#JRPGJuly 2024 – Week 1 Round-up

Welcome to another year of everyone’s favorite monthly gameathon. #JRPGJuly was created as a community game-along by Anne Lee @ Chic Pixel, and hosted by MDi. Once again, the RPGamer staff is showing their support for the event by playing some JRPGs. If you’re participating make sure to use #JRPGJuly or share your feelings over on the RPGamer Discord server.

The first week proved to be busy for our staff, let’s see everyone’s progress!

Joshua Carpenter


Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak

The Trails games are easily my favorite ongoing RPG series. However, after five games covering the events and characters from Erebonia, I am ready to move on to new areas and adventures. Thankfully, The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak has arrived to push the series forward into new environs and it breathes a new sense of life into the series.

Trails through Daybreak is set in Calvard, a large, diverse republic that has played an important role in previous events in the series, but this is the first time players have gotten the opportunity to see it in person. The game stars Van Arkride as a sword for hire, known in Calvard as a Spriggan. In contrast to the straight-laced Bracers that have often played prominent roles in the series, Spriggans are much more willing to work in the shadows and take on morally gray jobs that the Bracers or police would outright reject.

This new setup is complimented by a new morality system where the quests that players take on and Van’s decisions affect a balance between Law, Grey, and Chaos. It will be interesting to see if and how this new system affects how the narrative plays out. In the first chapter, I like Van and the rest of the new cast and there is just the right amount of returning faces from the series to be a delight rather than a distraction as it sometimes became in the later Cold Steel games. It’s incredibly enjoyable to explore a new country and Falcom always does a great job at world-building and creating societies that feel real and lived in. I can’t wait to get past the first chapter and see where the story leads.


Jervon Perkins

Final Fantasy XIV

My first week of #JRPGJuly with Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail has been a nostalgic and exhilarating experience. Having played this game for over a decade, I was curious how the team would continue the story after the epic conclusion of the previous ten-year arc. Dawntrail starts slowly, but once it gains momentum, it becomes a delightful blend of grand storytelling and intimate moments. The game is filled with nostalgic throwbacks to older story beats, which I find wholesome and heartwarming.

While many of the plot twists are predictable if you’re familiar with JRPGs, the journey remains enjoyable. I’ve been playing as a White Mage, my original class from when I first started. The minimal changes to this class have made it easy for me to jump back in without feeling overwhelmed, which I appreciate as a casual player who takes extended breaks to explore other RPGs.



Sarah Ferries

Likely Spoilers for Endwalker

Well, my excitement over early access for Dawntrail did not go as planned. As soon as my client was done updating, it failed to launch with the dreaded “three million” error. What does that mean? Welp, it means your graphics card is two years behind the minimum specs and my computer literally could not launch the game. After weighing my options, I did what I never thought I’d do again. I always played on a Mac, but I ended up buying a Windows PC.

Now with that out of the way, I finally was able to finish Endwalker, which ended brilliantly, and managed to overcome the depressing parts before it, though the whole thing about Meteion is an incredibly sad, big mood moment! Aaaaanyway, I have reached post-game of Endwalker this week, trying to save Vrtra’s sister, which involves returning to the dark parallel world of the Thirteenth, aka the Void. It’s very interesting to learn a ton of backstory on a different part of the universe and how it affected the Source. Getting to the Thirteenth involved a Maw, exactly like those involved in traveling back to the past in Final Fantasy XI, which I appreciated.



Andi Privitere

Unicorn Overlord

This week I’m in Minneapolis attending Games Done Quick, but I’m still diving into plenty of Unicorn Overlord while watching so many amazing speedruns! After Scarlett, one of the game’s protagonists, was kidnapped within the first hour of gameplay, I was curious how urgent the need to rescue her was, it turns out you don’t need to rescue her at all and there’s dialogue to finish the game without her, which I won’t be doing for my first playthrough but sounds like a really fun New Game+ challenge run.

Instead, I elected to clear absolutely everything I could off the map, and now 12 hours later I’m finally progressing the main story. I might be slightly over the recommended level for the content I’m doing, and I’m having an absolute blast with everything about this game. The narrative is fantastic, the levels are short enough to remain interesting and urgent without becoming stale, the artwork is gorgeous, and the worldbuilding is so good; I love seeing how seemingly disparate mini-stories are slowly weaving together into an amazing tapestry. Now to go rescue Scarlett!


