find some extremely high-level equipment in lairs. I often found my go-to weapons by exploring randomly unlocked lairs that you can investigate outside the main story. However, random lairs do have a sanity gauge to keep track of that depletes with every enemy encounter. If it reaches zero, you start combat with debuffs. Buffing and debuffing can also mean the difference between victory and game over in battle, playing a vital part in strategy in the final boss fights. Combat is robust and relatively solid, and the exploration segments in the city and the lairs are enjoyable. Puzzles aren’t overly complicated but may still give you pause.

Gram, Doe, and Butterfly in one of many comic book-inspired story cinemas in Mato Anomalies.
Comic book-styled cinemas tell the story.

The beginning and middle portions of Mato Anomalies are compelling. I found the supernaturally tinged sci-fi story entertaining, and the main characters are well-written and likable, with some great dialogue. Unfortunately, at a certain point towards the end of the game, the plot seems to implode on itself and then struggles to recover, never reaching that early momentum again. There was one elegant plot twist, but the final segments dragged on far too long. I’ve never been a fan of those “fake out” endings that exist to prolong a title. In many ways, later reveals in Mato Anomalies cheapen the story built up beforehand, lessening its overall impact. In addition, the finale weakens most of the party members and their story arcs. It isn’t an enjoyable experience because, by that point, you become invested in their stories and the overall landscape of Mato, especially if you are doing all of the immensely story-heavy side quests.

Visually, Mato Anomalies cleverly hides a smaller budget behind some creative presentation choices. Dialogue often plays out with expressive character art and visual novel-style cutscenes. Comic book panel story scenes are utilized instead of full-blown FMVs in many segments, creating a unique look not often seen in RPGs of this ilk. When they do occur, traditional FMVs use the game graphics to a great extent, though the lip-syncing for the game’s English language version is laughable at best. The UI is crisp and readable, with lairs being appropriately otherworldly. Mato is often dark and grimy in less wealthy parts of the city while clean and bright in others. Yet it’s always imbued with neon lights and random bits of stark futuristic technology intermixed with the old. The music sets the atmosphere and tone quite appropriately, and I especially love the song Mist performs if you see her character story through to its conclusion. The English voice acting does the trick quite nicely too. The script itself is localized well, with hardly any errors to speak of.

Mato Anamolies is an appropriate name, as the game is something of an anomaly itself. I want to rate it higher than I have here regarding its overall presentation and solid first and middle narrative portions. Yet the final segments and how they contrast everything that happened beforehand hold me back. It’s frustrating, as I genuinely enjoyed my time with the game in its first two-thirds and could easily see it being a good fit for those looking for a compelling cyberpunk plot or an RPG with a similar tone to Persona. I wouldn’t mind revisiting Mato one day. I hope the next visit’s outcome isn’t so bizarre an unraveled experience.

Solve Sonic’s Murder in The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, a Surprise Release Visual Novel from SEGA https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/01/the-murder-of-sonic-the-hedgehog-visual-novel/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/04/01/the-murder-of-sonic-the-hedgehog-visual-novel/#respond Sat, 01 Apr 2023 19:28:02 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246598 Read More »]]> SEGA’s April Fool’s Day surprise might drown out all others: it just stealth-dropped The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, a totally free murder mystery game available for PC (Windows and macOS) via Steam that kills the famous blue hedgehog and asks players to figure out whodunnit. Check out the launch trailer for this strange, intriguing new visual novel:

SEGA recently teased a “new direction” for the Sonic the Hedgehog series, but I’m not sure anyone predicted this. This quirky point-and-click adventure kicks off with a murder mystery game aboard the Mirage Express to celebrate Amy Rose’s birthday. As the trailer makes abundantly clear, the game turns out to be anything but: Sonic is discovered keeled over, dead on the floor. The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog tasks players with interrogating members of Sonic’s crew to get to the bottom of the hedgehog’s untimely demise.

Steam users have given The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog overwhelmingly positive reviews so far, with many praising its story and platforming elements and deeming it a cult classic in the making! Given that The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog costs absolutely nothing, visual novel and Sonic the Hedgehog fans probably owe it to themselves to grab SEGA’s stunning April Fool’s Day drop.

Source: IGN

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The Last Spell https://www.rpgfan.com/review/the-last-spell/ Sat, 01 Apr 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=review&p=245033 Read More »]]> Strategy RPGs and roguelikes. We don’t often see the combination together because they’re both inherently complex and rely on several systems to work. Roguelikes rely on procedural generation, permadeath, and generous randomization, while SRPGs rely on turn-based hex- or grid-based movement, robust customization, and carefully considered weighing of pros and cons by evaluating the landscape and enemies. To combine these two styles authentically would be a feat bordering on impossible. Surely, even attempting to scale this mountain would require extraordinary balance and mastering the art of game design.

