It’s no real secret that I love the Final Fantasy games! I mean, the first game that I finished on stream was Final Fantasy VIII. Final Fantasy Tactics is my third favourite game of all time as well. But, let’s all be honest; the series gets discussed so much that it really does overshadow other RPG series out there.
After all, there is a metric tonne of RPGs out in the wild for you to enjoy. So, for today’s post, I wanted to put the spotlight on my top 7 RPG series that aren’t Final Fantasy! So, let’s get to it, shall we?
We are going to start off this list with another Square series; the Chrono games. Now, I was torn between whether to put Star Ocean, Valkyria Chronicles or the Chrono games here… However, I didn’t really enjoy the newer Star Ocean games, and whilst Valkyria Chronicles was amazing, the series quickly went downhill (and I haven’t played the newest one yet). So, when I actually thought about the fact that we are looking at the series as a whole, the Chrono games come out on top.
Chrono Trigger is well known for being one of the best RPGs ever made, whilst Chrono Cross generally doesn’t get anywhere near enough love. These two games are both masterpieces in their own right, with deep and confusing storylines, plus great combat. Personally, I prefer Chrono Cross myself, but I am more than willing to admit that I am weird.
6. The Forgotten Realms
Next up, we have the Forgotten Realms series of games. This series includes but is not limited to Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale. All of the games are great Dungeons and Dragons video games by themselves, but when you add them together and look at the campaign setting, they are even better! The alignment system is brilliantly implemented, and the combat feels amazing unique.
The stories, which are incredibly important for any RPG, are well presented as well. There are certainly a few negative points, and some of the games will test your patience with the sheer amount of character customisation as you progress, but I love them all the same!
Another series that is very close to my heart is the Lunar series of games. The series started out on the MegaCD with Lunar: The Silver Star, before getting a sequel called Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. These games were then loving remastered and ported to the PlayStation, which is where I first experienced them. These versions were called Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. Since then, the games have been remastered and ported multiple times, showing just how beloved the games really are.
The animated cutscenes and voice acting help to bring the characters to life, and whilst the older versions of the game were certainly challenging, you would find yourself so enthralled that you would just keep trying. There’s also a decent splash of humour in the games as well, to make sure that it isn’t always dark in tone.
4. Dot Hack
Anime is incredibly popular; that is a pretty redundant statement these days. However, when I was growing up that wasn’t really the case. Instead, anime was something that you were bullied for enjoying. This was also true during my teenage years as well, so when I found the anime .hack//SIGN and really enjoyed it, I didn’t really mention it to anyone. That’s a shame really, because I probably could have gotten more people to both watch the anime and then play the first set of PS2 games.
These games are pseudo-MMORPGs. You can “log in” to the game to play, or “log out” and read emails from other “players” or chat with them on a forum. The developers did an amazing job at creating the world around the MMO featured in the game, as well as making the pseudo-MMO portions of the game feel realistic too. The combat is simple to pick up but takes time to master, and the trade system with other “players” is genius. Admittedly, the game’s levels aren’t much to look at in terms of beauty and uniqueness, but everything else in the games makes up for that!
3. Wild Arms
When I was a kid, if you had told me that a J-RPG series that mixes demons, magic and Spaghetti Westerns together would end up being one of my favourites, I would have laughed so hard you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are, talking about Wild Arms. The first time I played Wild Arms was shortly after completing Final Fantasy VII for the first time. I was looking for my next big J-RPG to sink my teeth into and spotted it on a shelf in Blockbusters. It looked intriguing, and since it was a rental, I was more than happy to give the game a try.
Since that day, I’ve played the large majority of the Wild Arms games, were 2nd Ignition being my favourite in the series. Sadly, the Wild Arms games never really sold well in the States or Europe, meaning that the series effectively died (with the exception of the recent Mobile game). This means that the games can be pretty expensive these days. However, I would definitely say that they are worth it!
2. Megami Tensei
The penultimate entry in this of a great RPG series that aren’t Final Fantasy has to go Megami Tensei. I recently said on Twitter that I rate Megami Tensei and Final Fantasy at the same level in terms of my “RPG love”. Both series are absolutely massive, with Megami Tensei featuring all sorts of takes on the RPG gameplay. The most famous sub-series of Megami Tensei is the Persona games. Persona 3, 4 and 5 launched Megami Tensei into the limelight far more.
However, I still prefer the original PlayStation Persona games, as well as Lucifer’s Call on the PS2. But you know what? The greatest thing about Megami Tensei is the developers were always finding new ways to add customised designs and a wonderful look & feel. This style and design of Megami Tensei games have become synonymous with the series, showing how much the developers care about the franchise as a whole.
1. Shadow Hearts
And so we come to the final entry in tonight list; the Shadow Hearts games. These are some of the darkest RPG make in history, dealing with loss, suicide and much more. The games, despite their comical nature, can create some really dark and lasting memories. There are so many events in the games that will forever be stuck in my head, like the tale of Li Li or the way in which Shadow Hearts 2 ends.
Starting with my favourite game of all time, Koudelka, the series hits the ground running when it comes to dealing with dark tones. From there, with the first Shadow Hearts, your very first town that you reach turns out to be run by a bunch of cannibals who then switch into being demons. Oh, and the opening video is incredibly violent, with soldiers getting sliced apart and the hero getting his arm cut off but reattaching it. So yeah, Shadow Hearts is definitely one of the darkest yet strangely comical RPG series I have played.
But that’s not all. The characters are all really well developed and the story is surprisingly good. The translation of the first game isn’t great, as to be expected, and the graphics haven’t really held up well, but the series overall is most certainly worth your time.
And That’s All Folks
Those were my top 7 RPG series that aren’t Final Fantasy. The top 2 of them might have been obvious for those who have read this for a while, but that’s only because both of the series deserved a lot more attention that they received.
What are your favourite RPG series? Let me know in the comments below!