This year, SwitchRPG will be honoring the best, brightest, and sometimes darkest entries into the Nintendo Switch’s RPG lexicon with the first annual SwitchRPG Awards. Our staff, with community input, will select the finest RPGs to hit the Switch this year, giving awards in categories such as Best Tactical RPG, Best Turn-Based RPG, Best Roguelike, and the all-important crown: Best RPG of the Year.
Today, we’re going to take a look back at the first half of 2018 to see who our best contenders for the coveted RPG of the Year Award are so far. We have been graced with a plethora of fine entries this year, not all of which could be honored in this article – but nominations are far from set in stone. We’ll be looking for community input later this year to determine the final nominations and categories.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the games!
Dark, tough-as-nails, and critically acclaimed, Darkest Dungeon made its way onto the Switch early in 2018. The first of many RPG ports to be included this year, Darkest Dungeon stands just as strongly on the Switch as it did on the consoles that came before. A turn-based, dungeon-crawling, roguelike – the game gives players no quarter. The intricate combat system opens up a wealth of strategies during each run, always evolving as the game’s randomized elements not only change the challenges you face, but also the tools you have at your disposal to meet them. This challenge perfectly aligns with the game’s dark and broody art style, offering a challenging experience that will keep you coming back.
Here’s what our staff has to say about Darkest Dungeon:
“A game with a beautifully dark atmosphere and a soundtrack that sets the moody tone, Darkest Dungeon will not hold back: do not fall in love with your party.” – TheNerdBasement
Dragon Quest Builders
Dragon Quest once stood as the premiere RPG series in Japan, and remains a much-beloved franchise to this very day. Dragon Quest Builders, one of many spinoff games, takes the world of the original Dragon Quest (released is 1986), turns the story on its head, and places the player in a Minecraft-inspired land where humanity must rebuild civilization and defeat the minions of the Dragon Lord. The game’s light-but-subversive story gives just enough guidance to keep players moving while also allowing the freedom to build and explore to your heart’s content. Unlike Minecraft, the controls for Dragon Quest Builders was built (pardon the pun) from the ground up with consoles in mind, making it a smooth and engaging experience from start to finish. Like Darkest Dungeon, DQ Builders was ported to Switch in early 2018, to the praise of both RPG fans and crafting fans.
Here’s what our staff has to say about Dragon Quest Builders:
“The Dragon Quest / Minecraft hodgepodge is something you’d probably never dream of asking for, or even expect to work. But I am so glad that it is a thing.” – Meatballsub
Banner Saga Series
With the release of Banner Saga 3 this week, the Switch will have seen all three games in the trilogy released in 2018. A perennial favorite among the SwitchRPG community, Banner Saga has found consistent praise for its deep, tactical combat, beautiful, hand-drawn art style, and the meaningful (and sometimes heart wrenching) story. Player agency plays a huge role throughout the trilogy, as comrades live and die by the choice you make. The Banner Saga games stand not only as a strong contender for Best Tactical RPG, but also for RPG of the Year. Which game (if any) will walk away with the crown?
Here’s what our staff has to say about Banner Saga:
“The Banner Saga games stand as an achievement for the genre, both in terms of storytelling and gameplay. Its visuals, soundtrack, and intensely-engaging characters all create a visceral world both beautiful and terrifying. Playing these games reminded me of all the reasons I love playing games.” – Phillip
West of Loathing
At first glance, West of Loathing may appear to be some kind of low-effort cash-in, looking to draw in anyone desperate for yet another turn-based RPG. However, beneath the game’s simplistic graphics and straight-forward combat lies a delightful experience well worth any RPG fan’s time. This humorous romp through a stick-figure-filled wild west features delightful dialogue, cleverly designed puzzles, a satisfying gameplay loop, and some truly laugh-out-loud moments.
Here’s what our staff has to say about West of Loathing:
“West of Loathing is an absolute delight. For a fan of technical Role-playing titles, it may leave something to be desired, but its quirky presentation and fabulous script help it stand out as one of the most unique RPGs on the Switch eShop.” – ReallyPassionateGamer
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Like Dragon Quest, the Ys series is one of the longest running RPG franchises still on the market and has been a mainstay for action RPG fans since the first generation of home consoles. In 2018, the latest game in the franchise, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, found its way to the Nintendo Switch. Ys VIII melds together a compelling story, numerous side quests, a solid combat system, and even crafting and town-building features into a single title. All these features worked together to make Ys VIII one of the more popular games within the SwitchRPG community since its release.
Here’s what our staff has to say about Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana:
“An utter delight of an action RPG, and a heck of an introduction to a series coming from a green-eared consumer like myself.” – Meatballsub
Arguable the most anticipated RPG release for the year, Octopath Traveler is winning hearts across the SwitchRPG community. This game chronicles the adventures of eight travelers, each with their own goals to achieve, lessons to learn, and scores to settle, wrapping all their stories around an impressive RPG package. Octopath’s battle system innovates on the standards set by JRPG classics, creating a satisfying system that stands the test of the game’s 60+ hour runtime. Meanwhile, the unique skills of each traveler opens up a variety of sidequests and opportunities to explore not just the world, but the lives of the people who live in it. All these features are presented in a beautiful HD 2D graphical style, alongside a magnificent orchestrated soundtrack. While some may dislike the disjointed nature of the game’s storytelling, there can be no doubt that Octopath Traveler debuts as a strong contender for RPG of the Year.
Here’s what our staff has to say about Octopath Traveler:
“One of the prettiest games I’ve played in years, Octopath Traveler delivers expertly on so many of its promises. It’s fun and adventurous while also giving players grounded characters within tonally diverse stories. It’s not only one of Square Enix’s best “side projects” in recent years, but it’s one of Square Enix’s best releases in years.” – Phillip
Other strong contenders that have already released on the Switch this year include the critically acclaimed Crypt of the Necrodancer, the much beloved Battle Chasers: Nightwar, and the curiously-inspired Hand of Fate 2.
And the year is only half-finished. Still to come in 2018 we have heavy hitters like Okami HD, Disgaea 1: Complete, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Dark Souls: Remastered, and Pokemon: Let’s Go!, along with potential indie darlings like Moonlighter, Wargroove, and Tangledeep. Without a doubt, 2018 will go down as a great year to be an RPG fan on the Switch.
Fan of a game we haven’t considered here? Know of another great release that will hit later this year? Let us know in the comments!