Video games are part of a rich and storied history and the current landscape of gaming has been shaped by a variety of different people and cultures. For a lot of this history, popular gaming products were largely developed in Japan and the audience for those products remains today. There are also a ton of Japanese game developers and publishers producing high quality content year after year. There’s no rule saying that this must be the case but these games are often different from games developed in, say, The United States, and are products of different practices and philosophies. Here are five great games developed in Japan.
A brutal game that always feels fair, Dark Souls was an anomaly in gaming when it was released but has since been emulated frequently. There’s a degree to which this game felt like a refreshing dip into the past as it basically refused to hold your hand as you overcame its immense challenges. It’s also beautifully conceived with controls that feel precise and worlds that inspire awe.
I’ve never encountered a game designed in the west that is anything like Persona 5 . This is a very classic feeling JRPG that carves out an identity for itself through unique visuals and strong music choices. It also features a rich narrative that explores the complexities of being a person to some degree by implementing and exploring Jungian psychology.
Final Fantasy VII
Really, this list could have room for practically any Final Fantasy title if I’m being honest but Final Fantasy VII, as you may know from the buzz surrounding its remake, is a big deal. It was a highly cinematic game that took advantage of everything the PS1 had to offer, opening the franchise up to a wider array of people. Its story and characters are also things that linger as they addressed complicated themes and shone a bright light on many of humanity’s flaws.
Chrono Trigger is cool from the moment you glance at the box art to the moment you complete the game. Heck, even thinking about Chrono Trigger feels cool. The game is an RPG that uses an active time battle system to put a little bit of pressure on the players. It also has a cast of characters designed by Dragon Ball legend, Akira Toriyama. As the player takes these characters through the game, they are subjected to an emotional journey that you almost wouldn’t expect from something so vibrant looking.
Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry fans are a passionate bunch and it makes sense. The games are famed for their combo-centric gameplay and their deep sense of lore. The protagonist, a wisecracking man named Dante feels like he was ripped right from a noire detective movie and the relationships he forms with his family and friends are pleasures to watch unfold. The newest title represents a breath of fresh air as fans had been waiting a while for a chance to continue the franchise’s story after a semi-controversial reboot.