Back in 1997, Europe was introduced to the Final Fantasy franchise through Final Fantasy VII. This opened the door for JRPGs in the West, leading to titles such as Valkyrie Profile and Grandia being released outside of Japan.
PlayStation seems to be leading the way in showcasing JRPGs 20 years later, with some JRPGs now moving away from turn-based battles to a more Western, open world approach. To help you decide between a myriad of titles available for Sony's console, we have picked a selection of four incredible PS4 JRPGs that will suit all kinds of JRPG fans -- from the turn based purist or the open world explorer to those of you that like a bit of science fiction in your adventuring.
Back in 2006, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced as a spin-off to the Fabula Nova Crystallis. Following the success of Kingdom Hearts, Tesuya Nomura was at the helm of this exciting new addition to the franchise. But there were troubled waters ahead. Following his success with the Final Fantasy VII spin-off, Crisis Core, Hajime Tabata was brought in as creative director -- and the game was finally released as a stand-alone title, Final Fantasy XV, in November 2016.
There is enough in this game to delight newcomers and seasoned fans alike. You play as Noctis (voiced in the English version by Ray Chase), who must take back his kingdom of Lucis from the evil empire of Niflheim. Guiding and accompanying you along the way is your combat trainer and bodyguard Gladiolus, your chef Ignis, and your childhood friend (and photographer extraordinaire) Prompto.
Some gamers were critical of the lack of explanation of backstory, which seems to be addressed in the DLC. Personally, I found the main story compelling and one of the more straightforward in Final Fantasy lore. I also really enjoyed the shift to fast paced combat, and the summons in this game are truly awe inspiring.
If you happen to have the PSVR, E3 2017 showcased an eagerly anticipated VR add-on to the game, which will add a new dimension to the adventure.
This franchise has another long overdue sequel in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3. Kingdom Hearts 2, the last main entry in the series, was first released on the PS2 way back in December 2005.
In the meantime, Kingdom Hearts fans have been treated to an HD remaster of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and Kingdom Hearts 2.5 on PS4, and an interesting collection intriguingly known as Kingdom Hearts 2.8 – Final Chapter Prologue.
Final Chapter Prologue includes an HD remaster of the Nintendo 3DS game, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, plus a brand-new title following Aqua from the PSP title Birth by Sleep, and a short movie detailing the lore pre-Sora in Kingdom Hearts X: Back Cover.
Dream Drop Distance sees you wondering through Disney worlds as Sora and Riku, battling Dream Eater Nightmares in order to pass your Mark of Mastery exam. Playing each level as both characters puts an interesting spin on the gameplay mechanics, and your old Disney favorites are there for the ride. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a new addition to the Disney portion of the game, as were Pokémon like Dream Eater Spirits.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage is considerably shorter by comparison, but upscales the cartoony world for the PS4. You play as Aqua, who needs to find a way out of the Realm of Darkness. Having never played the PSP spin off game, I really enjoyed this new adventure. All the spells I was used to from previous incarnations, such as Blizzard, had a noticeable effect on the environment that simply wasn’t there in the PS2 originals.
The short movie Back Cover may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the voice acting is great, and it tries to tie up some of the origin story of the franchise in the events leading up to mobile title Kingdom Hearts Unchained X.
I missed out on Star Ocean for PS2, and I was eager to try out this release for PS4. Akira Yasuda (or Akiman) of Street Fighter 2 fame designed the characters for this entry in the franchise, which was developed by tri-Ace.
In Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, you play as Fidel -- who has his world turned upside down when a spaceship crashes into his small village, revealing a young girl who can’t remember who she is.
You have a sizeable party in this game, as you can control up to 7 players and switch between them on the fly. Spell Cards for healing and casting offensive spells are a really great touch. Crafting items and using your cookery skills is very rewarding, are the optional dungeons you can play throughout the game. I also really appreciated the bold move to replace cutscenes with in game dialogue.
Last but not least, Ray Chase’s voice work (of FFXV) also pops up in this title!
The retro feel of this JRPG will appeal to gamers who grew up with SNES classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. The game was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, which recently announced its new title, Lost Sphear.
I am Setsuna has you play as Endir (although you can change your default name), who has been asked to kill a girl about to be offered as a sacrifice to the monsters surrounding her village.
The combat is straightforward and the scenery is gorgeous. Although I’m a fan of the new emphasis on active battles, I do appreciate the text-based dialogue in this title, as it makes it more like the older JRPGs it's trying to emulate.
That wraps our picks for the four best JRPGs that the PS4 has to offer right now. What are your favorite JRPGs for Sony's newest console? Let me know down in the comments!