Five Essential RPGs for the Eclectic Adventurer – Part Five
This week, the staff of SwitchRPG are taking you on a grand tour through our favorite RPGs on the Nintendo Switch- so far, anyway. While each list is subjective to the author in question, we believe these lists represent the cream of the crop – games that every RPG fan should take a serious look at, and consider picking up.
Listen, I’m not going to mince words. Over the past week, you’ve seen your Octopath Travelers, your Dragon Quest Builders and XIs, your Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Danas (That game is on somebody’s list, right? Oh thank goodness, Ben featured it), but none of this staff are willing to tell you the harsh truth: there’s more to the Switch’s RPG library than that junk, and the majority of it is vastly superior. VASTLY. Luckily, I’m here to clarify things before the close of the week, otherwise you might go off and spend countless unnecessary dollars on some garbage rather than one of these five essential titles.
I need to get out more.
Hand of Fate 2
For the Eternal Board Game Fanatic
Hand of Fate 2 is DOPE. Take every imaginable board game mechanic, from dice rolls, to deck building, to weird pendulum swinging quick-time events (maybe not that last one), and somehow turn it all into a rogue-like, chapter-based Action-RPG, and you’ve got Defiant Development’s swan song title. If that sounds a bit overwhelming to you, that’s likely because it is. Hand of Fate 2 knows that it is hard, which is why many of its deck-building cards feature grind-centered objectives: deflect a certain amount of projectiles with a shield, or execute your charge attack enough times with a sword, and you’ll unlock a new, stronger bit of equipment to utilize. Sure, this might make each chapter an uphill struggle, but that’s why the game’s Endless Mode is geared towards grinding out these options. Simply put, there’s nothing else quite like Hand of Fate 2 on the Switch, nor is there another Action RPG quite like it. Except, you know, the sequel. All of this is reason enough to check this title out, but there’s also a hefty amount of DLC that features new characters and items to further extend your playthrough. Stick with it, and you’ll fall in love with this high-production indie title just like I did.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna -The Golden Country
For the Person Who Wants Everything (Except Their Time Being Wasted)
I love Monolith Soft. Trust me, I do. I love Xenoblade Chronicles, its science fiction X spinoff, and even its cuh-razy sequel. But I got to tell you- I sank over four-hundred hours into Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Keep in mind, I played through the game on release, which meant I couldn’t skip summoning sequences and had some pretty terrible crashes. Here’s what I can say with confidence: Torna – The Golden Country manages to achieve everything that Xenoblade 2 does in a tenth of that time. Yes, you’re still getting around thirty to forty hours of content, especially if you’re a completionist, but you also get a narrative that serves as a fine preface to the base game, exclusive areas with unique features, and the most important element of all: a revamped combat system that is so superior to the base game that you’ll either feel disappointed when moving to that title, or you’ll feel that you have been wasting your time with the base game’s combat after moving on to Torna. Well, that’s not entirely true- the base game’s content and combat are both great, but Torna is a great way to evaluate if the speed and scope of the Xenoblade series is your thing- after all, you can buy it separately, and your progress (as well as some other neat DLC features) will transfer over to the base game.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
For those Who Can Experience Joy
We heard the skeptics. “There’s no way Mario and the Rabbids series could ever be GOOD,” they said. Well, who is laughing now, punks? In an era where we now have Fire Emblem, Disgaea, and some Final Fantasy Tactics-like titles hanging out on the Switch, this exclusive Ubisoft turn-based tactics title still stands toe-to-toe with the greats. Just what makes Mario + Rabbids so appealing? Obviously the earnestness of its story, which manages to merge the chaotic energy of the Rabbids characters with a respect and love for the Mario franchise. But the tactics gameplay takes the Mario Bros. joy of jumping and turn it into a worthwhile and rewarding gameplay mechanic. This is a full-featured game, with co-op campaigns, post-game content, and plenty of unique character functions that make it a wholly original experience. No matter how skeptical you might be, it’s worth giving Mario + Rabbids a chance, especially nowadays, when the base game has seen some significant price-drops and the DLC expansion can be purchased for what is more or less normal retail price. It has Donkey Kong in it!
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
For the Grimy, Gritty, Open World Explorer
I’ve heard some people say that Dragon’s Dogma is a decidedly “Japanese” game, but… well, yes, it was developed in Japan and also has some pretty kooky elements here and there. But! It’s also very much unlike other Japanese RPGs due to its setting, combat, and core conflict. There are definitely some European influences here, as the world of Gransys is dreary, dark, and full of mythic creatures that draw from the Western world moreso than the East. You don’t know what thrills are until you take on your first Chimera, striking down its various heads before landing the killing blow. You also might not realize how compelling and player-focused the narrative can be, as the many quests you complete will leave a marked impact on how you interact with characters and events later down the line. There is so much to love about Dragon’s Dogma, and its slightly Souls-like atmosphere is bolstered by unique mechanics that allow it to stand apart from both FromSoftware’s work as well as Capcom’s own Monster Hunter, despite feeling like a combination of the two. The best thing of all is that this fully-featured port allows players to experience the entirety of Gransys’s majesty at a fraction of normal retail price. That’s truly crazy. If you’re looking for a JRPG that breaks the typical mold, there’s no vacation destination more bleak and savage than Gransys.
Cosmic Star Heroine
For Those Who Wish to Go Fast
Have you ever thought to yourself: “Self, I want all the punchy action of a SNES RPG, but I’ve already exhausted the best entries in the SNES library by way of a) ownership of a SNES Mini, b) thorough exploration of previous virtual consoles, or c) ruthless piracy. What should I play?”
Well. Zeboyd Games has a solution. This small independent developer best known for the Breath of Death titles and Cthulhu Saves the World has crafted a charming and fast-paced title in Cosmic Star Heroine. Featuring an original twist on the turn-based formula, this sci fi adventure pushes aggression through its Hyper and Style systems, also encouraging a broad use of skills and synergy via the program commands that require a solid “hand” of attacks, rather than an over-centralized set of commands. Though its environments and narrative design are largely linear, the game does offer some side quests and optional content to keep a player occupied, as well as a set of markedly different difficulty levels that push its combat to logical extremes. 16-bit RPGs aren’t in short reserve nowadays, but Cosmic Star Heroine is polished enough that, if released during the era of greats like Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario RPG, and Chrono Trigger, I have no doubt it would have been considered equally impressive in comparison. That may sound like high praise, but this game is unique enough to offer an engaging, new experience to seasoned veterans and RPG newcomers alike.
There are presently a staggering amount of RPGs on the Switch, and while it’s easy to say that Dragon Quest XI, Xenoblade 2, and Pokemon Sword and Shield are must-plays, they’re also titles that have a fair amount of buzz and critical reception surrounding them. I offer this list not for the ecclectic adventurer, one who likely has a relative awareness of these RPG titans and wants something a little meatier. Something new and fresh, but still possessing a substantial amount of polish and professionalism. Do you have any recommendations yourself? Let us know about them in the comments below.