We all love a good JRPG around here, and pretty much all of the new ones still come out on consoles first. But there’s a bunch you can get for PC — and despite their age in some cases, they all provide some top-notch entertainment.
With that in mind, today we’re going to look at a selection of the best JRPGs you can grab yourself a copy of from the Internet’s not-quite-favourite PC gaming storefront, GOG.com. Many of these titles are also available on other platforms, but the nice thing about a GOG version is that you can download a DRM-free standalone installer, burn it to a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray of your own and then put together your own lovely physical archive of games.
If you’re feeling really committed, you could even print up your own artwork and make your own custom cases for a fun weekend project. Who says PC game collecting has to be intangible these days?
Anyway. RPGs. GOG. Let’s go.
You can get pretty much all the Ys games (the most modern versions of them, anyway) on GOG at this point, and they’re all a great time. My personal favourite is Ys Origin, which acts as a prologue to the series as a whole by establishing some background lore and story rather than focusing on the ongoing adventures of Adol Christin.
While most of Adol’s adventures throughout the rest of the Ys series stand alone as their own self-contained JRPG stories, the fact that Ys Origin unfolds a long time before the other games makes it an ideal entry point to start exploring — as well as arguably the best example of the series’ “middle era”, which featured isometric perspective exploration, platforming and hack-and-slash combat.
Ys Origin features three playable characters, each with their own story and unique mechanics. It’s also got an absolutely killer soundtrack, plus plenty of longevity from harder difficulty modes, time attack, boss rush and arena battle modes.
Ys Origin is £14.19 on GOG, and regularly appears in sales. Click here to grab yourself a copy.
In Heroland (also known as Work x Work), an unusual JRPG from FuRyu, you take on the role of a new employee at the titular theme park, and it’s your job to help the park’s guests make their way through the various attractions, fending off monsters along the way. Since you’re acting in a purely advisory capacity, all you can do is offer suggestions to the parties of guests who proceed through the attractions — but of course, your hard work entitles you to skim a little off the top of the treasure along the way!
Heroland is noteworthy due to some of the talent behind it — most notably Nobuyuki Inoue and Nobuhiro Imagawa, both of whom previously worked on the legendary Mother 3, among other things. It also features music by Tsukasa Masuko, best known for his work on the earlier games in the Shin Megami Tensei series.
Heroland is an enjoyable, lightweight JRPG that won’t challenge you too hard — but its witty writing and its fun “3D pixel art” presentation will most certainly keep you entertained. Plus this is one of those games that passed by largely unnoticed when it first released — so rectify that situation and be the Cool Kid Who Knows About Heroland in your friendship group today!
Heroland is £24.99 on GOG. Click here to nab a copy.
Saviors of Sapphire Wings/Stranger of Sword City Revisited
Vita owners will be well familiar with Experience, Inc. since their dungeon crawlers are among the prettiest games on the platform. The original release of Stranger of Sword City was one of them, and this double-pack collects it together with its spiritual predecessor Saviors of Sapphire Wings (previously known as both Azure Wing Chevalier and Students of the Round in previous Japan-only incarnations) for a whopping great chunk of dungeon crawling funtimes.
Experience’s games have consistently beautiful presentation and accessible mechanics, making them an ideal introduction to what can sometimes be quite a daunting, challenging genre for the unfamiliar. And getting two for the price of one in this bundle should keep you busy for a very long time indeed — after which you might be ready for something like Dungeon Travelers 2. If you can find a copy, that is.
Saviors of Sapphire Wings and Stranger of Sword City Revisited can be had for £44.99 (or £58.49 with official soundtrack and digital artbook) on GOG.com. Click here to pick it up for yourself.
Zwei: The Arges Adventure
Now we’re into PC-exclusive JRPG territory — at least here in the west. Zwei began its life as a PC game in Japan, then got ported to PS2 and PSP, then finally it ended up localised for English-speaking PC gamers in 2018.
In Zwei, you take on the role of stepsiblings Pipiro and Pokkle as they stumble across a “grand theft macguffin” and find themselves on the hunt for cash and glory. Mostly cash. The game features hand-drawn 2D backdrops, super-deformed anime-style characters and a witty, pun-filled script.
The version on GOG.com also incorporates the minigames from the original PC version (which were removed for the later console ports) as well as providing an updated soundtrack, newly illustrated character art and plenty of control modernisations. This is absolutely one to play if you want something new and quirky to enjoy — and to date there’s no sign of it coming to consoles.
Mary Skelter: Nightmares
If you like your dungeon crawlers, they don’t come much better than Mary Skelter: Nightmares, the game that made even the most rabid haters of Compile Heart’s work admit that the company might actually be on to something with the way it does things.
Mary Skelter: Nightmares features a dark and bloody take on popular fairy tales, and offers a creepy horror adventure through a series of challenging dungeons. Customise your “Blood Maidens” with more than 20 different jobs and do your best to take down the deadly Nightmares — some of which are so huge they span multiple floors!
Like Experience’s work, this game can act as a good introduction to dungeon crawlers if you’re a gridder newbie — but there’s plenty of hidden depth for genre pros to explore, too. If you’re in the mood for a hefty adventure that will take you some time, this should fit the bill nicely.
Mary Skelter: Nightmares is usually £17.69 on GOG.com, but at the time of writing it’s 75% off at £4.49 until June 14, 2021. Click here to bag a bargain for yourself (or not, if you’re reading this after June 14, 2021. Sorry!)
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