2021 Summer Games Fest and E3 roundup: RPGs

‘Tis the season to stoke up gaming gluttony and premature hype – yes, E3 and the Summer Games Fest have come and gone! I don’t think I need to introduce E3 but in case you’re like me and were wondering what the Summer Games Fest was, it’s a relatively new digital showcase event created during pandemic times by Prime Gaming after E3 was cancelled in 2020. Both featured oodles of game trailers and announcements from big and small name publishers across the week of June 10-15. Steam Next Fest, a revamp of the Steam Games Festival, followed immediately after on June 16-22 to celebrate upcoming Steam games with hundreds of demos. 

Anyway, I’ve had a gander at the announcements and found some goodies that have sneakily made me click that ‘Follow’ button. I picked the following titles completely due to personal taste, so expect a lot of anime-inspired and/or weird niche stuff, and hopefully you’ll find something interesting too!

There were too many intriguing games for one post so I split them up by genre. This one covers RPGs. Links to the others below:

Action Adventures and Platformers
Adventure and Simulation games
Nintendo Direct

Genre: Action RPG 
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox One
Release date: TBA

Putting a twist on the Slavic folk legend of the Baba Yaga, Blacktail is a first-person adventure that makes you the warty, child-hunting hag. Only, that’s just a story – or is it? Yaga starts off as just a girl. Ostracised and labelled as a witch, she stalks the woods, hunting monsters and lost memories on the way. Although I confess that I love folklore and the subversion of such tales, the bullseye was Blacktail’s pinpoint archery. If a game has a good bow weapon, I’ll take it and Blacktail is adding some spin to their shot by including a QTE mechanic that seems to ignite Yaga’s arrow. The set-up is alluringly dark and so is the morality system where your choices determine Yaga’s skillset and how her legend unravels as either a fearsome guardian or nightmare to be feared.

Dark Deity 
Developer: Sword & Axe LLC Publisher: Freedom Games
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platforms: PC
Release date: 15 June 2021

There have been a number of recent indies channeling classic SRPGs with varying degrees of emulation. Dark Deity is very much on the conservative side and you’ll see Fire Emblem’s influence everywhere from the visual design and interface, battle mechanics and bond conversations. The game does include a distinct Grave Wounds mechanic, where characters can receive injuries that lower their combat capabilities and may even permanently retire them, but overall the developers have taken an ‘if it ain’t broke’ attitude, which is fine by me. For a relatively new indie outfit, they’ve really pulled out all the stops with voice acting, a lengthy campaign and generous customisation options for different playstyles. I’m always up for another SPRG and, judging from an already positive reception, Dark Deity appears to understand what makes for a winning formula. 

Death Trash 
Developer: Crafting Legends Publisher: Crafting Legends
Genre: RPG
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One 
Release date: 5 August 2021

A punk post-apocalyptic RPG taking notes from Fallout, Cyberpunk and Lovecraft, in Death Trash every pixel of oozing flesh looks gorgeously grotesque. The story is an age-old tale of humanity going for the stars and making a mess along the way as wayward machines and the ‘offspring of the worm’ have forced humans to bunker down. Traditional RPG systems unite with contemporary sensibilities, so you can pursue your own path through the wasteland, whether that means killing everyone or no one. In action, the real-time combat reminded me of zippy skirmishes in Hyperlight Drifter while the RPG side teases grim, scraping the barrel-style crafting and multiple dialogue and skill choices. Finally, a game where you can use your vomit for something…

Elden Ring
From Software Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: RPG
Platforms: PC, PS4/5, Xbox X/S/One
Release date: 21 January 2022

This is a bit of an odd one since I’m not a huge fan of masocore series nor George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels. But, Elden Ring does look glorious. The plot is enticingly vague. You know, war and cataclysmic world shattering and that Elden Ring ‘to rule them all’ sort of thing. What is clear is that you take on the role of a Tarnished, a godforsaken soul who is of course given the job to sort everyone’s shit out. The world appears brighter in shade (but thankfully just as grotesque) than the dismal world of Lordran and has many locales to explore and individual characters to fill its grimy corners. Of course, combat is king in a game like this and there are plenty of ways to give and take a beating whether you sling swords or spells – now on horseback! I’ve always wanted to get into the deep lore and fantastical worlds of Dark Souls and Elden Ring’s grand fantasy trappings might actually stay my frustration long enough to ‘git gud’ and appreciate it. 

Developer: Yaza Games Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Genre: Tactical RPG 
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release date: 2021

Dotted around the margins of a medieval manuscript are spear-wielding rabbits poking canine squires. Across the way a donkey directs their fart through a trumpet to snuff out a cat in priestly garb. You’d think that Yaza Games is taking creative liberties until you see that this is a spot-on recreation of the sort of surreal obscene doodling that happened. Some monks must have been very bored. Besides crusades and plagues, medieval times had their fair share of memes and Yaza Games is similarly bringing a bit of humour in a typically stoic genre without compromising on strategic depth. Whether you fight chivalrously or send in a flaming barrel of chaos, it’s all rendered in a distinct, ornate style and chronicled with procedurally generated commentary. Is it absurdly charming or charmingly absurd? Either way, hail to buffing boffs! 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope 
Developer: Ubisoft Milan Publisher: Ubisoft 
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platforms: Switch  
Release date: 2022

I think the first Mario + Rabbids took everyone by surprise for how effectively it slotted the two properties into an XCOM-styled combat system. I thoroughly enjoyed the cover system and look of the original, especially how every battlefield was seamlessly incorporated within the traversable map, and so this announcement was a pleasant surprise after four years. The gang are rocketing off to space this time to collect powerful Sparks (read: Rabbid Lumas) with companions new and familiar. Rabbid Rosalina was always a given and I’m eager to see what tumultuous tactics she’ll bring to the table. 

