For many gaming enthusiasts, the name Square Enix evokes a sense of nostalgia, mystery, and excitement. From the turn-based role-playing games of yesteryears to the action-packed adventures of today, Square Enix has consistently raised the bar in creativity and quality. Known for their memorable characters, stunning visuals, engaging stories, and atmospheric soundtracks, these 18 titles have indeed left a lasting mark on the gaming landscape.
Final Fantasy VII isn't just a game; it's a cultural marvel. Released in 1997, it introduced disillusioned hero Cloud Strife and his fight against the shadowy, corrupt megacorporation, Shinra. Utilizing an engaging real-time-based combat system and featuring one of gaming's most heartbreaking moments, Final Fantasy VII set a new standard for RPGs and defined a generation of gamers with its memorable story and characters.
Chrono Trigger is a timeless masterpiece that masterfully weaves time-traveling, multiple endings, and various gameplay mechanics into a compelling narrative. Its engaging plot, charismatic characters, and innovative combat system, coupled with memorable music, still resonate with fans. Its nonlinear gameplay, split into different eras, as well as numerous side quests, gives it high replayability, making it a must-play for any RPG enthusiast.
Kingdom Hearts II brings together the worlds of Disney and Final Fantasy into a unique action RPG. Players control Sora in a battle against dark forces alongside iconic characters like Donald Duck and Goofy. Its real-time combat system, layered plot, and memorable Disney-themed levels create a special blend of whimsy and depth that appeals to both young and veteran gamers.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age pays homage to the traditional turn-based RPG mechanics while embarking on a beautiful and grand adventure. The game's gorgeously designed world, fascinating characters, cleverly crafted narrative, and complex combat mechanics make it a standout entry in the long-running Dragon Quest series and a beautifully realized RPG experience.
A masterpiece from director Yoko Taro, NieR: Automata is an action RPG that explores profound themes of humanity, existence, and purpose. The game's innovative combat system, stunning art direction, brilliant storytelling, and insanely good soundtrack make the game a fantastical journey. It continually defies players' expectations, moving and surprising them on emotional and intellectual levels.
A strategic RPG, Final Fantasy Tactics combines dynamic turn-based combat with a deep and engaging story. Players control a group of fighters and make their move on an isometric grid, unraveling a plot filled with political intrigue and spiritual prophecies. Its job system, tactical battles, plot twists, and meticulously developed characters make this game highly beloved among fans of strategy RPGs.
An all-time classic, Secret of Mana, is a real-time action RPG that has captured the hearts of countless gamers. Its cooperative multiplayer, gripping plot, brilliantly implemented real-time fighting system, and vibrant 16-bit art direction make it a unique blend of RPG and action-adventure gaming genres.
Valkyrie Profile is an innovative RPG that tells the story of a Valkyrie during Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse. Its character-driven narrative, puzzle-laden dungeon crawling, strategic combat, and its system of recruiting and developing lost souls for the coming end times make for a highly unique, atmospheric, and gripping RPG experience.
Final Fantasy XV showcases the evolution of the long-standing franchise. It introduces innovative real-time combat, a compelling open world full of quests and sights, and a moving tale of brotherhood. Its fascinating blend of fantasy and reality and deep, humanistic themes make it an outstanding, modern epic of friendship and duty.
Bravely Default is a return to JRPG roots, featuring a group of four heroes embarking on an epic quest to save the world from darkness. It is Brave/Default system provides a fresh twist to the turn-based battle system, allowing for a deeper, more strategic combat experience. Most importantly, Bravely Default does not shy away from darker themes and complex storylines, adding depth and emotional resonance along with its familiar gameplay mechanics.
Just Cause 2 is an exhilarating open-world action game that offers explosive adventures on the fictional Southeast Asian island of Panau. Equipped with a grappling hook and a parachute, the protagonist Rico Rodriguez creates remarkable moments of mayhem and chaos. With its captivating world, over-the-top action sequences, and plenty of room for player creativity, Just Cause 2 provides a thrilling, sandbox-style gaming experience.
SaGa Frontier presents a unique experience for RPG fans, presenting seven different protagonists, each with their own storylines that can be played in any order. Its non-linear gameplay, in-depth character customization, and multiple endings offer a deep and rich gaming experience. The game's distinctive art style, innovative gameplay, and experimental storytelling make it an underappreciated classic.
Star Ocean: The Second Story is an ambitious JRPG that combines science fiction and fantasy into an epic tale. Its remarkable real-time battle system, coupled with a myriad of character interactions and branching narratives dependent on player choices, makes it one of the most immersive RPGs ever. The game also distinguishes itself with crafting, cooking, and other job-related abilities, which add depth and richness to the gameplay experience.
Life Is Strange is an episodic, narrative-driven game that rapidly gained renown for its powerful storytelling and atmospheric setting. It provides the protagonist, Max Caulfield, with the unique ability to rewind time. This mechanic allows players to alter the course of the narrative and experience the far-reaching consequences of their choices. Filled with compelling characters, emotional twists, and culturally relevant themes, it represents a high point for storytelling in video games.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes the essence of the original Deus Ex and presents it with a modern touch. Set in a dystopian future where bio-augmentations are commonplace, the game explores themes of humanity, identity, and conspiracies. With its stealth-based gameplay, multiple solutions to objectives, and deep narrative branching based on player choices, Deus Ex: Human Revolution delivers an unforgettable cyberpunk RPG experience.
Secret Of Mana is an aesthetic delight, blending charming visuals with immersive storytelling. This action RPG, with its real-time combat and cooperative multiplayer option, has cemented its legacy amongst the greatest games of the 16-bit era. Its seamless blend of fantasy settings, enchanting soundtrack, and rich mechanics makes it an engaging adventure capable of stealing any gamer’s heart.
The Tomb Raider reboot of 2013 was a born-again moment for one of gaming's most iconic names, Lara Croft. The game presents a younger, inexperienced Lara, transforming her into a hardened survivor through challenging and immersive gameplay. Its combination of intense combat, exciting exploration, and strong narrative breathed new life into the franchise, making it one of Square Enix's triumphant reboots.
Octopath Traveler pays homage to classic JRPGs with its beautiful HD-2D graphics and engaging turn-based combat system. It follows the journey of eight different characters, each with unique stories and special abilities. By effectively intertwining various narratives into one epic saga, the game offers a deep, fulfilling, and multi-layered RPG adventure that has won the hearts of many Square Enix fans.
These titles further highlight the breadth and depth of Square Enix's abilities to create a wide spectrum of game experiences. From near-future dystopias filled with conspiracies to nostalgic trips back into classical JRPG aesthetics, these titles reflect Square Enix's commitment to experimentation and innovation. These games possess distinct identities and unforgettable adventures, marking Square Enix as one of the major shapers in the world of gaming.