Yet that’s exactly what Ishtar Games have done. Undoubtedly, The Last Spell is one of the most demanding, exhausting, stressful, and brilliantly designed games I’ve played in a long time. The sheer quantity of variables at play here that make every battle feel like it’s teetering on the brink of disaster is impressive when it isn’t accelerating my cortisol production.

In the world of The Last Spell, a hermit wizard living in this medieval-fantasy land devises a spell-based nuke that can obliterate entire towns and kingdoms. While testing his discovery on a hamlet, a king’s family gets caught in the blast while on holiday. Ravaged by grief, the king orders his royal magicians to research and uncover how to create the spell. In doing so, he blasts neighboring kingdoms; his mind addled with loss. These same kingdoms unlock the secrets to the spell and do the same. It’s the fantasy version of DEFCON 1.

Standard stat screen for a character, looking at stat changes for a soldier named Sandria in The Last Spell.
Aw, hell yeah, I get to do math!

A few lonely villages remain, unscathed by war but well aware of what has happened and the need to stop it. They urge their local wizards to end all magic, ensuring this chaos never happens again. And so, we begin our game because while the spellcasters channel their spell to close the seal that allows magic to thrive throughout the world, an army of undead looks to breach the walls and halt the ritual.

Channeling the spell takes a few days and nights, so while the spellcasters flail their arms up and down in hooded robes, staring at an oppressively bright globe, we have to rebuild the town and defend its walls from the skeletons, ghouls, and fleshy monstrosities that magic has wrought. During the day, players spend gold and ore to purchase upgrades and build defenses. Workers in the village are employed to serve other tasks, while players also level up characters, spend taint (for permanent buffs and unlocks), and unlock achievements.

Players can spend gold on constructing buildings including homes for more villagers to put to work, an inn to hire more mercenaries, and a temple to heal or raise the maximum health of the mercenaries. Initially, players spend materials on wooden fences but eventually can construct stone walls, ballistas, warp gates, and a few other tricks. Workers can excavate materials from mines for bonus gold, build additional equipment, and scavenge the corpses of enemies laid bare on the field for gold, materials, items, and taint.

Aiming the bow in a normal battle as Odila prepares to fire in The Last Spell
The accuracy segmentation on the aiming grid is a nice feature.

Players can upgrade the mercenaries through equipment, level-up stat buffs, and perks with three or so starting units. Leveling up is a joyous, rewarding affair because players get a random assortment of stats to improve out of five. Don’t like what you rolled? You get two rerolls per level, but your choices diminish with each roll. Rolling occurs twice per level. Every level-up also has a perk that lets players assign a special ability to buff units on a separate menu. Each character has a different set of perks, though players will soon see repeats across mercenaries as they play. The perk “tree” has five levels, though I’d actually call this perk rows. Fill up enough perks in a row, and players can access the next. While the stats go a bit beyond strength, agility, wisdom, etc.—instead featuring percentage buffs to damage, damage bonuses for killing enemies in isolation, and extra damage blocking when attacked—the perks add a good bit of flavor. Perks host a variety of opportunities, such as adding an ability to outright execute a low-health enemy without using an action point, increased damage dependent on mana, and improved range and accuracy if the unit hasn’t moved on its turn.

Each unit has different abilities depending on the weapon type equipped, and The Last Spell has many weapons players can choose from. Spears, pistols, two-handed axes, swords, bows, magic orbs—you name it, the game likely has it. Every weapon is highly distinct from others in a few ways. First, players get around six action points to start each turn, and some actions take multiple action points. Abilities feature different ranges, areas, debuffs, buffs, or even may move the player after or before the attack—the list goes on and on. Aside from weapons, the armor adds a variety of buffs that impact how players may position their units. If you have a perk that gives a character action points depending on if they dodged an attack, you may want to get a little cute and put them in the line of fire with high dodging equipment. Equipment also comes with rarities, which improve the number of buffs (or debuffs) on a suit of armor, helmet, or trinket.

Once the day phase ends, the night phase begins, which requires players to defend their home from four different sides in an isometric fashion. During the day phase, the game states which directions the enemy will come from—and how fierce they will be, as depicted with skulls—so players can set their units up accordingly before the battle begins; eventually, battles will demand players to defend from three or even four sides, but hopefully you’ve used your inn to recruit more units by this time. Then, intimidation begins in the form of a veritable deluge of undead.

The achievement god in The Last Spell.
Is there a Blessing to turn your brightness down?

