Indie developers from all over the world are putting the finishing touches on their projects, getting ready to share them with players. Developing a game with a limited budget is always a challenging task. Still, 2022 has many great prospects for indie JRPG fans – especially if you like some retro look and feel, mixed with modern gameplay. Titles like 8-Bit Adventures 2, Crystal Project, and Manafinder all take the classic style and add their own twist; While Small Saga, Jack Move, and Cassette Beasts each have something entirely new and exciting to offer.
Which of these JRPGs are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments! Also, be sure to wishlist and follow any games that you want to support – Steam tracks how much “buzz” titles are getting, so showing your interest really helps the devs. – At the bottom of the article, you will find the video version with trailers.
Top 10 Best Indie JRPGs expected during 2022
Jack Move is a pixelated cyberpunk JRPG with some serious style. As vigilante hacker Noa, you’ll explore the dark underbelly of a futuristic world to solve the mystery of your father’s disappearance. The turn-based battles include some rhythm elements, and you can swap Noa’s combat software mid-battle to shift your focus.
The game’s story, gameplay, and presentation have already made it a Bitsummit International Award Winner, and a demo called Jack Move: I.C.E. Breaker is coming to Steam in March. The full game is set to launch later this year, and frankly, we can’t wait.
Bytten Studio, the developers behind 2020 Zelda-like Lenna’s Inception, are taking their sense of humor and charm to the monster-catching genre. On the island of New Wirral, people utilize the power of the local fauna not by catching them, but by “recording” them to retro cassette tapes! Playing back the tape allows the user to transform into the creature recorded on it and wield its skills in battle.
Each party member will have their own collection of tapes, and, as the bonds between characters grow, they will be able to fuse their monstrous forms to create new creatures. With a great blend of pixel and hand-drawn art, Cassette Beasts is sure to be a must-play for Pokémon fans. There’s no release date listed yet, so follow the game for updates.
Solo developer Jeremy Noghani has come up with a fantastic setting for Small Saga. A blend of Redwall and The Borrowers, the game tells the story of a hidden kingdom of rodents underneath modern London. As a party of mice, squirrels, and other miniature heroes, you’ll take the cast-off items from the humans above and use them to overthrow a corrupt regime and defeat the mighty god who stole your tail.
Small Saga is exquisitely detailed. From the gorgeous combat sprites to the artistic flourishes on the map, Noghani is really showing his skills with this game. A demo is available right now, and the game is listed as coming soon.
Rising Spire aims to capture the feeling of classic Final Fantasy and Persona, while also bringing something new to the genre. Exploration and turn-based battles combine with a deep progression system and tons of side content to create an immersive RPG experience. By deciding how your character will develop their mastery of different fighting styles, you can create endless builds that encourage multiple playthroughs.
The character and combat animations look fantastic, and Rising Spire promises both serious and quirky storylines to pull players in. Quest progress is written down in a journal, letting you follow your character’s journey from an in-universe perspective. The game will be entering early access on Steam sometime in 2022, and, if the Kickstarter campaign continues to grow in its final weeks, a Switch version will be in the cards as well.
8-Bit Adventures 2
Australian developer Critical Games’ first 8-Bit Adventures certainly merited a sequel. In 2022, it’s finally happening. With a large world map, memorable characters, and a killer retro soundtrack, 8-Bit Adventures 2 looks like it will be a great time. If you’re a fan of 20th-century JRPGs (is that a thing? Do we call them that now?) this is one to check out.
Of course, there are modern quality-of-life improvements that take some of the more frustrating elements of old-school JRPGs away. Party members can be swapped mid-battle (without wasting a turn!) and there are no random encounters to hinder your exploration. The monster sprites in particular are top-quality. Try the demo, and, if you like it, the full game should launch later this year.
Crystal Project introduces free-roaming Metroidvania exploration to the classic JRPG format. While it’s certainly possible to just stick to the story and focus on saving the world, the game encourages and rewards stepping off the beaten path. With no invisible walls or load times between zones, the only limit to exploration is your willingness to experiment.
Of course, any proper JRPG has character customization options, and Crystal Project has that in spades. Like its approach to exploration, the game allows players to experiment with unique builds and teams. There is a demo available if you’d like to explore the world ahead of time, and the full game launches on 31 March.
Boreal Mist Studio’s debut is a return to the gameplay style of classic PlayStation JRPGs with modern aesthetics and systems. The story makes used of tried-and-true plot points; Laia and Even, fresh-from-the-academy adventurers, will face off against a powerful and aggressive empire and work to fulfill a prophecy. The game promises a massive world map with more than 80 hours of content between the storyline, exploration, puzzles, and, of course, combat.
The combat in Project Apax deserves special mention, as the enemy AI will adapt to the player’s strategy. After dozens of hours in any RPG, it’s easy to fall into a routine and find the most efficient means of winning battles. Project Apax‘s AI means you’ll have to stay on your toes if you don’t want the computer to outsmart you. The game should launch in late 2022, but a demo is already available.
Weirdlands opens with the protagonist stuck at home, as a global crisis forces people into lockdown; A highly unlikely situation that I’m sure nobody reading this site can relate to in any way. Then, a magical portal opens in their bedroom, inviting them to a land of adventure. This is an RPG with heavy point-and-click elements, fusing two great genres that are a natural fit.
The game is a project from solo developer Martin Mejak, with a delightful art style and a lovely retro-inspired soundtrack. There is plenty of story and lore to dive into as well. A demo is currently available, and the game is scheduled to launch in Q2 of 2022.
The inspiration that Circadian takes from Earthbound is apparent in its visual design. However, this title by jeffgamedev takes a more grown-up approach to the beloved style. As a group of young adults from Mount Olive, players must fight back against the Unrest Rhythm – a phenomenon, causing strange occurrences all over the village.
Circadian has plenty of quirkiness and snark, and even has minigames playable in the town’s arcade. The game is scheduled to release in May 2022. On Mother’s Day, to be exact – no doubt an ode to the game’s roots in the venerated series.
Exiled from her kingdom, Lambda becomes a Manafinder – a lone explorer, searching the world for the manastones. Those mystical objects are necessary to keep human settlements safe from the dangers of the wild. Excellent pixel art graphics brings to life the game’s complex world and characters; While the combat – reminiscent of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest – focuses on weapon choice and elemental affinities, over stat grinding. Survival and exploration are key gameplay elements, as well.
Even though Manafinder is very short by JRPG standards, it boasts two entirely different final chapters. Whichever one you’ll get depends on the choices you make throughout the game. Therefore, you’ll need to play through it at least twice to see everything. There is a demo available, and Manafinder is expected to release in 2022.
The top 10 Indie Turn-Based JRPGs list ends here. Let us know what do you think about them and what you think about Turn-Based JRPGs in general? Do you like them? Do you think there’s still room for improvements in the genre?
See you at the next article. Ciao