Recently, a lot of the Respawning Gang has been fanning over the meta sequel to Persona 5 with some of us replaying or playing Persona 5 through in anticipation of the title. Whilst this chat was going on we have been discussing a fair few of the JRPGs that feature on the PS4 (and some on the PS3) including the Ni No Kuni Titles as well as our own Game of the year – the Final Fantasy 7 remake.
Which got me thinking, as Respawning’s resident JRPG fanboy/Weeb4hire – there are a whole bunch of JRPGs that I played on the PS4 that so many people haven’t even heard of. So I thought it time to shine the spotlight on my favourite of the bunch and give them the overdue credit they so very much deserve.
As I say above, this list will be entirely games that feature on the PlayStation 4. If you would like a list of the Underrated JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch – Watch this space as this is also something I currently have in the pipeline!
So without further ado – here is my list of the Top 10 Underrated JRPGs on the PS4.
10 I am Setsuna
I am Setsuna is probably the shortest game on this list so is perfect for people who really want to scratch that JRPG itch but don’t feel up to smashing 40+ hours into a title.
Square Enix really went back to the basics with this title and it’s all the better for it providing a PS1 Era style JRPG that will really scratch the itch for anyone looking for something classic and filled with nostalgia.
9 Valkyria Chronicles Series
The Valkyria Chronicles games were sold to me when I was really into Final Fantasy Type 0 HD as a “tactical JRPG that is based on military units and war” so I thought I would give it a go.
A lot of the fantasy you would come to expect from JRPGs is missing from Valkyria Chronicles but where it removes this it really shines by grounding the games narrative in War and more realistic storylines of military units on the ground.
Using real time strategy in place of turn based battle systems, Valkyria Chronicles goes hard on being different and is the one JRPG on this list I tend to recommend to people who are looking to transition from Shooters to JRPGs for the first time.
8 Tokyo Xanadu EX+
Probably the most obscure title on this list, Tokyo Xanadu EX+ is an absolutely phenomenal action JRPG that showcases some of Nihon Falcom’s best work. Tokyo Xanadu EX+ is one for the big fans of the School and Lifestyle management of the Persona series, borrowing a lot of elements from Atlus’ flagship franchise.
However, where this game differs is that all the monster capture and turn based battling of the classic franchise is gone in favour of an action heavy real time battle system with some of the most stylish combat I have played in a JRPG.
This game is basically Persona meets action RPG combat, the best thing about this game is the pacing never lets up – so if you are after something that gets going really quickly and never lets up, you should really pick this game up!
7 .hack// GU
The .hack series has always interested me but due to the rareness of the original PS2 titles, I was only ever able to play .hack//Infection and whilst I loved this, it always annoyed me that I couldn’t see a .hack story through to completion.
Well, Bandai Namco obviously saw my woes and released the entire .hack//GU series on one disc for the PS4!
The GU series follows Haseo as he traverses the popular MMO “The World”. The World is shrouded in mystery and within this there are a bunch of hackers and it is up to Haseo to track down the sinister “Terror of Death”.
The .hack series has always done a really good job at blending together classic JRPG mechanics within an MMO style world (it is single player don’t worry) resulting in a brilliant stories and mechanics.
6 Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Odin Sphere is by far the most beautiful game on this list, I mean look at it:
Odin Sphere is a sidescrolling JRPG (I use the term JRPG loosely for this game) that follows 5 distinct protagonists, each with their own compelling storylines that makes you want to play through the whole game over and over to see each of the phenomenal stories come to fruition.
Odin Sphere also cements itself on this list by having some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.
5 Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope – REMASTERED
Do you like Star Wars? Do you like travelling around visiting different planets and following an incredible story that rewards exploration? The Star Ocean series is likely for you.
Whilst I would love to recommend the whole series, the made for PS4 installment of the Star Ocean series, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is unfortunately not very good, however this is fine as the remaster for The Last Hope does more than enough to be a must play for any fan of JRPGs looking for something in a bit of a Sci Fi flavour.
The Star Ocean series is arguably the most known of all the entries here so I won’t wax lyrical too much about it but the featuring a cast of characters who all shine in their own ways, a fast paced battle system and incredible story – Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope is a game I can easily recommend.
4 Dragon Quest Builders series
You know that clip from Family Guy that explains how Chocolate and Peanut butter came together in a car crash and created something better than either on their own? This is how I feel about the Dragon Quest Builders games.
I don’t know who at Square Enix thought it was a good idea to take the beloved JRPG and add a load of village building Minecraft into it – but they are a genius. The builders series is potentially the best of all things Dragon Quest ever made.
Essentially all this boils down to is fulfilling quests for towns as the fabled “builder” (the one person who can build new things from other things), DQB Sees you going from town to town building them up, increasing defenses and defending your area against classic Dragon Quest monsters.
If you are a fan of Minecraft AND JRPGs then you won’t find a game more satisfying than the DQB series.
3 The Atelier Series
Every time I play one of the Atelier games I think to myself: “Wow, this series seriously cannot get any more charming” and then I load up the next one and I am proven wrong over and over.
The Atelier Series is a really rather unique take on the age old JRPG formula focusing players on the games (rather fantastic) Alchemy mechanics allowing players to just whittle the days away whilst exploring beautifully designed worlds and really hits the nail on the head for escapism.
I have found a lot to love with the Atelier series during Lockdown thanks to the aforementioned world exploration and escapism and I wholeheartedly recommend that you check out any of the series’ many MANY PS4 playable iterations.
2 Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth
The Cyber Sleuth games take the classic Pokémon formula of capturing monsters and using them to battle each other and give it a Digimon gloss of paint which results in a more adult version of the game with a really interesting story centered around solving a mystery in “The World”.
I have been of the devout opinion in recent years that the Digimon Cyber Sleuth is better than anything Pokémon have ever done, with perhaps the exception to Pokémon Colosseum on Gamecube.
Fusing Digimon together to create an almost endless array of digital monsters filled so many hours of my life with such joy that I can easily recommend this to anyone.
1 The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel series.
The entire reason I started Respawning way back when was so that I had somewhere I could wax lyrical about how good The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 1 was on the PS3. A game I was barely seeing anything written about in the media, I had to take it upon myself in order to tell anyone who would listen just how good this game was.
Fast forwards a few years and I am currently in the middle of playing the fourth and final game in the Cold Steel franchise – which in my opinion never dipped in quality for JRPG fans.
These games blend everything I like about the Schools and Social Management of the Persona series but instead of monster collecting – the game adds war and mechs and is all the more mature for it. If you are looking for something that will scratch that classic JRPG itch – then you shouldn’t look any further than the Cold Steel series – all 4 of which are now playable on the PS4.
Honorable Mention: YS 8.
Whilst I have yet to actually play YS 8 – I am a huge fan of the YS series and I know for a fact that many of my friends who are fans of JRPGs keep recommending YS 8 for me so will one I dive into very soon!
So there we go! As promised, I will have a new article out soon that covers all my favourite underrated JRPGs on the Switch and whilst I will attempt to keep this to new games you may see a couple of repeats for the system.
Are there any JRPGs I totally missed on this list? Let me know in the comments below!