It feels so good to be sitting down and writing an editorial again for Level Down Games. Every Tuesday moving forward, Kyle and I will be alternating the duties of ensuring we have some long-form content on the outlet. To kick things off this week, I wanted to write about something very near and dear to my heart, Japanese Roleplaying Games. Everyone who follows us here at Level Down Games and listens to either of our two weekly podcasts knows that JRPG’s are my genre of choice. It’s honestly been that way since I can remember, with young Bryan falling in love with Dragon Warrior on the NES as a small child. After that, my gaming time would be spent hundreds of hours at a time getting lost in the newest worlds of Final Fantasy, Persona, Star Ocean, and so many other amazing franchises.
Some years are stronger than others in terms of new releases in this genre, but for a while, we had long stretches where we weren’t seeing too many JRPG’s hitting store shelves. Thankfully, those days are behind us. 2019 was a very solid year in terms of new entries in some of our favorite franchises, and 2020 looks to be following suit. What we’re going to do here is highlight as many JRPG’s as possible that will be coming out between now and the end of the year. Some of these have confirmed release dates, many do not. What we will not be doing is speculating on unannounced games. While rumors are persistent that NIS America may have announcements lined up next week at their panel at PAX South for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, they are not officially included in this list outside of the brief mention we just gave them.
Let’s see what 2020 has in store for us fans of JRPG’s, and trust me… it looks good.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Releasing on January 17, 2020 for Nintendo Switch
The worlds of the Fire Emblem series and Atlus games have crossed paths again and the result is coming to the Nintendo Switch system. An interdimensional evil has invaded modern-day Tokyo, resulting in this fantastical barrage of music, style, and yes, danger. So, fight back! Battle through dungeons to pump up your strategy and creatively decimate your foes…before all hope fades to black.
You and the rising stars you call friends will need to call on your own creative power—manifested as iconic Fire Emblem characters—to wage a secret war on rogue spirits that feed on creativity. Each encounter will immerse you in deep, turn-based battles that blend the combat of the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei series into one brutal harmony. Fuse items to craft weaponry; then play to your strengths and crush your foes. Around every corner you’ll find fun nods to multiple fandoms, including Fire Emblem references, dungeons themed to the entertainment industry, and stunning musical performances.
Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind DLC
Releasing on January 23, 2020 for PlayStation 4 (Xbox One will receive the DLC one month later)
The other tale that unfolded during the climax of KINGDOM HEARTS III.
Determined to rescue Kairi, Sora travels to the Keyblade Graveyard a short time before the final battle was to take place. Lacking a corporeal form, he traces the hearts of the seven guardians of light. Through experiencing their personal battles firsthand, Sora is about to discover truths that he has never before imagined.
The KINGDOM HEARTS III Re Mind DLC includes:
- The additional story: Re Mind
- Limitcut episode and 13 boss battles
- Secret episode and boss battle
- Data greeting feature
- Slideshow feature
- Premium menu (Diverse difficulty settings and gameplay challenges)
Arc of Alchemist
Releasing on January 30, 2020 for PlayStation 4 and PC
An endlessly sprawling desert. Small countries dotting the land.
They say there was a time when this world was known as the Planet of Water. In order to compensate for depleting resources, humanity developed alchemy. However, supply dwarfed the raging demand.
To capture resources, and keep their loved ones alive, numerous wars were waged. And so, nearly all resources were consumed, and the loved ones had perished. Humanity was spent…
Much like the sand dunes piled by ceaseless winds, despair grew within the hearts of the survivors. Soon, humanity was on the brink of extinction, its fate all but sealed. Then one day, the people remembered an old legend, passed through generations.
Within the Desert of Beginnings, there slept a Great Power capable of saving humanity. The identity of this Great Power is unknown. What if, however, it truly did exist? It was not beyond the realm of possibility for something to sleep within that endless desert, full of mysterious machines.
The small nations each sent a team to investigate the Desert of Beginnings. One by one, each team was wiped out, or forced to withdraw. Machine Dolls, the gearwork battle weapons. Rumored to be the guardians of the Great Power, they have taken many lives. Even then, humanity still steps into the Desert of Beginnings. The search for salvation continues…
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold
Releasing February 14, 2020 on Nintendo Switch
Become a heroic adventurer in this roguelike RPG, crawling through dungeons in your search for rare treasure, on a mission to seek revenge against the villainous Sultan Vinegar that violated your village! You can even tag along in teams of up to four to take down tenacious tyrants!
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Releasing on March 3, 2020 for PlayStation 4
Mako─the lifeblood of the planet and the fuel that powers the city of Midgar…
By exploiting this resource through their Mako Reactors, the Shinra Electric Power Company has all but seized control of the entire world. A ragtag group of idealists, known as Avalanche, are one of the last bastions of resistance.
