JRPGs are called a lot of things, but rarely are they called “artistic”. Many gamers look at their colorful and often cartoonish aesthetic, and dismiss them. But from Dragon Ball Xenoverse to the Persona series, all the way to franchises like the Ni No Kuni games, JRPGs have proven time and time again that they can look like grade-A anime.
But it’s not just looks that elevate a game to artistic status. Immersive worlds and the creatures or characters you find in them add another layer of depth to a “pretty” game. Final Fantasy XV is a great example of this. Its humongous monsters were stunning to look at because of the amount of detail and care that went into their design. So even in situations where you knew you were in danger, you also found yourself in awe — and that’s what art does.
But FFXV is just one instance of an artistic JRPG. Here are 5 others that — either because of their design, their storytelling, their aesthetic, or any combination of the three — can be called truly artful games.
5. Tales of Berseria
What makes Tales Of Berseria so good is the world of Glenwood — a wasteland set in the distant future filled with large lands and islands. The Northern and Southern hemisphere temperatures range from enduring winters to everlasting summers. As you play through this game, the world totally immerses you and has new beautiful things to see at every turn.
Playing through this game, you’ll run into a lot of cutscenes. And during those scenes, it’s easy to forget that you’re not watching CrunchyRoll because of how smooth and anime-like they are.
Tales Of Berseria releases in North America on January 24th for the PS4.
Nioh takes place in the 1600’s in feudal era Japan, and showcases some amazing medieval architecture. But the real artistic feel comes from the enemies you fight in the game, known as Yokai. THese monsters are very grotesque, but weirdly beautiful at the same time. The game also has a great combat system — strongly resembling the Souls and Ninja Gaiden series — which is so smooth that it’s almost like a dance.
Nioh will be releasing worldwide on February 9th, 2017.
3. I Am Setsuna
I Am Setsuna has a great art style, as you can see above. It takes the aesthetic of old-school Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, and translates that into a beautiful, snow-blanketed setting. In the mostly white landscape, color becomes an important factor in the scenery and is even more vivid than it would be otherwise. And the magic animations are simply gorgeous, too.
I Am Setsuna is currently on PS4, but is also coming to the Nintendo Switch after the console releases in March.
2. Persona 4 Golden
Persona 4 Golden is one the best looking games on the PlayStation Vita. You play as a student who just moved to a new town, where a series of murders have been occurring. You and your new friends have to find out what’s happening before things get worse.
The game looks incredible from start to finish, with its vivid characters and locations. And in some areas, the flawless bridging between the game and the anime is nothing short of artistic genius.
1. Ni No Kuni
Ni No Kuni is a game about a boy named Oliver and his journey to another world to save his mother and stop a beckoning evil. This is another one that looks like a gorgeous anime you would watch on TV rather than a JRPG you’d play on a console. Many comparisons have been made between the aesthetic of this game and the beautiful animation of Studio Ghibli films.
This game is already available for a number of consoles and handheld systems, and its sequel — Ni No Kuni II — is set to release sometime in 2017.
These are just some of the JRPGs which demonstrate the true artistry of the genre. There are many more I could have included here, and I’m sure that many of the JRPGs coming this year will also be great works of art. And I can’t wait to see them.
Which JRPGs do you think have some serious artistic merit? Let us know in the comments below!