The best JRPGs 2024 - unmissable adventures

Cloud, Tifa and Aerith stare at the Planetarium
(Image credit: Square Enix)

The best JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games) in 2024 use theatrical storytelling and vibrant ensemble casts to weave powerful experiences that stay with us long after we put the controller down. 

Contrary to the name, JRPGs aren't necessarily all from Japan. Rather, the term refers to a particular style of game design that prizes larger-than-life characters, an emphasis on drama, and the use of complex and rewarding combat systems. These elements ensure that the best JRPGs also rank amongst some of the best RPGs and best story games ever made, as well as the best single-player games. That said, there's plenty of diversity to be found in the JRPG world, too. For instance, we've even included one of the best MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) on this list, too. 

Whether you're looking for a game with solid turn-based battles or a more modern action-oriented approach, we've got you covered. Below, you'll find a comprehensive roundup of the best RPGs including massive blockbusters and indie gems alike. Read on to find your next JRPG adventure. 

The best JRPGs to play in 2024

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The gang fight a squad of magical birds

(Image credit: Ark Heiral)

10. Chained Echoes

What's old is new again
Why we love it

Chained Echoes isn't just a love letter to JRPGs past, it also improves on them. Thanks to the Overdrive system, there's never a dull moment in combat as you strive to use the right attacks at the right time to stop your party from overextending themselves.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC

Chained Echoes is an indie project that punches far above its weight, easily securing a place on our best JRPGs list. On the surface, it's a homage to the classic 16-bit era of the genre. Fans of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 will feel right at home thanks to the game's rich ensemble storytelling. However, Chained Echoes adds modern flair to the old formula, offering savvy, self-aware dialogue alongside welcome changes to traditional turn-based combat. 

What's captivating about Chained Echoes is how every aspect of the game reinforces the others. Dispensing with random battles, developer Matthias Linda opted to deliberately put encounters throughout the world, giving them a sense of place and depth. The title also boasts lavish visuals which manage to catch the eye and stir the heart. Chained Echoes proves that you don't need cutting-edge graphics to make a cutting-edge game.

A close up of Aerith with her hands pressed together, against a light blue background

(Image credit: Square Enix)
Those who fight further
Why we love it

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth improves on its predecessor in every way, oozing with the breadth, drama, and confidence that encapsulates the Final Fantasy 7 saga. Every moment of this RPG bursts with love for the source material.

Platforms available: PS5

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is the second part of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake trilogy. Like its predecessor, it re-imagines its namesake with modern graphics and game design techniques, retelling the story of Cloud and friends through gorgeous cutscenes and innovative real-time combat setpieces. Rebirth goes beyond its predecessor, however, carrying itself with a brazen confidence that charms and delights. 

The tale picks up right where Remake left off. Having escaped the dystopian megacity of Midgar, the gang ventures out into the world on their quest to stop Sephiroth and his apocalyptic designs. The voice acting and writing are fantastic. Even throw-away side quests will be laden with emotional and impactful dialogue. Its plausible real-time combat is slick and rewarding, too. During my playthrough, I found myself actively going out of my way to get into fights - a testament to how enjoyable Rebirth's battles truly are.

Ichiban celebrates victory in a Sujimon battle with his team

(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoko)
Why we love it

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth boasts a surprisingly sophisticated battle system that shows off the best turn-based combat has to offer. You'll need strategy, positioning, and skill to survive.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4,  Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth stands shoulder to shoulder with many of the best JRPGs on account of its exceptional storytelling, deep turn-based combat, and a plethora of feel-good moments. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's latest RPG follows the story of ex-Yakuza Ichiban Kasuga and Kazuma Kiryu as the pair search for Kasuga's missing biological mother. 

Full of dramatic twists and turns, Infinite Wealth has all the theatrical appeal of a Final Fantasy or a Persona title. What's more, if you get overloaded on high-stakes organized crime drama, the RPG boasts a large number of bizarre yet charming minigames like karaoke and organized Pokémon-esque street fights. No matter what you're doing, Infinite Wealth wears its heart on its sleeve - a quality that endears it to fans across the world.

Persona 5 protagonist Joker and a collage of his friends

(Image credit: Atlus/SEGA)

7. Persona 5 Royal

Style, sophistication, and school
Why we love it

Persona 5 asks you to step into the shoes of a teenager, asking you to decide how he spends each of his days. In doing so, you're invited to grow and mature alongside the protagonist, making for a rich and intimate gaming experience.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC 

When it comes to style, Persona 5 Royal is arguably the best JRPG here. The entire game oozes cool, from the acid-jazz aesthetic to the incredibly catchy soundtrack. The turn-based combat is dynamic and rewarding. Even the loading screens are slick as heck. This game's aesthetic lives in my head rent-free, and, should you try the title, it may well take up residence in yours, too.

