Editorial

PlayStation Games for the Single Players in July

July

The year has turned, E3 is in the past, and gamers have a huge second half of 2017 to look forward to—although many will enjoy a temporary reprieve from the massive titles already released this year. Even in a light month, however, plenty of single player games are on their way.

Here at OnlySP, we are always looking to improve, so, this month, we are changing things up with more comprehensive games lists split across different platforms. Several games on these lists will be multiplatform, so be sure to check each of them, no matter which systems you own. Without further ado, these are three promising single-player games coming to PlayStation platforms in July 2017.

FINAL FANTASY XII: THE ZODIAC AGE

Finally, the last remaining Final Fantasy has been brought into the modern age—the Zodiac Age.

Until now, Final Fantasies I through X were playable on current video game platforms. Entries XI and XIV were always on PC, and the release of the XIII trilogy for Steam left only XII, which was largely overlooked back when the game released on PS2 as it was quickly drowned by the hubbub of a new console generation.

This negligence was a shame since XII carried on important core tenets of the series while introducing a swathe of mechanical changes, from the series-first ability to freely rotate the camera to the real-time battles that—for the first time—took place on the field instead of separate arenas. Of course, many will argue that the changes made in this entry were the start of the series’ decline; a misplaced concern that truly belongs back on PlayStation One with Final Fantasy IX.

After IX wrapped up an entire arc of series history by combining classic, crystalline Final Fantasy with the most advanced graphics up to that point, long-time producer Hironobu Sakaguchi was on his way to a different stage of his career (do not mention The Spirits Within). This process resulted in X being a transitional title that, for better or worse, was already pointing down the road Final Fantasy would take for the next ten years without Sakaguchi’s guiding hand.

When XII eventually emerged after a long and troubled development (original director Yasumi Matsuno, of Final Fantasy Tactics, had to leave in the middle of production due to illness), the game’s differences from the first ten entries were in such stark relief as to catch most fans off-guard. Suffice to say that, on its own merits, Final Fantasy XII is a fascinating combination of Matsuno’s dense and politically-charged storytelling with the groundbreaking, idiomatic approach to battle planning that the new director Hiroyuki Ito (Final Fantasy IV and IX) and producer Akitoshi Kawazu (long-time lead on the SaGa series) brought to the table.

Now, with more than just a spit-polish, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is ready to bring this mash-up of retro and futuristic design to an audience clamouring for deep and complex JRPGs. The graphics are a significant step up from the PS2, all the mechanical upgrades from the Japanese re-release have been brought over, and further improvements such as a fast-forward option and better battle balancing are also included.

As the length of this write-up should suggest, we are excited to get our hands on the Final Fantasy that might have been unjustly left in the dust if Square had forgone to bring it back. For those who already knew about this excellent game, welcome back.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age returns on July 11 for PlayStation 4.

FALLEN LEGION

Here is a nice surprise: an action game in the guise of a JRPG, with a heavy focus on story and the inner workings of a war-torn fantasy world. Developed by the playfully named YummyYummyTummy Inc. (whose remit until now was mostly educational games) and Kyoto-based Mintsphere, Fallen Legion actually tells two different stories in two separate games, one releasing on PS4 and the other on PSVita on the same day.

The former, Sins of an Empire, follows Princess Cecille on a journey to restore glory to her royal family, while PSVita’s Flames of Rebellion follows Legatus Laendur, who is out to overthrow the royal family. Both games have different levels and events, though they share a majestic 2D art style and branching narratives. What stands above the attractive visuals and ambitious story presentation is the novel battle system.

Although the side-on perspective, screen layout, 2D anime-style art, and premise of a war-torn continent might appear akin to Vanillaware games including Muramasa or Odin Sphere, or particularly last year’s Vanillaware-inspired Grand Kingdom, the Fallen Legion battle system is a real-time affair with the whole party being controlled at once. Since players have to master guarding and combo attacks, the effect is closer to a spectacle fighter such as Devil May Cry or the similarly chaotic The Wonderful 101, though boasting fewer on-screen characters.

These games might not be for everyone, but for a certain kind of action and high fantasy junkie, Fallen Legion could be the perfect summer treat to sink one’s teeth into.

Fallen Legion comes to PS4, alongside its PSVita counterpart on July 25.

PYRE

Pyre is the third project from Supergiant Games following Bastion and Transistor. As with Transistor, Pyre takes a few elements of its predecessor but uses a new fantasy setting, different battle mechanics, and a revised approach to player-narrative interaction. The game adopts a caravan structure that sounds a lot like The Banner Saga‘s apocalyptic road trip, and follows exiles from the Commonwealth who travel the purgatory realms of Downside, hoping to cleanse their souls and be accepted once again.

Cleansing souls in this world entails defeating other groups of exiles in Rites: real-time, three-on-three ball sports that take the place of combat encounters in other RPGs. In a fun metatextual touch, the player character is not part of the triumvirate who partake in Rites, but is instead recruited to lead a group of Exiles as the “Reader”, since literacy is prohibited and therefore rare in this world.

During a Rite, teams must destroy their opponent’s Pyres (goalposts) with a celestial orb (the ball). Players can switch between controlling each the three team members on the fly, which is important for handling the orb; passing it back and forth in a manner that recalls football or rugby. The character with the orb becomes vulnerable to banishment from the field of play if they touch the enemy’s aura, a circular field that surrounds each character.

Building encounters as a sport adds an extra layer of strategy, and also plays into what Supergiant wants to convey through the story. According to creative director Greg Kasavin, the gameplay has been designed to tackle failure as much as success by allowing for non-violent battles that nevertheless have consequences for losing.

The game looks absolutely stunning, with great voice acting from Supergiant mainstay Logan Cunningham, and another mysterious universe to be absorbed in. This one seems like a slam dunk (or home run, or touchdown, take your pick).

Pyre sets fire to PS4 and PC on July 25.

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Also in the list of PlayStation games to look for are the cute exploration/crafting adventure Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, coming day and date to PC on July 18; and Aven Colony, leaving early access on July 25. Without a date, but scheduled for some time in July is the horror-platformer Sunderedcheck out OnlySP’s preview here—and finally the Japanese version of Dragon Quest XI comes to PS4 as well as 3DS on July 29 (those unfamiliar with the series may want to wait for a localised version, though).


Stay tuned for a look at the single-player games coming to PC and Xbox One in July, and  have fun playing whatever you pick this month.

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