Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is an absolutely beautiful remake of the PS2 action RPG Odin Sphere. With a world based on Norse mythology, Shakespeare, and fairytales, it’s one of the most captivating and charming experiences you could think of.
Though the gameplay is kept fairly simple (2D side-scroller not unlike many beat-em-ups), it’s still a lot of fun and highly rewarding if you really get into it. The remake even added new battle arenas and platforming segments for those who want a challenge.
Developer: Level-5 Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Release Date: 2018
Though the previous Ni No Kuni game was made together with Studio Ghibli, the sequel takes a lot of what fans liked about the first game and improves on it. Taking place a whole 300 years after the original, Ni No Kuni II puts you in control of Evan — the rightful heir to the throne — and his allies.
The gameplay is quite different from the previous entry, splitting up your time into three different parts: overworld, combat, and kingdom management. In combat you’re supported by small elemental sprites called Higgledies which are much less involved than the Familiars in Wrath of the White Witch, but will help you a lot anyway.
In his review, Ashley Bates quite enjoyed the game, giving it an 8.5 and saying:
“Though it’s not a perfect game, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will find its way into your heart with its endless charm and uplifting story. A fantastic JRPG with bags of positivity to boot, this game is an uplifting experience that the world could do with more of right now.”
Anyone who knows me knows I could sing this game’s praises for days on end and never get tired. Still, I’ll keep it short. Boiled down to its essentials, Persona 5 is a JRPG about social misfits righting the wrongs of a corrupt society, with an amazing soundtrack.
At school, you try to not be particularly conspicuous, but at night and on the weekends, you steal the hearts of the wicked and make them pay for their evil deeds. Standard fare for teenagers.
Everything about this game is cleverly designed, from the characters and the world they’re in to the music and the UI. In my review of it I said:
“With a gripping story, quirky characters, witty writing, and everything that you need to make a good game, Persona 5 will take hold of you for its 100+ hours of gameplay and have you wishing you didn’t need to take a break. It’s great all around, and even has replay value, despite already being a long game.”
With the previous game in the franchise having been an MMORPG (and the second entry in a row not released outside of Japan), Dragon Quest XI was a return to form that many fans were glad for. Though some criticized it for playing a bit too safe with its formula for turn-based combat, it was still appreciated on release.
As you travel across the overworld of Erdrea and the dungeons you find along the way, you can fight your way through droves of enemies. Though there’s no surprise encounters anymore, running into enemies will trigger a combat phase separate from the overworld, though still recognisably in the same place, as common for the Dragon Quest franchise. Sometimes a return to form is just what a franchise needs.
Developer: CD Projekt RED Publisher: CD Projekt Release Date: 2015
Undoubtedly one of the biggest and best games of all time, The Witcher 3 is an action RPG filled to the brim with side quests. In fact, the game has an infamous reputation for distracting you from what you’re supposed to be doing, be it in real life or in the storyline. The Witcher 3’s beautiful world is also jam-packed with monsters to fight, and things to make with your war spoils.
On top of those masses of content, there were two paid expansions for the game, both of them were another 30 hours of gameplay each, making them more than worth it. Every other piece of DLC was released for free.
11. Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Release Date: 2017
When it released in 2017, it was a strong contender for game of the year, and many declared it to be one of the best games you could play on PS4. Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing games that brings a touch of wonder back to post-apocalypse scenarios that are usually a lot bleaker, with giant mechanical creatures roaming the vibrant and diverse world around you.
Though Aloy is a hunter and a fast thinker, she’s often tiny compared to the robots that wander the earth, meaning you have to think fast, and you have to attack properly. Eventually, you can even take control of the creatures — that’s when the real fun starts, letting you fight fire with fire.
In his review of the game, Nick Monahan loved the game, saying:
“Horizon Zero Dawn boasts a stunningly realized vision of the post-post-apocalypse, accompanied by a fascinating and chilling mystery surrounding the fall of civilization and surprisingly deep and strategic combat which combine to create one of the best new IP’s in years.”
12. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Developer: BioWare Publisher: EA Release Date: 2014
This is probably one of the more contentious entries on the list since not everyone liked it. A lot of fans felt it was too different, whereas others felt it mixed elements from the previous games perfectly. Boasting a much bigger world than its predecessors, and generally a more expansive experience, Dragon Age: Inquisition has you attempting to close the Breach that threatens to destroy the world.
With countless customization options depending on the characters you played and several romance options more intricate than the usual “playersexual” characters often encountered in video games, it’s a much more individual experience than previous entries.
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Release Date: 2018
This is definitely the most contentious entry on the list. I thoroughly enjoyed Vampyr and was surprised about how well designed the mechanics were, especially on a lore level.
You could only really upgrade your abilities if you feasted on people, but the more people you feasted on, the closer certain parts of the city descended to chaos. On top of that, weighing those decisions with the responsibilities of a doctor at the same time made for an intensely interesting gameplay experience.
In my review of the game, I was captivated by the world and said:
“Filled with moral dilemmas and an unexpected strategic depth to its city system, Vampyr is a vampire RPG that isn’t afraid to bite back. Although some characters are quite stiff in dialogue, it’s still a great game overall with intense confrontations, fast-paced combat and a thrilling story.”
14. Torment: Tides of Numenera
Developer: inXile Entertainment Publisher: Techland Publishing Release Date: 2017
If you want a role-playing game, it doesn’t get much more classic than this. Torment: Tides of Numenera is the spiritual successor to the Planescape: Torment, which was based in the D&D setting called Planescape, though Tides of Numenera only shares themes with the original game.
The game puts a lot of focus on its story and on complex dialogue, focussing on the torment several characters go through as they travel the world of Numenera. The six companions you can meet throughout the world could strongly connect with you — or they could become your mortal enemy.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is another game that takes the classic RPG formula and makes something new out of it. Though the game lets you make a character yourself, there are also pre-made characters with their own backstories, personalities and voices. The combat is still as punishingly difficult as in the previous game, but there’s a Story Mode if you don’t quite feel up to the challenge.
The characters you meet throughout the world really feel alive, and here they even have the agency to interact with each other, with opposing goals they need to fulfil. It all serves to makes the whole game a lot more interesting.
“The sequel to Divinity: Original Sin delivers a great tactical top-down RPG experience that plays phenomenally on a console. “
16. Pillars of Eternity
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Publisher: Paradox Interactive Release Date: 2017 (originally 2015, ported in 2017)
The final entry on this list is a classic RPG, too. Pillars of Eternity was originally on Kickstarter, only releasing for PC, until it was ported to consoles in 2017. A spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate among other D&D video games, it’s filled with interesting characters and side quests that can affect how others perceive you in the game.
Pillars of Eternity also recently had a sequel which was given high praise, though that hasn’t been released for PS4 yet. However, the original game is still great, and has us hoping that the port of the sequel will be just as good.