While Sony’s 7th generation console could not match its immediate two predecessors in terms of JRPGs, the PlayStation 3 is still home to some brilliant titles. Along with returning franchises like Final Fantasy and Tales, this era saw the release of many one-off games that sought to blend the familiar with something slightly more unusual.
2007’s interesting albeit deeply flawed Folklore arguably set the tone for what proved to be a fascinating but not altogether satisfying period for JRPG fans. Which are the best JRPGs on Sony’s console?
Updated November 7th, 2020 by Mark Sammut: The arrival of the PlayStation 5 marks the launch of a new era in Sony’s history. The console will naturally bring with it plenty of exciting new IPs and experiences, but the PlayStation’s future is still influenced by its past. For many, the PS3 represented a high point in gaming, and the console’s solid collection of JRPGs helped cement its legacy. While the PS5 builds up its library, this is the perfect time to revisit some of the PS3’s many JRPGs.
15 White Knight Chronicles II
A lesser entry in Level-5’s impressive portfolio, White Knight Chronicles’ ambition that does not quite translate to a fully satisfying product. Featuring a battle system that blends real-time combat with strategic planning, White Knight Chronicles is perpetually on the verge of greatness without ever reaching that point.
White Knight Chronicles II is a retread of its predecessor with slightly improved gameplay and a few additional chapters. While quite underwhelming as a sequel, it is still the only game of the two worth playing.
Debuting less than a year following the Ps3’s launch, Folklore was one of the console’s better exclusives during its early days. Along with having two protagonists, Folklore splits its game time between an Irish town and the fantastical Netherworld. Both areas are fully realized and juxtaposition well together, with the Netherworld’s areas being especially imaginative.
Folklore features a Pokemon-esque catching system that works well for what it is, even if it is somewhat let down by a repetitive combat system.
13 Final Fantasy XIII
The PS3 did not bring out the best in Square Enix’s franchise, producing a trilogy of games that are nothing if not polarizing. While the sequels do improve in certain areas, Final Fantasy XIII is still the most complete adventure in Lightning’s run of games.
With a deceptively deep combat system that is not immediately satisfying and linear levels that take too long to implement any player freedom, Final Fantasy XIII’s success hinges on its world-building and characters. Like the rest of the game, both of those elements tend to be either loved or hated.
Yoko Taro’s wonderfully strange Drakengard spawned Nier, a spin-off that has been somewhat overshadowed by its sequel, Nier: Automata. Nier’s story lures players into a false sense of security through a first act that does not hold too many surprises before the game reveals itself to be so much more than your typical JRPG.
Bolstering a fantastic cast of flawed characters who feel real despite the dark insanity that permeates the overall story, Nier is worth playing for everything besides its combat and visuals.
11 Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
The PS3 welcomed seven different Atelier games, all of which are playable to some extent. Arland and Dusk’s trilogies both peaked with their second entries, Atelier Totori and Atelier Escha & Logy respectively. Out of those two, the latter’s more forgiven time limit, refined gameplay, and great synthesis system make it a better entry point into the series.
Unlike most JRPGs, the Atelier series has never prioritized its stories, opting for a slice of life tone that is more befitting of a franchise revolving around alchemists.
10 Eternal Sonata
Eternal Sonata’s setting is its most unique feature, as the JRPG takes place within Chopin’s dream world. As such, music plays a significant role throughout the relatively short adventure, one that boasts a fun cast of twelve playable characters. Unfortunately, while the setting is interesting, the actual story seems satisfied to regurgitate genre tropes.
Eternal Sonata’s combat system blends traditional turn-based combat with real-life action, as characters can be strategically positioned on the battlefield to gain a tactical advantage over the enemies.
9 Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Star Ocean: The Last Hope refines its predecessor’s real-time battle system by adding a couple of noteworthy new features, primarily “Blindside” which effectively acts as a cool dodge mechanic. Visually, The Last Hope looked decent for the time and boasts some impressive terrains. Furthermore, the bosses are generally thrilling and often quite challenging.
While the gameplay is often brilliant, The Last Hope is marred with below-average voice acting, annoying characters, and a forgettable storyline. Come for the sweet combat, tolerate everything else.
