Over the past few years, Japanese role-playing games have been few and far between. Sure, we have had the Tales series, the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Ni No Kuni, but the PS3/360/Wii generation pales in comparison to the quality and quantity that JRPG fans enjoyed on the SNES and Playstation 1 and 2.
The JRPG genre has a bright future ahead with long anticipated games getting ever-so-close to releasing like Final Fantasy XV, Persona 5, and Kingdom Hearts III. However, independent developers who grew up with the classic J-RPG titles are filling the void left by the big publishers which have left us waiting for a good JRPG for so many years. Here are three indie JRPG’s to look out for over the next few months/years.
Also, just to clarify. These games are not from Japanese developers, but are of the game design style of most Japanese RPG’s, which have a focus on turn based combat and hyper-conceived fantasy worlds to explore.
Back in 2013, I personally backed this game on KickStarter for its anime-esque art style and classic JRPG roots. Soul Saga‘s a game that is inspired by the classic JRPG’s from PlayStation and Nintendo’s past systems with its turn based combat system and world exploration. Every time I see it being played or hear the already magnificent soundtrack, I’m reminded of the times I played Dragon Quest VIII, Final Fantasy X, and even Kingdom Hearts when I was younger. It gives a sense of nostalgia of what JRPG’s were like back in the day. The one-man creator of the game, Mike Gale, has stated that his inspirations for Soul Saga include Suikoden, Breath of Fire and Persona as well as the Final Fantasy series.
In the game, there’ll be two story lines for the heroes and the villains, airships, and professional voice acting. Soul Saga’s also planned to have multiple episodes so DisasterCake is planning for the future with this game. The developer has stated they they “are coming very close to having a solid [release date]” so hopefully Soul Saga will release soon. It is going to be released on PC, Mac, and Linux first and then DisasterCake will try to port the game on PS4, Vita and Wii U later on.
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
Seeing new takes on the RPG genre’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that replicates the same settings and narrative. YIIK: A Postmodern RPG seems to be a case of this as you play as a college graduate in a post-modern interpretation of the 1990’s. In addition to exploring the flat lands of the world he lives in, the player also can explore different worlds which have strange art styles and circumstances. The turn-based combat system’s supposed to be fast-paced with an 8-character party.
Despite the game still being in its pre-alpha in this released video, YIIK appears to have a cool cinematic animation style for its battle sequences, and intriguing world design. From its art style to its voice acting, it seems like YIIK’s going to add plenty of personality and flair to the J-RPG genre. YIIK: A Postmodern RPG’s slated for the fourth quarter of 2015 for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Vita and Wii U.
Earthlock: Festival of Magic
Earthlock: Festival of Magic is looking like a stunning 3D JRPG already on the Unity Engine, blending farming and the turn based system into one package. The first thing that comes to mind with Earthlock is its world art. The city of Suvia’s colorful and brimming with personality, while the sculptures of its forests and dungeons really add to the locations. The farming system also allows players to gain extra ammunition for special magical attacks against enemies. Before you go into a dungeon, you also have to strategically decide which elemental plantations to take with you.
Earthlock also has a system in place during battles which detects whether or not the player’s using the same strategy, and it’ll adapt to counter the opposing strategy. Earthlock: Festival of Magic is set to be released in the fourth quarter of 2015 for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U.