With the delay of Final Fantasy XV into November, you could be forgiven for thinking that September had lost its luster.
No such chance. Even without the newest entry in Square’s epic series, September is packed with interesting releases from indies to big-budget platform exclusives. There are even a few JRPGs to make the wait until November a little more bearable.
Here’s to the end of Summer and a holiday of massive single player games. These are five single player games to keep an eye on this month.
EARTHLOCK: FESTIVAL OF MAGIC
This beautiful back-to-basics RPG was successfully Kickstarted in 2014, and if everything goes according to plan it will be released by the time you are reading this. Earthlock follows the story of scavenger Amon Barros on a planet that has stopped spinning (hence “earth-lock”). After discovering a mysterious artifact in the desert, Amon is swept up in a quest to rescue his uncle along with a typically rag-tag cast of bizarre characters.
Gameplay seems to combine elements of Final Fantasy X‘s conditional turn based system with the exploration and light puzzle-solving of recent Tales games, including enemies that are visible on the field. Creature and environment designs sit somewhere between the traditional Japanese RPG style and a more painterly, European look – which is fitting, as the developer Snowcastle Games is based in Norway.
For those of you with Xbox Live subscriptions, Earthlock is free in this month’s Games with Gold, starting September 1st. As for the other platforms, the game will also release on Steam in September, with PS4 and Wii U versions promised in the next few months.
Developed by a number of people behind the Metroid Prime trilogy and produced by Keiji Inafune, this highly anticipated Xbox One and Windows PC exclusive looks like the first exciting action-adventure of the holiday season and a potential rival to Ratchet & Clank or The Legend of Zelda.
Taking place in the far future, on a planet of shifting desert sands – apparently a result of terraforming gone wrong – players take on the role of Joule Adams. After she wakes up from centuries in cryosleep, Joule must delve into dungeons, fight off enemy robots, and upgrade her Corebots (companions that offer her traversal, defensive, and offensive aid) in order to give humankind a new home.
DRAGON QUEST VII and SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV: APOCALYPSE
Okay, so this really should be six single player games in September, but these 3DS-exclusive RPGs share a lot in common.
Dragon Quest VII is a comprehensive remake of the only PSX entry in the main series. Originally Dragon Warrior VII in English, the game was released after the PlayStation 2 had already launched, and never received the kind of success in America that it had in Japan. Combined with a tragically hamstrung localization, DQVII became a black mark. The series wouldn’t see true worldwide appeal again until the eighth entry on PS2.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse isn’t technically a remake, but it shares a lot with the latest main entry in the series. Apocalypse serves as a sequel to SMT IV, delivering the techno dungeon-crawl and demon hunting the series is known for.
Both Apocalypse and Dragon Quest VII are substantially modernized versions of their respective franchises: Apocalypse uses every inch of the 3DS hardware, almost to the point where it looks better than the PS2 entries, and DQVII is a fundamental rebuild and re-translation of the original, utilizing many of the gameplay upgrades introduced to the series with VIII and IX.
The 3DS has never been lacking in high quality JRPGs, but to have these two massive games only a few days apart is an embarrassment of riches. The only question has to be “which do you play first?”
Dragon Quest VII releases on September 16th, with Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse following up on September 20th.
FORZA HORIZON 3
Another exciting Xbox and Windows exclusive to kick off the onslaught of big-budget titles, Forza Horizon 3 takes the open world spin-off series to Australia, potentially contending with Motorstorm for the muddiest, off-roadiest racing game ever.
The visuals are outstanding — although this is to be expected for Forza — and the game is one of the first to take advantage of the Xbox One S’ High Dynamic Range output, making the colors even more vibrant on newer televisions. Although Horizon 3‘s take on Australia may not be particularly realistic, it’s a beautiful rendering of the spirit of the sunburnt country and a setting that is sorely lacking in video games.
Forza Horizon 3 mudslides into our collective hearts on September 27th for Xbox One and Windows PC.
AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT 2
Mighty No. 9 wasn’t as bad as you might have heard, but at its release there were certainly cries of disappointment around the Internet for its acknowledged production issues and cheap looking 3D graphics.
One of the understandable gripes was that developer Inti Creates had actually already revitalized the Mega Man formula with its own, more unique spin on the genre, Azure Striker Gunvolt. In hindsight, the earlier 3DS game is a more accomplished and better looking tribute to the Blue Bomber or more specifically, the Mega Man Zero series, which Inti Creates also developed, despite some rough edges.
The original Gunvolt is now available on Steam, but this sequel drops for the 3DS eShop on September 29th, with a physical release of both games scheduled for October.
Of course, there are almost too many games in September, including several PC games finally coming to consoles.
Jonathan Blow’s The Witness comes to Xbox One on September 13th, along with the multi-platform Dead Rising Triple Pack, marking the first time that Dead Rising 1 has shown up on a Sony system. Also on the 13th is the wonderfully titled Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, the PS4 and Vita visual novel tie-in to the dark cyberpunk anime.
XCOM 2 hits PS4 and Xbox One on the 27th, the same day Darkest Dungeon releases for PS4 and Vita, making for one heck of a tactical Tuesday.
Finally, if you’re itching for strange creatures to collect and Pokemon is too far away, Yo-Kai Watch 2 drops on the 30th for the 3DS.
Are there any other games you’re looking forward to this month? Maybe there’s a game you wish got more attention — leave it in the comments and until next month, happy gaming.