Sam Wachter

Sand Land

I have to say, Sand Land has been such a pleasant surprise. I’m finding myself really enjoying the characters and story, it’s far more wholesome than I would expect a story featuring demons to be. There’s a lot of humour, and I’ve definitely found myself laughing through a lot of Belz and Thief’s lack of self-awareness in the human world. At this point, I am around twelve hours in and I have made it to Forest Land. What is in Forest Land you ask? Not sure yet! At this point, my goal is to rescue Ann and hopefully make some new bots.

I will say, that the action-based combat is pretty lackluster, and I wish they had done something to make it more engaging. The vehicle combat is slightly better, though many of the bots control like shopping carts. The motorbike is too fast at times, which is a weird complaint, but the amount of walls I have smacked into and have thrown Belz flying has been hilarious, to say the least. The hovercraft is SO MUCH FUN, though I am sad I cannot launch it high into the air like some of the other bots. I am hoping by my next update to have Sand Land completed, but we shall see!


Ezra Kinnell

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengence

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance has been eating a lot of my time over the last month. I’ve managed to put in 95 hours according to Steam, and I’m still not done with everything! I’ve obtained all of the endings and even finished a playthrough on the game’s Godborn NG+ setting, but I’ve still not killed one of the major superbosses, nor have I completed the Demon Compendium. Still, I remain impressed by the amount of customization options available to the player in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. The Nahobino can fill any role, be it support, DPS, healer, etc. Add onto this the way Godborn leverages the new level cap of 150 to balance out the roster of demons and make them all usable, and the combat sandbox of SMTV is able to shine incredibly brightly.




Robert Sinclair

I’ve been spending the week just running around doing quests and picking fights with things I probably shouldn’t. Not a fan of when games add extremely strong enemies to the early parts of a game. I’m not big on that tension and I prefer to kill things as I run into them. I’ve been enjoying the flexibility of the MC, especially being able to change your weaknesses. A few small tweaks to the main character can change a battle you lost in a single turn into a battle you will stomp as long as you know the mechanics. I’m still only early on, so I haven’t really gotten much choice in how I’ll be going through the story, but I’m all on board for Naamah. I’ll kill whoever it takes for her to be happy; I’ve killed gods before and I’ll do it again!



Phil Willis

Persona 5 Royal

I forgot just how good this game is. Persona 5 Royal exemplifies so well what makes JRPGs great. A few nights ago, I got to a part of the story that promised to tie up some plot points. At that point I had already clocked in 100 hours, so some of these had been building for a while. I was so excited to see what would happen next, that I stayed up until 1am. I paid for it the next day at work, but it was very much worth it. I was not shocked so much by the ‘who,’ but in the details leading up to the big reveal, and some of the little hints along the way I missed. It was epic.

I am now close to one of the game’s final Palaces (dungeons). Since I have spent a fair amount of time grinding and combining demons, I do not expect the next section to pose too much challenge. However, we are talking about a series directly inspired by Shin Megami Tensei. I better grind some more just to be safe!


Zach Welhouse

Live A Live

Rather than play Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth this week, I decided to put in some time with Live A Live. I’ve been playing the chapters in chronological order, captive to time’s inexorable prison. This week’s triumphs included the Near Future and part of the Distant Future eras. As enjoyable as moments have been, neither has changed my opinion that the game rarely reaches the amazing potential of its timeline-spanning concept. High points in the game include the character drama in the Imperial China chapter, the screwball humor of Prehistory, the mechanical quirkiness in the Twilight of Edo Japan, and the genre emulation of the Wild West. The deep space mystery of the Distant Future could be another gem, but will ultimately depend on its conclusion.

Some of my disappointment stems from Live A Live’s apparent disinterest in being the game that I want it to be, which is an unfair stance for a reviewer to take. Why not judge the game on its own merits? It’s built around brief peeks into characters’ lives, so I should roll with it. That said, I really dig whenever a chapter references something that happened in a different era. The hints of a recurring villain suggest a secret history to the world, which lights my imagination. Without a strong metanarrative to connect the vignettes, many of them feel too brief. On the other hand, I got to be a caveman, a ninja, and a giant robot pilot in the same game, so there is that!