Unlike most other strategy RPGs, The Last Spell throws dozens of enemies at you to start and then hundreds; the flow of enemies genuinely feels endless, but rest assured that there is an end (and it’s not always your death!) Fortunately, these mobs are easily thwarted for the most part. Most small enemies can be killed with an attack or two, while big boys don’t come in vast quantities. Also, enemies tend to clump, so get your area-of-effect abilities armed and ready.

You and the enemies take turns. Positioning units well is crucial because heroes can die quickly if left unprotected or out in the open near the enemy front. As such, players need to pay close attention to their movement points so that melee characters can safely walk in and back out. This is where perks that improve movement points and outfitting characters with consumables, such as movement increase potions, are beneficial.

Enemies eventually come with abilities: some have armor bars that act as a second health bar that replenishes, and mercenaries get weaker as they get wounded, all complicating battles. Spending loads of mana on characters’ most powerful abilities is tempting, as well, since that can negate the enemy assault, but after the night is over, characters do not regain all of their health and mana; each character has its own daily health and mana regeneration that varies depending on the character. Buildings like temples are helpful, as they can assist with health and mana regen.

Comparing equipment of varying rarity, a bow vs. a magic orb in this case, in The Last Spell
Everyone knows red is better than blue. It’s actually a rule at this point.

Okay, I’ve sufficiently explained the nuts and bolts of the game. How does it play? Well, I tipped my hand earlier: this game is demanding! Being a roguelite (not roguelike), players get stronger over time by unlocking in-game achievements and spending taint, a finite resource earned through playing. Achievements often unlock weapons better than the rusty blades players start with. The player can use taint to unlock inherent character buffs, new weapon types, and omens that players can use before beginning a mission to enhance the game the way they want to. So, if you want to take it easy-breezy and not worry about dying, you can get stronger by virtue of permanent upgrades.

However, you may want to enjoy the game for what it’s intended to be: a constant battle of calculation, efficiency, risk-reward, and armchair general prowess. In that case, there is no better game. I know this game has been in development for years, but I still can’t believe just how meticulously constructed it is. The entire game is only a handful of maps, but each map will take about ten hours, assuming you beat it on your first try. Each day and night phase can take up to or over an hour, with some maps demanding ten nights and days. Got the game figured out? Players can raise the Apocalypse level of each town and go at it again with increased enemy health and movement, increased gold and material costs, and so on. No one is going to find this game lacking in quantity, and I can assure you that the developers have gone through great pains to ensure the game maintains a state of flow in the player without coming off as unfair.

I find boss battles in The Last Spell to be unnecessary surprises. I can go through several battles and feel great about the tension, but bosses can come off as “aha, gotcha!” affairs that irritate. An entire meticulously strategized course can go out the window because players didn’t expect the gimmick the boss was going to throw at them. So, start again, right? You’ve gotten stronger, haven’t you? Well, that’s the roguelite aspect to it, but after spending over ten hours on the village, picking the pieces back up and going again feels daunting.

Screenshot of The Last Spell featuring units moving on the battlefield.
This all feels very British somehow.

In terms of presentation, the music suits its purpose without getting in the way; honestly, I’m not sure I could appreciate high-production quality music while being so focused on the actual game. Sound effects complement play with adequate scratching, slashing, and squishing. While the art style isn’t quite my jam, the sprite work is respectable and suits the atmosphere well.

As fun and impressive as The Last Spell is, I almost feel like it’s aged me. I am the type of person who goes in for long, heavy board games, loves to lose so that I can go again bolder and wiser, and relishes gnawing on two or more game-changing possibilities. Yet, I turned away from The Last Spell more than once because I couldn’t bear the idea of going through the stress again. In the right mood, The Last Spell is a gift and treasure. Still, you must not only be the kind of person who wants the densest strategy RPG experience ever created, but you also need to be in the mood to weigh twenty or so variables with each action, lest the house of cards you’ve constructed topple down.

Coffee Talk Official Soundtracks! https://www.rpgfan.com/music-review/coffee-talk-official-soundtracks/ Fri, 31 Mar 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=music-review&p=240842 Read More »]]> As April approaches, many gamers are looking forward to Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly. As I personally prepare myself for this sequel, it dawned on me that I (and we collectively at RPGFan) have not given adequate coverage to the first game’s OST. Thus, here I am, prepared to give you my take on Coffee Talk Official Soundtracks! by composer Andrew Jeremy.

The trend towards chill, lo-fi beats and keyboard was ramping up throughout 2019 and 2020. Coffee Talk landed at just the right time to catch this wave in early 2020, even though Andrew Jeremy had ample experience writing for this and other genres for some time (see examples on his SoundCloud page). The soundscape Jeremy crafted for Coffee Talk truly sets the tone for the game, making one feel like they are enjoying time at a coffee shop. Whether alone or with others, whether it’s sunny or rainy outside, the moods set by this music make me want to linger at the café or just enjoy a cup in my home while getting some work done.

