16 Best Japanese Role-playing Games in 2021

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Best Japanese Role-Playing Games

You’re in good fortune if you’ve ever wanted to see a list of the Best Japanese Role-Playing Games.

Japanese role-playing games have been extremely popular in Japan for a great many years. In this article, we’ll list the biggest and most successful JRPGs.

Rich narratives, intricate gaming mechanics, and superb controls are all hallmarks of these turn-based games.

Table of Contents

1. Nier: Automata

Nier: Automata is one of the Best Japanese Role-Playing Games published by Square Enix. It was developed by PlatinumGames.

It’s a follow-up to the 2010 video game Nier. Nier was itself a Drakengard spin-off and sequel. The game was first released on PlayStation 4 and Windows via Steam.

The plot chronicles the hardships of androids 9S, 2B, and A2 amid a proxy war between alien-created robots and human-crafted android phones.

Multiple playthroughs are important to complete the plot. Each one has to unlock new story aspects.

Switching between video game genres is akin to Nier, with components ranging from shooting them up to text adventure.

Moreover, the experience combines role-playing elements with action-based cut and slice combat.

Moving on, the idea was to create a Nier game that was true to the essence of the original while also improving the fighting system.

The story, written by Yoko Ono, draws on a variety of philosophies and addresses themes such as finding meaning in life and why people kill.

This is the reason why it is one of the best JRPGs.

2. Dragon Quest XI

This is one of the other Best Japanese Role-Playing Games. Square Enix produced and published Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, a role-playing video game.

In July 2017, it was launched in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4 as part of the long-running Dragon Quest video game franchise.

In September 2018, it was released internationally for the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows.

The game was one of the first to be revealed on the Switch. It was originally planned to be a completely open world, but then that idea was scrapped when it clashed with the developers’ story.

Support for Microsoft Windows was incorporated, as well as features like voiced English dialogue and 4K resolution.

This was to raise the exposure of the Dragon Quest franchise in the west.

Later additions in these Best Japanese Role-Playing Games included a more detailed plot and the ability to listen to the score in orchestral form.

Critics positively received the game upon its initial release. It got an appreciation for its story, characters, plot, and localization.

However, several critics thought the game’s design was too traditional.

3. Octopath Traveler

Square Enix collaborated with Acquire to create Octopath Traveler to create one of the Best Japanese Role-Playing Games.

The game was launched in July 2018 for Nintendo Switch, June 2019 for Microsoft Windows, April 2020 for Stadia, and March 2021 for Xbox One.

By Feb of 2021, the game had sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide and earned a “generally favorable” critical response.

The graphics and art style received the greatest accolades. Like many other JRPGs, Octopath Traveler is a game featuring an “HD-2D” graphics style.

The developers define it as blending classic Super NES-style character pixels and patterns with polygonal settings and greater effects.

Also, the game casts players as one of eight adventurers. Each of them embarks on their quest in a unique way.

Each character is from a different part of the world, which influences their career or characteristics.

4. Persona 5

Another Best Japanese Role-Playing Games, Persona 5, was released by Atlus in 2016. It’s the sixth JRPGs in the Persona series.

Also, it’s a part of the Megami Tensei franchise. It was published by Atlus in Japan and North America and Deep Silver in Europe and Australia for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

Persona 5 is set in modern-day Tokyo. It follows a Joker who is a high school student who moves to a new school.

Over a school year, he and other kids awaken to a rare power. They form the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, a hidden vigilante club.

They go into the Metaverse, a mystical place created by humanity’s subconscious desires, to steal ill intent from humans’ hearts.

The party faces adversaries known as Shadows using physical manifestations of their psyche known as Personas. Just like the previous games in the series.

Role-playing and dungeon crawling components mix in with social simulation scenarios in this game. The interesting story is what makes it one of the best JRPGs.

5. Final Fantasy XV

Square Enix created and launched Final Fantasy XV, an action role-playing game. It is the fifteenth game of the Final Fantasy series.

The game has an action-adventure setting and an action-based warfare system.

It comes with fast and easy weapons, environmental magic, and additional elements like vehicle movement and camping.

The fictitious world of Eos is the setting for Final Fantasy XV. Aside from Insomnia, Lucis’ capital, the entire world is ruled by the Niflheim empire.

