The golden era of JRPGs has long since passed, with more traditional RPGs having planted themselves firmly under the spotlight for the better part of the past two decades. However, while there's not been as many JRPG games released in recent years, there's still enough of them being released that results in certain titles slipping under the proverbial radar.
Our list aims to document the few JRPGs that you can play in 2021 and that deserve a bit more love and attention.
Megadimension Neptunia VII
Platform/s: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows
Megadimension Neptunia VII shot itself in the proverbial foot by being named as if there have been six other titles that preceded it. In reality, it's only the fourth game in the series, with three problematic earlier releases that only served to make most gamers pass immediately on this title when it first released way back in April of 2015.
Thankfully, it's still not too late to give the game a try.
Megadimension Neptunia VII takes all the good bits of the first three releases and does away with the bad parts. Well, most of them anyway.
The result is a delightfully quirky self-referencing game with creative level designs and a combat system that's surprisingly well thought out. Although we do admit that the anime aesthetics isn't for everyone, the game is still worth trying if only to see if it's for you or not.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout
Release date: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows
Yes. We get it. The name is a handful. It's probably why this already niche game didn't get as much attention in 2019.
However, if you're into games with a deep and complicated crafting system that plays more like a story in video game form, rather than a video game with a good story, then Atelier Ryza (yes, we've shortened it), is one a gem of a JRPG.
The gameplay is addictive as it encourages you to keep on fighting via turn-based combat to find more crafting elements to use. But, unlike other titles in the series, the crafting part is far more accessible and won't require you to open a guide all the time.
Sure, the game's not perfect. Even if accessible, it still has quite the learning curve for beginners. Not to mention, it falls prey to a number of common tropes.
Still, as far as gameplay, story, and combat go, Atelier Ryza is very addicting.
You don't necessarily have to have played similar games before to enjoy it, and if you do find it enjoyable, please don't blame us if it ends up sucking up dozens if not hundreds of hours of your time.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
Platform/s: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Speaking of underrated JRPG games, Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark flew so much under the radar that we missed out completely in an earlier round-up.
Allow us to make up for that slight mistake by recommending the game to you now.
Made from the same mold as Final Fantasy Tactics, Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is a turn-based JRPG with a deep class system that sees you juggling roughly around 300 abilities and more than 30 skills that allow you the freedom to create a vastly unique character that's completely dependent on your preferences.
The story's not exactly as deep as the games it's inspired from, but it's more than fine enough to keep you interested.
Besides, what'll really hook you is the varied class system and diverse multi-class options.
Resonance of Fate
Release date: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows
Do you remember Resonance of Fate? Yeah, well, us neither.
Released way back in 2010, Resonance of Fate was later ported over to the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows platforms, but, for some reason, its challenging but addicting gameplay loop didn't really click with gamers.
With that said, Resonance of Fate is a game worth exploring today.
Just try not to mind the story too much. It's easily the game's weakest point.
Platform/s: Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows
Every great game always has a couple of slightly similar titles that tried to copy its formula but failed to find an audience.
A good example of this Tokyo Xanadu.
Tokyo Xanadu is a JRPG that holds numerous similarities with the Persona franchise, down to the enormous amount of content in the game that's been added to keep you busy for dozens if not hundreds of hours.
Unfortunately, Tokyo Xanadu falls in love a bit too much with traditional JRPG tropes and thus, suffers for it.
Platform/s: Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS
One of the common issues that JRPGs tend to fall for is they end up being far too similar to the next JRPG game. This leaves gamers little reason to pick up a lesser-known title, especially since most JRPGs are often released on niche consoles already.
While Radiant Historia never made its way outside of the Nintendo DS and 3DS, it's not for the lack of effort.
Radiant History tells a compelling story that will get you hooked and the sort of gameplay that you normally wouldn't find in a JRPG game. Although the graphics aren't exactly that good, Radiant History more than makes up for it with everything else.
Considering how easy it is to pick up a used Nintendo 3DS for a couple of bucks these days, you can do a lot worse than to get one just to get a chance to play Radiant Historia.
I Am Setsuna
Platform/s: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows
A JRPG doesn't have to mess with the tried and tested formula to be good. Sometimes, all it has to do is to hit all the right notes, and while I Am Setsuna is not even close to a perfect game, it's a simplified and stereotypical JRPG that feels the video game form of a love letter of a traditional JRPG title back from the 90s.
There's nothing new in I Am Setsuna, and that's all good.
Jump in for the nostalgia and hours upon hours of fun. We highly recommend it.
Platform/s: PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable, and Microsoft Windows
Nippon Ichi's been making JRPG games for a while already, but Phantom Brave, a title that's nearly two decades old, is arguably their best yet.
If you don't agree with that, then you might agree that it's one of the most innovative ever.
A unique tactical JRPG, Phantom Brave has a serious story with just the right amount of comedy sprinkled all throughout. But, perhaps, more importantly, its gameplay is something that you won't find anywhere else.
From the freedom of movement to position yourself anywhere on the map to a surprisingly deep and nuanced combat system that involves objects found on the battlefield, as well as a random dungeon generation system on top of the developer's signature character and item leveling, Phantom Brave remains just as worthy of playing today as it was when it first released in 2004.
The best part here is that you can play it on the PC with improved graphics, including high-resolution 2D art, and support for 60 frames per second. This is on top of having all the content released previously for the game.