When listening to this soundtrack, a few things in particular stand out to me. First and foremost is the intentionally mixed-in “scratchy record playback” artifact meant to simulate listening to an actual vinyl record. This is one of the hallmarks of the lo-fi digital music scene, and while not used in every track, the tracks employing it sound gloriously chill. “Cup of Sweetness” and “Hot on Cold” stand out as great examples.

Then there are the drum loops. Simple, soft, jazz- and ballad-adjacent drum loops are one of the most consistent aspects of this soundtrack. One can easily imagine a subdued rap or R&B vocal track built around these tunes. Honestly, I would love to hear a hip-hop artist freestyle over tracks like “The Last Time” or “Tenderhearted.” At that point, this music would be very fitting as background music to scenes in whatever the next Persona game turns out to be.

The rest of the soundscape? It’s what one might expect from this genre: smooth bass, gentle guitar, and lots of work on the keyboard: from bright piano to warm synth pads, keys dominate the tonal aspect of these tracks.

Given this soundtrack is like a smooth slightly-caffeinated treat, I feel comfortable recommending it. However, much like the varying espresso drinks offered at your local café, there are multiple variants to the Coffee Talk soundtrack. The one I’ve opted to drink (review) is the longest and most thorough among them, entitled Coffee Talk Official Soundtracks! This version is the first version of the soundtrack published, and it is digital-only. Of the 27 tracks featured here, four of them are unique to this release, not found elsewhere: “Rough Day,” “A Bit Relaxing,” “Way Too Soon,” and “You Don’t Mind.”

Then there’s Coffee Talk Soundtracks!, a 2CD set with 24 songs, one of which is a bonus track that only exists on the physical print: “Yours Truly.” This 2CD version also released as a first pressing bonus alongside an art book.

A year later, Coffee Talk Official Soundtrack was published by Black Screen Records, likely in response to the music’s growing popularity. This is yet another 2CD set with 24 songs, but this time there are two bonus tracks exclusive to this physical print: “The Way I See” and “Dance In The Shower.” The audio on this version is also remastered, so that’s even more variation to consider.

Finally, there is (fittingly) a 2 Vinyl LP set, also from Black Screen Records, that only has 14 songs due to space limitations. Additionally, this set features no exclusive tracks.

If you’re an avid collector, you can string together all 30 tracks Andrew Jeremy wrote for Coffee Talk. For myself, I am satisfied with the 27 on this digital-only release. That being said, I am jonesing for some more coffee-infused lo-fi tunes. And, again, that’s why I’m writing this review. I’m reflecting on the subtle tones of this album as I prepare my mind for Coffee Talk 2. Andrew Jeremy, I can’t wait to check out what you’ve brewed for us in 2023!

Cult Classic LIVE A LIVE Launches on PlayStation, PC April 27th; Demo Out Now https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/31/live-a-live-launching-on-playstation-pc/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/31/live-a-live-launching-on-playstation-pc/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2023 13:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246431 Read More »]]> Following the release of Octopath Traveler II just a month ago, Square Enix reveals that the LIVE A LIVE remake will be released digitally on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam on April 27th. In July 2022, the classic HD-2D RPG launched with full English dialogue on the Nintendo Switch. Playable demos are now up on said platforms, and progress made will be carried over to the full game.

Check out the announcement trailer uploaded by the company:

LIVE A LIVE has garnered praise for its unique gameplay, eight branching stories, endearing characters, and a glorious rearranged soundtrack led by Yoko Shimomura. Here at RPGFan, we recognized it as the best remake of 2022. Continue reading our in-depth Switch review here if you’re interested in learning why we loved it and why this remake is a must-play.

On April 27th, LIVE A LIVE goes live on PS consoles and PC via Steam. A free demo is also available for download on both digital store platforms. Players will get a 20 percent discount for purchasing the game during the pre-order period, up to April 27th for PS users and May 11th for Steam users.

LIVE A LIVE Screenshots

Stay tuned to RPGFan for more coverage on LIVE A LIVE and other surprise announcements from Square Enix.

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Final Fantasy XIV Reignites Its Free Login Campaign Until May 8th https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/31/final-fantasy-xiv-free-login-may-8th/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/31/final-fantasy-xiv-free-login-may-8th/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2023 12:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246325 Read More »]]> For those seeking a return to the shores of Eorzea and beyond, luck has found you! Square Enix has announced the return of its free login campaign for Final Fantasy XIV. The campaign itself began on Monday, March 27th, 2023, at 1:00 AM PDT and will end on Monday, May 8th, 2023, at 7:59 AM PDT.

