We’re living in a golden age of anime games. No matter what your preferred genre, from visual novel to platformer, shounen to shoujo, there’s a game out there that will tickle your fancy. Here’s our list of the top action RPGs that should be in the games library of any self-professed anime fan.
Tales of Berseria
Themes: emotion vs reason, subjective morality
Similar to the following anime: Fairy Tail, Shakugan no Shana, Record of Lodoss War
The Tales of series is known for its combo-based, real-time combat. This helped the series stand out in a crowded JRPG genre, which was dominated by turn-based, Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest clones throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. The Tales of series is also infamous for its inconsistency, both in its storytelling and combat mechanics.
Luckily, you won’t have to dig up an old console to enjoy one of the series greatest; the latest installment, Tales of Berseria, is widely considered a Top 5 game that marks a return to form for the series.
Don’t worry about being overwhelmed with 25 years of lore; the plot in Berseria is largely disconnected from the other titles in the series (it’s very loosely tied to Tales of Zestiria), so you can go in without having played any other Tales of games before it.
Themes: fantasy, magic, light-hearted, open-world
Similar to the following anime: Fate/Stay Night, KonoSuba, Granblue Fantasy, Fruit Basket
Genshin Impact has proven to be a divisive title among RPG fans. Yes, it’s a free-to-play mobile game and it heavily revolves around gacha drop mechanics — both red flags to any gamer with a wallet — but it’s also a complex, expansive JRPG with dozens of hours of content, full voice acting, and a dynamic, element-based combat system.
Anime fans will find a lot to like here, too. The game’s ever-growing cast of characters covers the full gamut of anime archetypes. And though there are only a few elemental types, each character has a unique skillset that interacts with the environment (and other skills) in fun and interesting ways. You could have four fire characters and each would require a different approach for optimal play.
I don’t care if you hate free-to-play, can’t stand mobile games (it’s available on PC and consoles, too), or dislike gacha, don’t judge Genshin Impact before you give it a fair shake. It literally costs you nothing to try — where else are you going to find a JRPG of this production quality at that price?
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Themes: fairy tale, medieval fantasy, chosen one, trapped in another world
Similar to the following anime: Inuyasha, Monster Rancher, Spirited Away
Ni no Kuno is best known for its association with Studio Ghibli, who produced the animated sequences. That’s unfair to its developers, Level-5, who have built a very good action RPG beneath Ghibli’s incredible art assets. They’ve also done a great job of infusing their story with that Ghibli charm, telling a straightforward fairy tale that’s full of whimsy and tearjerker moments.
The combat is simple, pacey, and fun, but things really pick up once you’ve unlocked the ability to recruit familiars. There’s a chance when defeating a monster to tame it — a bit like Pokemon or Monster Rancher. If you really get into it, training your familiars and pairing the best ones to your characters can give you dozens of hours of joy.
The best part? Once you’re done with this one, you can jump right into its sequel, which is just as good.
Themes: supernatural, gothic
Similar to the following anime: GOD Eater, Vampire Hunter D, Angel’s Egg, Claymore
Code Vein features all the hallmarks of a great souls-like: long, winding corridors filled with dangerous creatures; a challenging combat system focused on careful timing of dodges and counter-strikes rather than button-mashing; and massive bosses that will test your patience and mental fortitude.
It tells a freakishly fun vampire tale told with a cross-your-heart earnestness that’s laudable considering all the supernatural nonsense (like the game’s vegetarian vampires). And it’s all packaged in a compelling, grimdark aesthetic that sets it apart from other games in the genre.
It’s not all monster-bashing, though. There’s also a simple NPC gifting system that’s tons of fun to explore if you’re into that sort of thing. The game rewards you for getting to know your companions in this gothic adventure; gifting them the appropriate items earns you Trade Points which can be exchanged for powerful equipment and special gear. If you don’t want to waste time finding out the best gifts for each companion, you’ll want to refer to a gift guide for Code Vein to optimize your gifting.
Final Fantasy VII: Remake
Themes: environmentalism, subjective morality, terrorism, life & death, urban dystopia
Similar to the following anime: Princess Mononoke, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Akira
If you’re an anime fan who loves action JRPGs, I’d imagine you’ve probably already played this. It’s mechanically nothing like its 1997 original, but it manages to capture that same spirit and atmosphere. It delves into deep topics, like terrorism and the long-term effects of unbridled industrialism on the environment, as well as more abstract themes like life and death.
The combat system is an evolution of the real-time battle mechanics found in previous Square Enix titles, combining the ATB system of PS1-era Final Fantasys with the real-time action of Kingdom Hearts. The pseudo-turn-based action encourages a deliberateness to your actions, elevating it beyond the button-mashing nonsense of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts. There’s also a lot of flexibility to how you can approach an encounter thanks to the streamlined materia and magic system.
Don’t expect a satisfying conclusion just yet; as of the time of writing, the remake only covers the first chapter of this RPG epic. Still, it’s an adventure worth investing yourself in (around 40 hours of content), whether you’re in it for the plot, the awesome battle system, or the waifus (include newcomer Jessie, who was a waifu nonentity in the PS1 original).
Themes: existentialism, artificial life, religion, humanity
Similar to the following anime: Shinsekai Yori, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Texhnolyze, Battle Angel Alita
NieR: Automata is a game that defies categorization. Yes, it’s an action JRPG, but sometimes it’s also a shoot-em-up, a side-scrolling shooter, a platformer, or an all-out brawler. The game seamlessly transitions from one genre to the next without ever taking its foot off the pedal, forcing you to stay on your toes if you don’t want to get caught off guard by the next change-up.
Then, there’s the story. It’d be unfair of me to spoil it for you — it’s best you go into NieR: Automata blind — but if you’re not the type to shy away from some existential dread, then this is a game you should experience now. Just be ready to lose a few days to contemplating the meaning of your existence.
Information source: Gammicks – provider of exclusive news from the world of gaming.