Increased enthusiasm for tactical role-playing games in recent years is leading to a wealth of fun indie experiences in the genre. Dancing Dragon Games, a small JRPG developer, partnered with Dark Deity publisher Freedom Games for its own entry, Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga. It isn’t just an homage, though, offering overlaid tactical systems that make it feel mechanically distinct. The scrappy release isn’t much of a looker (though there’s some nice sprite work!), but the gameplay is what matters, and there’s a lot of thought to it.
Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Forbidden West is the sort of game that is easy to anticipate. It’s big! It’s full of interesting stuff to do! Many were sold on the promise of the PlayStation 5 at launch by the prospect of sinking days and weeks into a new Horizon. Thankfully, Forbidden West delivers on that promise in many ways.
Fans of golf RPGs? We’ve had a tough time of it lately. Recent Mario Golf entries have failed to deliver the depth of the Game Boy gems. The sequel to indie hit Golf Story, Sports Story? It’s on the way, we hear, but not as quickly as fans would want. So if you like this particular combination, you may be seeking out a stopgap.
Oink Games’ line of analog titles is all about packing value into an attractive, portable package. It makes sense, then, that Let’s Play! Oink Games is similarly slick. The collection, out now, includes four of the studio’s most popular releases, packaged up for both local and online play.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, the new game from NieR creator Yoko Taro, is a peculiar little game. It knows what it wants to be! And its aesthetics definitely come first. But if you’re at home in its slower pace and tavern feel, you’ll have a good time.
New games have moved from the obvious to the truly weird. And, perhaps most importantly for this installment, the world has become much more about video calls than house parties. The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is the first one fully developed in these conditions, and its collection of games feels like it wanted to be deeper and more involved to fit in a little better.
Lost Judgment, a follow-up to 2018’s Judgment, returns to detective Takayuki Yagami and his investigations in the shadier sides of Japanese society. And as Judgment becomes something of a franchise of its own separate from Yakuza, it’s increasingly finding its footing and learning its specialties.
We haven’t had this much fun with a card battle RPG since the Pokemon TCG games on the Game Boy Color. If you at all have an affinity for the concept, it’s unlikely that you’re burned out on the idea these days. Give Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle a shot, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be disappointed.
Indie games generally hang their hats on one great idea. Is it a compelling, original narrative? Or an aesthetic that you haven’t seen anywhere else? How about a unique game mechanic around which the rest of the game builds? Any of these can work. Just one of these can lift a small-team title above the indie pack. Chicory: A Colorful Tale has all three.
Pac-Man 99, the new Nintendo Switch Online exclusive, seeks to follow in the footsteps of the battle royale retro games that preceded it. And that’s not unreasonable! A game like this needs classic, addictive action at its core, and Pac-Man is certainly that.