2015: The Year of JRPGS and Long-Awaited Sequels. I’ve stayed up countless hours, watching the many livestreams offered a new trailer for a game nearly every week. Announcement after announcement, this past year has been absolutely amazing for gaming. This list covers some top-titles that are to be released State-side starting April 1, 2015. Japanese releases or ports of already released games are not included in this countdown. Bring on the hype!
10. Lost Dimension
Lost Dimension © FuRyu
A bit of a surprise announcement, Lost Dimension gained attention after Atlus USA uploaded a trailer to their Youtube channel on March 11. Lost Dimension is a tactical-RPG with visual novel elements, with a major focus on choices that have an impact on both the game’s story and the character’s lives. You take the role of Sho Kasugai, a member of a secret organization of psychics who sets to take down “The End”, a terrorist who wants to destroy the world. Although it sounds generic on the surface, LD offers some interesting gameplay elements, including “Judgement”, in which the player decides who to eliminate from the group. Lost Dimension also showcases an intriguing multi-layer combat system that involves a variety of powers. To me, it looks like a beautiful combination of Persona mixed with Danganronpa, making it a day one purchase.
9. Bravely Second: End Layer
Breavely Default © Square Enix
After the success of Bravely Default in 2014, many have been anxiously awaiting the sequel of Square Enix’s new RPG series. The second installment is set in the same universe as Bravely Default, continuing the storyline from the first game. It is said to have new features and characters, such as Magnolia Arch, a mysterious protagonist from the moon. Players are also expected to have refined gameplay mechanics that improve on the first game. I’ve never played Bravely Default, but this sequel is definitely an anticipated title for JRPG fans. Although there is no official release date yet, the sequel hits Japan in April, so a worldwide release should not be far off.
8. Tales of Zestiria
Tales of Zestiria © Bandai Namco
The “Tales of” series has had many titles over the years, including several ports and remakes that made their way to various gaming consoles. Tales of Zestiria is the next awaited core title that follows the story of Sorey, a young male protagonist who uses powers from ancient spirits to fight forces created by people’s emotions. The battle system differs from the other games, as it takes place in an open world rather than cutting to a scene within a confined area. The anime cutscenes and conversations between party members also add to the hype of this summer release.
7. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker
Devil Survivor 2 © Atlus
After the original Devil Survivor received a polished 3DS remake of the DS classic, many wondered if it’s sequel would get the same treatment. The answer is yes, and in a really awesome way. Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker not only provides fans of the Shin Megami Tensei tactical RPG with full voice acting, updated visuals, and new gameplay features, it also comes packed with an additional storyline arc, making it a must-buy for fans of the original. Follow the rabbit-hooded protagonist and his friends in a epic survival story in which humans fight monsters with demon-summoning cell-phone like devices (COMPS) in order to stop the end of the world. Form pacts with demons to aid you in battle while saving people across Japan. Not to mention, the DLC in Japan for this game had Durarara!!! characters (Shizuo, Izaya, and Celty), which will hopefully make it’s way everywhere else.
6. Kingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts III © Square Enix
After a history of many remakes and spin-offs, fans of Kingdom Hearts have been anxiously awaiting the next installment of Sora’s journey, which is set to be finally released this year. The storyline is supposed to take place after the 3DS game, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Many characters from the other games are set to return, including Donald, King Mickey, Goofy, and Riku. Although there isn’t an official release date, there are rumors that it will be out this year, as there are already preorders available.
5. Disgaea 5
Disgaea 5 © NIS
DOOD, it’s coming. After the epic journey of Valvatorez in Disgaea 4, comes the next core title in the popular JRPG series. In Disgaea 5, the leaders of the Netherworlds must band together in order to get revenge against emperor Void Dark, the main antagonist in the series. Party members include a male demon protagonist, a princess who ran away from home (and a forced marriage) , and a yellow Prinny rider. The theme of “revenge” seems to provide an interesting angle to the story. If only I had a PS4…
4. Fire Emblem: IF
Fire Emblem © Nintendo
Announced during Nintendo’s epic livestream back in January, fans rejoiced at the sight of a new Fire Emblem title. After Fire Emblem: Awakening’s release, many discovered the strategy/tactical RPG series due to the game’s features that welcomed newcomers and hardcore gamers alike. The combat system is fun and addicting, allowing players to choose attacks depending on a character’s class, including archers, mages, Pegasus riders, and more. Players also could customize the main character, ship pairs of characters during the battle, choose a waifu, and have children. Although it isn’t confirmed what the new Fire Emblem will be like, the first trailer was very impressive, showing the various new characters including a blue haired dancer. Fire Emblem: IF is supposed to have more options for different endings and choices, adding a new element to the series. Despite the immediate hype, it is questionable whether this game will be released in 2015. We can only hope.
3. Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV © Square Enix
Final Fantasy XV, for many, is probably the most talked about game this year. Serving as the newest installment of the critically acclaimed series, FFXV simply is the definition of anticipation, as fans have been waiting since 2006 for this title. Using extremely good-looking next-gen graphics, FFXV follows Noctis, a prince, and his party members in the present, taking place on a divided Earth. The game is said to have a “road-trip” theme with cars, campouts, and a predominantly male cast. Like Tales of Zestiria, battles do not require load screens, as they fit into the vast, open world environment. Many fans have been enjoyed the recent demo that was packaged with Type-0. I have yet to play a FF game, but after seeing the trailer for this, I’ll have to now.
2. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles X © Nintendo
For those who’ve played any of Monolith Soft’s games, Xenoblade Chronicles X is an obvious preorder. Xenoblade Chronicles X is a spiritual successor to the masterpiece of a Wii game, Xenoblade Chronicles. Xenoblade Chronicles followed a young man named Shulk, as he wielded the legendary sword called the Monado while seeking revenge for the Mechon (robots) who attacked his town, exploring the vast world and the mysteries of Bionis. XC had a well-written narrative with so many gameplay elements that gave the players a more than substantial amount of content to complete. Many who played Xenoblade Chronicles have clocked in over 100 hours of gameplay, and the new game is expected to have even more. Xenoblade Chronicles X takes place in a new world, where Earth blew up and several cities went into giant ships, eventually landing on different planets. In this story, the protagonist is customizable by gender, race, and appearance. The supporting cast have unique designs and the combat system looks amazing. Xenoblade’s combat system mixes MMO auto-attacks with choices of weapons and commands. This game will have an open world and a lot of exploration. The graphics also look stunning, despite it being a Wii U only release. After getting up very early to see the many livestreams for this game, I can say I’m really feeling this one.
1. Persona 5
Persona 5 © Atlus
The trailer changed everything. In the beginning of February, a 24 hour Persona livestream was announced as fans eagerly logged on to their computers, hoping for one thing, Persona 5. If you haven’t heard of the Persona series, it features groups of people who are able to summon other parts of themselves, also known as personas, to fight shadows and monsters. The Persona games combine turn-based RPG combat with social/dating sim elements in the later games, adding a balance between high school life and saving the world. After the big success of Persona 3 and 4, along with their spinoffs, fans wanted to know about the next installment, badly. Not much was heard until 2014, where a few visuals appeared, including an announcement trailer featuring the main protagonist on a train. At first glance, the protagonist, immediately dubbed as Chair-kun or Potter-kun due to the games visuals and his appearance, seemed like the friendly, kind hearted good guy who will find his way through the big city, eventually defeating the bad-guys with the power of friendship. That impression soon proved to be very, very wrong. At the end of the livestream, a new trailer was shown, and the hype elevated to a whole new level.
The protagonist, a student at Shujin High School, appeared to be an average, shy person during the day. At night, however, he took on a new role, The Phantom Thief. Wearing a mask, he appeared as a criminal, breaking into buildings with three other characters. The mood in the trailer shifts from everyday school life to characters having evil smiles across their faces, dancing in the streets to jazzy music. The entire focus of the game is to break free from the chains of an everyday, boring life, which offers a new extreme when compared to its predecessors. The dark themes also suggest a connection to Persona 1 and 2, who were more serious than P3 and P4. Not only was the idea of a possible “bad guy” as a protagonist so enticing, the trailer impressed fans in many different ways. Updated visuals and character models were updated to look more realistic than past titles, as well as stylish screens that fit the red and black color scheme. New gameplay mechanics, including stealth and structured dungeons also were appealing. New characters including Anne, a blonde haired female classmate, Ryuji, a blonde boy with a vicious all out attack smile, and Morgana, a mysterious cat also made an appearance. Many also speculate that the seven deadly sins will play a role in the story. In fact, fans have watched this trailer so much, that there are theories thrown out everywhere, as so many are excited for this release. Well, I could say I’m totally hyped because I put together a cosplay of Anne within two weeks. Unfortunately, P5 does not have a release date but was announced for 2015 for Japan and the US. Let’s only hope for more epic and thought-provoking trailers in the near future.
From psychics to royalty to thieves, there’s definitely a variety of interesting characters and long-awaited games for any gamer this year. There’s surely some titles I missed, so feel free to comment below your most anticipated JRPG for this year, because when these games come out, no one will have time to do anything since they will be pouring their souls into the 40-80 some hours on their first playthroughs.