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15 Great JRPG Series that Aren’t Final Fantasy

The Legend of Heroes, Trails in the Sky the 3rd, Announcement, western, release, date, pc

Give them a shot.

Both Shin Megami Tensei and Persona have been met with rising popularity over the years, especially with the recent release of Persona 5. Both the main SMT series and its spinoff Persona have similar elements, while being different experiences. SMT has always been known for its intense difficulty and engaging monster collecting system. Meanwhile, Persona blends dungeon crawling with real-life simulation. Both options have quite a few stellar JRPGs to choose from.

The Tales series has been running for over 20 years, and has seen an entry on nearly every system since the PS1. It’s known for its vibrant anime art style, fast-paced action combat systems, and superbly fleshed out characters. On its face each Tales game uses tropes to establish its characters and world, before putting a unique spin on those tropes to surprise players.

Dragon Quest is basically the granddaddy of JRPGs, with the first title in the series even releasing before the first Final Fantasy. With characters designs by Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama, Dragon Quest has always had its own distinct style. Each entry in the series has grown and advanced the formula, with Dragon Quest VIII generally regarded as the finest in the series, and one of the finest JRPGs of all time. Turn based, quirky goodness awaits you with Dragon Quest.

Another RPG series from Square Enix, Star Ocean is an odd blend of sci-fi and fantasy. Each entry deals with advanced beings making contact with beings from a primitive planet, along with some kind of larger universe-wide conspiracy. Every entry features an exciting action-packed combat system that lets you switch between the entire party, and there’s plenty of dungeon crawling to be had as well. These aren’t short game either, so dig in if you pick one up.

The Legend of Heroes has become more and more known in the west, with entries like Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel. The older games on PSP feel a bit dated, but the new Trails entries are marvelously written games that really focus on character development. There’s also an engaging battle system that focuses on battlefield placement and enemy weaknesses. Both Trails in the Sky and Cold Steel are easy games to sink yourself in.

The Valkyria series is entirely unique, both in aesthetic and gameplay. The series is set in a fictional pseudo-earth where special soldiers known as Valkyria exist, during the equivalent of World War II. Each entry, features a tactical combat system that has you moving one unit at a time with an action gauge, before aiming in real time. The gorgeous storybook presentation gives it an even more charming air, on top of the very human characters. The newest title Valkyria Revolution releases this summer, and ditches the tactical combat for a more action-oriented approach, although many of the series’ story themes remain.

The first NieR was one of the most overlooked titles on PS3 and Xbox 360, while NieR: Automata has certainly made its mark. Both games feature incredibly dark themes and stories, that easily hook you in emotionally. With Platinum helping develop Automata, the combat of the first game was kicked up a notch, and flows perfectly. One of the other unique aspects of both NieR titles lies in their multiple endings, where each one peels back another layer of story and lore. They’re certainly both experiences that should not be missed, and hopefully we can see another NieR at some point.

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