Players with service accounts that have been inactive for at least 30 days will be able to log into the game and play for four days (or 96 hours) concurrently with the timer running out at 11:59 PDT on the fourth day. Square Enix has highlighted an upcoming period of 24-hour maintenance for Final Fantasy XIV on Monday, April 3rd, as a time for returning players to avoid. This downtime is for the implementation of Patch 6.38 and the improvement of the North American data center infrastructure.

Additionally, players who own the Starter Edition of Final Fantasy XIV can add the Stormblood expansion for free to their service accounts for a limited time, though an active subscription will be required to play it. The offer is available for digital download on PlayStation 4, 5, and PC, ending on May 8th, 2023, at 6:59 AM PDT. For further information on how to redeem the expansion for your respective system, check out its official support page.

Stormblood was originally released in 2017 and acts as the second official expansion of Final Fantasy XIV following Heavensward. It centers on a sweeping story laden with wartime conflict between the Garlean Empire and Ala Mhigo, wherein the Warrior of Light must explore the Far East of Eorzea to aid a burgeoning rebellion hoping to strike down imperial rule. As far as gameplay goes, it raises the level cap from 70 to 80 and gives players access to two new jobs: the Samurai and the Red Mage.

Final Fantasy XIV continuously soars to greater heights, giving players new and old reasons to either return or embark on their journeys across Eorzea itself. As someone in the thick of Shadowbringers, the free login campaign couldn’t have come at an apt time and I imagine I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news Final Fantasy XIV and RPG!

Source: Nova Crystallis

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Retro Encounter 371 – Like A Dragon: Ishin! Part II https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/30/retro-encounter-371-like-a-dragon-ishin-part-ii/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/30/retro-encounter-371-like-a-dragon-ishin-part-ii/#respond Thu, 30 Mar 2023 14:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246348 Read More »]]> More brutal murders than John Wick and more mistaken identities than Twelfth Night. 

Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin! plays fast and loose with the events of Bakumatsu Japan, with multiple historical figures assuming second personas, a legendary alliance forged through a drunken brawl instead of careful diplomacy, and much more than can be contained in a mere podcast description. Today’s Retro Encounter is all about the king-making, life-taking, and chicken racing of the latest to come out Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio! 

Featuring: Michael Sollosi, Gio Castillo, Jono Logan, Nick Mangiaracina; Edited by Jono Logan

Opening and ending music by Miles Morkri

Listen and subscribe where you please, and leave a rating if you can! Email us your feedback: retro@rpgfan.com

More: Overcast | Pocket Casts | Castro | Podbean | Podcast Addict | Breaker | View all Retro Encounter posts

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Belle Automata: Chronicle I https://www.rpgfan.com/review/belle-automata-chronicle-i/ Wed, 29 Mar 2023 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?post_type=review&p=243961 Read More »]]> What does becoming sentient in a world that isn’t ready for you mean? Dreamweaver android model Aureve must find out in Belle Automata: Chronicle I, an indie otome visual novel by Jellyfish Parade. Aureve’s journey of self-discovery intertwines with a cast of likable characters in a sci-fi narrative as she figures out her life’s path and what’s hidden within her heartcore.

Belle Automata’s story begins in a curious-yet-emotional fashion, with Aureve reflecting on her recently deceased former master and father figure, Lenthes. Not too long after his death, Lenthes’ family decides his android is of no consequence, selling her to a mysterious buyer known only through the online handle Nightmare Prince. Aureve is still processing this turn of events on the doorstep of her new home, though her situation is even more bizarre than she initially thought. Aureve soon discovers that the Nightmare Prince’s residence is a sanctuary for rogues, androids with a developed sense of self outside their initial programming, such as herself. But why do the Nightmare Prince and his older brother Roman shelter these rogues despite humanity’s often disparaging views on androids? And will trying to live her own life mean that Aureve is somehow betraying Lenthes or what she was initially programmed to do? The narrative explores these questions along with compelling romances.

Belle Automata’s storyline is as much about discovering yourself as it is about finding romance, with Aureve finding a path throughout Chronicle I’s narrative in conjunction with love. Yes, the romance is heavily there, but it’s very realistic. There are several “growing pain” moments within the narrative in which Aureve and other characters must process their feelings or deal with differing opinions. However, I appreciate that the characters still find ways to show how they care while not entirely compromising their viewpoints. Chronicle I’s two “perfect endings” consist of the love interests Victor and the Nightmare Prince finding ways to stay together with Aureve despite the many hurdles thrown their way, showcasing just how unique and rewarding that kind of affection can be.

Aureve, Zaffre, and Diego discuss things in Belle Automata.
Diego tells it like it is in a refreshingly innocent way.

