7 RPG Games Like Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy (FF) revolutionized the RPG genre with its innovative battle system, solid experience system, a unique storyline and exceptional visuals. Every new release for the console or handheld became a massive hit. So enthralling and addicting these games were that they got gamers wanting for more. Sadly, the franchise does not release a new FF game every year.
Thankfully, there are some great games like Final Fantasy that are as awesome as the original. They have that FF look and feel, have a solid combat system, anime-style visuals and plenty of plot twists to keep RPGers busy for hours. Here's a rundown of some of the best games like FF:
1. Lost Odyssey
Lost Odyssey’s fantasy/steampunk setting will remind you of a few Final Fantasy games. It revolves around the protagonist Kaim and his daring adventures. The fact that Lost Odyssey is developed by the creator of FF is one of the prime reasons to play this game.
Combat sticks to traditional turn-based battle system. Monster battles are random and can occur while exploring a massive fantasy world. An interesting aspect of battle is the “Aim Ring System”, which is a quick-time system that allows players to time a formidable attack.
During combat, a player can have a maximum of 5 characters in his team. The game has a robust spell system. Players have to search for spells, add them to their spell books and must have the right skill-set to cast them.
Lost Odyssey has gorgeous visuals and huge monsters to fight against. Sadly, the game isn’t available for any other platform except Xbox 360.
With a futuristic setting, Xenogears focuses on Mechs and has a very unique combat system. What’s similar is the strong plot, which definitely will appeal a Final fantasy fan. The game centers on a war-torn world, where nations struggle for power and fuel, where mech warriors are hired to destroy enemies.
While the game follows traditional JRPG mechanics, the combat mechanic is quite unique. Yes it is turn-based, but the dual battle system makes it quite different from others. The dual-combat system lets players battle enemies by controlling a mech warrior or fight them without it. There is less emphasis on magic, which is understandable considering its futuristic setting. That does not mean there aren't any spells to try out.
Xenogears sports a nice anime look. The 2D sprites and the 3D background look great. Overall, this JRPG is a must-play if you are looking for a decent role-playing title.
3. Kingdom Hearts
If you are looking for a fun Final Fantasy clone, then I recommend Kingdom Hearts (KH). Although it isn’t as innovative and deep as FF, the game has a nice real-time combat system and a very unique premise. What’s exceptional about the KH series is the inclusion of guest Final Fantasy and Disney Characters. Also, environments resemble Disney movie locales. This movie-game addition makes gameplay more immersive.
Kingdom Hearts gameplay is very similar to any role-playing game. Battle takes place in real-time, with Sora, the protagonist and his allies (who else but our very own Donald Duck and Goofy) defeating monsters.
The game borrows quite a few gameplay elements, including a hack-and-slash system, from Final Fantasy. There’s no turn-based battle and most games of the series have a linear storyline. The XP system allows players to level-up their characters with new abilities and powers once they accumulate enough experience points. The experience points shared between allies makes the party stronger, which ultimately helps in team-based battles.
I would recommend the first two games (KH and KH2). The second game of the series boast new abilities and all characters are a bit grown-up and matured. While battling, players can wield two weapons at the same time. Moreover the visuals show a marked improvement than the first game. You can try other games, but I think most are KH spinoffs and don’t offer a good plot.
4. Dragon Quest
Dragon Quest is often termed as the “granddaddy” of Japanese role-playing games. Almost every other JRPG of the 90s was inspired by its gameplay. In fact, many gameplay elements of Final Fantasy, like the famed Gambit system and dream world, were borrowed from Dragon Quest’s gameplay mechanics.
Most Dragon Quest games have a very familiar setting – a hero is tasked to save the world from the clutches of an evil warlord. The hero, along with his allies, explores strange new lands, fights random monsters and completes quests to earn points and collect treasures. Battles are turn-based. Players must execute proper tactics in order to defeat monsters. Other familiar elements include boss battles, dungeon explorations, and unique abilities.
Dragon Quest video games are recommended for those who love playing classic JRPG. If you are an ardent role-playing fan or are curious about its history, then you shouldn’t miss the Dragon Quest series - a series that owes all modern-day JPRGs a big thank you.
5. Shadow Hearts
Shadow Hearts’ pre-WWI setting is quite out-of-the-box, but more unique is its storyline. You will find plenty of disturbing and outright bizarre plot sequences, dialogue and period pieces like the Industrial revolution. There are some sequences that touch a raw nerve and are eerily sarcastic. Shadow Hearts’ story has enough twists to keep you at the edge of your seat.
Along with a gripping storyline, the turn-based combat system is brilliantly designed and does not cling to traditional TBS systems. An additional “Judgment Ring” system makes combat more immersive. It tests how quick you are in timing your attacks. The ring system is somewhat similar to Lost Odyssey.
Shadow Hearts' visuals are good. The character models are exceptionally well-designed and the animated backgrounds are rendered pretty well. On a PS2 console, the game plays smoothly with minor problems and glitches. If you are looking for a Final Fantasy-like game that has a good plot and a solid combat system, then you must play Shadow Hearts.
6. Breath of Fire
One of the best Dragon Quest-inspired JRPGs, Breath of Fire is known for its excellent plot. You will need to play all games of the story to get an idea of the central plot. However, each game in of the series has its own little story to tell.
Breath of Fire will certainly appeal to those who have a fascination for games based on dragons and myths. The titular character Ryu can transform itself into different types of fire-breathing monsters. The medieval setting blends perfectly well with the dragon lore.
This JRPG follows the traditional role-playing mechanics. Gameplay is very similar to earlier Final Fantasy games. However, most reviewers believe that it borrows elements from Dragon Quest. There are plenty of quests to complete, NPCs to interact with and random battles to jump into.
Breath of Fire also adds some puzzle elements to gameplay and has a robust magic spell system. Combat is turn-based and is quite similar to early FF games. With a colorful cast of characters and a massive world full of secrets, quests and monsters, Breath of Fire is worth a gander.
7. Chrono Trigger
Another JRPG gem, Chrono Trigger has a trademark Square Enix battle system. The plot has multiple endings and the game offers plenty of side-quests.
What has impressed me about this game is its deviation from random battles. Enemies can be easily seen wandering around and a combat takes place when you interact with an enemy. There are no random surprise attacks, this means you can prepare for a battle and then come back again to fight monsters.
One of the game’s most innovative feature is time-travel. Players can access several epochs, time-travel to the past, forge new alliances and battle monsters. Any actions in the past affect the future. This opens up several possibilities and alternative endings, encouraging players to play it again.
Chrono Trigger is still played by many die-hard RPG fans. If you are into classic RPGs and are looking for games like Final Fantasy, then you won’t get a game as impressive as Chrono Trigger.
All Screenshots, Courtesy of Their Respective Game Developers/Publishers