If you’re a fan of JRPGs, 2020 was a fantastic year for you with releases like Persona 5 Royal, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Genshin Impact just to name a few. It is safe to say 2021 will be another stellar year for fans of the genre. Bravely Default II will be releasing in February, Monster Hunter Rise in March, and Scarlet Nexus later this year. RPGs are proving they are here to stay, and I wanted to share a list of the five role-playing titles for which any fan should be watching out.
5 – Tales of Arise
Tales of Arise promises to bring the series into a modern era by abandoning the old Tales engine to adopt Unreal Engine 4. Like Final Fantasy before it, each Tales game is a standalone venture with only a few nods and easter eggs to the other titles in the series. Game producer Yusuke Tomizawa has stated that Tales of Arise will be a great entry point for newcomers that will also be faithful to long time fans, who have been concerned since series veteran Hideo Baba left Bandai Namco to join Square Enix.
Tales of Arise looks to bring much needed detail to the environments and character models, all while keeping that iconic anime inspired art style that has defined the series’ signature look. If you are into action RPGs, open worlds, and deep stories it would be a great idea to add Tales of Arise to your “Must Play List” this year. The game will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
4 – Shin Megami Tensei V
It’s hard to believe that it has already been three years since the announcement of the highly anticipated Shin Megami Tensei V. Atlus has been quiet about the fifth instalment in the long running JRPG series that has paved the way for spin off series like Persona, Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga. In the past three years Atlus has released two trailers that have left fans hungry for more information. All that we know for certain is fans can expect Shin Megami Tensei V later this year.
I expect Shin Megami Tensei V to be a traditional entry in the franchise, bringing back demon fusing, first-person dungeon crawling and a hard-as-nails campaign to last between 60 and100 hours with multiple endings. Shin Megami Tensei V is exclusively releasing for Nintendo Switch.
3 – Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne Remaster
Shin Megami Tensei V is not the only Megami Tensei title releasing this year. Long time fans have been given an extra treat with the announcement of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Remaster. Originally released in 2003, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne launched to widespread acclaim for its deep and often disturbing story, as well as its intricate turn-based gameplay. The remaster will introduce fully voiced cutscenes for the first time and presumably will have both Japanese and English language tracks.
Along with the above, Nocturne will also include DLC adding Dante from the Devil May Cry series. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne was a notoriously difficult game to the point where players could be hard pressed to finish it – myself included. Thankfully for newcomers or people who want to experience that story, Nocturne will include a “merciful” difficulty setting.
Dungeon crawling and turn-based battles have recently made a comeback these past few years, and I would say that Nocturne has one of the best systems from the PlayStation 2 era. A key feature is being able to negotiate with demons in order to have them join your cause. Turns are dictated by a sign system that allows you to score extra turns by exploiting the enemies’ weakness, thus granting you the upper hand.
Nocturne has also been praised for its story, in which you take control of a human-demon hybrid or “Demi-Fiend” who is tasked with destroying demons using their own power, shortly after the apocalypse. With five different endings and over 100 hours of content, fans of Persona 5 should definitely stop and take a look Nocturne’s way.
Look out for Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, sometime this spring.
2 – Nier Replicant ver 1.22474487139…
With the success of Nier Automata back in 2017, it was only a matter of time before Square Enix decided to go ahead and remaster the cult classic original,released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 over 10 years ago. Nier Replicant will be reworking the combat to feel more like Automata, adding in a new playable character as well as new dialog and scenarios to better fit with Automata’s story.
Fans have speculated that these new elements could mean new endings for Nier Replicant. Thus, even if you haven’t played a Nier game or you have experienced everything that the original Nier had to offer, it’s looking like Nier Replicant is going to be filled with brand new content to keep players occupied. Nier Replicant 1.22474487139… will release on April 23rd for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
1 – Cris Tales
Cris Tales is a love letter to classic JRPGs created by Modus Games, who have worked on titles such as Trine 4, Rock of Ages III, and Remothered. Cris Tales allows players to peer into the past, present and future of its world all simultaneously as players fight strategic turn based battles against enemies in different timelines.
With charming characters, a gorgeous art style and inspired by a mix of classic and modern influences, Cris Tales is not to be missed and is a runner up for one of my most anticipated games of 2021. Cris Tales is releasing later this year for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC and Google Stadia.