Fans of SNES-era games (and especially JRPGs) will certainly love Chained Echoes, but there are plenty of quality-of-life improvements (like being able to save at pretty much any time) that keep the game feeling new and distinctly 21st-century. For all the aesthetics of games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6, Chained Echoes doesn't feel like a '90s game (a trap that many retro-leaning indies fall into). Chained Echoes is a fresh, smart adventure that celebrates classic JRPGs while not being afraid to push into new directions. It's sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking - and always fun. It's a must-play.
On the whole, Star Ocean: The Divine Force may be the most solid entry to date. For anyone concerned the series lost its way in Integrity and Faithlessness, those doubts can be put to rest. The only issues - some lackluster characters and a bit too much backtracking - are really ones found throughout the entire series and don't detract much from what makes The Divine Force work so well (great combat, environments that are fun to explore, and entertaining character dynamics). It remains to be seen if Star Ocean: The Divine Force will serve as a watershed moment for the series - but for what it's worth, it's a heck of a good time and one of the best JRPGs to release this year.
Valkyrie Elysium is a lot of fun, and maybe that's good enough. It's a shame that a new Valkyrie Profile game isn't more than simply adequate, especially after all this time, but anyone looking for a quick and engaging action RPG will leave satisfied. It may not be a masterpiece, but Valkyrie Elysium is still entertaining and enjoyable.
When playing Guardian Tales, one can't help but wonder if a cute Link To The Past-style single-player game without all the gacha incentives would've been better, especially now that the title is on Switch. Still, personal preferences aside, Guardian Tales is a lot of fun. The gameplay, art style, and quirky characters are all highlights.
The only real issue with Trails From Zero is one that most other games in the series have, too - sometimes, exposition dumps can feel a bit tedious and some scenes overstay their welcome. Even with a story and characters as great as these, some parts just feel longer than they should be. Regardless, The Legend of Heroes: Trails From Zero is fantastic and continues Trails' trend of setting the bar incredibly high for character-driven narratives. It's also a wonderful feeling to finally have the Crossbell arc localized, but it was worth the wait.
Even people new to D&D or card-based RPGs like SteamWorld Quest should have no problem learning the ropes quickly. While it could've benefited from more character interactions and a stronger story, the combat and core gameplay loop are so engaging that many players probably won't even notice. Gordian Quest is a rare gem of an RPG that somehow manages to blend multiple genres into one game without making anything feel unwieldy.
Despite having some problems, Moo Lander is a ton of fun that delivers on its premise of being the first "Mootroidvania." The humor is hit or miss, but there are plenty of times players will find themselves smiling as they navigate the various biomes and try to solve puzzles to move the story forward. The story may not be that great, but the gameplay is - and it definitely makes Moo Lander worth checking out.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was initially a Kickstarter reward, and as a reward, it's pretty great. Despite the combat and gameplay loop not being as great as the town-building and characters, it's still a really enjoyable game. Regardless of its flaws with repetition, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a lot of fun and should have plenty of people excited for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes in 2023.
There's plenty of laughter and tears along the way, and Endwalker manages to send off the Zodiark and Hydaelyn saga on an incredibly high note. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is a real crowdpleaser, and it should also leave everyone hopeful for what the future has in store for the MMORPG, even if this expansion is going to be incredibly difficult to top.