Since the decline of the Golden Age of the JRPG, I’ve been searching for decent offerings in the genre like a marooned man looking for fresh water. The games I found are few and far between and varied in style and game play– and all bearing faults. Despite a few short comings, they just might scratch that old JRPG itch for you.
Resonance of Fate
Developed by Tri-Ace and published by Sega, this game follows three protagonists in the post-apocalyptic world of Basel. Human kind lives on a strange clockwork tower to escape the poisoned Earth below. Vashyron is a monster hunter with two kids he’s taken in who fight side by side with him.
The gameplay is the first completely unique system I have seen in years. It’s turn based, and still manages to make you feel the adrenaline pumping. You have three types of weapons: The first deals what is called scratch damage, and it does the most damage although it is not permanent. You have to use another character’s gun to deal direct damage in order to really bring your enemies to their knees. Last but not least, there’s the grenades which have varying purposes and effects and are just plain fun!
The difficulty level on this one is a bit high, but it’s no problem if you’re used to old school concepts like grinding and weapon customization.
Developed by Tri-Ace and published by the mighty Square-Enix, Infinite Undiscovery has a lot going for it right out of the gate. The game play is based on many tried and true JRPG styles, and easy to learn if you’re familiar with the genre. On top of that, the character designs are lovely, and the overall aesthetic of the world is just gorgeous to look at. The characters are engaging and quirky, with plenty of twists and turns about them– including a unique protagonist who doesn’t act at all like your typical hero, which is something I appreciated.
The game suffers a bit where the storyline feels somewhat rushed towards the end, but it is still worth the time in my opinion. One unique bit about this game in particular is the sheer number of unique characters that can join your party; something you don’t see done very often anymore.
A bit of a dark horse, this game was developed by Mistwalker and Feelplus then published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was an early title on the console, but boasts a lot of great features both aesthetically and in terms of game play. Again, we have a linear JRPG style combat engine. I found this game to be rather challenging much in the way old games were in terms of forcing you to spend ample time fighting low-level creatures in order to be strong enough to fight the next boss. The characters in this game are stunningly unique and for me, the strongest part of the entire experience.
There are several interesting storytelling mechanisms which include working to restore the memories of the main character, Kaim Argonar in order to paint a fuller picture of the plot.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Developed and published by Tri-Ace and Square Enix, The Last Hope is the fourth installment in the tried and true Star Ocean franchise. The graphics and design are lovely, and the sci-fi elements reminiscent of other popular media like Star Trek without being unoriginal. This one has a fast-paced and challenging battle engine mixed with old school dungeon crawling.
This game has an engaging plot line full of twists and turns with interesting and unique characters from different worlds. In my opinion, The Last Hope is everything that old school JRPGs had, only brought into the next generation world– definitely high on my list of recommendations.
Tales of Vesperia
Developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Namco Bandai Games, Vesperia is the tenth game in the “Tales of” series. It is also the best in my opinion, since Tales of the Abyss (released on the PS2). One of the only complaints heard ’round the internet are of the fact that it plays just like the other Tales games– but why change a tried and true combat engine when the story and characters are completely fresh and new?
My favorite thing about this game is again, the characters. You play as Yuri Lowell, who is a bit of a vigilante on the wrong side of the law; though he means the best for the people he cares about in the poor part of town. His best friend of many years is a knight, and a champion of old-fashioned justice. They travel separate paths and meet many friends along the way, but the story is a study of what justice means and how what is right in the eyes of one person may be breaking the law in the eyes of another.