Metal Slug Tactics 
Developer: Leikir Studio Publisher: Dotemu 
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platforms: PC
Release date: TBA

This wasn’t a genre-switch I was expecting. I’m not too familiar with the run n’ gun Metal Slug series but the trailer looks like a lighthearted riff off Advance Wars, Black Lagoon and the A Team so I’m up for that. The plot follows The Peregrine Falcons facing their old enemy Morden and his revolutionary army before they make scrap metal of the World Government. The 90s style anime aesthetic looks gratifyingly punchy and I like the wanton destruction coming through the bombastic cutscenes and battle animations. There’s a real sense of guns and goons flying in those little pixels. Mechanically, it sounds similar to standard grid-based SRPGs with special abilities for commanders and cooperative attacks but the potential to use the environment to your advantage did catch my eye. There’s a point in the trailer where a bomber plane strikes a bridge, which subsequently collapses onto the enemies below for massive damage. Perhaps another firebrand in their arsenal? 

Rune Factory 5
Developer: Marvelous Inc. Publisher: Marvelous Inc., XSEED Games
Genre: JRPG
Platforms: Switch
Release date: Early 2022

I’ve been waiting for Rune Factory’s newest installment for several years now after racking up hundreds of hours on the 3DS and Switch versions of RF4. Unfortunately, RF5 has been pushed to a 2022 launch, although in a welcome twist: RF4 Special is arriving on PC, PS4, and Xbox X/S/One for the first time this autumn. In the meantime, have a look at the new trailer for RF5, which briefly shows off the combat and farming systems as well as the town of Rigbarth and some of its romanceable inhabitants. The graphics are certainly an upgrade on its decade old predecessor but I imagine the general gameplay will stick to tried and true systems. At any rate, the appeal of Rune Factory has always been its wholesome but deep interactions with your village’s townsfolk so I can’t wait to thoroughly explore Rigbarth atop my own monster mount! 

Developer: Spiders Publisher: Nacon
Genre: RPG 
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox X/S
Release date: TBA

We were given a mostly cinematic tease but Steelrising’s premise of an alternate French Revolution with automata has got me piqued. You must fight metal with steel as the pouffed robot, Aegis, when Paris has fallen to Louis XVI’s mechanical army. I don’t have much else to comment on besides that the gothic rain-drenched city looks lovely in promotional artwork and the combat is tagged as ‘souls-like’. It’s an unexpected take on this historical period and I wonder how Spiders, the team behind the baroque fantasy RPG, Greedfall, plan on steering history this time.  

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin 
Developer: Team Ninja Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Platforms: PC, PS4/5, Xbox X/S/One 
Release date: 2022

Alright, I’ll go for the low hanging fruit. How many times are they going to say ‘chaos’?! I mean it’s Final Fantasy but still – it’s almost parodic how ham they’ve gone here. Regardless, I didn’t expect this announcement and I’m vaguely interested, even if it’s for all the ‘wrong reasons’. Because I could mention that Team Ninja are reputable action-smiths, having been behind the combat systems of Dissidia, Ninja Gaiden and Nioh, or the plethora of weapons our protagonist with anger issues can wield to kill CHAOS but that’s all overshadowed by an utterly bemusing script. I still don’t know what’s up with this game but I can’t help but laugh.

The Forgotten City 
Developer: Modern Storyteller Publisher: Dear Villagers
Genre: RPG 
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4/5, Xbox X/S/One 
Release date: 28 July 2021

Salve, friend! The Forgotten City is prospering from Midas’ touch as this former Skyrim mod goes gold with a standalone game. Described pithily as a ‘time travelling murder mystery in an ancient Roman city’, your customisable character must unearth clues, question a complex cast and be prepared to do it over and over again to deduce the events leading to the destruction of a cursed city that sees everyone getting the Midas treatment if anyone breaks the mysterious ‘Golden Rule’. While the mod was incredibly ambitious, The Forgotten City hasn’t rested on its laurels. The script has been reworked and expanded by more than twice its original length so even a former player should find something new to throw them off the case. Add in a fresh score and lovably hammy voice acting and I’m already hooked. As a former Classics grad, I’m off to scrutinise the authenticity of the Roman bits so vale for now! 

Developer: OTA IMON Studios Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Tactical RPG 
Platforms: PC 
Release date: TBA 

What do you get when you throw together ex-yakuza, metal, and a mech tournament? Jacked up anime Robot Wars. This is one of those games that looks so shamelessly stylish, it would be a bonus for it to be substantial too. Thankfully, Wolfstride is attempting to accomplish both with strategic turn-based showdowns and heavy mech customisation against a too-cool-for-you monochrome aesthetic and upbeat soundtrack. Turning scrap into a super suit isn’t cheap though, so  you’ll have to take jobs between fights and make the right friends. From the screenshots alone, the combat mechanisms appear diverse, if not a bit messy on the UI front, but colour me intrigued.

I almost regret writing these posts for how long it’s taken me but there you go 😂… I personally enjoyed the majority of announcements and thought there was a lot of entertaining stuff that deserves a little shout out but what did you think? Did any particular games catch your eye? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Published by nonplayergirl

Long-time lurker turned blogging newb. Lover of all things otaku but especially JRPGs, anime and manga. Always adding something to the backlog. Probably descending into K-Pop hell right now.

4 thoughts on “2021 Summer Games Fest and E3 roundup: RPGs

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