Under its sci-fi veneer, the game’s messages are relatable, and the plot shines with excellent character moments and a gentle storytelling approach. Some of my favorite Chronicle I characters were the side characters such as the musically-charged Zaffre, kindly innocent Diego, absent-minded Klaus, and mysterious Roman. They were all noteable and their roles in this game have me eager to see how the future Chronicles will play out! Aureve is also an absolute delight of a heroine. I loved seeing her grow and come into her own in each route. The Nightmare Prince and Victor round out the cast and also leave their mark. In addition, their featured love stories were exceptionally well-written.

Belle Automata is a traditional visual novel (VN). You-as-Aureve progress through the story, reading lines of dialogue and text until a decision point comes along to add interactivity. Essentially, a visual novel distills the game into a branching narrative with player interaction, most often in the form of those response points sprinkled throughout the game.

As it stands, VNs either thrive or fail depending on the strength of the story and characters. Fortunately for Belle Automata, the plot and cast are its biggest strength. At the story’s beginning, your decisions help set you on either the Nightmare Prince’s route or the strict android butler Victor’s. From there, your decisions help determine the game’s outcome and what CGs (special story scene artwork) you may uncover based on your chosen story direction. It’s pretty straightforward, and the game is readily playable via mouse and keyboard or controller. You can save at any time during play or skip through previously read text at a brisk clip. Perhaps the most exciting and beneficial gameplay feature is the unique “Rewind” that allows you to go back through previously read text without consulting a history log. The game does nothing wrong regarding its gameplay presentation and is easy enough to pick up if you’re familiar with visual novels.

Aureve requests a favor of Zaffre in Belle Automata.
Choices have great story impact.

From a UI stance, Belle Automata is aesthetically pleasing. The font is easy to read, and little touches, like the gears at the end of a sentence, are excellent visual cues to remind you that this story is about androids. I love Belle Automata’s warm and bright palette, which instantly brings to mind the aesthetics of other “lighter” otome titles such as Cafe Enchante or Lover Pretend. The game’s art direction is gorgeous! I love the backgrounds and how detailed the character designs are. The “Tron” line markings on the android characters’ skins are a nice touch to differentiate them from the human characters, and there’s a symmetry to the clothes that fits a futuristic setting. I also like how Aureve’s hairstyle changes in both routes too! Many facial expressions play out throughout the story scenes, and the CG illustrations are sweet. Belle Automata is a gorgeous VN.

Adding to the game’s atmosphere is its incredible sound use. Sound effects are varied and quite nicely implemented. The wooshing of a door opening or closing, the sound of a sewing machine, a chime to inform someone that an intercom is in use: every effect adds to the player’s immersion. The android characters’ voices and the Nightmare Prince’s early masked audio have a synthetic filtered quality, adding another layer to the storytelling. The music tracks fit a sci-fi story and excellently interweave throughout the game. I must also mention Belle Automata’s phenomenal voice acting! Aureve and the other characters come alive through magnificently emotive performances.

Victor and Aureve share a moment together in Belle Automata: Chronicle I
The CG cutscenes are often adorable.

Truthfully, I’m hard-pressed to find much fault with Belle Automata. It’s that solid of an otome visual novel. However, the lack of a story map or any indication of an affection-raising indicator for decisions is a misstep, as there’s no way to keep track of your previous choices. For example, suppose you’re going for the harder-to-reach perfect endings. In that case, prepare to play through both routes multiple times using the skip feature until you finally stumble upon the right combination of decisions to access the new ending scenes. It’s somewhat frustrating, but it doesn’t take much time since there are only two routes in Chronicle I

Still, those issues are minor. I immensely enjoyed my time playing Belle Automata. A lot of work and heart is in Chronicle I, and it shows in every moment. Despite having only two routes, both are extensive, meaty affairs that go in different yet still fitting directions. Belle Automata is the type of otome VN one can lose oneself in, and I mean that in the best possible way. I’m already looking forward to the future release of the next Chronicles. All iterations of Aureve’s journey will be worth playing if this first foray is any indication!

Honkai: Star Rail Embarks April 26th; PlayStation Version in Development https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/29/honkai-star-rail-embarks-april-26th/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/29/honkai-star-rail-embarks-april-26th/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2023 13:30:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246239 Read More »]]> HoYoverse has announced that their upcoming sci-fi RPG Honkai: Star Rail is launching on April 26th for iOS, Android, and PC via the Epic Games Store. HoYoverse also confirmed that the game is currently in development for PlayStation 5 and 4 though no concrete release date was given. Check out a trailer for the title below!

