Since the days of saving Peach from Bowser, stories in video games have come a long way. However, the role-playing game genre frequently has the most nuanced and engaging stories. Some of the best stories ever told in the medium have been found in the turn-based games that became wildly popular throughout the 1990s, which span a wide spectrum from western RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Diablo to Japanese RPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
Some of them follow established conventions and center on a band of heroes battling an evil empire or ultimate evil, while others relate smaller, more personal narratives. RPGs have the ability to produce the most amazing and thrilling stories in the entire business when everything comes together.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon
Fans of the Yakuza franchise weren’t persuaded when the series changed from an action beat ’em up to a turn-based role-playing game, it’s safe to say. Kazuma Kiryu, a longstanding franchise hero, made way for newcomer Ichiban Kasuga in what ended up being series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi’s final game with Sega. The game’s new main character was accompanied with a brand-new combat system that was clearly inspired by Dragon Quest.
A fantastic tale with amazing characters was one of the relics from earlier Yakuza games. With a fascinating group of party members who follow Ichiban on a humorous and unexpectedly poignant journey into the criminal underworld, the fantastic narrative and world-building from prior entries was maintained.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal surpasses and frequently defies expectations in every manner a game could be amazing. The plot, which immerses players in the dazzling clothes of the Phantom Thieves, is another highlight of this massive adventure. The cast of Persona 5 Royal is one of the best in the entire genre, led by the stoic Joker.
From juvenile bullying and sexual assault to its intriguing frame tale, this all-encompassing journey touches on a broad range of topics. It’s a game that continuously keeps players guessing between the events the Phantom Thieves are involved in and the mystery behind how Joker ended up in Shibuya.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes Of An Elusive Age
Perhaps the most conventional JRPG plot on this list can be found in Dragon Quest XI. It adheres to the tried-and-true model of a group of young, brash heroes who are led by a calm, collected leader, and who individually spend time getting to know themselves while they embark on a quest to save the world.
It was kind of a breath of fresh air when Dragon Quest XI was released in 2017 to have a plot so founded in honest intentions and classic narrative as JRPG storylines had been heading in darker, more adult paths in the years prior.
Despite its best efforts, Valkyria Chronicles has struggled to establish itself as a staple in the genre. However, the combination of turn-based strategy and tactical maneuvering produced a ferocious, cult-like fandom that is currently impatiently awaiting a new release. However, the plot in Valkyria Chronicles was one area where it excelled.
The conflict between the Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation is depicted in Valkyria Chronicles, an alternate reality World War II story heavily influenced by steampunk. This anime-styled investigation of devotion, love, and conflict is a great joy to watch.
Shigesato Itoi’s final Mother game proved to be worth the wait despite its lengthy and hard production process, which saw it switch from 2D to 3D and back again. The fascinating plot of Mother 3 was mostly preserved throughout the process of projected debuts on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and eventually the Gameboy Advance in 2006.
The convoluted conflict in the appropriately called Nowhere Islands, where an invading force known as the Pig Mask Army is attempting to take control, is explored in Mother 3 by twin brothers Lucas and Klaus. Mother 3 is so full of heart, emotion, and humor that it nearly physically bursts at the seams thanks to a plot that is staggeringly well-written and a cast of characters that are absolutely amazing.
Some of the most thrilling games in the market right now are a result of Square-Enix’s beautiful HD-2D design, which has driven recent classics like Octopath Traveler and the impending remake of Dragon Quest III. Triangle Strategy satiated players’ appetite for this genre of turn-based strategy RPG by drawing inspiration from Final Fantasy Tactics.
The realm of Norzelia is full of political intrigue, brash villains, and heroic characters even though it isn’t situated in the adored Final Fantasy spin-off universe known as Ivalice. Triangle Strategy creates a universe that is fighting to survive a conflict and a cast of characters that are impossible not to adore in a way that feels effortless.
Even though Squaresoft was forced to reduce the second disc’s content to the equivalent of a narrated novel due to budgetary restrictions, what Xenogears does manage to accomplish during its running time is genuinely astounding. Xenogears is an epic space adventure to overthrow Solaris’ totalitarian government, which is a great amalgam of Star Wars and Final Fantasy.
Xenogears has fantastically animated and directed cutscenes, as well as a fantastic voice cast. When Monolith Soft was eventually established, they would use their experience working on this project to develop the Xenoblade franchise. This was made possible by the expansive, enormous setting and ensemble cast.
Parasite Eve, a stunning mashup of Resident Evil and Final Fantasy, was launched on the PlayStation by Squaresoft in 1998, despite feeling like a game that shouldn’t even be permitted to exist. This survival horror role-playing game, which served as a successor to the same-titled book, merged Resident Evil’s inventory management and terror with Final Fantasy’s active-time battle system.
Parasite Eve is a chilling investigation of motherhood and the degeneration of DNA, continuing the story of NYPD officer Aya Brea. Along with the game’s stunning screenplay and one of Yoko Shimomura’s best soundtracks, the game contains Squaresoft’s signature mastery of exquisite CG cutscenes.
Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne
Persona, a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off, has managed to surpass Shin Megami Tensei in terms of popularity despite being a spin-off. However, despite all of that, Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne can lay claim to having the series’ best tale.
Nocturne is a dark, frightening tale about a youngster who becomes the Demi-fiend as a result of the horrifying, global-ending Conception catastrophe. The Demi-fiend’s battles with a doomsday cult stand in stark contrast to his otherworldly encounters with NPCs and demons, which deftly walk the line between drama and quirky, dark humor.
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy 7 is still cited and used as a model for a turn-based game’s plot today because it was the JRPG that started the 90s fixation with characters with spikey hair and amnesia. Cyberpunk, science fiction, melodrama, tragedy, and slapstick don’t seem at all at odds with one another. It’s a fully developed and interconnected world.
A squad of eco-terrorists’ mission to overturn a bad megacorporation quickly turns into a global quest about identity, capitalism, and retribution. The plot of Final Fantasy 7 leverages a single inciting act to build up a much bigger narrative, a technique that generated something genuinely remarkable. As a result, Cloud and Sephiroth’s long-standing animosity dominates the story’s second half.