Benedikt Geierhofer

Final Fantasy XIII

Tech troubles were not how I thought I would start #JRPGJuly but it was how it started for me. Fortunately, I was able to fix them fast and I caught up by doing a lot of ad hoc streaming, which was of mixed success. Through Windows quirks, I managed to stream three-and-a-half hours of Final Fantasy XIII with completely unhearable audio. Luckily future streams as I went deeper into the game had the audio fixed. But yes it was a rough start into Final Fantasy XIII, a game I have not the most positive opinion of, which added a lot of entertainment value for both me and viewers. I also continued my journey through Golden Sun: The Lost Age for my usual Thursday streaming ambitions. It’s a game I liked far more than Final Fantasy XIII, and I got through Air’s Rock, which was a far longer-than-expected journey.


Jahwon Corbett

Octopath Traveler II

This week I started my journey into the world of Octopath Traveler II. I started by following the story of Osvald, a man who uses magic and has a questionable criminal history. After completing the first two chapters for him, I found that I was now freely allowed to roam the world and pick up the other seven characters that I could have started with. My goal this week due to some other life things was simple, collect the other characters and start working on their second chapters.

Upon my first launch of Octopath Traveler II, I didn’t know that it was an open-world JRPG. I thought this was more of a return to the classic Final Fantasy formula, with a big bad guy and a group of heroes that would meet to stop them. But instead, I got a more free-form and more individual story-driven game. I thought, initially after completing the first Chapter 2, and seeing that my character will only speak when his storyline is going, I was going to dislike the game.

I’m not the biggest fan of open world games anymore. I just haven’t found myself enthralled in a game where the story can take a back seat to world-building so much that you end up forgetting what you went to individual towns for. Nowadays, between work, life, and personal projects I just can’t find myself engaged with the average open world fair. But after the first fifteen hours that I put in this week, I feel like Octopath was made for someone like me. Story developments can be skipped and played later when the player feels more up to it. The player is allowed to replay story cutscenes in case they forget anything. Also, I felt like my playthrough could be doubled by having the party being filled by only four out of the eight travelers.

Overall, I’m intrigued after this first week with Octopath II. Next week I hope to have finished most of the cast’s second chapter stories and will be able to give more nuance to my opinion on the game.


Ryan McCarthy

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

This week I’ve been continuing on my journey through Yakuza: Like a Dragon and am currently in Chapter 11. I have recently gained Joon-gi Han and Zhao as party members, which — along with the return of Nanba after he had left the party for spoilable story reasons — has made it all too easy to keep optional party member Eri on the sidelines. There has also been a difficulty spike with the regular enemy encounters in Ijincho, where as of now, I’ve now encountered enemies with levels as high as 45 while my party members are currently levels 31-33. This is how I finally ended up getting KO’d in a regular non-story fight for the first time, resulting in me losing half of the 800,000+ yen I was carrying. As the low-level regular encounters were getting a bit long in the tooth — especially as experience points gained for doing them felt meager, the increase in difficulty is a good change of pace, if a bit on the rough side.

I can’t elaborate too much on the story as it would be preferable to not spoil it for those who still haven’t played it, but I can talk about how I’ve been making progress. Something interesting is how some of the substories are structured, with some being done in one go while others are broken up into multiple parts. Doing these the way they’re meant to be done helped me appreciate the way time progresses between each section of these substories, which only helps to make the characters Ichiban meets feel all the more real. I’ve also made significant progress in the Ichiban Confections business management sidequest, where I’m now trying to get to Rank 20 to progress the sidequest storyline. During the next week, I’m hoping to get more into the Dragon Kart racing sidequest and, as a personal goal, to make it to 60 hours of playtime.


 Paul Shkreli

Final Fantasy XVI

I’ve been replaying Final Fantasy XVI for #JRPGJuly and I am really enjoying the game — again — a second time around. I am playing New Game+ on Final Fantasy Mode, and the additional challenge is forcing a second look at combat patterns and strategies and utilization of Eikonic powers I usually ignored the first time around. I have just collected the first Eikon and the political intrigue aspects of the story are still very strong; even my complaints about some characterizations (mostly the female characters) have diminished over the last year. Then again, my complaints about the story were usually reserved for the second half! Here’s hoping my favorable reassessment continues.