8 Fairy Fencer F
When it comes to Compile Hearts’ games, there is no middle ground. People tend to either love or hate them. Out of all the studio’s PlayStation 3 outings, Fairy Fencer F is arguably the most welcoming to newcomers.
While the expanded version (Advent Dark Force) offers the best way to experience this JRPG, the PS3 original is by no means terrible. The story is hardly going to win any awards, but the characters themselves are likable enough. The combat is fast-paced and a ton of fun.
7 Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness
As a direct sequel to 2003’s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, A Brighter Darkness represents everything that is great about the strategy-JRPG franchise. Unsurprisingly, humor is pushed to the forefront but the jokes are never at the expense of the characters or story, which are both engaging enough to justify a playthrough.
The gameplay is top-notch and introduces a few interesting components, including an ability to stack monsters on top of each other and a Cheat Shop that allows players to decide whether to prioritize experience gain or other attributes. Disgaea 5 improves on D2 in nearly every way, but A Brighter Darkness is still pretty good.
6 Resonance Of Fate
Focusing on guns and set in a post-apocalyptic futuristic world, Resonance of Fate is nothing if not one of a kind, at least in the realm of JRPGs. While still turn-based, the battle system blends elements of real-time combat to create a more dynamic experience, albeit one that comes with a steep learning curve.
The combat is not going to be for everyone, but Resonance of Fate’s setting and narrative – which centers around a group of hunters willing to accept almost any type of mission – more than make up for the gameplay’s growing pains.
5 Tales Of Xillia
The franchise’s best 7th generation offering is Tales of Vesperia; unfortunately, good luck finding a copy if you only own a PlayStation 3. Out of the rest, Tales of Xillia comes in as a close second.
Tales of Graces f’s combat tends to be highly regarded among fans, but Xillia’s Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System is nearly just as fantastic. The latter also comes with the added benefit of featuring an actually likable cast and a storyline that goes to some pretty weird places. The progression system allows for a degree of player control, while the characters’ conversations are consistently entertaining.
4 Valkyria Chronicles
Along with being the most underappreciated – at the time – JRPG on Sony’s console, Valkyria Chronicles is nothing short of a masterpiece. All of the previous entries would have struggled to make the cut for such a list if they were released during any other generation, but the same cannot be said about Sega’s tactical-RPG.
Taking place in an alternate reality based on the 1930s, Valkyria Chronicles tells a mature tale that never shies away from depicting the human cost of war. While the conflict is between two fictional superpowers, the entire game feels grounded in the real world. The cel-shaded graphics are stunning too.
3 Persona 5
Even though Persona 5 is primarily associated with the PlayStation 4, Atlus also published the JRPG on the PlayStation 3. Surprisingly, the differences between the two versions are relatively minimal, mostly coming down to a resolution jump.
Persona 5’s turn-based combat is quite derivative but benefits from a bombastic and stylish presentation, which extends to the rest of the title. Persona 5 is a far better social simulator than a traditional JRPG, but the two elements combine relatively well to create a thoroughly enjoyable overall package.
2 Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch united the talents of Level-5, a studio known for producing charming JRPGs, with the animation giants Studio Ghibli. The end result? A visual and narrative masterpiece! The type of game that comes around once a generation.
The PlayStation 3 has a lot of good but not remarkable JRPGs, with some even managing to land lower on this list. Wrath of the White Witch may take inspiration from some other games, including a monster-catching system similar to Pokémon, but the final product is truly singular. The only negative is that the story and combat system are designed to be suitable for players of all ages; luckily, that does not lessen the impact of the narrative’s emotional beats or the gameplay’s agreeableness.
1 The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel I & II
Two for the price of one! Trails of Cold Steel incorporates the epicness of a Final Fantasy, the social component of a Persona, and the mature storytelling of a Lost Odyssey. The sequel is slightly better due to not revolving so much of the narrative around a central hub; that said, 2013’s original should be deemed a must-play for anyone remotely fond of the genre.
The turn-based combat hits the perfect middle-ground between familiarity and innovation, with the latter largely coming through a fun link system that injects an element of strategy to battles. Completing both campaigns is liable to require around 120 hours, but every minute is well spent.
NEXT: The 10 PS2 JRPGs With The Best Storylines, Ranked
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