Top 20 Best JRPGs on Steam
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Top 20 Best JRPGs on Steam
Dragon Quest XI is an incredible tribute to everything fans love about classic JRPGs. For all intents and purposes, it’s a turn-based JRPG for the modern age, introducing new mechanics and ideas that make its combat easier to digest for newcomers.
The game’s story tells the tried-and-true narrative of good vs evil, but the characters of Dragon Quest XI are an absolute delight. Each character has their own involved plotline and story that runs concurrent to the main story, and there are some great twists that happen. It’s easily one of the best ensemble casts from any JRPG ever. Everything about Dragon Quest XI, from its gorgeous cel-shaded style to its interesting and explorable towns, screams quality and it’s an experience no JRPG fan should miss.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition and Tales of Symphonia
There are a handful of Tales games available on Steam, but if you haven’t played the series before Tales of Vesperia is the best place to start. Vesperia tells the story of Yuri Lowell, an ex-knight who in a twist of fate ends up helping a princess escape the castle he’s imprisoned in.
Like most Tales games, Vesperia features a phenomenal cast of characters who all build up interesting relationships with one another. Much like Dragon Quest XI, each party member in Vesperia has their own story arc and moment to shine. Vesperia’s fast-paced action combat is also a nice break from turn-based RPGs, and you can directly control any of the game’s nine party members, allowing for a ton of variation. The good news is that if you like Vesperia you can jump right into Tales of Symphonia, Zestiria, and Berseria, all on Steam.
Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World set the world on fire when it released in 2017, and for good reason. It’s the most ambitious, all-inclusive game for the idea of the hunting genre, letting players fine-tune their own character to take down fearsome beasts.
Monster Hunter World is a massive, gorgeous game that provides a ton of variety as you explore its various locales and track down different monsters. Of course, the actual fights are the true thrill and each beast you take down in World feels like a massive struggle; one that you absolutely need to prepare and plan for. Multiplayer and co-op options only help make Monster World even more robust, and it’s easily one of the best JRPGs of the last decade.
Final Fantasy Series
Okay, this might be cheating, but there are so many great Final Fantasy games on Steam it’s impossible to just pick one. Pretty much the entire main franchise is available, outside of Final Fantasy I and II, and many of the games feature remastered or updated versions that add things like cheats and turbo modes.
There are so many options available to JRPG fans; the political drama heavy world of Ivalice in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, the all-time classic Final Fantasy VII, the gorgeous world of Eos in Final Fantasy XV, the massive MMO Final Fantasy XIV, and much more. If you’re looking for quality JRPGs, you can’t get any better than Final Fantasy.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Nihon Falcom is a severely underappreciate JRPG developer, and you’ll see them pop up a few times here, with their first game being Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. Despite being the 8th entry, don’t worry, you won’t need any previous knowledge of the Ys series to jump right in.
You play as the famous adventurer Adol Christin. He and his companion Dogi are aboard the commercial ship The Lombardia when it crash lands on a mysterious island. Adol and Dogi have to team up with others from the shipwreck to track down all of the survivors and create a base camp, where they can explore and survive the dangers of the island. Ys VIII’s combat is absolutely phenomenal, fast-paced and action-centric with AI party members that feel truly useful. A gripping story and interesting mechanics that tie into saving survivors are just a couple of the other reasons to give this one a try.
Long Gone Days
Even though it’s still technically in Early Access, Long Gone Days is a game done in the JRPG style that sports fantastic art and some weighty, topical issues. The game takes place on modern Earth in an unofficial country called The Core, where people are trained from their birth for particular jobs. The main character, Rourke, has been trained as a military sniper.
Long Gone Days helps add a bit of realism by requiring you to recruit interpreters as you travel around the world, in order to talk to certain NPCs. Combat is turn-based while the story is told through a visual novel-like format. Strong writing about the realities of war help ground the game, and the anime art style has a kind of polished sheen to it that just makes Long Gone Days pop. The final product is supposed to be around 5 hours, but if you’re looking for a realistic-styled JRPG to play, you might give Long Gone Days a try.
What can be said about Chrono Trigger that hasn’t been said already? One of the greatest JRPGs of all time, Chrono Trigger was a huge influence on the genre, turn-based combat, and how party members tied into the overall narrative.
While Chrono Trigger’s combat and gameplay are still fantastic, it’s the big moments that are still so memorable. The festival at the opening, the big twist in the middle, the first instance you travel through time; they’re things that fans have remembered for decades. If you haven’t experienced Chrono Trigger yet, you have no excuse, even if the Steam version isn’t the best version out there.
