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Best for Unusual Storylines: Persona 5 at Amazon
"This game somehow manages to combine a simulation of life as a Japanese high schooler with a monster-killing dungeon exploration."
Best for Classic JRPG Action: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age at Amazon
"When it comes to remasters, it doesn't get much better than this"
Best for Post-Apocalyptic Mayhem: NieR: Automata at Amazon
"Perhaps the most interesting aspect of NieR: Automata is how it encourages, if not outright requires, repeated playthroughs."
Best for Dark Characters: Tales of Berseria at Amazon
"While in some ways this edition doesn't stray too far from tried and true methods, it's also not afraid to break some new ground."
Best for Open-World Adventure: Monster Hunter: World at Amazon
"The gorgeous open world, unusual approach to "leveling up", and wide range of opponents makes all the difference."
Best for a Challenge: Bloodborne at Amazon
"The designers have done a wonderful job of providing subtle hints about how best to attack an enemy or progress a little further."
Best for Unique Characters: Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance at Amazon
"Being able to build and configure every aspect of your characters is one of the best parts of the game."
Best for Younger Players: World of Final Fantasy at Amazon
"Aimed at a younger audience, while still remaining true to the legacy of Final Fantasy games before it."
Best for Diverse Gameplay: Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom at Amazon
"While it's still very much a role-playing game at heart...isn't afraid to branch out into other genres."
The latest in the long-running Persona series, this game somehow manages to combine a simulation of life as a Japanese high schooler with a monster-killing dungeon exploration game, and ends up with something wonderful.
The clock is always ticking, short-term as you decide how to spend your after-school hours each day, throughout each of a series of quests, and ultimately, towards the final deadline a couple of hundred days after you begin.
That's around 100 real hours—there's a lot to work through in this game as you socialize with friends, battle through the palaces of evil bosses, and become the leader of the mysterious yet increasingly powerful Phantom Thieves.
The distinctive visuals and varied yet cohesive soundtrack are a core part of Persona 5 and help turn this ambitious, unusual, and highly enjoyable game go from good to truly great.
Final Fantasy is arguably the most well-known JRPG series in the world, and if you're looking for a good place to start, The Zodiac Age is it. The original came out on PS2 back in 2006, and this revamped version for PS4 keeps all the best bits, tweaks several others, and improves on an already highly-enjoyable game in the process.
Gorgeous visuals bring the landscape and towns to life, as you lead a small band of adventurers into ever-harder battles. You only control one at a time but can set predefined actions for the others (heal when hit points get low, target certain types of enemies) to simplify combat.
Zodiac Age changed the progression system to help ensure more-specialized characters, and it's a better game for it. There's also a new Trial Mode, which sees your party fighting 100 enemies in a row, from hopeless to incredibly powerful. When it comes to remasters, it doesn't get much better than this.
Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, Nier: Automata starts you off in the shoes of a female android tasked with killing hostile robots and their creators. Along with your computer-controlled ally, you'll explore an open world, completing quests and dispatching enemies along the way.
Combat is frenzied and impressive, with stylish graphics and flashy maneuvers that make the most of the many weapons on offer. You can add enhancement chips that improve your stats and let you automate certain actions like healing, but when you die and respawn from the last save point, you need to make it back to the scene of the battle if you don't want to lose all those hard-earned enhancements.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of NieR: Automata is how it encourages, if not outright requires, repeated playthroughs. The game has five distinct endings and different paths to get to them, and you don't get a full understanding of the world and its history until you've played them all.
The "Tales Of" series is approaching twenty titles now, and while in some ways this edition doesn't stray too far from tried and true methods, it's also not afraid to break some new ground.
To start with, the heroine isn't much of a heroine at all. Velvet is out to avenge her brother's death and doesn't much care who gets in the way as she does so. Killing and stealing is fine if it gets her closer to her goal, and most of her companions share her dark-world view.
