Strategy RPGs to look forward to in 2023

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(Image credit: Iceberg Interactive)

If you're into managing a squad of individuals with varied abilities through both tactical battles and some kind of strategy layer where they improve and maybe all become friends, then you sure were well served in 2022. Games like Midnight Suns, Triangle Strategy, Expeditions: Rome, Hard West 2, Tactics Ogre Reborn, and plenty of others kept our plates real full.

Last year, we wrote about 12 strategy RPGs on PC and called it a lot, but that's nothing compared to this year. There are at least 18 scheduled to come out in 2023, and seven more that are likely to either enter early access or leave it, or both.

About the only way things could look better is if someone would finally confirm that Final Fantasy Tactics remaster we've been waiting for. Fingers crossed.

Demonschool

Release date: 2023

Demons from a 3D world are invading the 2D human world and only a colorful band of university students can stop them. Demonschool has a Persona-style time management side to it, taking place over the course of a semester in which you have to keep up your studies, maintain a social life, bond with your friends, and find sidequests that will net you new teammates. 

Demonschool looks gorgeous, from its comic-book hero designs to the funhouse creepshow boss monsters who seem to invade from beyond the space each level takes place in. On the tactics side there's a planning phase during which you can plot out potential actions, see their effects, then rewind to try something different. Exploiting elemental weaknesses, performing combos, using pushbacks to maneuver demons around the battlefield, and buffing allies as they attack can all net different advantages.

Capes

Release date: 2023

(Image credit: Defiant Development)

While Midnight Suns gave us one excellent superhero squad tactics game, that doesn't mean we wouldn't like another. Capes might just deliver. It's got an excellent pedigree, coming from a team that includes developers who worked on the Hand of Fate and Freedom Force games, and it's got a neat setup reminiscent of XCOM 2 or Days of Future Past, with the villains having already won and heroes cast as desperate rebels. 

Those heroes are all-new characters, so if you were turned off Midnight Suns by the Marvel characters you might be more interested in these heroes and their combinable powers called "team-ups". Keep them close together and the one who summons crystal armor can create a big crystal spike for the knife-wielding teleporter to stab into some goon, while the one with wind powers adds a knockback effect to the telekinetic's punch.

Mahokenshi

Release date: January 24, 2023

(Image credit: Iceberg Interactive)

Mahokenshi is about samurai wizards, equally adept with sword and spells, who are set loose on the hexgrid paths of the Celestial Islands to right wrongs and fight monsters from Japanese mythology. Those floating islands are kind of like a colorful version of Slay the Spire's dungeon spire in that as you choose how to cross them your decisions let you add, remove, and upgrade cards from a deck representing your attacks, moves, and spells. Deckbuilding worked for Midnight Suns, right? You won't have to wait long to check out Mahokenshi, which is due to release on January 24. 

Metal Slug Tactics

Release date: 2023

Following a brief reveal and gameplay trailer, we're not heard much about Metal Slug Tactics apart from the fact it was delayed from 2022 into 2023. What we have seen suggests this adaptation of the 2D sidescroller will have some interestingly 3D levels, with destructible scenery and characters who can jump between elevations platformer-style. The way new areas plummet from the sky seems like another nice touch.

R-Type Tactics I • II Cosmos

Release date: 2023

(Image credit: NIS America)

If you thought Metal Slug and Gears of War were odd choices for turn-based spin-offs, let me introduce you to R-Type Tactics and its wonderfully named sequel R-Type Tactics 2: Operation Bitter Chocolate. Released for the PlayStation Portable, the second only in Japan, these two games take the sidescrolling shoot-'em-up R-Type and slow it right down. Every level is presented as a side-on hexgrid your units traverse from one side to the other, unable to change facing in classic shmup fashion. This remake package bundles both together, recreated in Unreal Engine 5.

