The next few months are absolutely stacked when it comes to roleplaying games coming from Japan between Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, Granblue Fantasy Relink, Persona 3 Reload, and Dragon’s Dogma 2. But the season kicks off with an excellent indie that no one saw coming.
Crystal Story: Dawn of Dusk was released just yesterday, on January 13, and is unlike anything I’ve seen in quite a while. The game is seemingly inspired by several JRPG classics, ranging from old-school Final Fantasies to Earthbound, but its trailer jumps between so many styles, perspectives, and subgenres – it’s difficult to pin down exactly. But that’s what makes it such an exciting prospect.
As you can see from the trailer above, the game has turn-based elements in combat, top-down puzzle-solving, side-on action, and an old-school world map complete with an ever-so-nostalgic airship. And it’s all wrapped up in an SNES-style 16-bit art style, with a color palette that’s reminiscent of my favorite GBA games. What’s not to love?
Crystal Story plans to be the first in a series of similar games that mix action and turn-based elements, but for now, we start off following Mina, a young girl in search of her brother. She’s gifted with magical abilities called arts that can be used offensively in combat and to navigate the wider world, too.
Crystal Story’s storefront description mentions that it will be “regularly updated to keep things fresh with additional content, areas, sidequests, and more” – all at no extra cost. Plus, there’s a CRT filer if you really want to pretend that you’re stuck in the ’90s.
Overall, Crystal Story looks like a wildly ambitious game to kick start the busy, busy roleplaying season ahead. The adventure is also under 10 hours, so you can comfortably complete it before the scary 100-hour ones come rolling through. Crystal Story: Dawn of Dusk is currently discounted on Steam, or you can try out a free demo before committing.