Anurag loves playing video games. His guides and listicles revolve around popular iOS, Android, PC, and console games.
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 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.
Top 7 Role-Playing Games Similar to Final Fantasy
- Lost Odyssey
- Kingdom Hearts
- Dragon Quest
- Shadow Hearts
- Breath of Fire
- Chrono Trigger
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 the 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 five characters in his team. The game has a robust spell system. Players have to search for spells, add them to their spellbooks, and 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 unique combat system. What's similar is the strong plot, which definitely will appeal to 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 make 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 boasts 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 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 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 features 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
Anurag Ghosh (author) on January 02, 2015:
Typo corrected. Thank you.
hey u on January 02, 2015:
not sure sora is a her
Anurag Ghosh (author) on August 26, 2014:
Samuel Franklin on August 26, 2014:
Xenogears, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest will always be my top 3, great Hub!
Brandon Hart from The Game on March 19, 2014:
Final Fantasy 3 and 6 are still my favorites. Unfortunately, I don't think the new release will be much like those older adventures I played for hours and hours. Everyone has to make it into an "action" game.
Mark Anthony Dodd from Heywood, Rochdale, United Kingdom on February 10, 2014:
Star Ocean and Suikoden which beats them all hands down is missing also cannot vote for Breath of Fire..
John Fox from Richmond, VA on February 02, 2014:
Absolutely loved shadow hearts covenant and Chrono Cross. I know you mentioned trigger which is great too but I played Cross first so it stuck with me more. Still Shadow Hearts covenant is probably my favorite RPG of all time as it really blends Shin Megami Tensei and the Xeno series.
Will English on March 20, 2013:
I love most of the games on this list. Though I would've add Xenoblade , The Xenosaga trilogy and The Last Story too it (but That's just me) And Xenogears, Chrono Trigger and Lost Odyssey are AWESOME.
Anurag Ghosh (author) on March 26, 2012:
Dean on March 23, 2012:
Thank you thank you! What a great post! I am playing Dragon Quest 8 and love it, and have ordered the Shadow Hearts series. Your post is exactly the advice I was looking for. Thanks!
Ironman1992 on March 07, 2012:
I have played Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest 8, both amazing games on the PS2. Good hub.
Anurag Ghosh (author) on February 23, 2012:
zoey127721 from South Carolina.......bleck :P on February 23, 2012:
Big fan of FF and am always looking for RPG's like it. Been stuck on FF 13-2 for the past few weeks.....Awesome!
Anurag Ghosh (author) on February 15, 2012:
@Call me Chris Thanks!
Call Me Chris on February 15, 2012:
Yay for RPGs!
The "Tales Of..." and "Star Ocean" series need more love. They both hit their stride at about the same time as FF, but their real-time battle systems are a lot more exciting- and even better than Kingdom Hearts.
bobic7 from Macedonia on February 15, 2012:
I like your post. Final Fantasy is a legendary game.
Anurag Ghosh (author) on February 14, 2012:
Donna Cosmato from USA on February 14, 2012:
Great information; I'd recommend your hubs to anyone who is an avid gamer as they would really benefit from your expertise!
Anurag Ghosh (author) on February 13, 2012:
Worldofwow1992 from Michigan on February 13, 2012:
Thanks so much for this hub! I love Final Fantasy and it's rare to find a game with it's own unique qualities that is just as good! Also Shadow hearts is a phenomenally underated game but is terrific. I'm glad to see other people spreading the word :D
Anurag Ghosh (author) on February 13, 2012:
Wendy Finn from UK on February 13, 2012:
Interesting and useful Anurag. Voted up.