Miasma Chronicles

Release date: 2023

The developers of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden followed that game of stealthy squad tactics in post-apocalyptic Sweden with Corruption 2029, a game of stealthy squad tactics  set in post-apocalyptic America that lacked some of the personality of the previous game (notably, it didn't have talking ducks and pigs). Miasma Chronicles is another game of exploration and setting up turn-based battles from ambush, once again in post-apocalyptic America, but this time it seems to have a little more pizazz. For starters, your main companion is a talking robot with a ricochet shot, you've got a glove that lets you control something called "the Miasma", and the enemies include frog monsters. Do they talk? Let's hope so. 

For the King 2

Release date: 2023

(Image credit: Curve Games)

Players of 2018's For the King said it was best in co-operative mode, where its roguelike harshness could be offset by going in with friends. The co-op mode was only playable in a group of three, however, something that For the King 2 intends to change, bumping the feisty fairytale comedy up to a four-player game. The cartoon art style remains, but the combat's getting some tweaks, like the addition of a second row to each half of the battle grid. Finally ranged characters will be able to cower behind the ones with shields, as is only right.

Shardpunk: Verminfall

Release date: Q1 2023

Ratpeople have taken over the city and you're among the only survivors, forced to scavenge and hide as if you're the vermin. What you're scavenging is tech and the material you need to craft and upgrade it, only it's steampunk tech that can overheat and misfire if not repaired or allowed to cool down between uses.

Each run across the city is randomized, and fights against the rat swarm involve some extremely XCOM-esque use of cover, flanking, overwatch, and enemies who activate in pods. There's no ant-farm base for you to return to between missions, though. Instead, you scurry from bunker to bunker, pausing to feed and care for your pack, emerging to scrounge, then running for the next bolthole. I wonder what the equivalent of cats are in this metaphor?

Redemption Reapers

Release date: February, 2023

(Image credit: Binary Haze Interactive)

Redemption Reapers looks like an anime version of Game of Thrones, or maybe Glen Cook's Black Company books. It casts a band of regretful mercenaries responsible for unspecified war crimes as humanity's only hope against unstoppable enemies called "the Mort", and if the whole thing doesn't end in a last stand and valiant sacrifice I'll eat one of those black fur cloaks that heroes in dark fantasy tales are required to wear. 

The five mercenaries of the Ashen Hawk Brigade have team attacks and weapon synergies on their side, but arrayed against them is an army of sharp-toothed patchwork gimps and what sounds like some serious PTSD. I guess fighting an army of darkness is cheaper than going to therapy?

Nemire

Release date: Q1, 2023

When you're offered a set of fantasy factions to choose from, the undead are always the best choice and I will not change my mind on this. Being able to replenish your forces with fallen foes is a lot easier than having to slog back to base to reinforce, and it's more environmentally friendly too. Necromancy is just another word for recycling. Nemire understands this and so casts you as a necromancer leading a warband of kooky undead with randomized traits as you turn humankind into something more sustainable: mulch and skeletons.

Dungeons 4

 Release date: 2023

The homage to Dungeon Keeper returns for a fourth outing, perhaps with slightly more up-to-date references. (Although the trailer doing "Lion King but make it Warcraft" seems a bit behind the times.) As a dark elf sorceress who has a bigger budget for goblin servants than she does for pants, you'll build and manage a dungeon over the course of a 20-mission campaign in either singleplayer or two-player co-op. Recruit creatures, build traps, and keep the usual dwarves, elves, and humans from taking your stuff. Like the rest of your pants.

Banchou Tactics

Release date: 2023

(Image credit: Flyhigh Works)

If you've had enough of fantasy and traditional sci-fi settings, here's an upcoming SRPG set in a Japanese high school for gangsters. Apparently the demon king of Minato High graduated the previous year, and that's thrown the precarious balance of power between three rival high schools out of whack. The result: outright warfare and a whole lot of roundhouse kicks. Banchou Tactics' battle system includes mechanics for knockbacks and combos reminiscent of the 2D brawlers that inspired it.

