7 RPGS you MUST play
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
By Lucky Knight
RPGs (aka role-playing games) are my absolute favourite genre. But it's not so much the expansive open-world titles that the market is being flooded with that have my attention. Rather, it's the linear stories and the focused gameplay that keep me playing 50, 70, 100+ hours without ever getting bored.
Now, I was originally going to label this article as JRPGs, because let's be honest, the Japanese companies are making some insanely gorgeous, unique games that I can't get enough of. However, I do know that there are debates over what is or isn't a JRPG, with many saying that we shouldn't use the acronym at all. So to appease everybody, I stuck with the broader category and avoided any of the sub-genres. So with that out of the way, here are seven amazing RPGs (made by Japanese companies) that you simply must play.
1 | Dragon Quest XI First up is Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. Now, Dragon Quest is a series that has been around for decades and doesn't need much of an introduction. However, with new gamers coming on the scene every year, it's important to remind everybody how much they need to play this series, but more importantly, this game.
XI has everything you could possibly want from an RPG. Beautiful colours and a unique art style. An engaging story, both for the main hero and his misfit party of friends. And of course, enjoyable combat. There is so much more packed into this game, and it's not one that should be overlooked.
So why did I suggest Dragon Quest XI and not one of the other games of this enormous series? Because sometimes it's best for newcomers to get their feet wet with the shiniest instalment. Everything about the franchise is at its peak and will more easily appeal to modern gen gamers. Once you fall in love with this game, you'll be much more likely to overlook any graphical shortcomings of previous titles just to get the amazing stories and rewarding battles found in this series.
2 | Persona 5 Google "Best RPGs" and chances are you'll come across Persona 5. Now, if you get really deep into the debate, gamers will start throwing around other opinions, such as Persona 4 is better. However, as someone who broke into the series with Persona 5, I cannot confirm which game is better.
But I will say that Persona 5 is an incredible story. Each of your party members is a teenager in high school (well, mostly) and as such, they have to deal with those types of things. Going to school, taking tests, and gaining knowledge. The thing about Persona though is that it is not always a lighthearted game. It deals with very real things like abuse and greed, corruption and power. The kids have to combat these things in an attempt to save their friends, family, and people of Japan. The actual story does get very convoluted, centring on people's cognition and the corrupted desires of their hearts. You are able to travel into the Metaverse and steal these desires, i.e., their treasures. It's very unique and every bit JRPG. Besides the plot, the game itself is an experience. The music, art style, and combat all come together to create one massive, addicting game. And as crazy as the high school aspect sounds, many gamers say that they come to enjoy the real world aspects more than the Metaverse. So give this game a try if you still haven't.
3 | Tales of Berseria The Tales series is another franchise that has been going for years. Spanning across console generations, it's a series that many gamers have probably played at some point. Yet, there are still so many who never give it a second thought.
Once again, I can't speak for the earlier games, but I will tell you how much you need to play Tales of Berseria. Unlike the games that came before, Berseria is a story of betrayal and revenge. You play (primarily) as Velvet, a young girl who lived a relatively happy life with her mentor and brother. When things go terribly wrong, she finds herself transformed from girl to demon. Something within her breaks, hate seeping into her heart. From there, it's a single-minded mission to kill her betrayer, no matter the cost.
Starting off, I will say that the combat is extremely fun. It's fast, fluid, and rewarding. You can switch between different party members, gaining certain advantages over enemies and if you master this, you're well on your way to mastering the combat. However, I will also say that the combat system is a bit complex. There are moves to manage (Artes) and party members to equip. The game seems to constantly be throwing new pieces of information at you before or after a battle to let you know how to use something or how to effectively fight. Don't get overwhelmed. This is a game that doesn't require perfection for you to win.
Not to worry though. As much fun as the combat is, it's ultimately the story that grips you. From Velvet's heartbreaking background to the backstories of each of the other characters, this is your typical JRPG and you won't be able to walk away until this one is done.
