Five Essential RPGs for the Eclectic Adventurer – Part Three
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.
In today’s list, Jeremy shares five of his favorites, a collection informed by his love for quality storytelling, thoughtful game mechanics, and a willingness to subvert expectations. Let’s take a look.
Easily one of the most well-loved games in my RPG catalog, Octopath Traveler tells eight unique stories, following the eponymous travelers as they settle personal scores, solve mysteries, or embark on journeys of self-discovery and growth. Each storyline pushes the travelers to their limits, challenging the virtues that drive their actionss and forcing them to better understand the values they hold dear. Meanwhile, each individual story explores a small piece of an underlying plot that threatens to plunge the world into darkness. Beyond the engaging personal stories and characters involved (whose lack of interconnectedness admittedly soured some), Octopath Traveler’s core strengths lie in its graphics, soundtrack, and combat system. Beautifully rendered in a custom “HD-2D” design, Octopath blends classic pixel art with modern graphic design to create a downright gorgeous world to explore, and its fully orchestrated soundtrack never fails to impress. Meanwhile, the game’s take on the classic turn-based combat system creates an impressive gameplay loop, inserting the perfect amount of strategy into each encounter and boss battle. Octopath has grown to be one of my favorite games of all time, and for good reason. It was lovingly crafted and expertly executed, well-deserving of your time.
The Longest Five Minutes
I wrote a lengthy article about how much I love this game a few weeks after I finished it, and nothing has changed since then. The Longest Five Minutes is easily one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played. Setting aside the easy difficulty level, The Longest Five Minutes impresses in all other ways, as the story, characters, art direction, and soundtrack are absolutely top notch. Drawing its visual inspiration from SNES-era RPGs like Earthbound, The Longest Five Minutes creates an amazingly charming tale about a hero who loses his memory right as he comes upon the final boss of his quest. From the outset, The Longest Five Minutes leans heavily on classic JRPG tropes – whether it be the core amnesia conceit, the tale of a small town hero, or the “power of friendship,” this game has it all. But as the story progresses, and you slowly play your way through the hero’s memories, all these tropes are deconstructed, reexamined, and put back together again, giving one of the most perfect explorations of theme I’ve ever seen in gaming. I still think about this game on a near-daily basis. If you play RPGs because you love stories, The Longest Five Minutes is an absolute must-buy for your collection.
Dragon Quest Builders
How do you blend the classic, NES-era Dragon Quest games with the ever-growing crafting genre inspired by Minecraft? With Dragon Quest Builders, of course! Dragon Quest Builders (and its sequel) step back into the narratives of classic Dragon Question titles and ask a big “what if” questions, turning the plotlines on their heads and off into different (and blockier) directions. Striking a perfect balance between its RPG and crafting elements, these titles will see the player rebuilding society from the ground-up, using whatever tools and materials they have at their disposal, all while following a light, but subversive series of plotlines and subquests. Building, exploration, experimentation, and combat all come together to create an amazing pairs of casual RPGs with massive amounts of replayability. Good for both long and short gameplay sessions and enjoyable from start to finish, the Dragon Question Builders titles are must-plays for gamers of all stripes.
One paragraph is hardly enough to do Tangledeep justice. Not only because of what a phenomenal game it is, but because it is so chock-full of features it’s impossible to cover it all so quickly. Put simply: Tangledeep is THE roguelike to play on the Nintendo Switch. This game is a roguelike in every sense of the word, with randomized dungeon floors, item and equipment modifiers, monster modifiers, full-on class, crafting, and pet taming systems, town, item, and character progression, and more. With its permadeath mechanic, you’ll face all the old consequences each time one of your character dies, but with a persistent hub town, you’ll have the means to speed up the early levels for each new character, helping to continue the story forward. This game is dense, complex, challenging, and fun! Give it a try, get yourself acclimated, and get ready for an amazing ride.
I am Setsuna
Like The Longest Five Minutes, I am Setsuna is a game fully committed to its theme. A broken, frozen world, plagued by the continuous emergence of horrible monsters, offers a human sacrifice once every ten years to keep the peace. With each cycle, however, the world grows a little darker, and the pilgrimage to protect the sacrifice becomes a little more dangerous. The world is reaching a tipping point, but with this backdrop looming in place, the player steps into the shoes of Ender. A masked man from a tribe of mercenaries, Ender is tasked with the unthinkable – killing the sacrifice before her pilgrimage can begin. From this premise, the story unfolds, taking players on a journey that explores the effects the monsters and the pilgrimage have on the world, what it means to be a hero in dark times, and what a person does when staring into oblivion and despair. Sadness – the core theme – permeates every aspect of the game, from the music, beautifully delivered on a piano-only soundtrack, to the world itself, a snowy landscape filled with beauty, danger, and loneliness. While the plot of I am Setsuna often treads on familiar ground for RPG fans, it executes its story, characters, and theme masterfully, all the while piling on some solid combat and character progression mechanics, to boot. Lovingly crafted by a team that clearly adores classic JRPGs, I am Setsuna is a fun and thoughtful experience from start to finish.
We hope you are enjoying the series so far! Stay tuned for more essential RPG lists later this week.