Zoria: Age of Shattering

Release date: 2023

(Image credit: Anshar Publishing)

If traditional fantasy is still your thing, the world of Zoria offers exactly that. You'll lead a team of four heroes across it RPG-style, while also constructing and upgrading an outpost, unlocking new wings and buildings that offer different rewards. From there, you can send out your followers on quests of their own, sharing in the XP and loot they earn. Assuming they come back alive, of course.

Untamed Tactics

Release date: Q2, 2023

This spin-off of tabletop card game Untamed: Feral Factions casts you as a dishonored rabbit soldier named Greycoat who leads a band that potentially includes a rhino druid, fox spy, and chameleon alchemist. As well as turn-based combat, Untamed Tactics features turn-based negotiation, with mid-battle conversations handled by playing cards like Piercing Remark, Heartbreaking Tale, Charming Joke, Seductive Remark, Frightening Threat, and Arduous Conversation. I think my deck in real life has a lot more copies of Arduous Conversation stacked in it than those other options.

Desktop Dungeons: Rewind

Release date: 2023

(Image credit: Prismatika)

The classic browser game returns in remastered form. It's a cute cross between Minesweeper and roguelikes, and this version will have a rewind function like Into the Breach, something more turn-based games should copy. After battles you heal and recover mana by exploring, but risk uncovering new enemies. There's a kingdom-building element too.

Arcadian Atlas

Release date: Summer, 2023

In 2016, Arcadian Atlas raised $95,204 on Kickstarter (opens in new tab) with its promise of a pixel-art SRPG with challenging battles that include "terrain that affects your movement, cover that can hinder the best laid plans, and skills that are never wasted." An homage to Final Fantasy Tactics, each of its base classes can specialize into an advanced class. Warmancers can become trap-laying druids or chaotic frontline sorcerers, while apothecaries can become punch monks or shamans who control the power of life and death to the point of being able to sacrifice allies to hurt foes. It also promises a soundtrack of "eclectic jazz". Nice.

Railroads & Catacombs

Release date: Q1 2023

(Image credit: Felipe Aulló)

Darkest Dungeon on a train. When you get off the train to explore the grim wasteland you're crossing, it becomes a card-battler. The supplies you scavenge in the wasteland's ruins and forests let you improve those cards, which is why Railroads & Catacombs emphasizes that it's not another deckbuilder. It's a card-builder instead.

Cyber Knights: Flashpoint 

Release date: Q1 2023

(Image credit: Trese Brothers)

Run a cyberpunk heist gang of hackers and street samurai as they take on the corps, upgrading your safehouse and exploring the personal stories of your squad. It sounds a bit like Shadowrun and a bit like Invisible Inc. and those are both fine things to resemble. Also, you can have a cybernetic dog.

Early access SRPGs

(Image credit: Gamera Games)
  • Depersonalization (opens in new tab). Investigate the Cthulhu mythos in branching stories with lots of dice-rolling, JRPG-esque battles, and bad endings. Entered early access on December 20, plans full release in late 2023.
  • Crimson Tactics: The Rise of the White Banner (opens in new tab). Inspired by Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, but will have "a unique mounting system that has mounts ranging from horses to dragons, with each having its own advantages and disadvantages." Planning to enter early access in Q1 of 2023 and leave six to eight months later.
  • Songs of Conquest (opens in new tab). Reminiscent of Heroes of Might & Magic, you command armies whose leaders are powerful individuals called "wielders". Has charming musical interludes. Entered early access in May of 2022, planning to be out after roughly a year.