What really sets Persona 5 apart, though, is the strength of its characters. The ensemble is charming and swiftly worms its way into your heart with authentic dialogue and relatable dramas. Thanks to this, Persona 5's high-concept story, which revolves around a gang of teenagers using supernatural powers to steal the desires of corrupt adults, feels strangely grounded, lending the game an enduring appeal.

Nier Automata's 2B close up in green ruins

(Image credit: Square Enix)

6. NieR: Automata

A story about sad robots
Why we love it

NieR: Automata is not just about asking big philosophical questions, it's also about cutting robots to bits with a cool sword. In many ways, this confluence represents one of the best things about JRPGs, allowing players to explore the tougher facets of the human condition through the medium of glorious, over-the-top setpieces.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

No list of the best JRPGs would be complete without NieR: Automata. The brainchild of auteur Yoko Taro, NieR: Automata follows the story of a group of androids asked to reclaim the planet Earth from a machine army that has long since overrun the planet's surface. Expect slick real-time combat punctuated with jaw-dropping cutscenes. 

NieR  Automata is anything but predictable, its plot is full of enough twists, turns, and fake-outs to keep even the most seasoned JRPG fan guessing. The title also plumbs some rich philosophical depths, asking questions about free will, human agency, and morality, all while maintaining that iconic Yoko Taro style.

Final Fantasy 14 characters posing side by side in a vibrant courtyard

(Image credit: Square Enix)

5. Final Fantasy 14

Much acclaimed
Why we love it

Final Fantasy 14 is famous for its welcoming community and impressively well-plotted main story. It's ironic that an MMO should have one of the best single-player stories in JRPG history, but the memorable characters and unforgettable story arcs speak for themselves.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S and PC

Final Fantasy 14 may well have the strongest story on this best JRPGs list. Unlike every other game here, Final Fantasy 14 is one of the best MMOs too, offering years of content for new players. Though slow to start, the game's main story is fantastic, weaving together plot threads years in the making and endowing its characters with all the humanity and spirit you'd respect from a top-tier Final Fantasy. 

Final Fantasy 14 deals with some heavy themes over its hundreds of hours of storytelling. Set in a high-fantasy world riven with political turmoil, the story follows an ensemble cast of characters as they unravel an apocalyptic conspiracy that threatens to unravel all of creation. What's more, the hero of this story is yours to customize and make your own - a feature rarely seen in JRPGs. Come for the anime haircuts, but stay for the touching story beats and loveable characters.

Xenoblade 3, Cammuravi faces off against Ethel

(Image credit: Monolith Soft)
Make love, not war
Why we love it

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of conflict, asking big questions about why human beings fight and what it means to be trapped in a cycle of violence. The six main characters are charming, too, and make it easy to fall in love with the game's wider world.

Platforms available: Nintendo Switch

Perhaps the best JRPG on Nintendo Switch, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 tells a story of a world stuck in a perpetual war, for reasons long since forgotten by the majority of the combatants. No prior knowledge of the Xenoblade series is necessary to enjoy the tightly plotted story or the jaw-dropping environments, but the game does reward long-time fans with the occasional Easter egg. 

The science fantasy RPG follows a core cast of six characters, all of whom have serious chemistry and are brought to life by thoughtful voice performances and charming dialogue. The combat is excellent, boasting gripping real-time action as well as buckets of customizability. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also takes on heavy themes, ranging from personal grief to the military-industrial complex. As far as we're concerned, it's a must-buy for JRPG fans of the genre who own a Nintendo Switch.

Garl, Zale and Valere run across a forest canopy

(Image credit: Sabotage)
Why we love it

As charming as it is gentle, Sea of Stars is a homage to the days of 16-bit JRPGs, but offers a modern, self-aware writing style that amuses and enchants. On top of this, the battle system is a pleasing fusion of the old and new, bringing a quick time element to the traditional turn-based formula.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Sea of Stars is an indie gem, offering a loving recreation of the 16-bit JRPGs of the 1990s. Though the entire game is a nod to some of the best JRPGs ever made, Sea of Stars doesn't needlessly shackle itself to the past. Sabotage Studio's latest offering embraces modern improvements when it comes to both game systems and storytelling. Filled with witty dialogue that feels lifted from the likes of Undertale, Sea of Stars has a wholesomeness to it that'll please fans of cozy classics like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

What's more, the game offers a cunning twist on turn-based combat, asking the player to time button presses to attacks and blocks to get bonuses. It's a small change, but serves to make the battles much more involved - keeping you on your toes as you play. In our review, we called it "a wholesome adventure full of laughs, danger, and twists" - well worth your time if you like your JRPGs more old school.

