Final Fantasy and Castlevania collided in the true hidden gem JRPG of last year, and now it's coming to Switch next month

Astlibra Revision trailer girl
(Image credit: Keizo)

It's been almost a year since I finished Astlibra Revision, the unquestionably weirdest and arguably best JRPG of 2022, but it's still stuck in my head not so much like a catchy song, but rather more like a pickaxe. The hard-to-pronounce RPG is now headed to Nintendo Switch on November 16, which means a whole new audience can and absolutely should experience the narrative and combat system that positively fried my brain over the course of 58 unforgettable hours. 

Astlibra Revision is a 2D side-scrolling action JRPG that's incredibly difficult to describe beyond that. To put it mildly, it's a game of extreme contrasts. To put it less mildly, pieces of it are so incredibly good that they make up for the parts that suck out loud. It's also an excellent fit for a handheld, as its Steam Deck Verified status shows, so I was delighted to see publisher WhisperGames announce a Switch release on the JRPG subreddit, especially since I hadn't heard a word of this port anywhere else.  

The art is probably the biggest mix of hits and misses. The weapons, armor, enemy sprites, and character illustrations look great. The levels? Well, I once described them as though someone had breaded and deep fried a NES game, and I stand by that. With love! 

Likewise, Astlibra's timeline-shattering, genre-hopping storyline is so patently ridiculous and convoluted that, despite some terribly hammy scenes and predictable twists, I ended up getting invested just because I had to see how it ended. It just beats you down with shark-jumping twists in a way that makes Nier Automata look restrained. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I was genuinely attached to some of these characters. I even got the super secret ending after clearing the finale three times, though I never did grind for the extra super secret one.

Combat is the high point of Astlibra's almost peerlessly eclectic package. This is an RPG designed to be broken, and boy did I break it. Build your character right and you can become virtually untouchable, constantly spamming magic from an impenetrable fortress of i-frames and parries. All the weapons feel great to swing, and every attack will fuel screen-clearing spells that extend your combos with huge spiritual beasts that never get old. The variety of summons is staggering, and the elemental system encourages you to experiment as you explore levels and face different bosses. 

More than anything, Astlibra is just so fever-dream wonky that you have to see it for yourself. The crafting system, skill tree, vendors, armor mechanics, side quests, and difficulty settings are absurd in ways that I don't even want to spoil. If you're not sold and you have a PC, try the Steam demo. I'm telling you, this is unmissable stuff. It's well worth the $24.99, and you can apparently get a pre-order discount on Switch until November 15 if you're really feeling it after the demo. 

Here are the rest of the best JRPGs to play in 2023. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.