Cloud, an elite SOLDIER operative turned mercenary, takes part in an Avalanche operation to destroy Mako Reactor 1 in the city of Midgar.
The bombing plunges the city into fiery chaos, and amidst the raging inferno, Cloud is tormented by visions of a bitter enemy long thought dead.
After this hallucination fades, he meets a young woman selling flowers, who offers him a single yellow blossom.
In that instant, a host of swirling shadows surround them.
Once more begins a story that will shape the destiny of an entire world.
Langrisser I & II
Releasing March 10, 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
Long ago, there was a terrible war over a legendary sword said to grant its wielder unlimited power. The blood of those who vowed to protect it and those who sought its power for themselves permeated the battlefields of El Sallia. That sword is known as Langrisser. Of those who swore to protect it, the royal family of Baldea has safeguarded it from the world for many generations. Thanks to Baldea, tales of Langrisser soon faded from memory.
However, Baldea’s sworn duty would be called to action once again. Motivated by power and the conviction to rule the world, Kaiser Digos and the Dalsis Empire he commanded invade Baldea, seeking the enticing power of Langrisser. Ledin, the prince of Baldea, narrowly escapes the invasion, and devises a way to avenge his father, who had been killed by Kaiser Digos.
Now, Ledin must reclaim Langrisser, which his ancestors fought so valiantly to protect—thus beginning his journey that will test his loyalty to the Light.
It has been centuries since the War of the Sacred Sword razed El Sallia. Now, incessant violence plagues the continent. Isolated battles arise all across the land, ravaging towns and nations, before creeping to the next. The Kingdom of Baldea is but a legend, and Langrisser is no more than a fairytale.
A young traveler named Elwin journeys the land with Hein, an amateur mage he met on his travels. One day during their travels, they decide to stay the night at an inn in Hein’s hometown, a small village known as Salrath. In the middle of the night, Hein bursts into Elwin’s room, pale as the night moon behind him. He claims that forces of the Rayguard Empire were seen on the outskirts of Salrath. They are searching for Liana, a young girl who lived there.
What business could the empire have with a village as peaceful as Salrath and a defenseless girl? Paying no heed to the precarious situation he was about to involve himself with, Elwin leaves for the countryside without hesitation to save her.
Releasing March 20, 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
Demons, dark wizards, dragons, and cats – players will find it all as they start your journey in the land of Fiore. In FAIRY TAIL, wizards play through the adventures of Natsu Dragneel and Lucy Heartfilia, as well as other eccentric members of the FAIRY TAIL mage guild, on a fun-filled and thrilling quest. GUST Studios is creating the game under the supervision of author Hiro Mashima, promising a faithful recreation for the FAIRY TAIL world and its unusual inhabitants; including everything from magic to its iconic characters.
Persona 5 Royal
Releasing March 31, 2020 for PlayStation 4
Prepare for an all-new RPG experience in Persona 5 Royal based in the universe of the award-winning series, Persona! Don the mask of Joker and join the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Break free from the chains of modern society and stage grand heists to infiltrate the minds of the corrupt and make them change their ways! Persona 5 Royal is packed with new characters, confidants, story depth, new locations to explore, and a new grappling hook mechanic for stealthy access to new areas.
Trials of Mana
Releasing April 24, 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
When the world was shrouded in darkness, the Goddess of Mana drew forth the Sword of Mana to smite the eight Benevodons, monsters of destruction.
She sealed the horrors inside the eight Mana Stones, bringing the realm back from the brink.
Weakened from rebuilding the world, the Goddess changed herself into a tree and fell into a deep sleep for many years.
However, the forces of evil soon sought to free the Benevodons to gain control of the world.
They started a terrible war to further their plot and destabilize the kingdoms.
Peace was at an end. Mana itself began to disappear from the world and the Mana Tree started to wither…
Edge of Eternity
Currently in Early Access on Steam with a Full Release Planned in 2020
In a world torn asunder, the people of Heryon wage a desperate war against a mysterious invader, the Archelites. As this conflict against magic and technology grows to cataclysmic proportions, a new threat emerges from the battlefield.
The Corrosion: the Archelites’ most cruel weapon, a terrible sickness that poisons the body, twists the limbs and warps people into horrible, misshapen abominations.
A forlorn soldier in this godforsaken war, Daryon is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country… until the day he receives a letter from his sister. Their mother has contracted the fateful disease, and they need him to find a cure.
On that day, Daryon will have to make a choice that will change his life – and the fate of his world – forever.