An early-game battle in Fire Emblem: Three Houses showing off Edelgard and the movement grid

(Image credit: Intelligent Systems)

2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Class is in session
Why we love it

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a masterclass in pacing, grabbing your attention, and then never letting go. Battles are broken up by time spent getting to know your soldiers, which, in turn, makes the combats more nail-biting and heart-rending as you risk harm to your beloved students. 

Platforms available: Nintendo Switch

Fire Emblem: Three Houses brings strategy to our best JRPGs list in a big way. The Fire Emblem series is long in the tooth and has always been centered around turn-based tactical battles where the threat of permadeath hangs over every decision. Fire Emblem games are about learning more about your soldiers and growing to love them before they die tragically, leaving you with a broken heart. 

Three Houses dials this up to 11 by having you take on the role of a teacher at a military academy. Between battles, you train your students and form bonds with them, deciding how to best spend your time as a teacher. As you play the game and the main storyline develops, you'll become emotionally invested in the strategy JRPG's broad cast of characters. Even if you disable permadeath, some tragic outcomes can't be avoided, so bring tissues. 

The Hero chases after a green goblin, swinging his sword

1. Dragon Quest 11

Keep it old school
Why we love it

Dragon Quest 11 combines old with new, offering up an epic JRPG that will wow veterans of the genre. The open world is absolutely gorgeous, complimenting the awesome combat and traversal options.

Platforms available: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

If you're looking for a modern JRPG which features all of the trimmings of a classic one, Dragon Quest 11 is the best choice. Excellent turn-based combat is paired with some more modern world design, including a vibrant open-world filled with colourful characters to meet.

While Dragon Quest 11 won't be for everyone, it is perhaps the most sincere love letter to the JRPG genre on this list. You'll make wacky allies, take down fearsome foes, and uncover a twisted mystery. Definitely for those that love old-school RPGs, but want something that measures up to today's graphics and visuals.

Best JRPGs: FAQs

Aerith looks up at flying fire lanterns

(Image credit: Square Enix)

What is considered the best JRPG of all time?

Any of the entires on our list of the best JRPGs could be considered the 'best' JRPG of all time from a certain perspective. Final Fantasy 14's immaculate slow-burn storytelling may perfectly appeal to some, while others might prefer the more digestible tale spun by Sea of Stars.

Though they aren't on our list, the original Final Fantasy 7 (1997) and Chrono Trigger could be seen as the 'best' JRPGs of all time too, if you're most concerned with which titles have had the most influence on the genre as a whole. Conversely, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth could be considered the 'best' for meaningfully iterating on a stone-cold classic. When it comes to the 'best' JRPG, there's no right answer. Instead, we recommend trying new games and keeping an open mind. 

What is the best JRPG to start with?

Persona 5 Royal is an excellent starting point. Since its story starts in the real world, you're unlikely to feel overwhelmed by an excess of confusing concepts or plot points. The game also ramps up slowly, gently guiding you through its core concepts and combat system. 

If you're a fan of dark fantasy, though, then we recommend Final Fantasy 16. While it's not on this best JRPGs list, Final Fantasy 16 was one of the best games of 2023 and, thanks to an intuitive action-based combat system, it's quite possibly the most accessible Final Fantasy ever made. Plus, excellent voice acting and dramatic story make for a fantastic introduction to the tropes and ideas that make JRPGs tick.

How we made our best JRPGs list

When crafting our best JRPGs list, we looked at the JRPGs that take the traditions of classics like Final Fantasy 7 and Chrono Trigger and modernize them. The JRPGs on this list all seek to earnestly tell their respective stories but are willing to embrace modern design conventions and sensibilities to do this. All of the above games stand on the shoulders of giants.

Personally, I've played dozens of JRPGs over my three decades on planet Earth both as a games journalist and fan. I know a great JRPG when I see one, and this list contains the cream of the crop. We've played and adored every one of the above games and we think you might just get a kick out of them, too.

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Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.

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