The end of a year is a time to reminisce on the good that happened in the year that is leaving, but also a time for building up excitement about what is to come. I’ve already talked 2017, unveiling my Game of the Year list just a short while ago, so I wanted to take some time as the year ends to talk about what I am excited for in the year to come. With how packed 2017 was, what could 2018 possibly have left for us?
Adol Christin, the long-running amnesiac protagonist of the Ys series, is back for another adventure. In Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, you quickly find yourself stranded on the mysterious, uncharted ‘Isle of Seiren’. As none have ever landed on the Isle and escaped, and ships that come too close have a tendency to disappear, never to be seen again, the Isle is surrounded in little more than legends and warnings.
Unlike previous Ys games, in Lacrimosa of Dana your exploration is fueled primarily by the desire to survive, and the survivors of the ill-fated Lombardia – the ship Adol’s journey begins on – must band together in order to not perish at the hands of this strange island full of creatures thought extinct millennia ago. And, if that wasn’t enough, one night, Adol begins having strange dreams of an advanced, majestic civilization and a lovely young lady he’s never met named Dana.
Nights of Azure flew completely under the radar when it came out last year, but it was one of the most charming JRPGs I’ve ever played. It featured an approachable tale of two women desperate to save each other from an unfortunate fate: the Knight protecting her beloved – the woman chosen by their leaders to be sacrificed to the great evil. Naturally, I was more than a little excited when I heard a sequel was being made, carrying the same themes forward.
In Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, we’re again asked to take on the mantle of a knight of the Curia, this time a young lady named Aluche, tasked to protect her childhood friend Liliana who has been chosen to be sacrificed to a demon known as the ‘Moon Queen’. As you can see, the game carries forward many of the same story elements… including the fact that things are not always what they seem.
Guerilla Games, known primarily for the Killzone series of fps games, decided they wanted to do something different for a change of pace. So they decided to make a third person open world shooter with rpg elements in a post-apocalyptic world full of robot dinosaurs. You know, the usual suspects.
Our protagonist Aloy is an orphaned child being raised by a man named Rost. The two both live within the boundaries of the Nora tribe’s ‘sacred lands’, but are branded as exiles and are forbidden from entering Nora settlements or communicating with those of the tribe. Horizon begins by showing Aloy’s discovery of a strange relic of the ancient world while still a child, a trinket that will shape her future.
A few years back, one of the most unique games I’ve ever played came out… a strange gem called ‘Nier’. Nier was not a great game, but it had such charm that it was hard not to love it. It featured gameplay ideas from a wide variety of genres, numerous endings, awkward mechanics, and an amazing soundtrack. Somehow this mix of disparate ideas, awkward implementation, and amazing music created one of the most interesting and memorable RPGs I’ve played, even if the game was nowhere near perfect. And as interesting as it was… it did not sell well.
Given that, you can imagine my surprise when SquareEnix announced a sequel coming, developed in conjunction with Platinum Games, a developer notable for great, unique action games – surprise, and excitement. When thinking about the strange and wonderful ideas the Nier team had to begin with, and matching those up with the polish Platinum is known for… it really felt like the chance for Nier to shine how it deserved. The big question: Did it live up to these escalated expectations or did it disappoint?