4 | Ni no Kuni Switching from something more mature to a little more kid-friendly, don't be fooled by this RPG. If you are a fan of anime, more specifically Studio Ghibli, you need to play Ni no Kuni. The original Ni no Kuni is a heartwarming adventure played through the eyes of Oliver, who discovers a world beyond his own. A world of familiars, magic, and talking cats. And worst of all, an evil villain corrupting the hearts of people. There is plenty of humour and cutesy moments along the way, but that's not to say that NNK won't have you crying a time or two. And considering that this game has recently been remastered, there's no excuse to not play it.
Many gamers claim that this game is better than the sequel and perhaps they are right. But I absolutely adore Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, which is a little darker and a little more mature. But no matter which game you like better, the important thing is to play them. With the massive amount of content per game, the incredible stories, and the enjoyable gameplay, there's plenty to love within this series.
5 | Nioh Transitioning from bright colours and happy themes to brooding characters and Soulsborne-esqe settings, it's time to talk about Nioh.
If you are at all familiar with From Software, you will know what to expect of this Team Ninja creation. You play as William, an English sailor, who finds himself in war-torn Japan. This game is set in 1600, offering players the true samurai experience as you face off against other warriors and Yokai (demons) alike.
Other than that, the story isn't too prominent. You only get small pieces at a time, but it should be enough to keep most players engaged. The remarkable aspect of this game is the combat, however. You are able to switch between spears, swords, axes, and my favourite, the kusarigama. You can also choose your fighting stance which gives William certain advantages and disadvantages based off of who you are fighting. This was Sekiro before Sekiro existed. Team Ninja concocted their own combat system, giving us something distinct but intuitive.
As for the other elements of the game, so many of the in-game mechanics are distinctly Soulsborne. From levelling up to dying repeatedly, there are strong semblances that can't be ignored. Whether or not that bothers you, Nioh is still a fantastic game and certainly worth playing. After all, who doesn't want to be a samurai?
6 | Bloodborne You had to know it was coming. As much as I love video games, From Software's franchises quickly rose to the top of my rankings. And while I just as easily could have placed one of the Dark Souls titles in this spot, it only felt right to give this place of honour to Bloodborne.
Bloodborne is that title that managed to attract more than just From Soft's usual following. Gamers who would never pick up Dark Souls found themselves entranced by Bloodborne's gothic world and sinister residents. It's a haunting place, full of mystery and vague lore. Even those who are patient enough to piece together Yharnam's history don't hold all the answers. From Soft is notorious for keeping players in the dark, but that's part of the magic.
But this wouldn't be Soulsborne if it didn't have Soulsborne difficulty. The combat is punishing, but almost always fair. And above that, it's just plain rewarding, especially if you've been struggling to progress and you finally make it. This is a game that rewards persistence, and I never find it difficult to keep trying. Between the insanely fun battles to the chilling landscapes, Bloodborne is a game that I keep coming back to. And honestly, so should you.
7 | Legend of Dragoon Every single game on this list is a modern gen game. They are simple enough to pick up just about anywhere and pop into your PS4. But I couldn't create this list without mentioning my all-time favourite RPG, Legend of Dragoon.
Now, in case you have no idea what this game is, let me explain. Legend of Dragoon was a Final Fantasy-type game released on PlayStation 1 in 1999. It was four discs of story, backstory, and glorious turn-based combat.
You play as Dart, a novice warrior on a path for revenge. He has just returned to his hometown only to learn that it has been burned to the ground and his childhood friend Shana has been captured. From there, you must save your friend, meet new friends along the way, learn that you are one of the legendary dragoons from ancient history past, uncover a plot to rebirth the world in chaos, and eventually save the world.
While this game has aged by this point, the graphics were stunning for the PS1 era. The occasional cutscenes were gorgeous, aside from the terrible voice acting. It was a game that was sadly overshadowed at its release, but it stands as my favourite even to this day. And really, I have this game to thank for introducing me to the beautiful world of RPGs.
Final Thoughts RPGs have so much to offer and it's no wonder why I love this genre so much. There's something epic about embarking on a journey with a group of unlikely heroes for dozens of hours. Going on random side missions, getting beat into the ground, and levelling up until you're able to defeat the final boss and save the day.
I know that this list could easily be much longer, but these are seven amazing RPGs that you must play (if you haven't already). Let me know in the comments below what your favourite RPGs are, and as always, happy gaming!