Octopath Traveler was arguably this summer’s must-have title for Nintendo Switch owners. It was an homage to 16-bit RPGs similar in the vein of the Super Nintendo Final Fantasy games and is one of many Switch JRPGs worthy of your time. But there are more where that came from. The following is a list of games in the genre also worth your hard-earned money, each practically guaranteed to offer you many hours of deep, compelling gameplay. These titles almost all have different mechanics, but still display the fundamentals that the JRPG genre is well known for.
Switch JRPGs: I Am Setsuna
If you’re looking for another throwback to the earlier days of the JRPG genre, look no further than I Am Setsuna, a game funded by Square Enix, the same publisher responsible for Octopath. Whereas Octopath Traveler recalls the 16-bit era, I Am Setsuna attempts to recreate the early polygonal days of JRPGs during the original PlayStation’s heyday. Though some people can write off the game as a shameless attempt to cash in for nostalgia, Setsuna offers its own unique gameplay mechanics and visual style.
The game tells the tragic story of a woman who must sacrifice herself at a shrine in order to delay the punishment of her people by the gods. Right away, the title establishes its mature tone and never relents in providing players with a compelling, albeit sad, reason to continue. Skill and magic systems give fans a bunch of different weapons and abilities to experiment with in the midst of battle. It makes for an infectious sense of power and importance that only deepens as the game’s cast interacts with one another. To top it all off, I Am Setsuna‘s art style is unparalleled in the genre as of late.
Switch JRPGs: Disgaea 5 Complete
Disgaea 5 Complete on Switch perhaps offers the best way to experience a Disgaea game, regardless of what iteration is your favorite. Though there have been portable ports of the series before, the Switch’s 6.2 inch screen offers the perfect size to experience the tactical strategy game without any of the eye strain. What’s more is that each iteration – with the exception of D2: A Brighter Darkness – possesses its own self-contained narrative. Switch owners can simply jump right in and enjoy Disgaea 5 Complete without any strings attached.
If you’re unfamiliar with how Disgaea games usually play, the series offers fans a complex tactical role-playing game that revolves around turn-based battles on a grid-like map. Characters can be created from scratch and leveled up as users see fit, and there are loads of weapons and equipment to purchase. The main story lasts around 40 hours, though additional political missions can easily push that number over the 100 hour mark.
Switch JRPGs: Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana strands players on a remote island where protagonist Adol must team up with a ragtag group of survivors in order to venture through a world of untamed wilderness. Though its the eighth main iteration in the long-running Ys franchise, players aren’t required to have played other titles to enjoy this one (as it also boasts its own self-contained narrative).
The game’s mechanics rely heavily on action RPG fundamentals, which is a bit of a departure from I Am Setsuna and Disgaea 5 Complete. The fast-paced combat that Ys VIII offers is easy to learn and surprisingly complex due to the amount of weapons and resources players can find on their remote island. Along with its stellar soundtrack, the game accomplishes its goal of immersing fans into its savage locale, never easing up on an incredible sense of adventure.
Switch JRPGs: Shining Resonance Refrain
Shining Resonance Refrain on Switch is the perfect JRPG for fans that are just starting out in genre. It offers an amount of depth that’s large but manageable, complete with attractive cel-shaded graphics that pop when in handheld mode. This version of the game also includes all 150 pieces of DLC for the original title plus the titular Refrain mode, which adds the game’s villains to the playable roster.
Like Ys VIII, Shining Resonance Refrain is also fundamentally based in action RPG mechanics. If Switch users are looking for something in the vein of the Tales of series or Final Fantasy XV on their console of choice, Refrain should serve as a proper replacement, especially given the game’s high reliance on spells and special attacks.
Switch JRPGs: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
If you’re a fan of JRPGs and own a Switch, you owe it to yourself to pick up Xenoblade Chronicles 2. In many ways, the game feels as if it’s a reinvention of the sandbox formula that so many developers have tacked on to their games for marketability. Uncovering Alrest’s secrets alone can take many, many hours to complete. There are also blades to consider, which add a new layer to the game’s deep action-based combat system. The entire package recalls the early days of the series with a sense of wonder and awe, especially as players are given increased freedom to roam around the world presented before them.
Despite it being so large in scope, Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s narrative is surprisingly well-paced throughout the course of roughly 70 hours. If Switch owners out there are looking for a time sink, this game’s got them covered for many, many days to come.
Despite the amazing JRPGs already in the hybrid console’s impressive library, there’s still potential for other heavy-hitting franchises to make the jump. Here’s hoping we see a mainline Final Fantasy or Tales game on the system sooner rather than later. Until then, Switch owners still have a lot of JRPG goodness to play through.