Games of 2018: JRPGs

By Laura Kate Dale and Rich Stanton on at

The List God cares for role-playing, but not for the west! It cares about playing roles in a world of glorious fantasy and pastel hues, where medieval knights with spiky hair run alongside magic-flinging Amazons – and both ultimately come to learn more about themselves. The List God wants EMOTION and the List God wants CLOSURE. The List God even wants it to be a little bit EMO at times, but not too much OK.

Oh List God, we offer up to thee the finest JRPGs of 2018 – and pray theee, spare us from thy mighty summons.


Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory

PS4, PS Vita
Media.Vision, 19th January

The sequel to Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, think of this as a more sci-fi Pokémon and you’ll do fine. Essentially it’s a third person RPG where you collect Digimon then use them to fight other Digimon, but now with MORE Digimon. Tonnes of ‘em!


Lost Sphear

PS4, Switch, Windows
Tokyo RPG Factory, 23rd January

A kind of spiritual sequel to I Am Setsuna, Lost Sphear follows similar classic 90s JRPG principles, focusing on an active time-battle system, cutesy characters, beautiful landscapes, and lots of damage numbers. The development pedigree with this one is high though, on release in its native Japan, it didn’t do so well.


The Longest Five Minutes

PC, Switch
Nippon Ichi/SYUPRO-DX, 13th February

Oh no! You went to confront the evil Overlord but forgot everything – just look at that blaggard cackling away to himself. This will not do and so, in a style that reminds us a great deal of Half-Minute Hero, you try to help the hero regain his memories over ‘five minutes’ before it all goes pear-shaped.


Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

3DS
Atlus/Headlock, 16th February

With development talent from the Shin Megami Tensei series, among others, this time-travelling JRPG follows a soldier trying to save his land from not just war but a plague. An under-appreciated JRPG, this version is a remake and something of a ‘director’s cut’ of the DS original (which was released in the US but never in Europe).


Secret of Mana

PC, PS4, PS Vita
Square Enix, February

This 3D remake of the SNES classic adds voice acting and apparently new scenes, though given we’re already talking about one of THE classic JRPGS you’d hope this has a light touch. Most interesting will be how the original’s top-down combat translates into 3D.


Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

PS4, PC
Bandai Namco, 23rd March

A separate story from the first Ni no Kuni, Revenant Kingdom follows the story of Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, a young prince usurped and aiming to reclaim his kingdom. Picture Ghibli anime visuals, real time JRPG combat, and small creatures called Higgldies which look like Pikmin and activate special abilities on cooldown timers. Expect a sprawling story about a child learning to grow up, and a whole bunch of fighting enemies over and over.


Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings

PS4, Switch, PC
Koei Tecmo, 30th March

In this very lengthily titled RPG, a pair of young trainee alchemists enter a room in their home that their father forbade, and inside it find a painting leading to another world where alchemic materials never before seen can be found. They enter and leave the world of the painting, and use what they discover within in their quest to become better alchemists.


Megadimension Neptunia VIIR

PSVR
Compile Heart, Spring 2018

A remake of Megadimension Neptunia VII with added VR support, VIIR sees you tasked with saving the world of Gamindustri, based on the gaming industry and consoles of the past, by befriending and supporting Neptune, a CPU themed around past Sega consoles.


Shenmue III

PS4, PC
YS, Q4 2018

The sequel to two of the most expensive, critically acclaimed, but financially unsuccessful games of all time, Shenmue III follows the story of Ryo Hazuki as he continues to attempt to track down his father’s killer. The game is likely to mix RPG mechanics, with some odd and unique dialogue and mechanical choices, if the first two games are anything to go by. This one may be in for a bumpy ride, but hopefully people remember it’s a game that no-one ever thought we’d see.


Dragon Quest XI

PS4, 3DS, Switch
Square Enix, TBA

Dragon Quest XI is a typical roam-the-world, fight monsters, learn the story and kill-the-final boss style JRPG, which varies in art style depending on which platform you play it on. It is also one of the absolute best examples of this style you’ll ever find, entry after entry. On PS4 you can play with HD 3D models, the 3DS version features a pixel art version of the game, and right now we have no clue which art options will feature in the Switch version. It’s all the same game with different layers of paint – but the quality level should be extraordinarily high.


Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition

PS4, Xbox One
Square Enix, TBA

While not formally revealed yet, a Royale Edition of Final Fantasy XV for PS4 and Xbox One was recently rated by the ESRB, suggesting an imminent arrival. We expect this to be a complete edition of the game, with all current DLC for the game bundled onto the disc.


Kingdom Hearts 3

PS4, Xbox One
Square Enix, TBA

One of the longest in development sequels of all time, Kingdom Hearts 3 will see Sora return to a number of new and past Disney and Final Fantasy-themed worlds, using his keyblade to beat up Heartless enemies and unravel a plot so complex you'll need a primer before you jump in, then three wikis open while you’re playing.


Project Octopath Traveller

Switch
Square Enix, TBA

Project Octopath Traveller is an isometric 2D JRPG, full of turn based battles, but with a visual twist. Backgrounds are high resolution, characters are pixelated, and there’s a lot of sparks, flashes, parallax and other effects layered to provide a unique eye catching visual style. Each of the eight playable characters in the game has a different story, and a unique ability to get through the world, like flirting or instigating fights with random NPCs.


Project Phoenix

PS4, Vita, Mobile, PC
Creative Intelligence Arts, TBA

Funded on Kickstarter in 2013 to the tune of around £750k, Project Phoenix was intended to be a squad based real-time strategy JRPG, with music by Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. The last update on the game was back in 2015, when the director Hiroaki Yura stated the game was being delayed by three years. While the last official statement was that the game would release in 2018, last year saw accusations of embezzling funds from Project Phoenix in the development of another game, Tiny Metal, so it’s unclear if the game will still release this year or not.


Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux

3DS
Atlus, TBA

A remake of a DS RPG, SMT: Strange Journey Redux tasks players with taking on the role of an unarmed first person viewpoint protagonist, summoning monsters to their service to fight while investigating a mysterious portal that threatens to engulf the world.


Valkyria Chronicles 4

PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Sega, 2018

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical RPG set in a warzone similar to those of the mid 20th century. Players fight in missions set across a very European continent fighting over land and resources to survive. The newest entry adds a new class of character who can fire grenades at the enemy and moves more towards the ‘classic’ style of the original entries in the series, hoping to win over a larger Western audience after several Japanese-focused sequels.


Want more of our 2018 offerings to the List God? Find them all right here.