The RPG (role-playing game) genre is one of the most popular scenes in the industry right now. Japanese developers, in particular, have brought some of the most iconic names to the market. The industry has spawned many successful JRPGs in both real-time and turn-based genres; they are unique and appealing in their own way. This is one reason turn-based RPGs have continued to thrive while their western counterparts have been relatively more niche.
Action RPGs, on the other hand, continue to be popular with traditional Japanese IPs (intellectual property), even adopting that format for newer installments. But for newcomers to the genre, which games are worth checking out in 2022?
The 5 best real-time and turn-based JRPGs available in 2022 for modern platforms
Note: The lists are in no particular order.
5 best hack & slash titles
1) Elden Ring
Released earlier this year, Elden Ring is the latest and greatest product from developer From Software. Known for their Souls games, the team has delivered an experience that is a culmination of all their past works.
Players control the Tarnished, an undead prophecized to become the Elden Lord. This journey sees players traverse the open world of the Lands Between and take on the corrupt demigod children of Queen Marika. With a vast map to explore that is teeming with optional challenges, rare items, hidden boss fights, and many secrets, it's hard to feel bored in the Lands Between.
The complex and deep combat and RPG progression also help keep things interesting, and overall, it is an experience that is familiar and fresh at the same time.
2) Astral Chain
One of the biggest Nintendo IPs this decade, this Platinum Games-developed action RPG is a unique title even in its genre. In the game, players control a member of the Neuron police force that aims to keep the megacity called the Ark safe from interdimensional threats called Chimera.
With their own modified Chimera called Legions, players will investigate crime scenes and take on threats with their otherworldly partner. The variety of Legion forms allows different playstyles as the scenario demands, and controlling two characters at once in frantic action is something not seen in gaming often.
3) Monster Hunter Rise
The latest in Capcom's long-running Monster Hunter series, Rise is the most fast-paced title in the series so far. It is a departure from 2018's World in many ways but brings forth its own fresh concepts.
The core formula for hunting fearsome beasts and scavenging their remains to craft new armor and weapons is retained. However, the addition of Wirebugs, monster riding, and defense missions spice up the gameplay in intriguing ways. And the Japanese setting is just the cherry on top.
With the upcoming Sunbreak expansion, fans have a lot to look forward to.
4) Scarlet Nexus
Bandai Namco is very familiar with developing RPGs; however, their 2021 game is an interesting gem.
One of the first games announced for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, Scarlet Nexus is a sci-fi adventure title where players are part of the OSF (Others Suppression Force). They protect humanity from hostile creatures called the Others.
With a team of psychokinetic soldiers, players will traverse various environments and take down foes using team-up attacks. Each member possesses a different power, and mastery is key to survival.
The action is also more thoughtful than mindless, as players must know when to use which ability since powerful attacks require the buildup of the gauge.
5) NieR Automata
The latest entry in the underrated NieR saga of Square Enix's Drakengard franchise, Automata, is considered a modern classic by many. This 2017 action RPG from action-game masters Platinum Games is set millennia into the future. Players control androids 2B, 9S, and A2 through a philosophically-driven narrative against other machines. The plot progression of Automata is unique in the sense that players will have to beat the game multiple times to unlock new scenarios. However, the hack and slash gameplay is also the highlight, which is also mixed in with a dose of minigames like bullet hell and hacking.
5 best turn-based games
1) Shin Megami Tensei V
The latest installment in SEGA's Shin Megami Tensei series arrived on Nintendo Switch last year to deliver the most ambitious SMT yet. After the protagonist is transported to the Da'at, he must engage in a pact with a god to become the Nahobino. ATLUS went all out this time, with detailed character models, larger maps than ever before, and a refined take on the turn-based Press Turn formula.
The new gimmick here is the Magatsuhi system, granting players more powerful skills temporarily. Demon negotiation, recruitment, and fusion also make a comeback as players can manage a party of supernatural beings across the world's numerous myths and lore.
2) Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
Square Enix's Dragon Quest series continues to see success in the face of its siblings like Final Fantasy. Released first in 2017, it saw a Definitive Edition release in 2019. This version added elements like orchestrated soundtracks, 2D mode, and additional narrative scenarios.
But fundamentally, the plot follows the Luminary on a quest to save the world of Erdrea from evil. This adventure sees many new characters recruited into the party, each with unique talents and personalities.
The turn-based battles in the game are intuitive yet offer depth with the classes and spells system. As a whole, it is proof that the traditional JRPG formula can work in modern times.
3) Yakuza: Like a Dragon
SEGA's Yakuza games are known for their zany humor and action-packed brawls. 2019's Like A Dragon drops the latter in favor of turn-based combat.
The protagonist Ichiban Kusaga, a former Yakuza member, must uncover the reason behind the betrayal by his clan. Players will explore a detailed recreation of Japan's Yokohama district and partake in the same madness the series is known for. However, this time, all action is turn-based, with a variety of party members able to use a job system to get unique abilities and more.
Ichiban and the gang will fight other thugs with over-the-top finisher moves, adding to the crazy aesthetic of the game.
4) Octopath Traveler
The first in its HD-2D series of games, Square Enix's 2018 JRPG is a throwback to the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) era.
In the game, players command the lives of eight different characters, all of whom come from different parts of Orsterra. From the dancer Primrose and mage Cyrus to hunter H'aanit and cleric Ophelia, each character has a unique story to tell.
Players will go through each character's unique story and battle foes in the game's tactical Boost and Break system. The design will be familiar to fans of retro RPGs as players will engage in random encounters and explore dungeons with secrets.
5) Persona 5 Royal
This PS3/PS4 classic is one of the most memorable JRPGs of the past decade. As the latest in the Persona sub-series of SEGA's Megami Tensei franchise, it is the most refined entry yet. Players control the Joker, a high-school student who quickly becomes part of Phantom Thieves alongside some classmates.
With access to a metaverse that lets them inside the hearts of the wicked, the team must dive into dungeons and turn the tide by reconciling the owner's feelings.
There are also Palaces in the game that are intricately designed with the familiar turn-based 1 More-driven combat making a comeback. Debuting with Persona 2, players can now negotiate with Shadows and recruit them as Personas for use and fusion.
Outside of the vigilante action, players will engage in social-simulation elements like studying, attending school, hanging out with friends, and so on — something that is a fan-favorite aspect of the series.
The updated Royal version adds new content, including a new semester and more Personas, so it is the go-to edition for newcomers.