Wed 24th Oct, 2018 13:00 BST: A LOT of top-quality RPGs have launched on the Switch since we first ran this list back in August, so we've updated it with the best of them. We've also reshuffled the order a bit, removed a few entries, and reduced the total number of RPGs to 20. What you should find now is a much tighter list.
What are the best Switch RPGs? That's the age-old question – and one that we aim to answer in this guide. We've scoured the eShop, our own reviews, and user reviews to come up with this definitive list of what we consider to be the very best Nintendo Switch RPGs.
Before we let you get on with reading though, let's address an elephant in the room: no, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn't on this list. We know, that's an incredibly contentious decision, which is why we asked you guys for your opinion. A whopping 53% of you decided that it isn't an RPG, so we're going with your opinion and leaving it off this list.
It's fine to be wrong. It's not like voting the wrong way has ever had terrible repercussions before, right?
Shining Resonance Refrain sees you play as Yuma Ilvern, who's on a quest to stop the empire from exploiting poor dragons. It also doesn't help that you have the soul of a dragon inside of you, and the empire wants a piece of that too.
So with the help of your friends you'll explore a wide-open anime-inspired world, battling the Empire, meeting new friends, and realising your destiny.
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Lost Sphear is the latest JRPG by Square Enix's Tokyo RPG Factory, which was set up to create classic SNES-era JRPGs with modern sensibilities. Boy, did they manage that with I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear.
Building on where I Am Setsuna left off, Lost Sphear introduces the ability to alter your combat position, a more colourful and varied world to explore, and the mechs from Final Fantasy VI. If you like your JRPGs classic, look no further than Lost Sphear.
Honourable mention: Lost Sphear's prececessor, I Am Setsuna, is also available on Switch. While it's a less polished adventure, it still serves as an excellent modern day taste of classic Final Fantasy-style JRPGs.
If you really miss the 90s era of classic RPGs – particularly from the original PlayStation – get Earthlock right now. This features the same camera angles, turn-based combat, and lack of voice acting that you love and miss.
It's not all nostalgia though. The visuals are gorgeous even by today's standards, progression is dictated by a combination of your skill tree and equipment, and there's a total of six different playable characters. You also gain a strategic advantage in combat if your party gets along, which is pretty sweet.
The World Ends with You is an innovative JRPG that originally launched on the Nintendo DS, making excellent usage of the dual screens to control two different characters in battle. The Switch version remixes this by introducing motion controls in place of the touchscreen.
But a bit about the game. You play as teenager Neku, who has to complete a number of mysterious tasks within seven days or he'll be erased. A girl named Shiki joins him as they strive to defeat a dark group known as the Reapers.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar takes the classic JRPG format and gives it a western RPG overhaul, with visuals inspired by the likes of World of Warcraft, Divinity: Original Sin, and classic Diablo adventures. This is no hack and slasher though – you've got dungeon crawling, turn-based battles, and a massive overworld to explore just like in the Final Fantasies of old.
New is the battle system, which introduces mana overcharging and Battle Bursts – mechanics that you won't find anywhere else. The dungeons are also randomly-generated, and feature traps, puzzles, and secrets that you can overcome using character skills. That's ripped right out of a pen and paper RPG. Plenty of inspirations on hand here, then.
Child of Light is an absolutely gorgeous RPG developed in the same UbiArt Framework that gifted us Rayman Origins and Legends. You play as Aurora, who's on a quest to save her ill father and former kingdom. It also features co-op, with one player taking on the role of Igniculus, the shiny little ball of light.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a direct sequel to The Stick of Truth, and once again places you in the shoes of the New Kid. You'll fight alongside your favourite South Park characters in the superhero group Coon and Friends against the villainous Professor Chaos who is trying to eliminate them.
Don't be fooled by the cartoon visuals, as this is not one for the kids. The humour – while hilarious – is offensive and adult in nature. You'll create your own super hero, complete with costume, origin story, and superpowers as you explore South Park at night to save it from evil.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is also available on Nintendo Switch now, so it might make more sense to start there first if you haven't played it yet.
If you favour content over all else, Disgaea 5 Complete is the choice for you. There's potentially an infinite amount of content here, as you unlock heroes, level them up to their maximum potential (level 9,999!!), and then do it all over again thanks to a nifty rebirth system.
This quantity doesn't result in a lack of quality though. Disgaea 5 is still a nifty little JRPG in its own right, with addictive strategic combat, gorgeous anime-inspired visuals, and heaps of humour.
Darkest Dungeon is as grim as its title suggests. You gather a band of adventurers and send them on their way through a variety of procedurally generated dungeons. So far, so RPG. New though, is the affliction system, by which your characters become increasingly more stressed as they battle and witness a variety of horrors.
Due to this system, characters can become paranoid, masochistic, fearful, irrational, and a bunch of other afflictions that can have very damaging effects on themselves and their compatriots. The cure for these afflictions? A nice drink in the tavern or a prayer in the abbey, depending on the hero.
Managing your party's wellbeing is as important as levelling up, gathering new equipment, and battling strategically. If you want something fresh and new, Darkest Dungeon is the one for you.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the latest entry in the war-torn JRPG franchise. It takes place at the exact same time as the events of the original, focusing on the Federation's Squad E. You'll control Commander Claude Wallace as he and his childhood friends strive to win their freedom against a frightening war.
