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Niche Games to Watch in 2021: RPGs

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

Last time, I covered some of the cool shooters set to release throughout 2021. In today’s article, I’ll be highlighting some of the RPGs coming out this year. As with last time, I’ll be focusing on some of the more niche, indie, or middleware RPGs releasing this year, as opposed to the big budget AAA extravaganzas.

Be they real-time or turn-based, first-person or isometric, chances are you’ll find at least a few RPGs that will catch your attention here.

Here are Niche Gamer’s selection of 20 of the promising RPG video games releasing in 2021:


System Shock
Developer: Nightdive Studios
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: TBA 2021

System Shock

System Shock is one of the founding fathers of the FPS-RPG hybrid, but unfortunately its remake has had a very rough development cycle since it was Kickstarted back in 2016. Based on what I played of the demo, however, the game’s development seems to be back on track, so hopefully we’ll see it release this year.

Considering that System Shock 3 seems to be in an even worse development hell, this might be our only chance to return to Citadel Station and face off against SHODAN and her cyborg assassins.

 

Black Book
Developer: Morteshka
Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: Q1 2021

Black Book

Card-based RPGs have become increasingly popular, and Black Book is one of several games in the genre releasing this year. One of the game’s main selling points is its interesting setting and lore, which sees players take on the role of Vasilisa, a young witch in 19th century Russia.

As Vasilisa, you’ll take odd jobs from your fellow townsfolk, using your spell book to banish demons and imps as you continue on your journey to break the Black Book’s seven seals and resurrect your lost love.

You can find our preview here.

 

Magin: The Rat Project Stories
Developer: The Rat Project
Platforms: Windows PC, unspecified consoles
Release Date: Q4 2021

Magin: The Rat Project Stories

Magin: The Rat Project Stories is one of the other aforementioned card-based RPGs coming out this year. The game is set in a grim fantasy world, where unique and rare individuals called Magin have the power to use emotion-driven magic. These Magin are ruthlessly hunted by the Harvans, witch hunters with the authority to purge entire villages based on the mere rumor that a Magin is nearby.

The game follows the tale of two interconnected Magin. Since Magin gain their powers through emotions, many cards and actions are tied to an emotions bar that you can shift back and forth to gain various benefits, as well as penalties. You can find our preview here.

 

We are the Plague
Developer: Forever Entertainment
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: Q3 2021

We are the Plague

Speaking of grim fantasy worlds, We are the Plague is a rather twisted little tactical RPG where you play as the deranged cultists that serve an all-consuming plague sweeping across the land. Spread pestilence as your warband devours everything in its path to appease the voices in your head.

Customize your warriors and empower them so they can crush the last defenders of humanity, or convert them to the joyous embrace of the Plague’s love.

 

Urban Strife
Developer: White Pond Games
Publisher: MicroProse Software
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: Q3 2021

Urban Strife

If you rather play yet another game where you fight against the mindless, zombified servants of the global pandemic, then maybe you’ll enjoy Urban Strife.

Build your own urban militia to survive the lawless aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Scavenge for resources, equip and upgrade your characters, and fight both zombies and human raiders in a turn-based combat system inspired by the Jagged Alliance series.

 

Cyber Knights: Flashpoint
Developer: Trese Brothers
Platforms: Windows PC, mobile, unspecified consoles
Release Date: TBA 2021

Cyber Knights: Flashpoint

If you prefer your squad tactics RPGs to be set in the cyberpunk dystopia of 2231, then you might be interested in Cyber Knights: Flashpoint, the next game being developed by the Trese Brothers.

Assemble a team of cybernetically enhanced mercs, hackers, and criminals that will gladly sell their services out to the highest bidder. Spend your hard-earned credits upgrading your safehouse and your operatives so they can take on more challenging and lucrative jobs.

 

Rise Eterna
Developers: Makee, Forever Entertainment
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch    
Release Date: Early 2021

Rise Eterna

Rise Eterna is a strategy RPG inspired by classics like Fire Emblem and Tactics Ogre. The game follows Lua and Natheal, two interconnected souls in search of the truth behind their origins.

The game features 14 characters to recruit, some of which will be hidden or otherwise hard to add to your band of adventurers. Between battles you’ll have a chance to upgrade your characters and craft powerful items for them to use.

 

War of Ashird
Developers: Kumiho Soft, Igrasil Studio
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Release Date: January or February 2021 (Windows PC Early Access), 2022 (consoles)

War of Ashird

Another upcoming strategy RPG inspired by 16-bit classics is War of Ashird. You play as Deegan, a young soldier that unwittingly becomes a major player in the war between Ashird’s three powers.

Recruit an army of allies and capture territory for your homeland in turn-based battles, and strategic castle sieges. You’ll also be able to acquire your own customizable manor, complete with an attractive anime maid, and form a romantic relationship with one of dozens of different waifus.

 

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Release Date: January 25th, 2021

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

Speaking of waifus, no discussion about JRPGs in 2021 is complete without mentioning Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. The game is set three years after the original, and follows Ryza and her friends on a new adventure to find a priceless treasure.

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy will feature a variety of gameplay enhancements and mechanics that make exploration and alchemy a bit easier, including an intuitive new Linkage Synthesis system, underwater swimming, and enchanted ropes.

 

Cris Tales
Developers: Dreams Uncorporated, SYCK
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia
Release Date: Early 2021

Cris Tales

Another colorful RPG coming this year is Cris Tales. The game follows Crisbell, a newly empowered Time Mage, on her quest to stop the Time Empress from taking over all of Crystallis.

