Star Ocean: The Last Hope (PS3, Xbox 360)
The Last Hope chronologically take place the earliest in the Star Ocean series, and it details mankind’s journey to find a new hospitable planet after World War III. The game follows Edge Maverick and Reimi Saionji, members of the Space Reconnaissance Force, who are sent on an expeditionary mission to save humanity. The two meet a cast of alien beings who end up joining their crew, and as you’d expect become embroiled in a battle for the fate of the universe itself.
Building Edge’s relationship with each of the party members can even unlock additional scenes at the end of the game. Not all of the characters and voice performances are pulled off perfectly, but the party is still a likable cast that grow together as the game progresses.
The real star of The Last Hope, however, is its stellar battle system. Four character participate in battle at once, and you have the option of controlling any one character at any time. You have standard attacks as well as special skills, in addition to new features like blindsides that let you instantly slip behind an enemy for a surprise attack. It’s an incredibly fast battle system that’s easy to pick up, but difficult to master.
Luckily, you don’t need to have any experience with the Star Ocean series to play The Last Hope. It’s the perfect spacefaring, planet-hopping adventure to tide you over for a month or so.
Infinite Space (Nintendo DS)
Infinite Space is a title on the Nintendo DS from Platinum Games, the makers of Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising. The game takes place tens of thousands of years in the future, after mankind has spread across the stars and inhabited other planets and systems. Infinite Space’s story is separated into two different halves ten years apart, both focusing on a young starship captain-in-training named Yuri.
The core gameplay of Infinite Space revolves around you constructing your own spaceship, and engaging in battles with it. Battles play out in a turn-based manner, and have you selecting moves from the touchscreen. There are over 150 ship models to choose from, and over 150 crew members to join your crew.
Infinite Space certainly isn’t a short experience, as completing just the main story alone takes around 40 hours. Considering you can take it on the go, it may just be the perfect thing to tide you over.
System Shock 2 (PC)
System Shock 2 remains one of the most acclaimed sci-fi RPGs of all time, and even inspired titles like BioShock. The cyberpunk style game takes place onboard a starship in 2114, where you play as a soldier trying to stem the outbreak of a genetic infection.
The game is played from a first person perspective, and combines elements of role-playing and survival horror. You get to create your own character, and even choose what profession they’re in, which will give you different bonuses and skills. System Shock 2 featured a drag-and-drop inventory system, hacking, audio logs, and other designs aspects that we’ve seen more and more in first person titles over the years.
The game nails its atmosphere perfectly, and there’s a chilling feeling that permeates the entire experience. System Shock 2 remains an important title for both RPGs and FPS games, and it’s definitely worth returning to during the wait for Andromeda.
Deus Ex (PC, PS2)
The original Deus Ex was a defining game for RPGs, as well as player choice driven experiences. The series is set in a dystopian, cyberpunk future where several organization and companies vie for control of the world. At the start of the first Deus Ex in 2052, the world is facing a devastating nano-virus called the Gray Death. You play as JC Denton, a rookie nano-augmented agent of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO).
After he’s sent to deal with terrorist cells, Denton discovers the truth about the ancient organization known as the Illuminati and their machinations. The story will play out very differently depending on what you do, and you even have an impressive amount of freedom in missions.
Deus Ex lets you tackle objective any way you want, by sneaking in through a vent, shooting a place up, or anything in between. It’s played from a first-person perspective, and as you’d expect you get plenty of weapons and tools to help you along your way. It’s a game with plenty of twists and dramatic turns, and if you enjoy the first Deus Ex, there’s three more great titles to play.
Rogue Galaxy (PS2, PS4)
Rogue Galaxy comes from Level-5, the makers of games like Yo-Kai Watch and Dark Cloud. You start the game as Jaster Rogue, a young man who’s spent his whole life on the desert planet Rosa, but dreams of travelling the stars. Two pirates arrive on his planet, and Jaster ends up being mistaken for a famous bounty hunter named Desert Claw. Because of this Jaster gets his wish, but eventually unwittingly becomes part of a galactic conflict.
Rogue Galaxy has an incredibly rich universe to explore, with equally rich characters. It’s a party-based game, and each of the main characters have a distinct, and often eccentric, personality. Combat uses a real-time hack and slash system, that also lets you use a host of different special attacks and moves. There’s also a fairly deep weapon synthesis system, and something called Revelation Flow, similar to the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X, which has you leveling your character via an ability board.
The presentation of Rogue Galaxy only helps elevate the game, as voice performances are great across the board, and the cel-shaded art style looks absolutely gorgeous. This is one massive sci-fi RPG you really shouldn’t miss out on.
Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
Xenoblade Chronicles X splits off from the original game’s story, but still contains many of the same themes and gameplay elements. This new title takes place on the alien planet of Mira, after an earth evacuation ship called the Los Angeles crash lands. Humans create a settlement on the planet, and try to find out more about the alien threat that attacked earth.
X is an open-world game with a large emphasis on exploration. The world of Mira is massive, gorgeous, and deadly so you’ll need to do your best to stay alive. Combat is very similar to the first game, as it’s party-focused and real time, having you select abilities from an “Arts Pallete” on the bottom of the screen.
There’s a lengthy adventure to have in Xenoblade Chronicles X, and it’s definitely filled with more sci-fi themes than the first game, which had more of a fantasy flair. Make it about 25 hours in and you’ll even unlock a giant mech known as a Skell, making your time on Mira all the better.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, iOS, Android, Xbox)
Star Wars has had many video game adaptions, but KOTOR stands head and shoulder above nearly all of them. This RPG comes from Bioware themselves, and sets the stage thousands of years before the main Star Wars series, in the old republic. The story revolves around your created character, who becomes a central figure in the war between the Jedi Order and the Sith Empire.
KOTOR helped develop many of the things people love about modern Bioware games; relationship building with party members, romances, moral choices, and more. Of course, it wasn’t the first Bioware game to do these things, but it was the best up to this point. KOTOR manages to build an incredibly engaging Star Wars universe, filled with brand new characters, locations, and factions. Yet, somehow, everything feels familiar, as Bioware absolutely nails the feeling and tone of the series. For any Mass Effect or sci-fi RPG fan, KOTOR is a no brainer.
Xenosaga Trilogy (PS2)
Xenosaga is a trilogy of sci-fi JRPGs on the PlayStation 2, following a group of characters through a galactic conflict with the stakes being existence itself. The main character of the series is Shion Uzuki, a scientist working on an experimental android known as KOS-MOS. The android is being designed to combat Gnosis, mysterious creatures that appeared and are hellbent on destroying human life.
All three Xenosaga games tell a sweeping sci-fi epic sprinkled with tons of religious and existential themes. They’re not short games, and feature lengthy cutscenes, but it’s an intriguing story with many moving parts. Each game uses a turn-based combat system, and each character of your party has unique skillsets and strengths. Secondary battles also have you taking control of mechs called AWGS, in the same style of turn-based combat.
Xenosaga Episode III is easily the best of the series, but the first two are basically required reading to understand what’s going on. The third title improves everything from the presentation, to the pacing and battle system. Traveling along with Shion and the group isn’t an experience you’ll soon forget, and Xenosaga is the perfect sci-fi RPG series to draw you in for hours upon hours.
Shadowrun Returns (PC, iOS, Android)
Shadowrun Returns was successfully Kickstarted in 2013, and it took the series back to its roots. The game is played from a top-down isometric view, and you create your character from five different races; Elves, Orcs, Trolls, Dwarves, and Humans.
The series takes place in a futuristic, dystopic sci-fi universe. You play as as Shadowrunner, elite criminals hired by governments and organizations to do their dirty work. Combat has your controlling a party in turn-based combat, moving and using skills based on Action Points. Although the game is mostly linear, there’s some exploration and plenty of conversations to see.
Shadowrun Returns tells and engaging story filled with conspiracies and twists. Even better, the titles has received two expansions that can be played as standalone releases, called Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Look no farther if you’re looking for a traditional sci-fi RPG, with a bit of a fantasy twist.
Resonance of Fate (PS3, Xbox 360)
Resonance of Fate takes place on a post apocalyptic Earth, after atmospheric pollution has destroyed almost all human life. The remnants of humanity construct a purification system called Basel, and the remaining humans construct a new civilization around the systems base tower. Humans are now given social ranks at birth, which basically decide the course of their life.
The title has huge steampunk inspirations in both its story and look. You play as a party of three characters named Zephyr, Leanne, and Vashyron. The trio are all mercenaries taking on odd jobs around Basel to earn their pay, and they each have a dark past to uncover.
Combat, while turn based, has a twist also throwing in elements of real time battle. You control each character with a certain number of action points, and can move them around the battlefield shooting at enemies or taking other actions until their turn is up. It’s a complicated battle system that definitely takes some getting used to, but can be incredibly rewarding once you’ve gotten the hang of things.
Resonance of Fate’s interesting steam punk setting, and mysterious main story are a nice change of pace for sci-fi RPGs. It certainly takes a while to get into, but it’s one of those titles that only keeps getting better the longer you play.