Developer: Square Enix | Year: 2016 | List Price: $34.99 | Buy from Amazon
Final Fantasy XV, the latest instalment in the long-running Final Fantasy series of role-playing games, is a game that has been in development in some form or another since 2006, a whopping ten years before its final release in 2016. I’m a huge fan of Final Fantasy, having played most of the other mainline titles in the franchise, so I was excited to see the newest developments in the series, but I had definite reservations about the direction Square Enix decided to take in this instalment. Having now finished the main story, I can tell you that Final Fantasy XV is, at once, one of the most wonderful and one of the most frustrating experiences in recent memory.
Developer: Atlus | Year: 2017 | Price: $59.99 | Buy from Amazon
The Persona series of Japanese role-playing games started in 1996 when Revelations: Persona was released for the PlayStation. Persona is a spin-off of the larger Megami Tensei series, whose games are often set in the present-day and feature darker themes. Persona was a pretty standard dungeon-crawler, and the well-loved Persona 2 duology was pretty similar gameplay-wise, but starting with Persona 3, released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, the series started to incorporate certain visual novel elements, allowing the player to alternate between a high-school life simulator by day and dungeon crawler to monsters at night.
Note: This review contains early-game story spoilers as well as details of various gameplay mechanics.
On 7 February 2015, it’ll have been exactly one year since Bravely Default was released to North America. It was also the day I picked up a copy of Bravely Default, my first ever JRPG.
I qualify this by saying that I have been playing Pokemon games all my life, which are a pseudo-JRPG, and that I’d played Fire Emblem Awakening, a Japanese SRPG that was actually what made me interested in getting into deeper, more mature RPGs.
That over, I’m going to go through the 6 JRPGs I finished in the last year in the order I played them, as well as the dozens more I haven’t quite finished, and give a few thoughts on the genre as well as some JRPGs I’m excited to play in 2015. It’s going to be a long ride, so get yourself ready for a hearty, warming bowl of JRPG goodness! I’m keeping everything spoiler-free, so don’t worry if you haven’t played any of the following games.
Developer: Square | Year: 1997 | List Price: 11.99 | Buy from Amazon
Say whatever you like about Final Fantasy VII. It’s undeniable that it is one of the most important RPGs, if not videogames, of the last 20 years. It’s hard to be a gamer and not to have heard of the Final Fantasy series, and VII is easily its most famous instalment. Following its 1997 release, it has seen many spinoff titles such as the likes of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and the Kingdom Hearts series of games. In fact, Final Fantasy VII is one of few games to have warranted a movie sequel, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. (On an unrelated note, my dad, who is not even remotely a gamer, mentioned that he once saw this Final Fantasy movie. I personally haven’t seen Advent Children, but judging by its critical and commercial response, it’s not unsurprising that it didn’t make him a Final Fantasy fan!).
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Year: 2014 | List Price: $14.99 | Buy from Amazon
Child of Light is a game that defies expectations. Developed by Ubisoft Montréal, one would expect a sweeping world and realistic graphics, but Child of Light opts instead for a watercolour, indie-esque feel. Also, it contains many staples of classic JRPGs even though it was produced in Québec. Child of Light is a special game, and playing through its roughly 12-hour main story was an experience unlike that of any other game I’ve tried before. It certainly is, to my knowledge at least, the only QRPG to have ever existed!