The PlayStation Vita is a home for many different types of games. However, the handheld is mostly known for having a slew of role-playing games. Since I’m a huge fan of the PS Vita, I decided to make a list of my favorite RPGs I’ve experienced this year on our favorite handheld.
As someone who enjoys JRPGS, I feel overwhelming lucky to be a part of the gaming scene during this renaissance of great Japanese games. Chart-topping AAAs like Nier: Automata, Persona 5, Nioh and the like have graced us with hours and hours of heavily polished content. Even mid-tier Japanese publishers are starting to put out consistently better games. Akiba’s Beat is a sign that this trend will, at least, continue into the immediate future.
Akiba’s Beat’s premise is that Akiba is being overrun by people’s delusions. Since the city is so fast moving with its trends, there are people who have held onto specific time periods and this is somehow forcing the city to be stuck in time. The main character, Asahi, is a NEET who stumbles into Saki, a girl who spends her time eradicating people’s delusions. Throughout the game, Asahi carefully navigates his way through events becoming stronger, building friendships and growing as a character.
Overall, Akiba’s Beat is great. It doesn’t come close to Persona 5 in achieving its goal. And it certainly doesn’t have much in common with Akiba’s Trip, to some fans’ inevitable dismay. But, it stands on its own two feet and delivers and experience that is definitely fun and miles ahead of the quality that fans of Japanese media have come to expect from smaller publications.
Dynasty Warriors Godseekers
The Three Kingdoms story that was never told. A simulation RPG set in the world of the ‘Dynasty Warriors’ series, starring the youthful Zhao Yun, famous for his loyalty to duty and his sincerity, and depicting alternate stories like that told in the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’. This game features multiple soldiers crowded together into army units to portray the bustling feel of the battlefield. In addition to the actions of the familiar Musou and Charge attacks of the Dynasty Warriors series, players will strategically attack enemies, and enjoy the thrill of destroying numerous units with a single blow.
If you are not familiar with Ys as a franchise, you should not be afraid of taking a chance with Ys Origin, the prequel to the seven previous releases of the Ys video game series. Then again, we are talking here about Nihon Falcom’s most prominent and successful franchise, a Japanese role-playing video game series that started back in 1987. That being said, most people interested in YS Origin will probably have some deeper knowledge about a series with a history like that, and if you are a console gamer, this release will make you even happier.
The game is perfect for gamers who aren’t familiar with Ys’ history because it focuses on the origin of pretty much everything regarding the Ys universe. It’s also very intriguing to people who have played the main games of Ys because this title tries to fill important gaps. The narration is exciting and both main characters have a pretty strong presence, for different reasons. While Yunica does not have the ability to use spells and magic, giving her colleagues the impression that she isn’t really that strong, Hugo is a mage with an attitude of a… asshole. And that word describes Hugo’s first hours almost “perfect”, also because the game features a pretty strong language. We already know that XSEED did a pretty good job in localizing Ys Origin in English back then, but DotEmu has also translated the game for the first time in German, French, Spanish and Italian. I can confirm that they did a good job in translating the game into German.
Ys Origin was definitely an enjoyable experience on PlayStation Vita and I recommend it to anyone who wants a fast-paced action-RPG experience with enjoyable hack-n-slash elements. The captivating story and the high replay value of the game will definitely make you want to invest a lot of hours into the game, especially if you like that type of games and if you haven’t some over-the-top expectations regarding graphics.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey
PSN Description: The second entry in the ‘Mysterious’ saga follows the adventures of the enthusiastic Firis Mistlud and her loving older sister Liane Mistlud. The sisters have lived their entire lives in the isolated town of Ertona, where Firis uses her unique ability to see where crystals of materials are buried. By way of a fateful encounter, Firis learns of the Alchemy Exam and decides to take her first step into the outside world, setting off on a grand journey to become a certified alchemist and discover the mysteries that life has to offer! Experience a vast world with towns, environments and other locations!
The Toukiden series isn’t your typical Omega Force musou game. It has much more in common with games like Monster Hunter and Freedom Wars than Dynasty Warriors but it’s definitely no secret that it comes from the same developer as it carries the same quirks and oddities that their rushed jobs usually do. Along with them though comes a deeply interesting narrative and fun hack-n-slash combat filled with quirky, unique characters who feel as involved in the story as you.
The story is where Toukiden 2 really shines. While the premise is fairly convoluted and it takes a few hours to get going, the characters really feel special. Each one has a unique and interesting perspective that helps make the narrative feel very deep. Once the story hooks you, you’ll definitely enjoy the ride.
Overall, Toukiden 2 is a great game. It has a few technical flaws, missing translations, and lackluster visuals. But the charm of the characters, deeply interesting story and fun combat make up for its flaws ten-fold. I’d recommend this game to anyone who enjoys Monster Hunter-style action RPGs.
Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion
PSN Description: Claim What Is Rightfully Yours. Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion is an intense action role-playing game where every battle is a heart-pounding fight and each gut-wrenching choice impacts the realm.
Travel through a ravaged continent with Legatus Laendur and rally support to take back what the empire took from you. Explore gorgeous, hand drawn lands inhabited by rival soldiers and savage manticores. Fight enemy hordes with a team of living weapons and master devastating combo attacks to defeat challenging bosses with Fallen Legion’s deep combat system. Rule your empire between fierce battles, make difficult decisions, and witness the consequences of your choices. Will you side with a barbaric general for a defense buff or execute soldiers threatening to mutiny to revive one of your characters?
The Caligula Effect
I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Caligula Effect. It’s an exclusive PlayStation Vita game that’s an Atlus-published JRPG which includes a story led by Persona series veteran Tadashi Satomi (Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment) — so this game pretty much had my name written all over it.
The Caligula Effect has a unique story, to say the least. It’s about a group of students who are trying to escape from a virtual world called Mobius. What’s interesting is the world is designed to be the perfect place to live, but these students just aren’t satisfied, which I personally thought made for a really interesting dialog. The world is run by a virtual pop-star named ‘?’ (pronounced Myoo), along with her group of evil music producers and an army of Digiheads. Overall, there’s a lot of dark themes and enthralling story pieces that I was constantly engaged in.
PSN Description: In the wake of a revolution, Jutland’s elite soldiers, the Vanargand, must band together to defeat the Ruzi Empire and stop death itself—the Valkyria. With an engaging story full of political intrigue, a battle system that mixes real-time combat and tactical strategy, a gorgeous visual style, and more, Valkyria Revolution will immerse players into the frontlines of a desperate war.
Equipped with advanced mana weaponry and wielding powerful ragnite spells, this grizzled anti-Valkyria squad will charge head on to combat the terrifying threat of the Valkyria. However, Amleth Gronkjaer, the commanding officer of Vanargand, hides a terrible secret. Is he friend or foe to the country he has sworn to protect?
Atelier Shallie Plus Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
PSN Description: Atelier Shallie has returned with additional features on the PlayStation®Vita!
Experience the world of Atelier through the expanded stories of the two Shallies as they meet characters from previous Dusk entries and use alchemy to fulfill their goals in this conclusion to the enchanting Dusk trilogy.
Have you tried out any of the role-playing games on PlayStation Vita? Which ones were your favorites? Leave all your thoughts in the comments section below, or on our social media page!
Brittany Vincent is the former EIC of [email protected] and has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Empire, Complex, IGN, Destructoid, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot, Shacknews, Yahoo and more. She’s also appeared as a speaker at video game conventions like PAX East and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta or waiting breathlessly for a sequel to Harvester.