I will have a review up early next week, but I wanted to briefly mention Gamedec here, now that it’s available on Nintendo Switch. You really need to play Gamedec, even if, like me, you hadn’t heard of it before. It’s a non-combat isometric cyberpunk RPG that very much holds its own ground among illustrious company (such as Disco Elysium and Planescape Torment).
We often think about the RPG as one with which combat is essential to the experience - if someone mentions “RPG” to you you’re almost certainly going to be thinking about combat systems - and yet two of THE most regarded entries in the genre both don’t feature combat and instead tune the systems around narrative and dialogue… and the likes of Gamedec are not far behind. This isn’t a coincidence. RPGs are ultimately storytelling experiences, and systems that facilitate those stories don’t need combat to work well.
This is just a reminder on how unnecessarily reliant on combat so much of the games industry is. I would almost recommend that game developers ask themselves “do we need combat in this game to share its story and themes?” because in a surprisingly large number of cases I would suggest the answer is “no”.
Have a great weekend gaming, everyone!