2021 has been a big year for Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPG) with the release of several great games. Aside from fresh releases, there have been remakes of several hit releases from the past years. The year has been really hot for JRPGs, and it has to some extent, covered the shortage of western RPG releases in 2021.
While core elements like story-based missions and gameplay may be similar, there are certain key areas of difference between JRPGs and RPGs. For one, JRPGs are based on Japanese Culture. They have the typical sense of art style that enthusiasts can find in any popular Japanese anime. Aside from design choices, there are other differences, although JRPGs and western RPGs have adapted and taken parts from each other.
Some JRPGs released in 2021 are outright brilliant
There have been very few JRPG releases in 2021 that were poor. This makes picking the best five a difficult task. However, there are five great names that have set themselves aside.
The five best JRPGS of 2021
- Shin Megami Tensei V
- Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
- Tales of Arise
- Neo: The World Ends With You
- Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
5) Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
Publisher: Binary Haze Interactive
Platforms: Windows, Switch, Xbox One/X/S, PS4
Released: July 20, 2021
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a 2-D side-scrolling JRPG where players play in the shoes of Lily. Players may get fooled seeing the 2D aspect, but JRPG has no shortage of actions and puzzle-solving. The combat system is quite interesting as Lily purifies souls who fight for her. The JRPG has received a lot of praise over its execution, especially over the art design and is an interesting take on the saturated genre.
4) Neo: The World Ends With You
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Windows, Switch, PS4
Released: September 28, 2021
Neo: The World Ends With You is the hit sequel to the hit JRPG The World Ends With You, released way back in 2007. The sequel was finally released in 2021 after many requests, and the new game comes with a brand new cast of characters. Players can play as many characters as once trapped in the Reaper's game, where characters fight for survival. There's a heavy dose of puzzle-solving and melee combat in the second instalment of the critically acclaimed game.
3) Tales of Arise
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One/S/X, PS4/PS5
Released: September 10, 2021
Tales of Arise is a follow-up to Tales of Berseria, and the JRPG returns with a new set of storylines and action-packed gameplay. Tales of Arise is set in the two worlds of Dahna and Rena, and there are two protagonists in the form of Alphene and Shionne. Tales of Arise typically follow previous games with action-packed gameplays, but the latest JRPG has a much darker take, which has found success with Western audiences.
2) Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Platforms: Windows, Switch
Released: July 9, 2021
Monster Hunter fans got a new release to enjoy in 2021 as the JRPG series got a new release in the form of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. The 2021 release continued with similar art styles and turn-based combat from the original release. However, players get to enjoy a new setting in the JRPG with the disappearance of Rathalos, and the player's main objective is to discover where Rathalos has disappeared.
1) Shin Megami Tensei V
Publisher: Altus, SEGA, Nintendo
Released: November 12, 2021
Shin Megami Tensei V is a Nintendo Switch exclusive, but the JRPG features a completely new storyline. Shin Megami Tensei V retains the core elements of the JRPG series with the turn-based gameplay. The latest release of the JRPG has found amazing success as players battle out in a parallel world of Tokyo, where demons and angels exist.