Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) are among some of the best triple-A experiences in the industry, with thousands of quality works contributing towards an untouchable fortress of mesmerising designs and life-long friendships. Combined with lengthy story arcs that never fear the unknown and next-level innovations, the genre has become an unmatched torchbearer in a world so littered with narrative-driven moths.
April is on the horizon, and we’ve already got more than enough on our plates to keep us company through to 2023. With the likes of Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West still claiming a great deal of our spare time, smaller games are often failing to snatch our attention. JRPGs, on the other hand, we’ll usually make an exception for. Specifically, these five breathtaking worlds that should not, under any circumstances, be swept under the rug this year.
5. NieR: Automata
If you’re really looking to lose an entire weekend to an experience, one that will consume hours by the dozen for each passing completion, then be sure to take a look at NieR: Automata. Built with a series of endings that can only be unlocked by playing the main story several times, it means you’ll have your work cut out for you if you dare to cross the threshold.
NieR:Automata slumps you in the shoes of one of two human-crafted androids, 2B, or 9S. As the leftover militia of a barren wasteland for a planet, it is up to you and your like-minded drones to scrape together the remaining pieces of civilization and drive back an alien invasion that plagues the post-apocalyptic land. And with that, you can expect plenty of riveting combat sequences, and a surprising amount of heartfelt emotions—even from a couple of lonely drones.
4. SCARLET NEXUS
If you’re interested in soaking up an anime drama that envelopes not only a riveting story, but a full-on cast of memorable characters and a living, breathing metropolis for a playground, then SCARLET NEXUS is an ideal fit that shouldn’t skip your radar. But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the oceans of content the highly praised JRPG encompasses.
SCARLET NEXUS centers its tale around two up and coming Other Suppression Force (OSF) cadets, known as Yuito, and Kasane. Sworn to protect the city of New Himuka using a series of otherworldly superpowers, the two join forces with a platoon to drive back an all-powerful force that looms on the borders. However, with the upper management working to cover up a secret that only the two heroes know about, unravelling a nexus of mysteries soon becomes a small part of the nine-to-five.
3. Tales of Arise
Tales of Arise is arguably one of the best JRPGs to come out in the last two years. With thanks credited to its immersive storyline and roster of well-loved characters, it went on to snatch the Award for Best Role-playing Game at latest Game Awards. And if that alone isn’t enough to sway your vote or pique your interest, then perhaps the narrative is.
Tales of Arise is based around the capital of Dahna, a place where a technologically advanced race hold its citizens captive. Following two young rebels who only dream of breaking the shackles from society, both Alphen and Shionne look to form a movement to drive back its oppressors. But when all’s said and done, there’s far more to Tales of Arise than a simple revolt. Explore it, and you’ll come to realise why it garnered such high praise at the latest Game Awards.
2. Code Vein
A solid choice of JRPG that most—if not all role-playing fans have enrolled in, is Code Vein, which owes a great deal of its success to the Souls-like category. And if that sort of thing is what gets your gears churning, then Code Vein is an absolute essential. With an ideal mixture of hack and slash and role-playing components, the Bandai Namco title effortlessly becomes a must-play for anyone wanting to bridge a few gaps between major releases.
Code Vein is set in a post-apocalyptic city, where the pillars of society have crumbled into ash. The few remaining survivors, known to the population as Revenants, bide their time by quenching their thirst for blood. As one of the next in line to assume the role of a Revenant, you must join the fight against a rival faction, known only as Lost.
1. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Final Fantasy 7 Remake earns its spot on this list just for being a timeless masterpiece, in general, to be fair. As one of the freshest JRPGs on the market, as well as one of the most beginner-friendly, it makes it a perfect starting point for anyone looking to get their initial fill. And with it, of course, comes a plethora of rich emotions and life-long memories.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake sits on the heels of Cloud Strife, a mercenary with a questionable past that ties in with SOLDIER, an elite collective that operates under Shinra. After taking on a contract to unite against the companies exploitation of Mako, an energy used to power the city, things soon turn on their axis, leaving the merc and his employers to counter new threats and draw up new ways to dismantle the establishment.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our top five JRPGs? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.