The game features a rather unique take on time manipulation, allowing players to see glimpses into the past and future, or pull items out from time portals to affect the present to solve quests. This extends to combat, allowing you to alter the strength of your foes by transforming them into their past or future selves. You can find our preview here.

 

Gamedec
Developer: Anshar Studios
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: TBA 2021 

Gamedec

Gamedec is an investigative isometric RPG that takes a lot of inspiration from tabletop RPGs and choose-your-own-adventure games. In the distant future, technology has advanced to the point that people spend most of their time within virtual worlds.

Wherever humans go, crime eventually follows, which led to the creation of Gamedecs, private investigators that solve cases of illegal activity within virtual worlds. Take on cases and explore virtual worlds as one such Gamedec, and watch how the games you inhabit change based on your actions.

 

Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen
Developer: Ceres Games
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: TBA 2021   

Realms Beyond: Ashes of Creation

Another upcoming RPG based on tabletop games is Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen. The game uses a modified version of the SRD 3.5e ruleset to transport players to a fantasy world that draws heavily from classic tabletop RPGs from the ’80s and ’90s.

Assemble a party of six adventurers from seven playable races and eight classes. The game will also come with the UrWelt RPG Engine framework, allowing players to easily create and share their own campaigns and modules.

 

The Iron Oath
Developer: Curious Panda Games
Publisher: Humble Games
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: TBA 2021

The Iron Oath

The Iron Oath is a tactical RPG about creating and managing a mercenary guild that will last the ages. Recruit mercenaries and send them out on contracts across the world.

Since you are managing a mercenary guild over the span of decades, or even centuries, you’ll have to deal with the inevitable march of time as mercenaries retire or die of natural causes. Of course, there is also always the looming threat of your mercenaries biting off more than they can chew and falling in battle.

 

Weird West
Developer: WolfEye Studios
Publisher: Devolver Digital 
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: TBA 2021

Weird West

Weird West is an action-RPG set in a version of the Wild West where gunslingers and outlaws clash with supernatural beings and otherworldly creatures. The game’s story focuses on the intertwined destinies of five playable characters, each with their own set of skills and abilities. The game also uses a “conductor” algorithm that changes up each playthrough based on your choices and actions.

 

Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms
Developer: Gamera Interactive
Publisher: All in! Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One
Release Date: TBA 2021

Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms

Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms is an isometric action-RPG that focuses on challenging, skill-driven combat. Character playstyles are crafted by combining one of three different Ways of Power with one of three professions; and there are 12 companions you can recruit as well. The world of Alaloth is also populated by over 40 houses, clans, nations, and factions you can pledge your allegiance to.

 

Death Trash
Developer: Crafting Legends
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: TBA 2021 (Early Access)

Death Trash

Death Trash is a post-apocalyptic action-RPG set in a wasteland populated by roaming bands of punks with shotguns and cosmic horrors bent on enslaving humanity. The game emphasizes old school roleplaying, with a large open world you can explore and interact with at your leisure. This freedom extends to combat, allowing you to take a stealthy approach, or just run around guns blazing.

 

Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role Playing Game
Developer: Iron Tower Studio
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: Fall 2021

Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role Playing Game

Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role Playing Game is the next game from the developers of The Age of Decadence. Like their previous RPG, it aims to be a deep, old school-inspired experience full of choices and roleplaying options. The game is set on a generation ship sent to the distant world of Proxima Centauri, and features a story and world inspired by Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky.

The ship is only halfway to its destination, meaning that you and all your peers are destined to live your entire lives onboard a starship with seemingly no hope or prospects at a better life. This discontent has led to a violent mutiny, turning the ship into a lawless coffin where three factions fight for control.

 

Dark Envoy
Developer: Event Horizon
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: TBA 2021

Dark Envoy

Dark Envoy is a nonlinear real-time tactical RPG by the developers of 2018’s Tower of Time. Travel across a world where dark magics and technology clash in a customizable airship.

The game follows Kaela and Malakai, two siblings that wish to make a name for themselves. The world in Dark Envoy will change and react to your decisions, for better or worse. The game’s map also changes as time passes and territories change hands.

 

Black Legend
Developer: Warcave
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: TBA 2021

Black Legend

Black Legend is a strategy RPG set in a world inspired by 17th century Europe. Lead a band of mercenaries as you try to liberate the besieged city of Grant from an incursion by an insidious cult. The game’s combat system is based around 17th century alchemical concepts, and will require you to master four elemental instabilities to create catalysts that deal massive damage to your foes.

 

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale
Developer: NeocoreGames
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Release Date: January 12th, 2021 (Windows PC Early Access)

King Arthur: Knight's Tale

Finally, we come to King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, a reboot of Neocore’s old King Arthur RPGs. The game is set in a dark and twisted version of Arthurian legends, where you play as a newly resurrected Sir Mordred sent on a knightly quest to kill King Arthur, who’s otherworldly dreams are turning Avalon into a nightmare world.

The game features traditional RPG party building with tactical turn-based battles and empire management. Build your own kingdom and send your knights out on quests across Avalon to restore peace and order.


That’s all for our second batch of articles highlighting some of the promising games coming our way in 2021. Next time, we’ll be taking a look at some of the strategy titles releasing this year. Until then, which of these games are you looking forward to? Are there any other RPGs you are excited for in 2021? Let us know in the comments below!

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Frank Streva

About

Niche Gamer’s resident indie expert. Digs through the Steam new releases so you don’t have to. Massive fan of miniature and board games as well.