You’re a teenager living in a fantasy world and are out on a quest to defeat a heinous villain, sound good? Great, welcome to the world of JRPGs, a genre that is heavily dominated by a single company called Square Enix. Even if you don’t know the company you have probably heard of some of their games such as Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Dragon Quest. Which is why we will cover some absolutely astonishing JRPGs that were not released by Square Enix. To clarify, games that were made by either Square or Enix before they merged into Square Enix will also not be on this list.
Persona 5, or really any of the Persona games, are fantastic JRPGs that throw you into a world of dungeons, villains and Japanese high school. However, Persona 5 grounds all of this by tackling issues that are plaguing the real world at this very moment, such as sexual predators, corrupt politicians and people that abuse their power. The game’s combat and dungeon exploration don’t try to shake things up too much but still feel original. However, the game really pulls everything together with its stellar presentation. The music is fantastic, the visuals are jaw-dropping and don’t even get me started on that ridiculously stylish UI. This game is one that everyone should play, even if you’re not a fan of JRPGs. It has been released on the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
This is basically studio Ghibli the role-playing game. I highly doubt that there is any game in the world where it feels more like you are exploring a Ghibli world than this one. As a matter of fact, studio Ghibli helped create the world of the first Ni No Kuni game, and a few Ghibli members helped working on the second one. The game takes place in a fantasy world filled with anthropomorphic animals and you will have to stop an evil villain from getting their way. The game’s combat is also a lot of fun, switching to a hack-and-slash style combat compared to the creature collection system from the first game. The game is all around charming and a highly recommend it to any Ghibli fan. The game can be played on PlayStation 4 and PC.
This Nintendo classic has been praised by Nintendo fans for the longest of times. It’s the only game from the Mother trilogy that was localized for Western audiences until 2015. The game is well-known for its comical writing, silly world, and absurd enemy designs. The game received poor reception when it was initially released but gained some popularity after Ness was featured as a character in the Super Smash Bros series. Don’t let the initial reception of the game fool you though, the game is wonderful and will pull you right in as soon as you boot it up. After years of lobbying, Earthbound, together with the first Mother game, were released on the 3DS and WiiU virtual console where you can play them now if you don’t own a SNES.
If you really loved Chrono Trigger and want to experience something similar than pick this one up. Although there are obviously major differences between the games, no game has done time travel as well as Radiant Historia does it, since the release of Chrono Trigger. Radiant Historia starts off a little slow but you will just have to get through the first part and you won’t be disappointed. The game features a number of different endings that you can achieve by constantly traveling back in time and changing events that will affect the future. The combat is also interesting as it’s not only turn-based but also gird-based offering another dimension of strategy. The game was originally released on the NintendoDS but was also re-released on the 3DS as Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology which you can also pick up as it doesn’t make major changes.
Suikoden II is by many JRPG lovers considered to be one of the best games that has ever been made in the genre. Sadly, many people are unaware of this gem due to the lackluster launch of the game. This was mainly due to the uncatchy name, as well as the fact that it was released shortly after the widely successful release of Final Fantasy VIII. However, the game was still a huge success among fans of the genre and has received a lot more popularity through word of mouth on the internet. The game combines politics, friendships, villains and a grandiose world all into one fantastic package. The story can be heartbreaking at times and you will connect with the characters extremely fast. It’s hard to describe exactly how good this game is, so just play it and see for yourself. It’s available on PC, PlayStation, PSP, and PlayStation 3.