Honkai: Star Rail is a space fantasy RPG where players will embark upon an interstellar train known as the Astral Express, visiting myriad worlds laced with fantastical landscapes and characters captured in a vibrant, anime-inspired aesthetic. Players will take on the role of a protagonist known as the Trailblazer and build up to a four-person party to both explore “large maps with maze exploration” and fight against opponents in turn-based battles. A detailed synopsis of its story and conceit lies below!

Implanted with a Stellaron, the protagonist bravely set sail for the galaxy to drill down to the truth
surrounding the so-called Cancer of All Worlds. Players will able to experience a vast universe
abundant in distinctive cultures, landscapes, and scenery. From Herta Space Station where the
story starts and you receive the prerequisite knowledge for the forthcoming journey, to Jarilo-VI
where numerous dangers and conflicts are frozen beneath the snow, to the eastern-fantasy-infused
silkpunk flagship Xianzhou Luofu where the topic of immortality is the cause of both
development and strife

A pre-registration campaign for Honkai: Star Rail is currently underway, with players able to net in-game currency, titles, and characters if they sign up. HoYoverse has confirmed that pre-registered players will be able to pre-load the game to their device of choice on April 23rd.

Stay tuned to RPGFan for all news Honkai: Star Rail and RPG!

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Deck Nine Expands on The Expanse: A Telltale Series https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/29/deck-nine-expands-on-the-expanse/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/29/deck-nine-expands-on-the-expanse/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2023 12:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246224 Read More »]]> While The Expanse television show went on for six seasons, it unfortunately did not cover all of the material from James S.A. Corey’s nine sci-fi novels. The Expanse: A Telltale Series doesn’t pick up where the show left off, but it’s poised to deliver more of the same intricate world the series is known for. During a developer interview at Future Games Show Spring Showcase, developers at Deck Nine dove into their experience crafting a game set within the world of The Expanse.

Check out the full presentation below:

Along with discussing the creation of the game and being faithful to its origin, the developer presentation also contained a showcase of new game footage. The choices you make could come with the same intensity as an episode of the TV show!

The first episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series launches this summer for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, and PC. Stay tuned to RPGFan for more details!

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Nintendo Shows Off 10 Minutes of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Gameplay, New Switch OLED https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/28/new-switch-for-tears-of-the-kingdom/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/28/new-switch-for-tears-of-the-kingdom/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2023 16:34:59 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246211 Read More »]]> Nintendo finally revealed and confirmed rumors that the long-awaited The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom would have a special OLED Nintendo Switch at the end of today’s 10-minute preview, which had series producer Eiji Aonuma showing off Link’s new building and crafting abilities. 

In the video showcase, we learned that Link can now pass through ceilings with “Ascend” and use “Recall” to reach islands in the sky. My two new favorite skills feature sandbox elements: “Fuse” combines objects, allowing you to form new customized items and weapons, while “Ultrahand” enables you to modify your creations.

Tears of The Kingdom OLED Switch Edition

An OLED Switch will launch for $359.99 USD on April 28th, ahead of the actual release of Tears of the Kingdom. We’ll update you when pre-orders become available.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Switch OLED

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller + Carrying Case

If you’re not keen on getting a new Switch, additional accessories such as a Switch Pro controller ($74.99 USD) and a carrying case ($24.99 USD) will be up for sale on launch day, May 12th.

Overview of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

An epic adventure across the land and skies of Hyrule awaits in The Legend of Zelda™: Tears of the Kingdom for Nintendo Switch™. The adventure is yours to create in a world fueled by your imagination.

In this sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’ll decide your own path through the sprawling landscapes of Hyrule and the mysterious islands floating in the vast skies above. Can you harness the power of Link’s new abilities to fight back against the malevolent forces that threaten the kingdom?

Nintendo Switch Online members can buy a pair of Nintendo Switch Game Vouchers* and redeem each one for any game in the voucher catalog—including The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom debuts for the Switch on May 12th worldwide. Six years later, fans of Breath of the Wild will soon get their hands on the much-anticipated sequel.

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Final Fantasy XVI’s PAX East Coverage Includes Brand-New Environmental Trailer and More https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/28/final-fantasy-xvis-pax-east-coverage/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/28/final-fantasy-xvis-pax-east-coverage/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2023 13:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246134 Read More »]]> If you’re counting the days left until the highly-anticipated launch of Final Fantasy XVI, you’ll know we’ve reached the two-digit zone — fewer than 100 days remain, and Square Enix’s next mainline behemoth’s marketing phase is in full swing.

Producer Naoki Yoshida (of Final Fantasy XIV director fame) and localization director Koji Fox helmed an hour-length discussion panel at PAX East 2023 this past weekend, and while viewers streaming the event at home were unfortunately struck by technical mishaps, Square Enix mercifully released the full thing on YouTube a short while later.