Bravely Default II
Releasing in 2020 for Nintendo Switch
A new world, a new story, and all-new Heroes of Light await in an original RPG experience arriving on the Nintendo Switch system in 2020! This successor to the original Bravely Default game comes from the team that brought you the Bravely series and Octopath Traveler, and features music from Revo (Sound Horizon/Linked Horizon), acclaimed composer of the Bravely Default soundtrack.
Releasing in 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
This is a story of survival in a strange new world.
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Digimon Anime, Digimon Survive presents a brand-new adventure set in a mysterious world with characters designed by Uichi Ukumo, and music by the much-acclaimed Tomoki Miyoshi.
Digimon Survive sees a brand-new group of teenagers, led by Takuma Momozuka, get lost on a school camping trip, finding them transported to a strange new world of monsters and danger.
As they fight their way back home through an animated world of difficult decisions and deadly battles, players’ choices throughout the game will impact the evolution of their monster allies, and the final ending. Battles in the game are fought in 2D, in a more classic SRPG style.
Releasing in 2020 on PC and Nintendo Switch
Eastward is a beautifully detailed and charismatic adventure game with RPG elements, from Shanghai-based indie developers Pixpil.
In the near-future society is starting to collapse, with the human population shrinks to an all-time low. As the world around falls to ruin, a hardworking miner called John discovers a young girl named Sam deep underground in a secret facility. After escaping the town, the unlikely pair embark on an emotional journey to discover the strange truth about her origins and the mystery behind the sinister creatures who descend on the local towns, devouring everything in their path.
Inspired by 90s Japanese animation, the vibrant world of Eastward is brought to life by a combination of innovative modern 3D lighting techniques and soulful retro-pixel artwork.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition
Releasing in 2020 on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch
FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES is back, more beautiful than ever on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS and Android.
FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition follows a young group, known as the Crystal Caravans, as they embark on an epic journey to search for myrrh, a precious and rare liquid needed to cleanse and maintain a crystal protecting their world from the deadly gas, miasma.
Team up with faraway friends to take down fearsome foes! Enlist comrades to your crystal caravan in an online multiplayer mode for up to four players.
Adventure awaits your caravan in brand-new lands teeming with wonder. There are even new areas inside dungeons, so even those who played the original version will have surprises in store when the Remastered Edition launches this winter!
Rune Factory 4 Special
Releasing in 2020 on Nintendo Switch
See what the heart-pounding newlywed life has in store for you, new to this version of the game! Available in 2020. >> Experience this legendary fantasy adventure like never before and embark on exciting escapades with your favorite characters in the brand new Newlywed Mode!
Releasing in 2020 on Nintendo Switch
Sports story is a game about sports, but not always. Various non-sporting pursuits provide variety. Alternate activities like dungeon exploration, stealthy infiltrations, and fishing expeditions mean something unexpected waits around every corner. Sometimes it is even sports.
Tales of Arise
Releasing in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
On the planet Dahna, reverence has always been given to Rena, the planet in the sky, as a land of the righteous and divine. Stories handed down for generations became truth and masked reality for the people of Dahna. For 300 years, Rena has ruled over Dahna, pillaging the planet of its resources and stripping people of their dignity and freedom.
Our tale begins with two people, born on different worlds, each looking to change their fate and create a new future. Featuring a new cast of characters, updated combat, and classic Tales of gameplay mechanics, experience the next chapter in the world-famous Tale of series, Tales of Arise.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Releasing in 2020 on Nintendo Switch
MONOLITHSOFT’s epic Xenoblade Chronicles game, which originally launched in 2012 on the Wii system, is destined to be reborn on Nintendo Switch as Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The game, which chronicles the adventures of Shulk and Fiora, is scheduled to launch for Nintendo Switch in 2020.
Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen
Releasing in 2020 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita
For the first time ever, the origins of the Utawarerumono saga are coming overseas! Prelude to the Fallen follows the story of a man with no memories who awakens in a strange world, and is taken in by a tribe of kindhearted beastfolk. He is raised as one of their own, eventually earning the name “Hakuoro.” When neighboring nations begin to encroach on his homeland, Hakuoro rises up against the tyrannical invaders, setting himself on an unforgettable journey that lives on in the songs of legend.
Releasing in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Cris Tales is a gorgeous, indie love letter to classic JRPGs with a new perspective. Peer into the past, act in the present, and watch as your choices dynamically change the future — all on one screen as you play! Join the newly awakened Time Mage Crisbell and her fantastical companions on their journey across a dark, fairytale world facing a grim future.
Crisbell must embark across Crystallis and the four Kingdoms in a bid to stop the powerful Time Empress and rewrite the future of the world and all those living in it. Along the way, she’ll meet and recruit powerful allies with their own unique stories and skills like Matias the Frog and Willhelm the Child Mage.
