Child of Light
Child of Light is a brilliant little JRPG made by…… Ubisoft. That’s right. Despite coming from the huge Western publisher, Child of Light heavily uses many systems and ideas traditionally found in JRPGs, and it even sports a similar aesthetic style.
You play as a young girl named Aurora, a princess born to a Duke in 1895 Austria. On the day before Easter Aurora seemingly dies in her sleep, only to wake up in a mystical fantasy world called Lemuria.
You’ll explore the world of Lemuria in 2D sidescroller style, but battles take place in traditional turn-based RPG style, sporting a system similar to the Active Time Battle of Final Fantasy.
Child of Light uses Ubisoft’s UbiArt Framework engine, the same as Rayman Legends, and it’s a stunningly gorgeous game to behold. Combat is instantly familiar to any fan of RPGs and there’s a charming and heartfelt story underneath. Clocking in at roughly 10-12 hours for a playthrough, Child of Light is the perfect way to spend a lazy weekend.
Ys is a prolific JRPG series that’s been running for over 30 years, so it can be hard to get into. However, Ys Origin is a great way to try out the franchise and gives you a nice little JRPG experience to beat over a weekend.
Ys Origin functions as a prequel to the entire series, and has you exploring a tower infested with demons and other threats. There are three different characters to play as; Yunica who wields axes and greatswords, Hugo who wields wands and magic, and a character nicknamed “The Claw” who uses short-range claw weapons.
If you’re just playing through the main story you can finish Ys Origin in roughly 13-15 hours, and it’s filled with exciting boss battles and lore for the franchise. There’s plenty more to do if you want, of course, but if you’re looking for a fun little action-JRPG to play through in a weekend, Ys Origin is the perfect pick.
Yo-Kai Watch took Japan by storm when it released years ago, and while the series never hit it off the same in the West, it’s still a fun Pokemon-lite experience. In Yo-Kai Watch you play as a young boy or girl as they meet a strange spirit named Whisper, who introduces them to the world of Yo-Kai, Pokemon-like creatures inspired by Japanese culture and myths.
Yo-Kai Watch is a super laid-back experience that has you exploring the town of Springdale, meeting new and interesting Yo-Kai, and solving people’s problems. You can capture the spirits using the Yo-Kai Watch, then battle them in simple turn-based battles.
The real appeal of Yo-Kai Watch, though, is just how weird and charming the world and characters are. So many of the spirits are a blast to meet and learn about, and there’s just something inherently charming about the experience. Luckily, you can also beat the first game in about 18-20 hours, so a full weekend if you need something to do.
Vagrant Story might be pushing it a little with that “beat in a weekend idea” but clocking in at roughly 24 hours, you can still do it if you’ve got a totally empty weekend. Although they aren’t obvious, Vagrant Story actually has some tenuous links to the world of Ivalice from Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics, taking place far in the future.
You play as Ashley Riot, an elite agent known as a Riskbreaker, who has to travel to the ruined city of Lea Monde to investigate the link between a cult leader and a Valendian Parliament member.
Vagrant Story has an utterly fantastic story that heavily layers on mystery and intrigue. You explore the ruins of the city in third-person, solving puzzles and engaging in light platforming. On the other side of the coin, combat uses an interesting pausable real-time system where you can halt combat and target specific body parts to do more damage.
Risk is also a huge part of combat, with a Risk bar that as it fills lowers your accuracy and defense but boosts your critical hit chance. Vagrant Story is an all-time classic JRPG, and the super underappreciated game deserves a playthrough from any fan of the genre.
Who’d have thought that an RPG about golf would be so much fun, but boy if Golf Story isn’t one of the best games on Nintendo Switch. The game has you playing as a young golfer down on his luck, who’s looking to rekindle his love for the game, and ends up becoming a world-class golfer in the process.
You have to travel to different environments and locales, playing games of nine holes in a traditional three-click golfing system. What makes Golf Story so fun, though, is how weird and wacky its world is. While you’re playing you’ll have to do things like bounce your ball off of turtle shells, or deal with moles that’ll take your ball and move it somewhere else.
