Role-playing games are one of the most revered and prolific genres in the industry. Most of us play and like at least one RPG. There are also many types of subgenre and division, one of them being Western and Japanese games. Each of them has certain characteristics; Japanese games tend to focus on the story and characters, with turn-based combat at its core, while Western games are usually more open and active, offering big worlds to explore and very customizable characters.
However, there are some exceptions, as usual. Some JRPGs are influenced by Western culture, creating a fine mixture between traditional Japanese elements, and more innovative tropes that come from the West. In this list, you will find five modern Japanese role-playing games that will convince any Western RPG player to come to the dark side.
Bloodborne is one of the best PS4 exclusives and arguably the best JRPG on the console. This excellent action role-playing game delivers an amazing experience based on the elements that made Dark Souls a legendary franchise, but with a faster pace, making it more suitable for western RPG players.
The player takes control of a hunter, dedicated to exterminate the beasts that populate the Gothic city of Yharnam. Bloodborne take places in a Victorian era inspired world, with special attention to visual details, creating a haunting atmosphere. Its incredible enemy design, specially of the bosses, original gameplay and amazing soundtrack, make this title a must-play for any PS4 owner.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Wii U is a console with many good games, and one of them is this grand JRPG with hundreds of hours of content, Xenoblade Chronicles X. It tells the futuristic story of mankind’s survival in planet Mirra, after two warring alien races destroy the Earth. The open world and overall gameplay are an evolution of Xenoblade Chronicles, another master piece for a Nintendo system.
The title has many different systems implemented, adding an enormous depth to the game. However, western RPG players shouldn’t be afraid: its expansive world can be enjoyed without getting really into these systems, as they act only as elements for more hardcore gamers. Cool features like the ability to use mechas to bring down gigantic monsters can — and will — attract many of us.
The World Ends With You
This stylish JRPG for Nintendo DS gets into this list for its story regarding alternate dimensions and time distortions, interesting characters and an attractive combat system, which takes inspiration from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, but without including cards and with a faster pace.
The World Ends With You displays a great fictional version of Shibuya district in Tokyo, one of the crowdest places on Earth. Western RPG players might find it interesting for being a great representation of Japanese youth culture and a good way to learn more from this peculiar country. It is also available for Android and iOs devices, which makes it accessible to almost everyone.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, the enhanced version of Dragon’s Dogma, is probably one of the most Western-influenced JRPGs out there. Developed by Capcom, it takes elements from Resident Evil and Devil May Cry to propose a mixture between exploration, hack n’ slash and role-playing game set in a fictional Medieval universe.
However, it is undoubtedly a RPG, with classic characteristics like class selection, leveling system, strategy options, etc. Players can create a customizable avatar and explore an open world with the company of three more characters, controlled by an artificial intelligence. Dragon’s Dogma also includes new, original mechanics, like a “pawn” system or the ability to grab or cling to enemies.
Pokémon Heart Gold & Soul Silver
Finally, I cannot end this list with non other than Pokémon, the franchise that introduced million of players to their first JRPG. Pokémon has sustainably delivered great games since the days of Red & Blue, becoming one of the most successful franchises of all time. Choosing just one title above the others might prove hard, but I firmly believe that Heart Gold & Soul Silver are the best Pokémon games out there, although I can recommend most of them.
As of why should Western RPG lovers play Pokémon, the answer is clear; it is the perfect gateway into JRPGs. They are lovable, addictive and simple, yet they have all the characteristics of a solid role-playing game. They can even become really deep for those who want to create the perfect team. If you have never tried any Pokémon game, you owe this to yourself.
What do you think about these games? Did you wish to see another one on the list? Leave your comment!