The JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) genre typically features a story-driven gameplay experience with elements of exploration, combat, and character development. Many JRPGs have intricate storylines that often involve protagonists embarking on quests or journeys to save their world or loved ones from a great evil.
In addition to their strong storytelling, JRPGs are also known for their turn-based battle systems. These battles require strategic planning and often involve managing a party of characters, each with their own unique abilities and skills. Players must decide which characters to use and how to use their skills effectively to defeat enemies and progress through the game.
JRPGs also typically feature an open world or large map for players to explore, often with hidden areas to discover and secrets to uncover. Along the way, players can interact with non-playable characters to gain new quests and learn more about the game’s world and lore.
Some popular JRPG series include Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Persona. Each series has its unique style and approach to storytelling, but they all focus on memorable characters and engaging gameplay.
This article will highlight 10 of the best Turn-Based JRPGs that take the best from the genre and are absolute must-play in 2023. Whether you’re a seasoned JRPG player or just getting started in the genre, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is an absolute gem of a game and a fantastic addition to the long-running Yakuza series. This eighth mainline game, and fourteenth overall, has gained immense popularity among fans over the years, and for good reason. The Yakuza politics, combined with Otaku humour, makes for a winning formula that has propelled the series into the mainstream.
One of the biggest changes to the series with Like a Dragon is the shift to turn-based RPG combat, and it’s executed flawlessly. The battles are as fast and fluid as ever, with each character’s turn happening in a specific order, which keeps the player engaged and focused. The active battle system, requiring players to perform quick-time events during combat, is a refreshing addition that keeps the gameplay exciting and engaging.
The game’s new job system, which allows players to change jobs at the job center, is also a great addition that adds depth and variety to the gameplay. And the new city of Isezaki Ijincho is a breath of fresh air, with its new environments and different atmosphere from previous Yakuza games.
Overall, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a must-play game that will delight fans of the series and newcomers alike.!
Super Robot Wars 30
Super Robot Wars 30 is a crossover strategy RPG game that features giant robots from various anime series, such as Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Mazinger Z, and Majestic Prince. This latest installment has been enjoyed by fans for over 30 years, and its popularity is well-deserved. One of the game’s strengths is its engaging and cohesive storylines, which encourage players to take their time and experience the game to the fullest. The localization is also commendable, considering the copious amounts of informative text and extensive dialogue for the well-known anime characters.
Super Robot Wars 30 also offers immense replay value thanks to its multiple outcomes and appealing side missions. The graphics are fine-looking, and the battle animations and visual novel-style story scenes are smooth and spectacular. The music is fantastic, with killer anime theme songs playing during battles, and the original music enhances the already enjoyable battles and cutscenes. Overall, Super Robot Wars 30 is a fantastic game that rewards players who invest time and effort in exploring its massive multiverse mythos.
Monster Hunter Stories 2
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is one of the latest entry in the Monster Hunter series and is a perfect starting point for those who are new to the franchise. Although there are some nods to previous games, it is a standalone game that introduces the universe and intricacies of the series in a beginner-friendly manner.
As an RPG, the game takes a traditional approach to storytelling and incorporates decades-old genre tropes and methods. However, the game excels in combat and party building. As a Rider, you raise and befriend monsters instead of hunting them, and each monster has a preferred type that feeds into rock-paper-scissors combat, making the gameplay intriguing.
Although battles may drag on to 20 or more turns later in the game, overall, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is an excellent game that perfectly blends the Monster Hunter universe with the mechanics of a traditional RPG, making it a must-play for any fan of the genre.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is an absolute masterpiece of a game that exceeds all expectations. From its stunning visuals and impeccable sense of style to its captivating narrative and intricate gameplay mechanics, it’s a must-play for any RPG enthusiast. The game’s rich and immersive world draws you in and keeps you engaged for hours on end, with an overwhelming amount of content that ensures you’ll never run out of things to do.
The addition of all previously released DLC in the Royal version is a welcome bonus, providing players with the complete Persona 5 Royal experience. Whether you’re a fan of the original game or a newcomer to the series, Persona 5 Royal is a truly unforgettable gaming experience that will leave you hooked from start to finish.
Everything in Triangle Strategy is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, from the intricate plot and lore to the memorable characters with distinct personalities and voices.
The Scales of Conviction mechanic is an innovative addition that adds a layer of depth and complexity to the game, allowing players to shape the world and make impactful decisions.
Furthermore, the game’s art direction is simply stunning, with beautifully rendered environments and character designs that bring the world of Norzelia to life. The soundtrack is equally impressive, featuring a range of orchestral compositions that perfectly complement the game’s epic storyline and battles. In short, Triangle Strategy is a triumph of game design and storytelling, and a must-play for fans of strategy RPGs and fans of the genre-defining Final Fantasy Tactics.
