The PS1 had some of the most memorable RPG games in history. Beautiful graphics, complex narratives and a wealth of content to explore were hallmarks of several of the genre’s classics that came out on the PS1.
Today, we are going to take a look at some of the absolute best RPGs on the PS1
Xenogears is truly impressive just for the scope and scale of the adventure it puts forth.
There are some deep themes explored – killing deities, the nature of the soul, duality and the search for meaning.
But Xenogears doesn’t stop there – it weaves in more stories about religion and its misuse by those in power, reincarnation and even some post-apocalyptic Soylent Green type stuff. You might think this is too much to fit into one story and you would be right, but the game manages to balance these narrative threads well for the most part.
Suikoden 2 is a testament to strong storytelling and the power of narrative to keep you emotionally invested in a sprawling tale about friendship, betrayal and heroism.
Suikoden rewards exploration by offering a ton of extra characters that you can add to your party or use to get some upgrades to your base.
Even though Suikoden 2 didn’t set the cash registers on fire, it has gained a cult-like following over the years and has become a rare collector item for fans of brilliant storytelling.
Grandia chose to break out of the sometimes-drab color palettes of its RPG contemporaries for a bolder, brighter graphics style featuring 2D and 3D graphics and colorful characters.
You play Justin, a young boy looking for adventure who gets embroiled in a skirmish with the military who are looking to awaken ancient powers for nefarious reasons. Though the story might be standard RPG fare, it nonetheless manages to keep you engaged for the entire 40+ hour campaign.
Grandia also features a fun combat and magic system, giving the usual turn-based combat a fresh twist.
Dragon Warrior 7
Square Enix has always made the Dragon Warrior games focus on the core elements that make the series great and not worry too much about the latest technological advancements.
Dragon Warrior 7 has a massive single-player campaign with a ton of variety both in quest types and different locations and when it’s backed by solid gameplay, it is one of the genre’s most enjoyable experiences.
It features a complex class system and some puzzle elements interspersed into the narrative to keep things fresh.
Breath of Fire 4
While Breath of Fire 3 was a commercial success in the early days of the PS1, it wasn’t until 2001’s Breath of Fire 4 that the series really hit its stride.
True to series lore, BoF 4 explored themes of self-actualization and eschewing deity-worship. It explored themes of duality through its narrative.
You still play as Ryu, the boy who is able to turn into a dragon. As the story progresses, you come to learn that Ryu and Fou-Lu, an ancient emperor demigod, are actually dual halves of the same god.
Gameplay is still the turn-based fare fans of the series have come to love, but there are a lot of extra features such as maintaining your village and fishing for players to enjoy.
The Legend of Dragoon
The Legend of Dragoon might look like a paint-by-numbers RPG on first glance, but on deeper observation there is a deep and rewarding adventure that awaits you.
The most unique aspect of this game was that you had the ability to change your ‘Dragoons’ into super-powered versions of themselves so they could really kick some ass in combat. Much like the Trance and Limit Break mechanics in Final Fantasy, this ability adds a whole new layer of dynamism to the simple turn-based combat.
Vagrant Story is an ambitious adventure told through some gorgeous 3-D graphics.
The game is a dungeon exploration game with RPG elements, with each individual area offering some loot and combat before you move on to the next. The combat is real-time with a hint of turn-based mechanics. It is a fresh take on the standard RPG combat and the deep upgrade tree and sprawling world make it a ride well worth taking.
Chrono Chross has a fantastic story that involves time travel, destiny and the concept of multiverses. It was one of the best-looking RPGs for its time, and features some truly stellar music to complement the epic action unfolding on screen.
It also features the now standard ‘New Game +’ mode for additional replayability.
Chrono Cross did away with turn-based combat and opted instead for a stamina-based battle system accompanied by an elemental magic mechanic that could be used to dramatically alter the tide of combat if used intelligently.
The game features a large roster of playable characters with different affinities and skillsets, making it worth the effort required to recruit all of them.
So, there you have it – some of the best PS1 RPG games that you can enjoy from the original PlayStation library. Did we miss any of your favorite epic RPGs? Let us know in the comments! Maybe the PS1 isn't your cup of tea, here is a list of 10 Best PS2 RPG's to play.
Did You Know: In 1990 game, Golden Axe from SEGA was voiced entirely by prisoners on death row.