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Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection

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2017 was an incredible year for Nihon Falcom games. Between finally wrapping up the Trails in the Sky trilogy, the latest installment of the Ys franchise, and the lesser known Tokyo Xanadu, the unsung Japanese developer was on a roll in the west this year. Unfortunately, lost in the shuffle was one of Falcom's greatest gems: Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. This unlikely pick for localization was originally a PC-only title from 2008, finally brought westward by XSEED Games nine years later.

This charming little action RPG features a number of clever mechanics, including a food-based experience system, a unique two-character battle system, and the cutest damn characters you've ever seen. Unfortunately, its late-October release date put it into RPGamers' hands in the crowded holiday season, in a year featuring an absolutely mind-boggling number of stellar games. However, the game was enough of a success and it's now been joined by its predecessor in the west, which is available at the time of writing. With 2018 looking to be a little less crowded, hopefully RPGamers will get the chance to take a closer look at this underappreciated title.

Brought to us by Supergiant Games, Pyre combines a three-man version of soccer or basketball with strong RPG elements, including a great story. Players lead a group of misfits out of a version of purgatory by playing other groups for the right to eventually escape. Along the way, choices need to be made that have a huge impact later down the road. Despite its original premise, stunning style, and pedigree, this title didn't get the attention it deserved. While Pyre certainly could have used more marketing, the premise of a "small scale sports RPG" may have also left many scratching their heads. It certainly did not help when larger developers crammed 2017 full of excellent titles. As the years go by, it becomes increasingly harder to find original experiences in RPGs. However, Supergiant succeeds not only in creating a one-of-a-kind adventure, but does so with the standard of excellence we have come to expect from the same team who brought us Transistor and Bastion. Do yourself a favor, and make time for this gem.

While 2017 was not the Nintendo 3DS's strongest year, it still saw some heavy hitting RPGs like Fire Emblem Echoes, Etrian Odyssey V, and Pokémon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon. With the release of the Nintendo Switch and the many great games that hit other platforms, it's a small wonder that Ever Oasis was overlooked by people. It may not make many gamers' top games of 2017 lists, but those who did play it got a fun action RPG. While it has a bit of a slow start, Ever Oasis is engaging and even a little addicting with its unique setting, simple yet fun combat, imaginative puzzles, vibrant graphics, and fun town-building mechanics. It's a charming little game that has become something of a hidden gem of the 3DS.

by Adriaan den Ouden, Phillip Willis, Cassandra Ramos


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