It seeks control of the mystical Crystal guarded by the Lucian royal line. Niflheim raids the capital and snatches the Crystal on the eve of peace talks.

The heir to the Lucian throne, Noctis Lucis Caelum, sets out on a mission to save the Crystal and fight Niflheim.

Later, he discovers his true identity as the “True King,” who is supposed to wield Crystal’s abilities to save Eos from perpetual darkness.

Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy is a subseries of games that are linked by mythos. It includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. Also, it has a thematic relationship with the game.

6. The Legend of Heroes; Trails of Cold Steel IV

Nihon Falcom’s The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is one of the Japanese role-playing games. The game is part of the Trails series.

The Trails series is a part of the wider The Legend of Heroes series, concluding the Trails of Cold Steel tetralogy.

Trails of Cold Steel IV is a classic Japanese role-playing video game with turn-based fights, similar to the previous Trails of Cold Steel titles.

The final chapter of that game results in a self-coup. It threatens to lead to war with the Calvard Republic. Meanwhile, the majority of Class VII’s surviving members flee to a hidden community of witches.

There they work to save Rean and put an end to the conflict.

7. Bloodborne

Bloodborne is an action role-playing game for the PlayStation 4 that was released in March 2015. It was developed by FromSoftware and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

Bloodborne takes the player’s character, a Hunter, through the decaying Gothic. A Victorian-era–inspired metropolis of Yharnam is plagued by a blood-borne sickness.

The player’s character unravels the city’s wonders while fighting animals and cosmic creatures in an attempt to uncover the root of the plague.

From a third-person viewpoint, the game takes place. The game revolves around strategic weapons-based combat and exploration.

The players control a programmable protagonist. Players fight a variety of adversaries with swords and firearms while exploring different locales.

They interact with non-player characters and solve the city’s mysteries. Bloodborne was first under development in 2012 under the codename Project Beast.

Bloodborne got an appreciation for its gameplay, especially its high difficulty level, mood, sound editing, and Lovecraftian themes.

Also, interconnected world design, among other things. Its technical performance at launch was not very positive.

But it was improved with post-release patches. Bloodborne got numerous awards, and safe to say that it is one of the Best Japanese role-playing games.

8. Valkyria Chronicles 4

Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical role-playing game with the production and creation of Media. Vision.

In the Valkyria Chronicles series, it is the fourth main game. It introduces the Grenadier, a new troop class capable of firing mortar rounds at adversaries.

They can shoot without being noticed by hostile forces if allied soldiers are present to offer battlefield information.

When some soldier in your army is on the edge of death, a new system named “Brave” will start by default.

To safeguard their home country of Gallia and avenge an Imperial raid on their hometown of Hafen. Claude Wallace and his friends Kai Shulen and Raz join the Federation Army to fight the Empire in the Second Europan War.

During training, however, Kai inexplicably vanishes, leaving his sister Leena to fill in as “Kai.” Claude, Raz, and Leena complete their training and join Squad E of the elite Ranger Corps.

9. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

Nihon Falcom created Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, which is one of the other Japanese role-playing games and was released digitally by Falcom in September 2019.

In February 2021, NIS America released a worldwide release for the PlayStation 4. In July 2021, NIS America released a general release for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, and Stadia.

In this amazing game, the player takes on the role of a third-person character. It expands on the gameplay foundation of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, in which players control many main characters.

Players can swap between on the fly, each with their way of playing and special abilities. By beating foes and uncovering chests, players can obtain a range of weapons and goodies.

SP can be consumed to unleash a character’s distinctive skill attack. Also, it can be replenished by landing hits on foes or by regenerating more quickly when the player is not battling.

Boost mode, which debuted in Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys Origin, temporarily enhances damage done and reduces damage taken. It also increases attack and mobility speeds.

10. Bravely Default 2

Bravely Default II is a role-playing video game published by Square Enix and developed by Claytechworks.

Following the original Bravely Default and its direct sequel Bravely Second: End Layer, it is the third installment in the Bravely series. It has its plot, setting, and supporting characters.

Bravely Default II takes place in a different setting than the previous games. It takes place on a continent Excillant that has five kingdoms.