One Piece Odyssey
One Piece Odyssey is a JRPG game developed by ILCA and published by Bandai Namco, and it begins with Luffy and his friends being washed ashore on an island where they meet a mysterious woman who drains their powers. To regain their strength, the heroes must defeat four guardians by delving into their memories of past adventures. Along the way, they meet old allies and familiar enemies, and work to strengthen their bonds.
One Piece Odyssey features a turn-based combat system that incorporates various abilities and elemental strengths and allows players to switch freely between active party members or swap them out for reserve units. The combat often introduces special objectives that generate bonus experience points to make up for occasional confrontations that players might skip. The game also features a fusion system that allows players to customize their characters and purchase, fuse, and equip the finest available accessories.
One Piece Odyssey is suitable for both longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Fire Emblem Engage
Fire Emblem Engage is a turn-based strategy game that excels in combat mechanics and team-building but falls short in storytelling and character development. The game features the ability to summon lead heroes from past games using Emblem Rings, which provides unique attacks and skills that can be customized and inherited for further customization. Engage subtly encourages player-phase-focused strategies, pushing players to be proactive on their turns, and not rely on tanking with overpowered units.
The game gives the player a generous set of tools, and the enemies provide a challenge that matches it. The map variety also keeps battles fresh from start to finish. However, outside of battle, the storytelling is predictable and lacks world-building, and the cast of characters is largely forgettable, with basic and one-note interactions and support conversations. While Engage is a highly enjoyable game, it lacks the lasting impact to rank as a classic but still a game to try in 2023.
Chained Echoes is a must-play for fans of classic JRPGs. The game successfully blends its 16-bit inspirations with fresh and innovative gameplay mechanics, delivering a bold and involving combat experience that is both classic and fresh. The game’s story takes place on the war-torn continent of Valandis, where the constant hostilities between its three dominant kingdoms have made war a way of life for its citizens. The narrative is well-paced, featuring a satisfying rogue’s gallery of villains who are ever-scheming new plots for the heroes to foil. The writing is well-considered, filled with charm and humor, and plenty of twists and turns along the way.
Its innovative combat system sets Chained Echoes apart from other turn-based RPGs. The game introduces new twists long after it begins, and up to eight characters can be placed in the combat party, paired in four groups of two. The game’s combat system takes almost zero effort to come to grips with the ground-level basics, and the game continues to introduce new, more nuanced systems that add a surprisingly deep layer of strategy to what is usually a taken-for-granted combat system.
The game’s graphics are impressive, featuring a crisp pixel-art style that wows the eye, and the game’s musical compositions are stellar, weaving an involved and lengthy narrative full of twists and turns. In short, Chained Echoes sets a high-water mark of quality for classic JRPGs, and it’s a game that fans of the genre won’t want to miss.
Tactics Ogre Remake
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a classic tactical RPG that was originally released in 1995 on the Super NES by Quest Corporation. Praised for its mature storyline, tactical combat, and branching storylines, the title was a smash hit, receiving ports to several consoles, including the PlayStation. Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a modern port of the 2011 PSP remake, with improvements such as quality of life improvements, mechanical improvements, a completely reworked ability system, new items and skills, a scouting option that lets you peek at the enemy armies, and optional battle objectives that can be completed for additional rewards.
The class and element system plays out in a paper-rock-scissors sort of way that you’ve come to expect from any SRPG, and there is a party size of 12. Battles often come with a primary objective like taking out a specific target, but there are secondary objectives as well. The game can now be played at 4K resolution, adjust the gamma and contrast, and set V-sync. With its compelling storyline and engaging gameplay, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is an excellent addition to the genre and a must-play for fans of tactical RPGs.
Octopath Traveler II
Octopath Traveler II is a JRPG game that follows the personal stories of eight characters in largely disconnected narratives. Each of the characters has a unique and compelling story, from a condescending cleric solving a mystery of a string of murders to a small-town country bumpkin with a heart of gold seeking to become a famous dancing star like her mother was. Players can go through any character’s entire storyline without ever adding anyone else to the party. The game’s structure has switched up on occasion, and each character has a series of quests and storylines that add more depth to their backstories.
The combat system brings back the same excellent turn-based system from the original game, which adds plenty of extra strategic options to basic turn-based combat. The game adds an additional layer to the combat system with the new Latent Power system, which gives each character a little more of a unique edge to consider when team-building. Overall, Octopath Traveler II provides an impressively dynamic and constantly interesting battle system that goes above and beyond what most turn-based RPGs shoot for.