Some argue that JRPGs reached their pinnacle during the ’90s and early 2000s, with iconic titles on the SNES, PS1, and PS2. While this period did produce some of the genre’s most memorable games, the JRPG scene has remained vibrant in recent years, offering a steady stream of fantastic titles. Each year continues to deliver noteworthy JRPG experiences, making it increasingly challenging to compile a list of the best ones. Here, we’ll explore some standout JRPGs released after 2016, each bringing its own unique charm and gameplay.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and The Dice of Fate – 79
Originally released in Japan in 2010, Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate finally made its way to the West in 2016. As part of the Mystery Dungeon subseries, this game retains the classic gameplay loop of grid-based dungeons where enemies move with your every step. With roguelike elements, players must navigate randomly generated dungeons to collect valuable loot and survive dangerous encounters. Shiren the Wanderer is no walk in the park, requiring strategic thinking and clever use of your arsenal to endure.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot – 79
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot might not be the first title that comes to mind when you think of JRPGs, but it’s a unique blend of arena fighting and role-playing. It faithfully recreates the main arcs of the DBZ saga, allowing players to step into the shoes of iconic Z Fighters. Beyond the battles, the game offers a social system, fishing, cooking, and exploration in free-roaming zones. Characters have skill trees for unlocking and upgrading moves, catering mainly to die-hard fans of the anime.
SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions – 79
Formerly known as Final Fantasy Legends, the SaGa franchise has a rich history with experimental battle systems. Scarlet SaGa presents intriguing ideas, though not all are executed flawlessly. The game features a non-linear approach to exploration, allowing players to pick nodes on a map that lead to quests or battles. The turn-based battle system emphasizes strategic planning, as action points limit each character’s actions per round. Character development depends on their preferred battle skills, providing players with customization options.
One Piece Odyssey – 79
Licensed games often struggle to meet expectations, but One Piece Odyssey offers a glimmer of hope for fans of the beloved series. This turn-based JRPG, released in 2023, follows the Straw Hats as they are shipwrecked on a mysterious island and must relive their historic battles to regain their powers. The game boasts stunning visuals and introduces divided battlefield areas in combat. While it primarily caters to One Piece enthusiasts, it’s a step in the right direction for anime-based games.
Yo-Kai Watch 3 – 80
Yo-kai Watch, a staple of the 2010s, introduced players to a world where they could befriend spirits and summon them for battles. While the combat may not be overly challenging, the game shines in world-building, humor, and storytelling. Yo-Kai Watch 3 offers a welcoming entry point for newcomers, requiring no prior knowledge of the series.
Paper Mario: The Origami King – 80
Paper Mario has evolved away from its turn-based RPG roots, but The Origami King retains enough role-playing elements to appeal to fans. It offers a charming mix of action-adventure, puzzles, exploration, and humor. While the battle system may differ from traditional JRPGs, Paper Mario: The Origami King excels in creativity and imagination.
Scarlet Nexus – 80
Scarlet Nexus stands out as a new JRPG IP with ambitious action-oriented gameplay. It provides over 50 hours of gameplay with two protagonists and a gripping narrative set in a world threatened by mysterious entities known as the Other. The fast-paced combat system evolves throughout the campaign, offering a satisfying experience for JRPG enthusiasts.
Honkai: Star Rail – 81
For fans of turn-based combat, Honkai: Star Rail presents an appealing option set in a sci-fi-themed universe divided into planets. The game’s dynamic turn-based system emphasizes building a balanced team and unlocking new characters through gacha mechanics. Beyond battles, it offers expansive maps similar in structure to Genshin Impact’s world.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – 81
Originally released on the Wii U, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore combines Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem characters in an Atlus-developed JRPG. With accessible, turn-based combat and a stylish presentation, it’s a charming addition to the genre.
Sakuna: Of Rice And Ruin – 82
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin offers a unique blend of farming simulation and side-scrolling action. Players take on the role of Sakuna, a goddess learning to live like humans while cultivating rice and exploring dungeons. The game’s in-depth farming mechanics and fast-paced combat system provide a well-rounded experience.
Etrian Odyssey Nexus – 81
Etrian Odyssey harks back to classic dungeon crawlers with a cute anime aesthetic. Nexus focuses on deep progression and battle systems, offering a truly adventurous experience as players explore unknown territories.
Bravely Default 2 – 83
Bravely Default 2 carries on the tradition of old-school turn-based JRPGs with a heavy emphasis on Jobs and customization. It offers a classic RPG experience for fans of the genre.
Digimon Survive – 83
Digimon Survive presents a tactical RPG experience combined with visual novel elements. While battles are solid, players should be prepared for substantial reading as the story unfolds.
Live A Live – 83
Originally released in Japan in 1994, Live A Live finally reached the West with a Switch remake. It offers a unique structure with mini-stories featuring different settings and protagonists, tied together by an ambitious narrative.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom – 84
Building on the success of its predecessor, Ni no Kuni 2 offers a more mature tone, stunning visuals, and revamped combat. It’s a must-play for JRPG enthusiasts.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey – 84
This remake of the DS classic adds a side campaign starring Bowser Jr., offering enjoyable battles, puzzles, and giant battles.
Shin Megami Tensei 5 – 84
A rare numbered entry in the Shin Megami Tensei series, SMT 5 offers a dark and challenging post-apocalyptic JRPG experience with deep strategic options.
NEO: The World Ends With You – 85
A sequel to the beloved The World Ends with You, NEO features an action-oriented combat system and a captivating story with charming characters and fantastic music.
Labyrinth Of Galleria: The Moon Society – 85
The follow-up to Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk offers a dungeon-crawling experience with extensive party customization and the unique concept of covens.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology – 85
This remake of the Nintendo DS classic makes the complex time-travel-themed narrative more accessible, offering an underappreciated gem for 3DS owners.
These JRPGs showcase the genre’s continued vitality, offering a diverse range of experiences for both longtime fans and newcomers to
enjoy. With each game bringing its own unique style and gameplay mechanics, there’s something for everyone in the world of modern JRPGs.