The game features four major characters: Seth, a mysterious young sailor; Gloria, a refugee princess; Elvis, a roaming scholar; and Adelle, a mercenary.

The gang starts across the continent in search of the four-element crystals. Gloria’s homeland of Musa is destroyed, and these crystals are seized.

These kinds of interesting stories play a huge role in making these video games one of the best JRPGs.

11. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is an open-world action role-playing game for the Nintendo Switch.

It is the third installment in the Xenoblade Chronicles series and the seventh main entry in the Xeno series. On the other hand, it was released globally on December 1, 2017.

This one of the Best Japanese Role-Playing Games production started shortly after the release of Xenoblade Chronicles X in 2014.

Tetsuya Takahashi, the franchise’s inventor, as well as directors Koh Kojima and Genki Yokota, all returned from prior games.

The game is set in an open environment with a day-night cycle that impacts in-game events, such as quests, opponent strength, and item accessibility.

The game takes place in multiple places, between which the player travels via a quick travel option.

Unlike the two prior editions, which featured a cohesive open world across which the player could roam continuously.

12. Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a Square Enix action role-playing game set in the year 2020. It’s the first of a prospective series of games based on Final Fantasy VII.

It was a PlayStation game released in 1997. Players take control of mercenary Cloud Strife in the dystopian cyberpunk cityscape of Midgar.

He joins AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist organization attempting to prevent Shinra, a powerful megacorporation.

They do it by utilizing the planet’s life force as a source of energy. Real-time action combines with analytical and role-playing aspects in the gameplay.

Players take control of Cloud Strife, a mercenary who joins the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE to combat the Shinra Corporation, which has been stealing the planet’s life essence. Every feature came to life with real-time polygonal visuals.

Character development has been greatly expanded, and there are several important narrative additions in this chapter.

13. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Sega produced and released Yakuza: Like a Dragon, a role-playing video game. It is the eighth release in the Yakuza game series.

Also, the release was on January 16, 2020, in Japan and Asia for PlayStation 4. On November 10, 2020, it was released globally for Microsoft Windows (except Japan, East, and Southeast Asia).

This game is unlike previous Yakuza games. Usually, they revolve around Kazuma Kiryu. He is a man attempting to live a regular life after he retires from the Tojo Clan.

This game features a new protagonist named Ichiban Kasuga. Ichiban embarks on a personal adventure to become a hero and learn the reason for his betrayal.

The game provides the player with bilingual (Japanese and English) audio. Both players and critics praised Like a Dragon for its story, characters, gameplay, and unique perspective.

14. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy

Gust has released Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, which is another role-playing video game. It is the Atelier series’ twenty-second main entry, the second game in the Secret plot.

Also, the first game in the series with a recurring protagonist. The gameplay style is similar to that of the earlier games. To equip the group and complete tasks, players must use alchemy to create things.

The combat system, which combines parts of turn-based and real-time fighting, is also back, but with upgrades.

According to review aggregator Metacritic, Atelier Ryza 2 got good reviews across all platforms. The game had sold 220,000 copies in its first month in Asia by December 2020

By March 2021, the combined sales of Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2 had surpassed one million copies.

15. Scarlet Nexus

Scarlet Nexus is a Bandai Namco Studios and Tose action role-playing game. It is published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.

Critics gave the game mostly decent reviews, with praise for the fighting but criticism for the side quests.

In this video game, the player takes on the role of a third-person character. Players can take control of Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall, members of the Other Suppression Force (OSF). Their task is to defend New Himuka from the Others.

Both Yuito and Kasane have the talent of psychokinesis, which allows them to hurl objects and trash at hostile adversaries while equipped with brief weaponry like a sword.

16. Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is from the year 2015. Gust developed it for the PlayStation 3 (exclusive to Japan), PlayStation 4 (digital-only), and Microsoft Windows.

In addition to a new alchemy-centric system, the game boasts an entirely revised worldview from previous editions in the series.

Sophie can get recipe ideas from various activities such as harvesting, exploring, battling, or events.

She uses these ideas to improve her alchemy knowledge. The player gets numerous different shapes representing the elements important in alchemy.

Also, she must place each shape on a jigsaw board that depicts the cauldron.

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