There’s a seemingly endless supply of quality RPG titles available for any taste. In this sea of titles, it’s no surprise that the bigger releases receive the most time in the spotlight, leaving some other equally enjoyable games as a niche surprise. Today, we’re taking a closer look at those RPGs that time forgot, in hopes that you decide to add them to your library and discover their true potential. In this article, we will break down the top 5 best underrated RPGs and why you need to try them.
We’ve prepared this list with 5 wonderful underrated RPGs, games that didn’t receive the warm welcome they were expecting at release. Some of them are victims of console exclusivity, while others just flew under the radar amid bigger titles. Keep reading if you’re looking for a new adventure, or to check if one of your favorite games makes the list. Although these titles may be a bit older, you’ll want to make sure that you have the best gaming monitor to make the experience that much better. Let’s get started!
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1. The Last Story – Best Underrated RPG
Starting off our list is an amazing RPG from some of the industry’s most well-known veterans. This Wii-exclusive title remains one of the console’s best-kept secrets: a solid game that balances an active battle system with some classic RPG aspects reminiscent of the classics from the Final Fantasy classic era. Speaking of Final Fantasy, legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu also created The Last Story’s OST, helping build an epic atmosphere, with just the right amount of melancholy to set the plot’s mood.
Adding to the role-playing elements are a mix of tactical and stealth gameplay, but just the right amount for this game to not become a mish-mash of genres. Director Hironobu Sakaguchi (who also created the concept for the first Final Fantasy game) manages to create a story that builds upon genre clichés, without ever feeling derivative or too cheesy.
The Last Story’s main plot takes place in the island fortress of Lazulis. In this island is a community house of sorts that’ll act as your main hub of operations throughout the game. In combat, action and tactics play a centric role; you control Zael, the main character of the story, while all of your party members are controlled by the AI. While this may prove frustrating for some players, it adds a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, leading the player to cover each of the team’s weaknesses and employ their strengths as well as they can.
The game plays in a third-person perspective, with the camera following closely behind Zel. An additional behind-the-shoulder perspective is available, allowing the player some degree of free-aiming. As a Wii-exclusive title, some amount of motion control is to be expected. For those that are not fans of this gimmick, we have great news: The Last Story allows a Classic Controller to be used, effectively removing any trace of waggling or shaking controllers.
- Gorgeous New RPG for Wii-Industry legends Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu reunite for their latest RPG masterpiece with detailed visuals and gorgeous CG cut-scenes accompanied by a moving soundtrack to create an emotional experience
- Innovative Real-Time Battle System-Real-time battles involve strategic party-based commands such as taking cover, destroying environments, and drawing enemy fire to allow allies to cast powerful spells
- Online Battles for 2-6 Players-Players can put their fighting skills to the test by going online for cooperative and competitive battles for up to 6 players to net special rare items
- A Rich World to Explore-Over 30 side-quests as well as a special 'Seek' ability to help find hidden items scattered throughout the world; 40+ coloring dyes to customize armor; wealth of additional insight into the Empire for players to explore
- English (Publication Language)
The Nintendo 3DS rides into the sunset with a bang thanks to their last batch of great RPG titles. Persona Q2 is a fun side-story in the Persona series, a favorite among gamers who sought games where slice-of-life meets mythological beasts and a cast of otherworldly entities. This game is a very different experience from its home console counterparts, something made immediately evident by its distinctive chibi art-style.
In this game, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, protagonists of Persona 5, must traverse a series of labyrinthine dungeons, each of them fashioned after a different movie genre. Along their journey, the Phantom Thieves will cross paths with other heroes from the Persona series of games. The cast of Persona 3 and 4 come along for the trip, making this game a must for fans of the series that aren’t bothered by a little fan-service.
Speaking of fan-service, that is one of the game’s main selling points. Character interactions are something that only fans of the series will get, and are a nice treat for anyone who has played any past Persona title. These characters normally don’t interact with each other in their own games: chronologically speaking, it would be impossible for them to be of the same age and seeing their interactions with each other more than justifies the cost of admission for fans.
As one of the 3DS’s last big titles, Persona Q2 proves what Nintendo’s little console is capable of achieving. Featuring a fully voiced cast, this game manages to deliver something fans of the series have been asking for since forever: original Japanese voice-overs.
Now that Persona enjoys a renovated fanbase thanks to the success of Persona 5, this is the perfect time to get into the Q series of games. Keep in mind that the gameplay is vastly different, focusing more on a turn-based experience (akin to the Shin Megami Tensei series) and leaving out the Persona fusing mechanics seen in the main series.
- Joker Takes Center Stage - Experience a thought-provoking story from the perspective of the protagonist from Persona 5 as you along with the other Phantom Thieves meet the S.E.E.S. from Persona 3 and the Investigation Team from Persona 4 in a cinematic world!
- Persona 3 Portable's Female Heroine Steals the Spotlight - Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth will feature the long-awaited addition of P3P's female heroine who will play a pivotal role in your adventure through the silver screen!
- Paying Homage to the Classics - Explore a series of labyrinths parodying popular film genres with plenty of references true film fans will love!
- We've Got Company - Persona Q2 expands on Persona Q and Persona 5's combat systems, including a new Unison feature. By completing side quests, certain groups and pairings will team up to unleash their own special attack!
3. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – Most Popular of the Underrated RPGs
If you like to add a little spice of action into your RPGs, then Dragon’s Dogma is the game for you. Developed by Capcom and some of the minds behind the Devil May Cry series, this game really has a heavy emphasis on combat rather than exploration. You must learn combos and techniques to help you win encounters, rather than relying on stats or equipment, something most fans of the Dark Souls series must be familiar with by now.
