Making their saves
These are solid RPGs, but they don’t qualify as critical hits. They are worthy of playing.
Developer: Square Enix, Acquire
Publisher: Nintendo, Square Enix
Square Enix’s first original RPG for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s has its charm. I enjoy the turn-based battle system, the character’s roles and their subjobs, and the art. I found the stories behind each character and how they all link together to be a bit boring. But Octopath does an excellent job of capturing the feel of playing an 8-bit or 16-bit RPG on a modern console, and it delivers a 3DS-like portable experience.
Developer: Event Horizon
Publisher: Event Horizon
I need to spend more time with this indie RPG. It’s a dungeon-crawler, but it adds some twists, enabling you to slow or even stop time during combat. The world of Artara suffered a cataclysm centuries ago. As you explore the ruins beneath the tower, you learn more about how this world of magic and tech fell. Combat is difficult as well — you need to develop tactics ahead of time before you run into a fight, or you’re going to be in trouble. It’s Event Horizon’s first game, and it’s worth your attention.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (Switch)
Developer: Square Enix, XPEC
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Final Fantasy XV was one of my favorite RPGs back at the end of 2016, but I didn’t get far into it until early 2017, thus it didn’t make my game of the year list (I just hadn’t played enough of it). And after Divinity: Original Sin II came out last year, I never finished it (despite putting about 42 hours into it). When the Pocket Edition came out on Switch, I decided I should check it out. It’s a stripped-down, cartoony take on its PS4 sibling, and it’s a lot of fun. But after about 15 hours, I realized that if I was enjoying it so much, I should just go back to the console version. So I restarted that game — and have put another 38 hours into it.
Developer: Owlcat Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
I’m conflicted about this game. It’s geared right at me. It’s an almost 1-to-1 translation of the Pathfinder: Kingmaker adventure path for the tabletop RPG (which is an adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons’ 3.5 Edition), bringing with it all its options and subclasses for characters. It has turn-based combat, and you can find all sorts of points for adventure on its map. But it’s a tad sluggish at times, and as our Rowan Kaiser noted, it’s hurt by the lack of a Dungeon Master to guide the proceedings. It was also riddled with bugs and other issues — for some time after launch, my Inquisitor (a priest class) couldn’t regain their divine spells. Many of those problems have been fixed with patches. It’s a much better game now, but it still isn’t quite up to the critical hit standard.
Developer: Level 5
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4
I had a great time with the first Ni No Kuni, but Level 5 and Bandai-Namco made two changes in the sequel that left me disappointed. I enjoyed the Pokémon-esque monster collecting, but that’s gone here. Instead, you get sprite-like beings called “Higgledies” that boost your abilities in combat or make area-of-effect attacks. You can find new ones and level them up as well, but the monster-catching from the first game is better. The second change I don’t like is building a city-like caste. It muddled up the midgame, and in my opinion, doesn’t add anything interesting to the story or the gameplay. It’s just a chore. I did enjoy the story about the main character’s path as a leader in two worlds. And the artwork is top-notch (well, except in the overworld, which is a bit ugly).