There’s some hilarious writing to back everything up, and the art style is almost reminiscent of something like Stardew Valley. Taking about 15 hours to beat, Golf Story is a charming little RPG to play over a couple of days.
South Park: Stick of Truth
South Park is one of the most renowned animated shows of all time, so it should come as no surprise that the South Park RPG is a blast. Stick of Truth spoofs high fantasy series like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, while also poking fun at RPGs and video games in general.
The game casts you as the “New Kid” who just moved to South Park and has to join the kid’s battle over the Stick of Truth. You can beat Stick of Truth in roughly 10-12 hours and there’s seriously something novel about being able to explore South Park and interact with its strange residents.
Combat takes the form of simple turn-based battles, with each of the South Park characters fulfilling a different role, as well as your created character. It’s the perfect light-hearted RPG to kick back and relax with.
Supergiant Games has made a serious name for themselves in the indie scene over the years, but that all started with Bastion, a fascinating little action-RPG. Easily one of the great indie games of all time, you play as the Kid, who’s woken up in a destroyed and broken world with no recollection of what’s going on.
You have to explore the broken world and discover what’s happened, all while fighting mysterious enemies and fending for your life. Bastion has a really smart way of using a narrator, one that actually adapts and changes based on what you’re doing in the game.
It’s not the most complex of RPGs, but Bastion does give you plenty of options for using and upgrading different weapons, as well as your character. It’s also a game you can easily plug through in a day, with about seven to eight free hours.
The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga comprises of three different epic strategy RPGs, but each one can easily be finished in a weekend as they all clock in at about 10-12 hours. The game takes place in a fictional world heavily inspired by Norse mythology and Viking myth.
The world has fallen into perpetual twilight since the sun stopped moving weeks ago, and rock-like creatures known as the Dredge have flooded out from underground to invade the surface.
Choice is an integral part of The Banner Saga games, and it has a huge impact on the story, as well as who lives and dies. The tactical gameplay can be quite challenging, as you have limited opportunities to level characters and boost their stats. However, if you lose in battle the game isn’t over, you’ll continue on your journey and have to pay the consequences.
Each game makes improvements on the last, and things only get better if you find yourself enjoying the first Banner Saga.
Jade Empire is one of the most unique games ever made by the RPG master at BioWare, taking place in a world heavily based on Chinese history and mythology. Just like most BioWare games, Jade Empire puts a heavy emphasis on choice, whether that’s which premade character you choose to play as, to weighty moral decisions in the story.
Jade Empire tells a gripping story highlighted by some fantastic martial arts-based combat. Instead of different weapons you’ll basically be swapping between different martial arts and mystical combat styles in battle, each of which functions differently and is used for different situations.
On top of this, you’ll be able to bring one follower with you at all times, choosing from a fascinating group of party members (after all that’s what BioWare does best).
If you haven’t played Jade Empire yet do yourself a favor and pick it up, with one weekend you can beat it in 15-20 hours if you’re just flying through the story. Now we just have to wait and pray that someday BioWare makes a sequel.
Costume Quest comes from the comedic minds at Double Fine, and it sports their trademark charm and style. This adorable little RPG can be beaten in roughly 10 hours, and it practically functions as a homage to the entire genre.
You play as twins Reynold and Wren on Halloween evening, as their mom asks them to make friends while trick-or-treating. After choosing which character to play as, your playable character dresses as a robot and the other dresses as candy corn. When a hungry monster sees your sibling and kidnaps him, it’s up to you to save them and make it back before the end of the night.
Most of the game is spent exploring the town and taking on quests, which reward you with hints to your sibling’s location or candy to spend as currency. However, at times you will encounter monsters to fight in turn-based battles that have the kids turning into giant realistic versions of their costumes.
Costume Quest does a great job of illustrating childlike imagination, and although it’s a pretty easy experience overall, it’s a light-hearted game to relax with over a slow weekend.