The Year of the JRPG: 2021 Was a Landmark Year for the Genre


Regardless of mass delays, 2021 was a 12 months that delivered on all fronts on the planet of gaming. From high-profile hits like Halo Infinite to sudden hits like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, avid gamers are leaving the 12 months with no scarcity of video games on their backlogs.

That sentiment goes double for followers of the Japanese role-playing recreation style, which had a banner 12 months. A number of video games pushed the style ahead this 12 months, constructing on the groundwork that franchises like Remaining Fantasy have been laying for years. Name 2021 “the 12 months of the JRPG.”

A step ahead

Proper from the beginning of 2021, gamers have been hit with one groundbreaking juggernaut after the subsequent. Trying again, it appears like half of my time this 12 months went to placing numerous hours into quite a few grand adventures. It’s as if builders worldwide convened and determined we had too many hours within the day and wanted some lengthy video games to fill the gaps. Regardless of the cause for the flood of video games was, followers of the style have been saved busy for 12 months.

Among the best components about this 12 months being so JRPG heavy is that there have been releases for each kind of participant. I’ve journeyed by means of stress-free forests whereas on the lookout for supplies to combine in Atelier Ryza 2: Misplaced Legends & the Secret Fairy, fought a brainpunk apocalypse with a hack-and-slash fight fashion in Scarlet Nexus, and raised a pet kaiju in Monster Hunter Tales 2: Wings of Wreck. I like how various not solely the worlds of all these titles are, however the gameplay as effectively.

Whereas I couldn’t presumably listing and describe each single launch of the 12 months, I do need to speak about one of the crucial necessary takeaways from the “12 months of the JRPG.” We noticed the evolution of a style in actual time. Final 12 months, Sq. Enix modified the world with Remaining Fantasy VII as soon as once more when it launched Remaining Fantasy VII: Remake. The sport’s cinematic storytelling, detailed environments, and reimagined gameplay blew aside expectations and eliminated limitations to gamers past the standard turn-based followers. It fully modified the style, simply as the unique did again in 1997.

FF7R is a recreation that was years within the making, with its eventual fight method getting examined in video games like Remaining Fantasy 13 and 15Remake lastly discovered the best method, changing into the proper fusion of basic turn-based technique and extra lively fight, making it interesting not solely to JRPG followers however gamers from different spheres as effectively.

One in every of my picks for JRPG of the 12 months, Tales of Come up, and Scarlet Nexus proceed the place that recreation left off. Each these video games contain the hack-and-slash-esque gameplay just like that in FF7R and discover the proper steadiness between it and typical technique — all whereas maintaining that basic JRPG really feel. Each video games, together with Remake‘s mini continuation, Remaining Fantasy 7 Remake: Intergrade, have me very excited to see who takes that subsequent step in additional constructing upon the groundwork that Sq. Enix set. Perhaps the subsequent nice JRPG will go extra the Scarlet Nexus route and produce some recent concepts to the combo.

Remembering the classics

Whereas the 12 months noticed drastic evolution for the style, it additionally featured loads of titles that iterated on the standard, turn-based JRPG fashion. Followers of the classics weren’t left behind. FantasianShin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster, the Remaining Fantasy Pixel Remasters, and Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl supply basic experiences with clear high quality of life updates to maintain them related in a brand new age of gaming.

My private spotlight of bunch is Shin Megami Tensei 5, a recreation that completely captures the nostalgic feeling of being a child and exploring these huge digital lands. The sport simply feels so lifelike due to a number of personality-filled demonic creatures that populate the explorable overworld. It options the most effective customization methods I’ve ever had the pleasure of utilizing in a JRPG, giving gamers management over rattling close to each facet of their demon workforce. And who can neglect that candy problem that challenges gamers’ mastery of the sport’s methods?

Black Frost talking in Shin Megami Tensei 5.

These are just a few examples. There are such a lot of 2021 JRPG experiences to sink one’s tooth into that I can’t even speak about all of them right here (we’d be right here all day). I’m undecided why so many wonderful, genre-defining video games all landed in the identical 12-month span, however I gained’t query it. What I do know is that in the event you’re a JRPG fan or in the event you’re seeking to get into the style anytime quickly, deal with 2021’s launch calendar as your personal private backlog. And do it quick, as a result of 2022 would possibly find yourself being simply as stacked.

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