|« Most Overlooked||Biggest Letdown »|
French developer Spiders has been consistently turning out RPGs with interesting ideas but never quite managed to translate that to a fully satisfying experience, though it has come close. In a hugely pleasant surprise, the studio has managed to take that next step with GreedFall. The studio has come up with a fresh setting, combining fantasy with the colonial era of the 1700s, but also selected its scope well, trying to prevent itself from doing too much but still telling an engaging tale and immersing players in its world.
On top of this, Spiders has provided a highly satisfying combat system. The real-time system evokes similarities to both Dragon Age and The Witcher and provides some great tactical challenges, particularly when playing on the higher difficulties. There are certainly areas where the smaller budget shows itself, but given the long turnaround between titles from the usual WRPG giants, Spiders’ GreedFall is a very pleasant surprise to have come up this year and is deserving of recognition.
Those initially glancing upon it may not feel that SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions stands out from the crowd of games out there. Though the pop-up world map and character designs are strong, the graphics can be considered a bit bland, and the story premise isn’t the most engaging. Yet delving further reveals a deep battle system aided by an excellent soundtrack composed by Kenji Ito. In fact, this game ends up providing one of the better turn-based battle systems around, and engaging enemies and pulling off united attacks whilst delaying and countering enemy attacks is strangely fun and satisfying. Adding to this surprise is that the game came west at all; the SaGa series spent so many years in the wilderness and even this rare new title initially seemed likely to remain a Japan-only PlayStation Vita title when it first launched.
Except for a brief blip on the radar in 2018 for changing its name from the distinctive No Truce with the Furies, Disco Elysium feels like one of the most out-of-left-field games since Undertale. First-time studio ZA/UM started off adapting author Robert Kurvitz’s homebrewed RPG setting — which is also used in several of his novels — and wound up creating a dense, intimate world that has managed to find a devoted audience in a very short amount of time. Equal parts political musings and interesting departures from traditional RPGs, the game finds itself in the company of legacy titles such as Planescape: Torment, to the point where it feels like one of the few games that can sit comfortably in that pantheon. I hope the game’s legacy is one of a transition point, where future creators will use Disco Elysium as a jumping-off point for how people engage with not only RPGs but with video games in general.
by Michael Apps, Elmon Dean Todd, and Zack Webster