Welcome, Turn-Based Lovers, to another edition of Keep An Eye On It! We’ve got another list of in-development, early-access, and brand-new turn-based RPGs and Strategy Games of 2022 that looks very promising. Honestly, the names of some of these games alone should be enough to pique your interest. From resurrected retro roleplaying to fantastical fusions, there’s plenty to be excited about in the coming months.
As always, remember to Wishlist and Follow the games you’re eager for – it helps the devs by improving their Steam metrics and gets the game more visibility so other players can hear about them!
An often-overlooked metric for assessing how enjoyable a game might be is the question, “how much fun did the developers have making the game?” It’s obvious right away that for Sugar Story developer Source Byte, the answer was “all of the fun.” This irreverent, chaotic, and at times just plain weird RPG was clearly made with the admirable mission of creating a game the devs wanted to play.
You can sense the joy the creators of Sugar Story took in their project. As the protagonist’s quest to get some sugar for their family spirals into a world-saving epic, things get more and more bizarre and the game just revels in it. Sugar Story is the kind of game that isn’t for everybody, but those who like it will probably love it.
The Use of Life
The Use of Life from Daraneko Games is a fusion of JRPG and visual novel, incorporating the best elements of both genres. Throughout the protagonist’s journey, many decisions will affect the game’s ending. The attachments they make and the skills they choose to hone will cause the story to branch in unexpected ways.
Combat in The Use of Life commands turn-based and quick-time event systems, somewhat similar to the various Super Mario RPGs throughout the years. Enemies, and bosses in particular, are designed to be challenging, and it’s expected that players will return to fights over and over again to find optimizations and eventually triumph over a previously-insurmountable opponent. A free demo is currently available, and The Use of Life enters early access this spring.
Remember when Warcraft was an RTS? Those were good times. Bromantic Games seems to think so too, as their soon-to-be-released card game Dragon Evo feels like Hearthstone decided to return to the fields of battle. Deploying your Hero and a deck of 15 cards, you’ll have to carefully position your units to maintain control of the field and defeat your opponent.
If you like the gameplay of KARDS but prefer pegasi to panzers, Dragon Evo could be the game for you. The early access build, currently scheduled to launch on 24 February, will include campaigns and single-player challenge matches as well as ranked multiplayer. Interested players should give it a shot early, as there are rewards – including booster packs – to be earned!
Neura Mechanicus: Prologue
In the real world, robot battles are enjoyed by engineers and enthusiasts – watching tiny buzzsaw-equipped drones turn each other into scrap provides all the catharsis of a blood sport without harming living beings. In the world of Neura Mechanicus, this phenomenon has been taken to its logical conclusion as homemade humanoid robots fight to the death with high-tech weaponry in organized tournaments. As aspiring robo-brawler Aria, you’ll need to manage your team of robots and hone your own skills at controlling them to rise to the top of the league and find the truth behind your father’s murder.
The customization system in Neura Mechanicus captures the free-form, anything-goes spirit of real-world robot battles. There are no classes – the specs of a robot, from the size and shape of its chassis to the weapons it carries – are what determines where and how it will be useful. Get ready to make sparks fly, because Neura Mechanicus: Prologue starts the game’s long-term early access period on 31 March.
The Ruins of Calaworm
We all have that friend who insists that the pinnacle of gaming was their favorite title from the late ’80s or early ’90s and that the hobby’s gone downhill ever since. (If not, you can probably scroll down to the comments section to meet some of them). If you’re looking to clap back with some serious retro cred of your own, why not bring up German cult classic Die Gemäuer von Kalawaum? This fan-favorite from back in the day is getting a reboot, The Ruins of Calaworm, with the blessing of the original game’s creators!
While Calaworm keeps the core mechanics of Kalawaum intact, it’s been streamlined and had some new ideas implemented to freshen it up. With Lovecraftian monsters and randomized world parameters over a set dungeon layout, The Ruins of Calaworm is sure to provide ample challenge for players looking for an old-school adventure. A demo is currently available, and the game is expected to be released later this year.
Be-Rad Entertainment is working on a fusion of genres with Demon’s Mirror. This combination of Slay The Spire and Puzzle Quest aims to be more than just another match-3 RPG. Its roguelike deck-builder elements allow players to affect the puzzle board in myriad ways, and each playthrough will provide unique challenges and opportunities.
As you progress through a run and enhance your deck, you’ll have opportunities to unleash massive chains and combos. These will be necessary to overcome the late-game challenges that Demon’s Mirror is serving up. When it launches later in 2022, it might be time to put those phone games away for good.
Epicentrum: Hunt! Stream! Invade!
On the surface, Epicentrum looks like a promising grid-based tactical game where the player commands an elite squad of hunters battling an extradimensional threat. However, this game has the potential to completely upend the way multiplayer works – or, for that matter, single-player AI.
The enemies in Epicentrum are the World Eaters, creatures from another dimension who appear to be chaos incarnate – there is no rhyme or reason to their actions save that they destroy everything in their path. While players take control of Hunters to combat the monsters (and in multiplayer try to be the best Hunter after the battle is won), other players and streamer audiences can influence the enemy AI. Participants can vote on the actions of the World Eaters, Twitch Plays Pokemon-style, creating a truly unpredictable menace.
This is an unimaginably cool idea, and if the game draws a large enough following it could create some of the most explosive, unhinged multiplayer matches the genre has ever seen. Epicentrum is definitely one to check out when it launches later this year.
Depending on who you ask, either the SNES or the PS1 had the best RPGs of all time. If you’re in the latter camp, you may remember Shadow Madness from Crave Entertainment. This 1999 title is making its triumphant return on 15 February.
Centered on a party of heroes seeking to save the world from a mysterious plague, this is a title sure to take you back to the good old days. All the FMVs are intact as well, preserving the old-school experience. The original release came with a demo disc for cult monster-catching classic Jade Cocoon – maybe that will be the next game to be resurrected?
Deep gameplay is great – it’s the reason most turn-based classics are so fondly regarded. We don’t always have time for deep gameplay, though, but we want to make some strategic decisions and paint a map in our colors. Enter Hexarchy, a card-based 4X that can be played in an hour.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’d love to play some Civ right now but it’s 11 PM and I have to work tomorrow,” Hexarchy can scratch that itch then see you off to bed. With multiplayer for up to 10, it even introduces a limited Battle Royale element to the 4X genre, increasing the challenge by introducing human opponents. A demo is currently available and you can request playtest access from the game’s Steam page; the release date is scheduled for later this year.
Lepka Games’ March March! is a blend of Teamfight Tactics and Tetris, an unexpected combination that we are nonetheless thrilled to see. Each turn, you and your opponent will deploy a regiment whose formation consists of several squares – these soldiers will march forward until they encounter an enemy, at which point they will do battle. Soldiers in the formation who don’t meet an enemy will continue marching.
Deploying your formations to best counter the opponent is the key to victory, as is the clever use of spells to give your soldiers an edge. The cutesy visuals lend plenty of charm to the combatants – see for yourself by downloading the demo. March March! is expected to release this spring.