The world of Dragon’s Dogma is a treacherous fantasy land, where setting off at night might bring upon demise for your whole party if you’re ill-prepared. Speaking of party, this game uses a unique ‘Pawn’ system for your followers; you create a pawn that grows and follows you throughout the game, and you’re able to recruit a couple more pawns created by players all over the world.
The plot and overall depth of Dragon’s Dogma might leave some RPG veterans wishing for more, but it’s a solid, concentrated burst of brilliance among its action role-playing peers. The game is available on pretty much any console you can think of, including PC, so there’s really no excuse for not owning this title; except maybe for the pawns’ repetitive dialogue, although that may be necessary if you tend to forget that wolves hunt in packs. There is no doubt that this game fits the bill of being one of the best underrated RPGs.
- Dynamic combat experience - Cut off the four heads of a Hydra, climb atop griffins and fight airborne, or defeat dragons and other creatures by finding out their weaknesses.
- Tons of content - Includes all previously released extra content, DLC and the Dark Arisen expansion content. Features the highly praised combat experience and rich customization, plus a huge underground realm to explore with terrifying monsters.
- Customization options galore - Nine different vocations for players to choose from with a variety of skill and magick options for each, armor that can be upgraded and enhanced, plus Pawn companions that can be trained to fit your desired combat style.
- Adapted User Interface - Revamped user interface offers improved screen visibility.
- Online Functionality - The iconic Pawn system comes to Nintendo Switch with online sharing abilities between Nintendo Accounts. (A Nintendo Switch Online membership is not required for online features).
4. Lost Odyssey – Underrated RPGs Editor Choice
Another exemplar game by genre veteran Hironobu Sakaguchi, Lost Odyssey is an Xbox 360 exclusive with all the markings of an all-time classic. With a plot penned by award-winning novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, Lost Odyssey achieves a level of storytelling hardly matched by other RPGs. The game follows the life of Kaim, an immortal who has lived for over 1,000 years. While this game deservedly belongs on the list of underrated RPGs, it deserves to be on many other top game lists.
As an immortal man, Kaim has seen a lot of grief and happiness in his lifetime; the player gets to see how Kaim’s life changes throughout time, as families, friends and lovers come and go. This is one of the biggest stories told on the 360, and to fit all its epic moments, the game had to be split among 4 discs. This number of discs was more than a little intimidating for early adopters of the 360, and it immediately brought about flashbacks from the Final Fantasy VII era.
Lost Odyssey takes advantage of the graphical capabilities of the Unreal Engine 3, the same graphics powerhouse behind Gears of War and many other 360 exclusives. Character models look lively and well-polished, even if the game shows a decidedly ‘early’ look for the 7th generation of consoles.
If you’re a fan of old-school RPG mechanics, like a classic turn-based combat, then Lost Odyssey might just be the game you were looking for. Gameplay-wise, it doesn’t thread any new grounds, but its strength lies in its stellar presentation and engaging plot, telling a deep and satisfactory tale that’ll keep you glued to your screen for many hours.
The eternal struggle between Pokémon and Digimon claimed another victim back when Cyber Sleuth was released on the PlayStation Vita. The Digimon Story series was a breath of fresh air for the stalling ‘Digimon World’ series of games; the ‘Story’ series aims to deliver a more concise plot and characters and focuses less on the ‘virtual pet’ aspects of other Digimon Games. Without a doubt, Digimon Story is one of the best underrated RPGs that many people were never informed of.
RPG fans might find the battle mechanics present in Cyber Sleuth similar to those seen in games like Shin Megami Tensei, following a turn-based structure and a simple weakness triangle for elemental attacks. Even if the virtual pets aren’t the main focus of the game, some aspects of this formula still remain namely the collecting and evolving of a myriad of Digimon that’ll aid you in battle.
Another threat for the SMT fans is the game’s setting. Based in Akihabara, one of Japan’s most famous otaku havens, Cyber Sleuth has an atmosphere that closely resembles that seen in the Persona games. In Cyber Sleuth, daily life clashes with a digital world full of threats and mysteries to explore at your own leisure, with a definite plot carrying most of the story.
Cyber Sleuth isn’t the end of the road for the Digimon Story series, as a sister title was also released and is included as a duology in some releases. Digimon Story: Hacker’s Memory follows the same plot seen in Cyber Sleuth, albeit from a different character’s point of view, effectively acting as a companion experience and its own game in many regards.
Hacker’s Memory also offers a great experience for Digimon and RPG fans alike, including new Digimon, evolution lines and a whole new cast of characters that offer new insight on the events that transpired in the first title.
In a world where Pokémon provides the ultimate experience in pocket monsters collect-a-thons, Digimon did well in focusing efforts on delivering a solid storytelling experience. The collecting is still there, and the Digimon graphics look great and full of charm, so Digimon Story might just scratch the completionist itch that many RPG players have.
- Become a cyber detective or powerful hacker to solve diabolical digi-mysteries.
- Embark on a thrilling adventure where the line between the real and digital worlds is blurred.
- Featuring more than 300 digital to collect, raise, and digivolve!
- Build an all-star Digimon team to take on opponents in classic turn-based battles.
With so many games already in existence and the additional titles that get released every year, it is certainly difficult to keep track of everything. That is why we chose to prepare a list of the best and most underrated RPGs that seem to have been lost over time. Although we cannot recommend a single title from the list as being our favorite, you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy just about every game on this list. Thank you for reading and let us know if you chose any of the games on our list to try!