Today we have a list of titles for those who look for an engaging narrative and memorable characters. JRPGs and Japanese-inspired visual novels are present on GOG for some time and managed to gather quite a lot of fans. Today we’ve decided to highlight some top picks you simply have to check out.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
We start our list with a game that gave birth to the epic and long-lasting jRPG series. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was developed in 2004 by Nihon Falcom, a company that has been celebrating its 40th anniversary lately. In this turn-based RPG, you can clearly see the elements that made Nihon Falcom titles famous among video game fans.
The game’s story follows protagonist Estelle Bright and her adopted brother Joshua. They both set off on a journey throughout the country of Liberl to complete their training to become so-called Bracers. It is an independent, multinational organization that aims to keep the peace among nations and protect civilians. During their journey, Estelle and Joshua become entangled in a dangerous plot that is being devised to overthrow the monarchy.
The huge popularity of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky led to a string of sequels and an upcoming anime series. As a whole, the Trails jRPGs remains one of the most ambitious takes on storytelling in the history of video games. No wonder its developer Toshihiro Kondo considers The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky his life work.
The Silver Case & The 25th Ward
The first visual novel on our list, The 25th Ward: The Silver Case is a dark tale that follows up on the original 2016 title, The Silver Case. The gameplay received some modifications, yet what remains the same is the dark atmosphere. The latter is additionally underlined thanks to the mesmerizing artwork.
This noir visual novel takes you through three different stories, with one tasking you with investigating a murder, and the other two revolving around investigating the seedy underworld of the 25th Ward. What starts as three separate stories eventually tie together, but we’ll leave the rest for you to find out for yourself.
The Caligula Effect: Overdose
One theme you’ll notice jRPGs from this list is that the stories are not your cookie-cutter adventure affairs. Such is the case with The Caligula Effect: Overdose, where a virtual world houses a perfect high school, meant for people to escape the stress of their daily lives. Of course, things aren’t that simple, but as they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
The gameplay is classic turn-based RPG goodness with 9 main characters you can use in your four-person party. Gaining levels with characters also allow you to unlock additional side quests, building on an already unique experience.
You awake and your memories are gone. That sounds like a beginning of an interesting story, right? in Amnesia: Memories you’re tasked with not only figuring out your past. You’ll also get the chance to impact your future in this 2011 visual novel.
Referred to as an otome game, much of the story in Amnesia: Memories revolves around the heroine of the story interacting with multiple characters to figure out their relationship with them. With over 20 endings, there will be plenty of replayability with this one.
Ys I & II Chronicles+
Yet another, after already mentioned Trails, long-running jRPG series from Nihon Falcom. The ninth part of the saga premiered on GOG not long ago, yet we propose to start this rich story from the beginning. Ys I & II Chronicles+ is a modernized pack of two classic jRPGs from 1987 and 1988. With them, you can easily explore the origins of this great series.
The story follows the steps of Adol Christin, a young swordsman who sets sail toward the land of Esteria. His mission is to save its inhabitants from a swarm of monsters and discover the mystery behind their surprising appearance.
Celestian Tales: Old North
Next, let’s take a look at Celestian Tales: Old North. This turn-based RPG uses a unique hand-drawn art style to bring the world to life. You take on the role of one among six young nobles, learning the hard way of knighthood and assisting the lords they serve. When a dangerous force threatens the land, you find yourself swept in the tides of war where even your close ones might become enemies.
If you are looking for a turn-based RPG that explores some interesting story elements, this is a great place to start. The though moral choices you have to make in Celestian Tales: Old North make every playthrough a unique experience.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
Looking for a unique spin on the RPG genre with plenty of content to enjoy? Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 may be the title for you thanks to its many DLC packs. Hyperdimension Neptunia blends classic visual novel narrative with dungeon crawling quite popular among jRPGs. To add to the uniqueness, it uses a resource-based fighting system that uses Action Points to decide turn order and moves, making it even more strategic.
The story of the game takes place in the fantasy world of Gamindustri. There, you join Neptune, one of the four powerful goddesses known as CPUs, on her extraordinary journey. She must travel across four different nations on a quest to save the entire world.
Heart of the Woods
This visual novel focuses on fairy tales and the supernatural and has you investigating a remote village with your friend. Things are not what they seem in Heart of the Woods. It’s your job to figure out exactly what is going on in this mysterious village.
Like all good fairy tales, there is also an element of love. You’ll find that this is a love that transcends life and death – which, all things considered, is pretty appropriate for this supernatural visual novel.
Shining Song Starnova
This Kickstarter-funded visual novel from the developer Love in Space tasks you with managing an up-and-coming idol group called SUPERNOVA. You become Mr. Producer tasked with helping the girls in your band successfully navigate the industry and become the greatest idols in the nation.
Don’t let the bright lights and upbeat personas fool you. Life as a manager in Shining Song Starnova is not easy! You’ll find yourself facing difficult choices as you help your idol group reach stardom.
VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the previous title, VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a moody, cyberpunk title that has you playing as a bartender in a corporate-run dystopian future.
Part visual novel, part bartending sim, you’ll meet a variety of unique people with plenty of gripping stories to tell. Spend a little time with them and you’ll realize that this story isn’t about the bleak city, but the people in it.
There you have it, 10 unique jRPGs and visual novels to dive into. Whether you like mystery or fairy tales, there is almost certainly something on this list for you to enjoy.