As she explores the world and meets her unique companions, Crisbell will have to make choices with far-reaching consequences for the people she meets – consequences that will impact the world you’ll experience in real-time throughout your journey. Each companion will be invaluable as you face these choices and the myriad enemies who stand in your way. Will you buffet them with attacks, or discover creative ways to use Crisbell’s time powers to alter the reality of each fight?
Beautifully hand-drawn 2D art is animated frame by frame to bring the branching pasts and futures of each region, enemy, and NPC to life across more than 20 hours of gameplay. Experience a unique combination of branching stories, innovative combat, and classic RPG excitement in Cris Tales’ exciting and unforgettable exploration of how our actions echo through time.
Death end re;Quest 2
Releasing in 2020 on PlayStation 4
Death End re;Quest 2 is described by Compile Heart as a brand new entry with new characters and with a new story that will “bring fear and despair to players”. The game is also said to be “enjoyable even for those who didn’t play the first Death End re;Quest“, hinting that this sequel will have few or no plot links with the first game.
Project Sakura Wars
Releasing in 2020 on PlayStation 4
In 1930, two years after the events of So Long, My Love, the Great Demon War results in the annihilation of the Imperial and Paris Combat Revue’s Flower Divisions and the New York Combat Revue’s Star Division. With Earth at peace and the revues’ actions becoming public, the World Combat Revue Organization is formed with several international divisions; a biennial international Combat Revue tournament has been organized.
Ten years later in 1940, the Combat Revue’s commander Sumire Kanzaki recruits Imperial Japanese Navy captain Seijuro Kamiyama to become the captain of the new Imperial Combat Revue’s Flower Division in Tokyo, which consists of: Sakura Amamiya, a swordswoman; Hatsuho Shinonome, a shrine maiden; Anastasia Palma, a newly-transferred Greek actress; Azami Mochizuki, a ninja prodigy from the Mochizuki clan; and Clarissa “Claris” Snowflake, a Luxembourger noblewoman. The division once again faces a new demon invasion and participates in the upcoming tournament with Yang Xiaolong and Huang Yui of the Shanghai Combat Revue, Arthur and Lancelot of the London Combat Revue, and Elise and Margarete of the Berlin Combat Revue–while trying to keep their home at the Imperial Theater open.
Phantasy Star Online 2
Releasing in 2020 on Xbox One
WELCOME TO THE ORACLE FLEET
You are an ARKS Operative, a member of an elite task force dedicated to exploring inhospitable planets looking for signs of a dark corruption called the Falspawn. Join forces with allies from four distinct races and choose from nine classes —each with unique weapons and special abilities— and embark on endless challenging missions with friends!
UNPARALLELED ONLINE ACTION RPG
Experience the most responsive action combat system in an online RPG to date. With highly customizable attacks and abilities, PSO2’s combat encourages players to get creative in their battle strategy. Precision and skill determine the outcome of each combat situation, and with eighteen weapon types to choose from, you are never limited to just one playstyle.
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright
Releasing in 2020 on PC and Xbox One
“RPG TIME: The Legend of Wright” is a handmade epic RPG about a youth wishing to become a game developer. Explore the world of adventures, penciled within his notebook. Exciting RPG time await you in the classroom after school.
Releasing in 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
Dawnthorn is a standalone prequel to Hazelnut Bastille, set in the same universe as Hazelnut, but in an 8bit character! It is almost like the game that would have come before Hazelnut, during the NES generation!
Dawnthorn is built in the same engine as Hazelnut, and features many of the same enemies and items, but as totally different 8bit versions! It also features a lot of content completely unique to itself, and an entirely different overworld and dungeon list! The overworld will be overbrimming with secrets to find!
The story focuses on the adventures of the hero who wielded the eponymous sword before the events of Hazelnut, a hero everyone remembers but no one can quite name…
To The Moon 3: Imposter Factory
Releasing in 2020 on PC
Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts have peculiar jobs: They give people another chance to live their lives, all the way from the very beginning.
But this isn’t their story. Probably.
Instead, it’s about Quincy. Let me tell you a story about him.
One day, Quincy was invited to a fancy parteh at a suspiciously secluded mansion. So he accepted and went; because even though the mansion was suspicious and secluded, it was also fancy and had a parteh.
In fact, it turned out to be so fancy that there was a time machine in its bathroom. Quincy could wash his hands and time-travel while he was at it. Talk about a time-saver!
But of course, then people start dying, because that’s what they do. And somewhere along the way, things get a little Lovecraftian and tentacles are involved.
Anyway, that’s around 1/3 of what the game is really about.
There could be so many more JRPG’s releasing in 2020, but these are the ones I was already aware of or was able to find new information on. Bring on the level grinding and epic storytelling, because I’m ready!