The best JRPGs to play in 2023 (2024)

The best JRPGs to play in 2023 (1)

The best JRPGs offer up a variety of different adventures with so many memorable characters. They're also home to some of the best game stories we've seen over the years, with fantastical backdrops, engrossing quests, and imaginative plotlines. While a JRPG used to be qualified as a an RPG made by Japanese developers, how you actually define a JRPG is more complex: the term these days can sometimes more generally apply to RPGs that are distinctly Japanese in their design with more of a focus on storytelling as opposed to pure action.

A lot of comparisons can also be drawn to the best RPGs around, with some being heavily inspired by some of the most iconic JRPGs that came before. While many will have different notions about constitutes a JRPG, this list below tries to bring together our pick of the most iconic classics to modern masterpieces. Read on below as we take you through our selection of the best JRPGs you can play right now across all platforms.

10. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition

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Developer: Monolith Soft

Released: 2020

The epic JRPG from Monolith made a comeback in a big way on Switch thanks to the Definitive Edition. As well as enhanced visuals, Xenoblade Chronicles got improved battle and inventory UI, along with an all new epilogue chapter. Following the origins of Shulk as he goes up against the mechanical Mechon. With a sprawling world to explore, plenty of side quests outside of its main story, and its own blend of real-time combat with a party of companions, Xenoblade Chronicles was an impressively modern JRPG for its time that continues to stand the test of time with its revamped release.

9. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered

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Developer: Level-5

Released: 2019

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There's undeniable charm to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch that you just can't help but fall in love with. With a beautifully delightful art style brought to life by Studio Ghibli, along with an enchanting soundtrack from Joe Hisashi, the classic adventure follows the imaginative story of a young boy called Oliver who sets out on a quest to try and save his mother and bring her after an unfortunate incident takes place in his hometown of Motorville. With familiars, magic, and a cast of characters to meet, the remastered version of Level-5's classic JRPG really is a treat.

8. Tales of Arise

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Developer: Bandai Namco Studios

Released: 2021

The Tales series has a long history of delivering intriguing stories and memorable characters you truly come to care for, and the latest entry is no exception. Following the story of two worlds that are home to the divided people of Dahna and Renan with protagonists Alphen and Shionne. As you adventure through this modern JRPG, you can soak up the sights and explore the lush environments of Dahna with a party of companions. Tales of Arise really does feel like a true visual evolution thanks to its arrival on the new-gen consoles that brings it into the modern era, with gorgeous graphics that make the most of its world and characters (in fact, it was enough to sell us on the PS5 all the more).

7. Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

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Developer: Square Enix

Released: 2019

The Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest 11 is unquestionably the best way to experience one of the best JRPGs from creator Yuji Horii. You can even switch between 2D and 3D graphics to get a retro taste of the experience and enjoy the colorful world and character designs from Dragon Ball artist Akira Toriyama. As a traditional JRPG that's easy to jump into without any prior knowledge of the Dragon Quest series, the 11th entry takes you to a beautiful, lavish world filled with a vast variety of different foes that let you make the most of the polished turn-based combat. With a cast of memorable characters and a satisfying level of challenge, Dragon Quest 11 really is packed with charm.

6. Yakuza: Like A Dragon

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Developer: RGG Studio

Released: 2020

Yakuza: Like a Dragon introduced one of the best protagonists in recent memory in Ichiban Kasuga. As a big fan of Dragon Quest, we see the world through Ichi's RPG-loving heart, which transforms this Yakuza adventure into a JRPG of its very own. Packed full of humor and loving homages to traditional JRPGs, Ichiban's quests make a departure from the beat-'em up style action that's a mainstay feature in previous Yakuza games. It's hard not to be utterly charmed by Like A Dragon's take on turn-based combat. with a cast of loveable and eccentric characters. It plays on the idea of having a party so spectacularly well, and really makes it so easy to bond with those you fight alongside.

5. Earthbound

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Developer: Ape/HAL Laboratory

Released: 1995

Also known as Mother 2, EarthBound is a JRPG full of surprises that has earned itself a passionate following over the years. Now with the release of EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound on Switch, we can once again relive the wonderfully unique and memorable adventure all over again. Following the story of a young boy called Ness, you set out to save the world from the alien threat known as the Giygas. Along with a group of friends, you face a host of unusual, imaginative enemies through various locales. The 2D look of EarthBound still holds up to this day, and its story is with lots of heart and humor that's worth experiencing for yourself.

4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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Developer: Intelligent Systems/Kou Shibusawa

Released: 2019

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is an exemplary entry in the long-running JRPG strategy series that just begs to be replayed thanks to the various paths you can follow. Set in Fodlan, you take on the role of a professor who can choose to teach one of three different houses. Each house is led differently with a group of students that all have their own unique personalities, backgrounds, and stories to tell. Using its grid-based combat system, you're challenged to use all of your students tactically to emerge victorious from each conflict - each student's fighting style can also be changed and improved off the battlefield as you take to teaching classes. The sweeping story is set over the course of many years, but the characters are undoubtedly the game's beating heart. Fire Emblem: Three Houses will pull you right in and surprise you with its depth and satisfying sense of progression.

3. Persona 5 Royal

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Developer: Atlus

Released: 2020

Persona 5 has all of the classic makings of a JRPG with turn-based combat, dungeons, a party of characters that fight alongside you, and different fighting styles. But it also succeeds at feeling very modern thanks to its story and setting, which follows a group of teenagers that confront various social issues as the Phantom Thieves. Following a calendar year structure, you'll spend your days and weeks going to school, taking on classes, getting to know your fellow students and companions, and even develop a romantic relationship should you choose to. With an utterly slick soundtrack, engaging combat, and all of the social sim aspects, it's all too easy to lose hours of your time getting caught up in this satisfying JRPG that has plenty to offer.

2. Final Fantasy 7

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Developer: Square

Released: 1997

The Final Fantasy series is full of excellent JRPG experiences, but Final Fantasy 7 is arguably one of the most influential among them. The cast of memorable characters have found their way into popular culture time and again, and it's still very much in the collective consciousness of players today thanks to the release of Final Fantasy 7 Remake back in 2020. When the game first released in 1997, it introduced a whole new generation to JRPGs on the PS1 and became a huge success. Delivering an in-depth story with many twists and turns leaves a lasting impression, and its signature blend of turn-based combat and leading protagonists still capture the hearts of players all these years later.

1. Chrono Trigger

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Developer: Square

Released: 1995

This classic '90s JPRGs still stands as one of the very best you can play today. The epic adventure was brought to life and developed through the collaboration of some very notable creators - With Dragon Quest's Yuji Hori, Final Fantasy's Hironobu Sakaguchi, and Dragon Ball's Akira Toriyama all bringing their talents to create the world and story of Chrono Trigger. Following a story of time travel that unfolds across many different eras, there's plenty of humor and charm to be found in what becomes an unforgettable journey with real-time turn-based combat. While the graphics may be slightly dated by today's standards, the 2D look still holds up well today.

Check out our pick of the best anime games and the best adventure games for more great recommendations.

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Heather Wald

Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.

With contributions from

  • Rollin BishopUS Managing Editor
  • Jordan Gerblick

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