(Image credit: Shiro Games)
  • Wartales (opens in new tab). A gritty epic of medieval mercenaries from the makers of Northgard. Dodge the plague, starvation, and wolves while trying to earn enough to pay your mercs. Entered early access in December 2021, likely to be finalized in 2023.
  • The Iron Oath (opens in new tab). Another game about a mercenary company in a fantasy world, but one less gritty than Battle Brothers or Wartales—though it does have adaptive dialogue for whenever one of your mercs dies. Entered early access in April 2022, expecting a 2023 release.
  • End State (opens in new tab). Mercenaries again, but this time modern ones who fight terrorists. Think Jagged Alliance, with ballistics simulation and destructible environments. Only just entered early access and has a long way to go, but might sneak out at the end of 2023.
  • Darkest Dungeon 2 (opens in new tab). The grueling run-based dungeon crawler returns. Entered early access via Epic (opens in new tab) in October 2021, scheduled for a full release in Q2 2023.
  • Epicentrum: Hunt! Stream! Invade! (opens in new tab) Superpowered hunters fight invading demons. Has co-op and competitive multiplayer, including the option to invade other players' games and join other invaders in voting for the enemy's actions. Coming to early access, but after a failed Kickstarter (opens in new tab) development will be slow.

Upcoming SRPGs that might be out in 2023

(Image credit: THQ Nordic)
  • Jagged Alliance 3 (opens in new tab). Fans of Jagged Alliance know better than to get their hopes up, but Haemimont Games (of Surviving Mars and Tropico fame) have a chance of pulling off a decent sequel. The developer promises 40 fully voiced mercs and combat that embraces imperfect information with hidden chances to hit, fumble grenades, and guns that jam. No release date.
  • Xenonauts 2 (opens in new tab). XCOM for people who miss X-Com, Xenonauts 2 has a demo on Steam but no release date.
  • Spellforce: Conquest of Eo (opens in new tab). Turn-based Spellforce spin-off from the makers of Fantasy General. You inherit a wizard's tower, but in a Master of Magic way rather than a Stardew Valley kind of way. No release date. 
  • Spiritlink Tactics (opens in new tab). Has multiclassing inspired by the job systems of classic Japanese tactics games and RPGs. Coming soon, with a demo on Steam. 

(Image credit: SHUEISHA GAMES Inc.)
  • Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions (opens in new tab). Manga crossover with characters from various Jump+ series who are all imaginary friends of a boy who pretends to be a superhero and summons them to fight aliens. It's got the guy from Spy x Family, but seemingly no Goku. No release date.
  • Crown Wars: The Black Prince (opens in new tab). Historical tactics set during the Hundred Years' War. You run a noble family with soldiers at your command, but also have diplomacy to deal with. Coming soon.
  • Neon Ronin (opens in new tab). Run-based cyberpunk roguelite where you fight "triad thugs, cultsworn zealots, and tortured psychic mutants". Coming soon.
  • SacriFire (opens in new tab). JRPG-esque science fantasy with music by Dark Souls composer Motoi Sakuraba. From the creators of Warsaw and under-rated RPG Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs. Release date to be announced.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 (opens in new tab). Anthropomorphic animals go to war by packing their children into the gun turrets of a gigantic tank. Promises more strategic battles than the original. Coming soon.

Upcoming CRPGs you might like if you're into SRPGs

(Image credit: Drop Bear Bytes)
  • Broken Roads (opens in new tab). Fallout but in post-apocalyptic Australia. Every character has a Moral Compass that influences dialogue and progression. Due 2023.
  • Baldur's Gate 3 (opens in new tab). Larian's modern take on D&D, adapting the fifth edition rules. Currently in early access, full release scheduled for August, 2023.
  • Sovereign Syndicate (opens in new tab). A steampunk CRPG set in an alternate Victorian London that's reminiscent of Arcanum and Disco Elysium. One of the player-characters you can choose from is an alcoholic minotaur. Probably won't be out until early 2024, but worth keeping an eye on.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (opens in new tab). From the makers of the Pathfinder games, a turn-based CRPG set in the baroque science-fantasy setting of 40K. Currently in alpha, with a beta planned this year.
  • Esoteric Ebb (opens in new tab). A cleric and a goblin work together to solve a mystery in an urban weird fantasy world. Uses D&D 5E rules, has plenty of Planescape: Torment and Disco Elysium in its DNA.
Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.