NieR: Automata was an instant cult classic in the making, thanks in no small part to the absurd weirdness of its creator, Yoko Taro. Automata takes place on Earth in the far future, after humanity has been nearly eradicated by a race of machine lifeforms. The only ones left to combat the machines are the YoRHa combat androids, like 2B and 9S, the game’s main characters.
Co-developed by Platinum Games, Automata features a phenomenal combat system that’s based around pulling off lengthy combos and timing attacks. The game consistently mixes things up, however, with bullet hell and other unique segments. Automata’s story is also riveting, and one that has multiple layers of meta-commentary on video games themselves, and how we play them.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
While you can just as easily jump into the very first Valkyria Chronicles, arguably Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a better place to start. With both gameplay and graphical improvements, Valkyria Chronicles 4 has the best gameplay of the entire franchise, with serious tactical battles that really require you to dig deep on planning and strategy.
The story of Valkyria Chronicles 4 runs concurrently to the first game, and focuses on Squad E, an elite squad of Gallian soldiers sent on a suicide mission into Imperial territory in a last-ditch effort to end the war. Strong voice acting helps prop up an already strong cast of characters, and whether it’s for the tactical gameplay or story, JRPG fans should find a lot to love with Valkyria Chronicles 4.
Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel
While series like Final Fantasy might get all the attention, The Legend of Heroes is a phenomenal JRPG franchise that’s easily overlooked. Also from Nihon Falcom, The Legend of Heroes sports the Trails in the Sky trilogy and two Trails of Cold Steel games, with the third one on the way later in 2019. There are also two other games and Trails of Cold Steel IV, which have not made their way West, unfortunately.
All of the Trails games feature turn-based combat that’s based around positioning and area-of-effect for attacks. There are also random effects that happen in battle on turns, like one turn you might randomly get some HP restored, but this effect can also apply to enemies depending on turn order. In all regards, the Trails games are slow burns that meticulously take time to flesh out their worlds and characters. If that’s what you like, however, boy are you in for a treat.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed
Akiba’s Trip is a game that could only stem from the ridiculousness of anime. You play as a young man who inadvertently stumbles into a major conspiracy in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, where beings known as “Synthisters” feast on people’s social energy and will to live. The only way to get rid of one of these creatures is by stripping off their clothes and exposing them to sunlight, that’s right.
It’s honestly a lot less pervy than it sounds, and Akiba’s Trip plays its main gag for humor and slapstick. Underneath it all, however, there’s a surprisingly detailed recreation of Akihabara that’s a lot of fun to explore. At the same time, the game’s wacky combat can be great fun as you crazily rip clothes off of Synthisters and use a hodge-podge of ridiculous weapons. It’s a game that’s drenched in Japanese culture and references, if that’s your thing.
Nioh: Complete Edition
Soulsborne games have become all the rage these days, especially in light of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Yet, there’s another fantastic Souls-like that tackles a feudal Japan setting, Nioh. Coming from the studio Team Ninja, Nioh feels like a fusion of Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden, in the best way possible.
Nioh puts a heavy emphasis on weapons combos, and each weapon has different stances that make it act differently in combat. You play as William, a blonde-haired Irishman trained in the way of the Samurai, who pursues a deadly foe to Japan. The game is steeped with style and mood used in classic Samurai films, and considering the entire project stemmed from an Akira Kurosawa script, it makes sense. Nioh is one of the best Souls-like games you can get, that isn’t actually developed by FromSoftware themselves.
The Disgaea games have aged like fine wine, only getting better and even more enjoyable over time. You play as Laharl, a demon prince striving to become the new Overlord of the Underworld, teaming up with demons and angels alike in the process. The comedy in Disgaea is still top notch, and the level of control the game gives you over its gameplay and strategy is impeccable.
This is a super complex SRPG that lets you fine-tune the difficulty however you see fit, and ultimately cause literally millions of points of damage to enemies. The PC version also features updated UI and textures, making everything even sleeker. With a bright art style, a zany story, and complex systems, Disgaea remains one of the very best SPRGs out there.
Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
Have you ever wondered what happens in the daily life of a JRPG item shop? If so, then Recettear is definitely the game for you. Recette Lemongrass is a young girl who’s father left to become an adventurer, and she was lumped with the huge debt he owes Terme Finance. By turning their house into an item shop, she hopes to pay back the debt.
The game plays out in a daily cycle, and you’ll have to place items in your shop deciding which ones go where, haggle with customers, and explore dungeons with adventurers to find more items. The story constantly keeps things light and funny, and the shopkeeping gameplay can easily draw you in, giving off that “one more day” effect.
Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk
Labyrinth of Refrain is a dungeon-crawling RPG that comes from the minds behind Disgaea, and it sports a similar kind of art style and tongue-in-cheek humor. The game takes place in a town called Refrain, where a cursed underground labyrinth sprawls beneath the town. A witch named Madame Dronya and her assistant Luca show up to investigate the labyrinth, and they come bearing a mystical book called Tractatus de Monstrum, which is actually you the player.
If you’ve played the Etrian Odyssey games or Persona Q you should be familiar with the type of gameplay in Labyrinth of Refrain. You explore dungeons from a first-person perspective and engage enemies in turn-based battles. There’s a big emphasis on surviving dungeons and pushing as far as you can. Labyrinth of Refrain may not be the best JRPG out there, but it’s witty humor and bright art style are enough to warrant jumping in.
Grandia II: Anniversary Edition
The Grandia series has faded into memory over the years, but Grandia II still remains one of the very best classic JRPGs. Casting you as a mercenary named Ryudo, Grandia II is well-known for its mature storytelling, robust cast of character, and interesting twist on active-time battle that lets you run around the battlefield and even cancel enemy’s moves.
The Anniversary Edition also upgrades the classic JRPG in some nice ways, providing a visual upgrade to all aspects, a brand new difficulty level, 100 save slots, and more. If you’ve never experienced this classic before, the Steam version is the best way to do so.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
The first Ni No Kuni was a brilliant fusion of Studio Ghibli animation and Level-5 RPGs, and while Ghibli isn’t involved in Ni No Kuni II, it still retains that same charm and aesthetic. Taking the role of King Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, you have to reclaim your kingdom after a wrongful coup puts you on the run.
The way Ni No Kuni II blends its disparate elements together is simply wonderful, with a kingdom building system that affects your combat capabilities and stats directly. Combat is fast-paced and frenetic, a huge improvement over the first game, and it very much feels comparable to something like a Tales game. With an engrossing story and cast of characters added into the mix, Ni No Kuni II is easily one of the best JRPGs in years.
Child of Light
It may sound strange, but Child of Light is basically a JRPG developed by Ubisoft. Using their UbiArt Framework engine, you play as a young princess named Aurora who awakens in a fantasy world called Lemura. You explore the world of Child of Light in side-scroller fashion, but battles play out in a turn-based ATB system, like that found in Final Fantasy or Grandia.
There’s also a surprise strike and ambush mechanic, like you can find in the Tales games, that put you at an advantage or disadvantage in battle. Although it may not be as long as your typical JRPG, Child of Light is a fascinating little experiment that blends together traditional JRPG elements with that of Western games. To make matters better, there’s an interesting story and gorgeous world to explore too.
Tokyo Xanadu eX+
Another Falcom title, Tokyo Xanadu is about as close as you can get to Persona, without being Persona. Taking place in modern-day Tokyo, you play as Kou Tokisaka, a young high school student who, by accident, end ups finding out about a parallel world called Eclipse, and the secret organizations that protect the real world from it.
Tokyo Xanadu uses a real-time combat system that has you exploring dungeons and taking down enemies with different elemental properties, which you can take advantage of with the properties of your own party members, who you can swap between on the fly. When not exploring the Eclipse, you’ll be spending time attending school and hanging out with friends, forming bonds with them in the process. It’s a ton of fun to explore the city of Morimiya, and Tokyo Xanadu has a lengthy story to play through. While the main story may not do anything totally surprising, the cast of characters are incredibly likable, and each one is interesting in their own way.
Cosmic Star Heroine
Cosmic Star Heroine draws inspiration from some of the greatest JRPGs of all time, particularly Chrono Trigger, and it sports a similar sprite-based art style. You play as Alyssa L’Salle, a top agent for the galactic government who discovers a shadowy conspiracy and must put a stop to it.
Battles play out directly on the field, just like in Chrono Trigger, and you can link battles together for greater rewards and experience. There are 11 playable party members, however, the game also has a base-building mechanic that lets you recruit tons of different NPCs for various boosts and effects, similar to Suikoden. Despite drawing so many inspirations, Cosmic Star Heroine is definitely a JRPG worthy of standing on its own.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
The game's story tells the tried-and-true narrative of good vs evil, but the characters of Dragon Quest XI are an absolute delight. Each character has their own involved plotline and story that runs concurrent to the main story, and there are some great twists that happen. It's easily one of the best ensemble casts from any JRPG ever. Everything about Dragon Quest XI, from its gorgeous cel-shaded style to its interesting and explorable towns, screams quality and it's an experience no JRPG fan should miss.