The original PlayStation had so many great role-playing games that we couldn’t possibly list the greatest of them in just one post (or even two)! So what does that mean? Well, it means that I’m back again with another 7 PSX RPGs that you really should play if you love the genre! In this article, we are going to look at 7 RPGs that were generally overshadowed by the likes of Final Fantasy, meaning that they didn’t get the attention they deserved. However, with the PlayStation Classic bringing more attention back to the original PlayStation games, now is the perfect time to give these games a try!
So, let’s get started and look at another 7 PSX RPGs that every RPG fan should play!
In recent years, thanks to the likes of Dark Souls, games that are difficult and unforgiving have become incredibly popular. However, back in the day, that sort of game design would put off a lot of people. That’s what happened with Alundra for most of the people I knew when I was growing up. You see, a lot of people over here at the time got introduced to the J-RPG genre by Final Fantasy VII. That was a game that you could move through at a very leisurely pace and, honestly, doesn’t give much of a challenge (outside of Ruby Weapon).
When they then moved on to other J-RPGs and tried Alundra, the difference in difficulty was a huge jump. This put a lot of them off the game very quickly, which is a real shame. Alundra is a fantastic RPG that rewards your determination! So, if you’re a fan of a challenging game, Alundra is perfect for you!
Developed by the (at the time) prolific role-playing game developers of Squaresoft, Xenogears has gotten quite the name for itself over the years. This is absolutely well deserved as well. The game features everything you would expect from a Squaresoft RPG; quality gameplay, memorable and relatable characters and great world building. You can become enthralled in the world of Xenogears very easily. Oh, and if you are a fan of robots and mecha, then Xenogears has you covered there as well!
If you have ever played Xenosaga on the PlayStation 2 or either of the Xenoblade Chronicles games for the Wii and WiiU, they are effectively spiritual successors to Xenogears. So if you have enjoyed those games, you should treat yourself by going back and playing Xenogears. Just be warned that the latter half of the game does feel rushed, due to a strict development deadline.
5. Legend of Legaia
Are you a fan of both RPGs and fighting games? If so, then you may have just found the absolutely perfect RPG for you! Legend of Legaia is a traditional turn-based RPG, but only when looking skin deep. In combat, when you choose to attack, you have to choose whether to aim high or low, and also have to perform combos like in a fighting game. This was an incredibly unique gameplay idea for a J-RPG at the time. Whilst other RPGs have used this idea before, such as with Zell’s limit break in Final Fantasy VIII, the only RPG at the time that I have seen that uses it as the base fighting mechanic is Legend of Legaia.
Of course, the battle system isn’t the only aspect that makes Legend of Legaia great. Whilst it really hasn’t aged well in terms of graphics, the storyline is thoroughly enjoyable and will keep you entertained through the game.
4. SaGa Frontier
With the absolute love that Octopath Traveler got recently (which was well deserved), I think it is the perfect time for you to go back and play a true classic that features different storylines for the characters. SaGa Frontier opens with a character select screen and, once you pick one, you play out that characters story. Then, you get to go back and play through all of the other characters as well. So, as you can tell, there is a reason why I mentioned Octopath Traveler.
SaGa Frontier is a great example of what you can do to make an RPG different enough to stand out, without going too far off the rails that you alienate people because of gameplay. You really should give it a try!
3. Azure Dreams
Whilst this RPG didn’t really sit well with me, personally, I know for a fact that many who played Azure Dreams adore it! The game is a sort of action RPG that also works similar to a rogue-like game. That is, there is a huge tower for you to get through, but every time you leave the tower, your level resets. However, along the way you can recruit animals and creatures to fight alongside you – their levels do not reset. This is a major aspect of progression in the game, adding a lot of strategic thought to the game.
Azure Dreams also features a limited town-building section to the game, where you can reconstruct the town around the tower. This gives access to (again, limited) relationships with NPCs in the town that you can romance. So whilst it doesn’t really master every aspect that it attempts, in my opinion, Azure Dreams definitely does do a lot of very good things!
2. Star Ocean: The Second Story
There really are quite a few Squaresoft games on this list, aren’t there? That just goes to show why I referred to them as “prolific” earlier on and why they were once my favourite game developer. Star Ocean, as a series, has always been really close to my heart. I have adored every game in the series (barring the latest one on PS4, although it was still okay). However, the one game in the Star Ocean series that sticks out above all of the rest is Star Ocean: The Second Story. It’s really hard to discuss what makes the game so great without verging on spoiler territory for the game, because of how much world-building, character development and story there is in it!
However, I think I may have inadvertently explained why I love Star Ocean: The Second Story so much in that very sentence. There really is just so much to the game and it will pull you in, hold you tight and not let you go until long after you have completed everything there is to do in the game!
1. Valkyrie Profile
In the second post in this series of articles, I mentioned Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a side-scrolling Metroidvania RPG. Well, it isn’t the only side-scrolling RPG with exploration on the original PlayStation! Enter Valkyrie Profile, a beautifully animated and designed 2D role-playing game based upon Norse mythology. You take the titular role of a Valkyrie who is tasked with gathering the souls of warriors in order to help in the coming back of Ragnarok. The game features a great amount of depth for every character, and the battle system is incredibly fast-paced.
In fact, it may take some getting used to if you’ve only ever played traditional turn-based RPGs. Exploration is also really enjoyable, as it feels like you are playing a very well-polished 2D platformer until you get into a battle scene. Because of that, the game never feels repetitive (at least, not to me) so you don’t get burnt out whilst playing it.
And That’s All Folks
Well, there you have it! Those were 7 more great RPGs on the original PlayStation that you really need to play if you enjoy the genre! There are still a huge number of other games in the genre to cover though, so make sure you stay tuned for the next entry in this series of posts!
What PSX RPGs would you suggest to absolutely anyone? Let me know in the comments below!