As a game, Valkyria Chronicles is an intriguing blend of turn-based strategy RPG, and third person shooter, with a watercolor-inspired visual design unlike anything else we've seen. This latest entry introduces bigger maps, a new unit, and new defensive and offensive options.
Honourable mention: Valkyria Chronicles 4 proves as a great jumping off point you haven't played a Valkyria Chronicles before, but the original Valkyria Chronicles is now available on Switch if you'd like to start at the very beginning.
Oh look! Another co-operative dungeon crawler RPG – how novel, eh? Well, actually, yes – this one is pretty novel. One of you plays the adventurer, crawling through a randomly generated dungeon, while the other players take control of a variety of traps and monsters. Die, and the player that killed you takes your place as the adventurer.
Each game takes 30 minutes, with you and your friends racing to see who's the best adventurer. Also awesome is the fact that not only the adventurer, but the monsters themselves can level up and grab new gear to increase in power. This is a good'un.
West of Loathing is pure comedy. It's set in the fictional wild west Kingdom of Loathing, full of snake-infested gulches, skeletons, and demon cows. The entire world is hand-drawn in Flash-style graphics, and you can largely choose what you do. Unlike most RPGs, you don't actually have to get involved in combat if you don't want to. A sense of humour is a must though. Seriously.
Speaking of fresh, Aegis Defenders blends action platforming with tower defence to create something pretty unique. You (and a friend if you play in co-op) play as a team of Ruinhunters who are desperately seeking the legendary Aegis weapon to save their village.
That involves taking part in action platforming levels, defeating enemies, and building a variety of "towers" that help you out in battle. If you play solo, you can even switch between your party members on the fly.
Golf Story is a Switch exclusive RPG that borrows liberally from Mario Golf on the Game Boy. It's absolutely bonkers, with the term golf being very liberally applied across the entire experience. You might have to use your skills to feed hungry alligators, knock things out off high surfaces, or to actually win real golf tournaments.
The script is absolutely hilarious, and there's such a wide variety of activities to do that it remains fresh throughout the surprisingly lengthy experience. If you just want something completely different, Golf Story is the choice for you.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is probably the most action-packed JRPG on this list. The Tales of-style combat is as hectic as it is addictive, and the ability to change the party member under your control on the fly makes it even more so.
You play as Adol, a passenger on a ship that just so happens to crash on a cursed island. You're then tasked with forming a village that can survive the harsh climate and the beasts that roam it. This is a JRPG though, so you can quickly expect things to get a lot more complicated than just that.
What list of best RPGs would be complete without an Elder Scrolls on it? This is easily one of the finest western RPG series ever to exists, and Skyrim might just be the best entry yet.
If you're just looking for a wide open world ripe for exploring, Skyrim is the one for you – and then some. It's just massive, and is perfect for picking a direction and seeing what you uncover. There are no linear pathways, main stories to distract you, or lengthy cutscenes. You just pick up a sword, choose a direction, and cave a ton of skulls in.
Those looking for lore, story, and depth will find it though. Talk to any character, read any book, and complete quests, and you'll learn an awful lot about this incredibly deep world and its history. There's an awful lot going on in Skyrim, and it's entirely up to you how much you get involved in it, or what you do. Either way, you're guaranteed to have an awful lot of fun.
Undertale is an indie RPG done right. You fall into the underworld and explore a humour-tinged world full of fun things to do. You'll date a skeleton, dance with a robot, and cook delicious dishes with a part woman, part fish. Or, you can do none of those things – Undertale delights in letting you decide what to do.
Octopath Traveler is a Nintendo Switch exclusive JRPG developed by the Square Enix studio behind Bravely Default, and boy does it live up to those high expectations. It artfully combines 16bit character sprites with 3D Minecraft-style blocky environments to create an incredibly fresh and appealing art style.
Also fresh is the gameplay, which simultaneously simplifies and deepens the traditional turn-based combat system. You'll still attack, use skills and items, and defend, but there are new systems like breaks – temporary stuns – and boosts – overcharging skills and attacks – that make it all feel fresh again.
This is a must-have for everyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive, sprawling JRPG built by Monolith Soft, who developed the previous two entries and the Baten Kaitos games on the GameCube. The team also helped Nintendo design the world of Breath of the Wild, so there's no doubting the pedigree.
You'll explore a massive open world made up of Titans – enormous living creatures that house entire civilisations on their bodies. Along the way you'll meet a wide variety of characters, solve a bunch of quests, and save the world.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a massive, standalone DLC called Torna: The Golden Country that's also well worth playing through. It serves as a prequel to the events of 2 so you can play it before or after.
Dark Souls: Remastered needs no introductions. This is easily one of the finest video games, let alone RPGs, of the decade. God knows what the plot is about but you play as a hollow (undead) warrior who has to just try and survive a hellishly difficult world. The simplest combat encounters can prove deadly, while the boss battles can feel literally impossible. It will take all of your grit and determination to survive in this fantastic action RPG, let alone complete it.
There we have it, guys – our list of the best Nintendo Switch RPGs is complete. Did you enjoy reading it? Are you appalled at our selection? Would you like to champion Breath of the Wild? Let us know your innermost thoughts and feelings in the comments section.