While the graphics and dungeon design are functional rather than inspired, they serve their purpose: creating a backdrop for the sinister characters and strong combat system. Expanded from previous games in the series, you can now attack, defend, and move at your leisure, and chain together any of your party members' wide range of abilities to unleash devastating attacks—as long as you've collected enough souls to do so.
If you've played "Tales Of" games before, you'll enjoy Berseria an awful lot. If you haven't, this is the perfect place to start.
The Monster Hunter series has been incredibly popular over the years, and World is the latest and best. At its heart, it's simple enough: you head out into the wilderness, weak and poorly-equipped, to take on an array of powerful monsters. It's the gorgeous open world, unusual approach to "leveling up", and wide range of opponents, that makes all the difference.
Rather than the usual approach of spending experience on advancing skills, you get stronger by upgrading your equipment using items from the monsters you defeat.
To defeat those monsters, you'll need to discover their weaknesses, take full advantage of that beautiful terrain, and have a fair amount of luck, especially in the early stages.
The control system has been improved and simplified from earlier games, making it more accessible to newcomers, and it's just as much fun playing solo or multiplayer. Whichever you choose, expect to spend several dozen hours enjoying your new life as a Monster Hunter.
With a deserved reputation for difficulty, Bloodborne isn't a game you'll casually master in a couple of hours — but stick with it, and you'll discover exceptional storytelling, challenging and genuinely frightening enemies, and after solving a particularly difficult puzzle or defeating a previously-unbeatable foe, some of the most satisfying moments you'll have in a computer game.
Bloodborne's combat system is masterful and action-packed, letting you roll, duck, and parry in one moment, then counter-attack with an array of multi-function weapons that can be switched up mid-attack with spectacular results.
The designers have done a wonderful job of providing subtle hints about how best to attack an enemy or progress a little further, but it's very much up to you to notice and decipher them.
You can leave coded hints for other players, and even invite them into your world to help defeat an enemy — but be aware, they could just as easily attack you as your intended target.
It's time for a visit to the cursed streets of Yharnam.
Sick of games where every character feels the same? You need to check out the Disgaea series, particularly Alliance of Vengeance. Being able to build and configure every aspect of your characters is one of the best parts of the game, and something you'll likely spend many hours doing as you try to defeat ever more powerful foes.
The cute and colorful graphics are a nice contrast to the dark realism of many RPGs, and dividing this vast game into episodes of a few battles each makes life easier for time-starved players.
With its strong storyline and lengthy campaign mode, plus the ability to build your own maps and share them with others, Disgaea 5 is an engrossing and enjoyable addition to the series, and its best yet.
Many people have described World of Final Fantasy as a combination of Final Fantasy and Pokemon, and for good reason. Incredibly cute, it's one of the most visually charming games you're likely to play, JRPG or otherwise.
Controlling a pair of twins, you capture cute Mirages as you explore the world of Grymoire, evolving them into stronger versions and choosing up to four to take into battle. A neat touch is the ability to literally stack both them and the twins on top of each other to build a single, more-powerful foe. Of course, your enemies can do the same…
Aimed at a younger audience, while still remaining true to the legacy of Final Fantasy games before it, it's a gorgeous and accessible game that players will likely return to time and again.
While it's still very much a role-playing game at heart, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom isn't afraid to branch out into other genres. Its kingdom-building aspect is reminiscent of Civilization games, for instance, and the resource management and occasional large battles bring to mind simplified versions of many real-time strategy titles.
Most of the game is more traditional fare, though, as your regal character and his small band of allies explore the landscape and interact with its inhabitants. The visuals are cute and effective, with a solid storyline and a combat system that has been simplified — and noticeably improved — from its predecessor.
With dozens of side quests that help grow both your characters and your kingdom and a fast-paced, accessible style that doesn't require endless digging into menus to enjoy, Revenant Kingdom breaks new and enjoyable JRPG ground.