Mohamed Lamine Coulibaly

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

For this week, I returned to one of the titles that made me fall in love with JRPGs, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. The latter is a remake of the PlayStation title Revelations: Persona. As the original game, it follows the adventure of high school students gifted with the power to summon supernatural entities known as Personas, the only means to counter a demonic invasion that threatens to destroy the world. While such a tale of young people saving the world is so abundant in JRPGs, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona shows some distinctiveness through the Jungian psychology that it brilliantly uses to justify some of its mechanics and tells its story about friendship and the strength of human desires. Unfortunately, the title can hardly be played today due to its unavailability on the current consoles. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona was released in 2009 and it shows through its mechanics that may turn-off those who discovered the series with the most recent titles.


Robert Albright

All the Things!

#JRPGJuly had a rough start for me as a freak thunderstorm took out my power and internet and when combined with some freak bugs, prevented me from getting much time in with Final Fantasy XIV. Though power was fixed quickly, the internet took a long time to get turned back on to the point I could game or stream. This caused me not to be able to do either of the two games mentioned at the start of the week. So I took up the game of THE LORD AND SAVIOR NEP-NEP. I’d been meaning to go back to playing Hyperdimension Neptunia.

Luckily internet did get fixed Wednesday so I started streaming with Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm. Very quickly I remembered the two reasons why I dropped the game previously. First is just how easy it is to get far into the game but be under-leveled since the game is based on quests. Second is the limited time that you are allowed to explore each of the dungeons in the game. Sure you can go back into the dungeon, but it’s just annoying. Lastly, I did manage to get in some FFXIV, and I got through the first zone I had picked. It’s been a little bit of a rough week of gaming for me; however, I plan to continue through with my goal of at least finally beating Atelier Iris 3 for sure.

Cassandra Ramos


I had a strong urge to revisit two favorite classics of mine, EarthBound Beginnings (aka Mother), and EarthBound for the SNES. Last month saw me completing the NES title, so I’m playing the sequel for #JRPGJuly. I started off getting one of the eight melodies Ness needs to collect and I am on my way to getting the seventh one. I’m currently (as of writing this) beating up enemies called Uncontrollable Spheres to get a rare drop. EarthBound has several items that have a 1-in-128 chance of being dropped by certain enemies, and some of these include some of the best equipment in the game. I have played EarthBound before and never found one of these items, so I want to this time around. I already lucked out and got the character Poo’s Sword of Kings, but I so far don’t seem to be as lucky in getting the Broken Antenna. I’m hoping it won’t take me too much longer.

Playing EarthBound right after EarthBound Beginnings, I can’t help but compare them. EarthBound is the better game, but I have more fondness for the NES game. There are a few things I prefer in Beginnings, such as equipped items not taking up space in the limited inventory, a run button, and better music. Yet EarthBound on the SNES has better combat, has better graphics, has enemies on the overworld as opposed to random encounters, is better balanced, and is overall wackier. The NES game has a charming quaintness that the sequel doesn’t have. Even so, EarthBound for the SNES has its own allure and I’m enjoying my replay of this classic JRPG.

Michael Baker

Cairn: Mathair’s Curse

This week, life (and the site) handed me a review game that is 100% not a JRPG but is all sorts of whacko fun. To balance this, I’ve got one other game that, while not technically Japanese, definitely fits this end of the RPGestalt better. I played through the Steam demo of Cairn: Mathair’s Curse and it is abundantly obvious what the developer’s favorite JRPG of old happened to be: EarthBound. From everything available in the demo, this game is basically EarthBound if the setting is fantasy Caledonia instead of Americana. The character accents, the choices of comestible healing items, the place names, and the use of Gaelic in that opening scene with the masked cultists (stag- and puffin-headed), this is the most Scottish JRPG imaginable. Also, I got to beat up swarms of bees and a malevolent stop sign. I’m waiting for the full release on this one now.

That’s all for this week. Let us know what sort of progress you’re making in your #JRPGJuly game in the comments or on social media!

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