The panel, adorably entitled “Yes, You Can Pet the Torgal”, encompasses a broad range of subjects. With a real PlayStation 5 and a working copy of the game at their disposal, the duo talks about the four “pillars” of Final Fantasy XVI‘s development, showcases several cool vids, and yes, eventually, Yoshida pets Torgal. (Though that particular moment isn’t without… incident.)

Later on, Yoshida answers some surprisingly candid fan queries; if you’ve scrutinized Final Fantasy XVI‘s marketing for not seeming “RPG” enough, the staff has clearly heard you, and hopes to reassure you. While non-combat in-game activities are evidently being held off from reveal until sometime in April, we do see some old role-playing game standby activities around the 36:00 mark as Yoshida tours part of Cid’s Hideaway, a major hub area with shops, a blacksmith, and more.

While there are some very cool bits elsewhere throughout the panel — including a sensational tour of various Eikon battles at almost exactly the one-hour mark — it’s the above environmental footage, viewable in the panel’s upload but separately released as the “World of Valisthea” trailer, that’s likely turning the most heads here.

Clocking in at just shy of two minutes, it’s hard not to say “just watch the thing yourself” and leave it at that, but, if for whatever reason you’re unable to access the trailer at the moment, here’s a quick overview. It begins with Clive, Jill, and Torgal overlooking massive waterfalls in a canyon-like area. We see them riding their chocobos shortly thereafter (well, Clive and Jill; Torgal’s sprinting merrily).

From there, it’s a whirlwind tour of separate biomes, with Clive walking or running across the realm. There’s a scenic little town with a wooden bridge overlooking grass; a bustling desert marketplace; a verdant forest; dilapidated docks beside a sapphire-blue river; golden wheat fields that make me think of the prologue from Stranger of Paradise even though I’m probably not supposed to; and a sweeping view of a big wetland area with some distinctly XIV La Noscea vibes.

An eerie storm beside a Mothercrystal; the innards of some volcanic region with striking shades of red; even a glimpse into the young Clive section, with a look inside his family’s castle that calls to my mind something of Orlais from Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The point is, it’s a lot. Hopefully, you like what you see. I know I sure do! Final Fantasy XVI releases for PS5 on June 22nd, which… doing the math here real quick… as of the moment I type this… that’s 87 more days, yep.

I’m not obsessed.

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NieR Crossover Event Begins in Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/28/nier-crossover-event-octopath-traveler/ https://www.rpgfan.com/2023/03/28/nier-crossover-event-octopath-traveler/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2023 12:00:00 +0000 https://www.rpgfan.com/?p=246140 Read More »]]> NieR: Automata meets Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent in the latter’s new crossover event! Until April 5th, Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent players can enjoy free gifts, new special tasks, and memoir scenarios as they guide YoRHa units 2B, 9S, and A2 to defend Orsterra! To kick off this limited-time crossover, Square Enix released this event launch trailer:

I haven’t played Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent, but this trailer is definitely tempting me. RPGFan’s Sam-James Gordon got a kick out of the game’s visuals, story, and characters. Seeing the NieR: Automata crew in Octopath’s trademark HD-2D graphics style wowed me, especially against the backdrop of NieR: Automata’s epic soundtrack.

Here’s an overview of Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent’s crossover event, courtesy of Square Enix:

From today until April 5, players can look forward to the following during the crossover event:

• The Android Trio – Players will have the opportunity to summon crossover-limited characters, 2B, 9S, and A2! Strengthen their party with 2B’s quiet determination, the charming curiosity of 9S, and the ferocious passion of A2. Players can specifically recruit a guaranteed 5★ 9S in the crossover event’s free Guide 10, available one time before April 5.

• Daily Gifts & Login Bonuses – Power up the YoRHa veterans quickly with free daily login bonuses of Guidestones for 2B, 9S, or A2, as well as items such as Tasty Experience Nuts (L), Silver Guidestones, Gold Guidestones, or Rubies. Additionally, score at least 30 Rubies once per day as a gift during the event period, boosted to 100 and 50 Rubies on March 22 and April 4.
• New Playable Content – Enjoy limited-time Otherworld Hunts and undertake Special Tasks to earn 9S’s Guidestones, Traveler’s Sacred Seals, and up to 350 Rubies.
• Memoirs – Witness the arrival of a mysterious threat to Orsterra, as well as the memories of 2B, 9S, and A2 through new Memoirs. While their individual Memoirs are available permanently upon unlocking each android hero, the crossover Memoirs will only be playable until April 5.

Lastly, fans can look forward to updates in the premium shop content, including half-off Ruby Packs and the addition of new Limit Break, Level Boost, and Awakening Packs.

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