Some games are so good they transcend language barriers, and Japanese video games are no exception to this rule. There are many wonderful titles made in Japan that gamers can enjoy worldwide, especially now that so many of them have been translated into English.
The following list showcases the best of these titles and should serve as an excellent jumping-off point to seek more games from this wonderful part of the world. Japanese games influenced many western games, but western games have also influenced them.
However, no matter how many inspirations come from overseas, Japanese games usually have that something that makes them feel like a Japanese title. So, if that’s what you are looking for in a game, here are the best Japanese games on Steam.
Final Fantasy 6
|Release Date:||April 2, 1994|
|Average Playtime:||35 hours|
This is probably my favorite video game of all time. It wasn’t the first J-RPG that I got into, but it is the best turn-based RPG that I played during the 16-bits era of consoles.
In this game, everything is memorable. The world-building is phenomenal, the characters are lovable, the story is well written, and the music is outstanding.
Final Fantasy 6 was a different Final Fantasy in many ways when compared to the ones that came before. It moved away from the classic, medieval style and did something a little more industrial looking at times.
There is technology, but it isn’t very advanced. There is also the use of magic to power technology. Final Fantasy 6 takes place in a weird, fantastic world, and I highly recommend you experience that yourself.
If you want to experience one of the best games of this franchise, which is also a magnify retro game, make sure to try out Final Fantasy 6.
In my opinion, even though I love the other numbered games of this franchise, the characters of this game are the best. Since they are tridimensional, you root for them and want to make sure they will succeed.
Final Fantasy 7
|Release Date:||January 31, 1997|
|Find at:||Steam and Amazon|
|Average Playtime:||37 hours|
Final Fantasy 7 was the first Final Fantasy I’ve ever played, and I’ll cherish it forever. This game was so different when it first came out. It was a j-RPG in a dystopian future that talked about many adult and depressing themes, such as death and loss.
All that happened back when the franchise was mostly known for its more classic, medieval fantasy style. Although Final Fantasy 6 changed things a little, Final Fantasy 7 went all in.
In this game, you start as Cloud, a sword for hire who was once a Shinra Soldier. Over time, this game unveils so many characters and plot twists that it’s pretty much impossible to stay disinterested.
Although the game has some particularly weird characters, such as a talking cat-dog and a vampire bodyguard or something, they all fit this crazy world of Final Fantasy 7.
When it comes to combat, the game has a system that is very similar to turn-based combat, the Active Time Battle that Final Fantasy fans are used to.
This game marked an era and an entire generation. To this date, this still is one of the best J-RPGs ever made, and its rich story has spawned several spin-off games.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
|Release Date:||April 10, 2020|
|Average Playtime:||18 hours|
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a phenomenal experience. This game allowed me to see beloved characters the way I imagined them when I first played the original Final Fantasy 7.
The game is set in Midgar and expands on the original RPG’s first part. The graphics are amazing, and it’s clear that Square Enix wanted to make this game as close to the original as possible.
However, new things were added to this game’s storyline. Those changes kept fans talking about the game’s plot and theorizing for months after the game was out.
The combat system is completely changed. Still, you can use an option that makes the game more similar to a turn-based RPG. This option, called classic mode, comes with some improvements that allow you more control over your characters’ actions.
The game was redesigned to be played almost like an action RPG. There are still some familiar features. For instance, Materia can still be collected and equipped by your party members for bonuses, spells, and abilities.
If there is a game I can easily recommend to make people start to get into J-RPGs, it is Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
|Developers:||Capcom, Clover Studio, Ready at Dawn|
|Release Date:||April 20, 2006|
|Average Playtime:||34 hours|
Sometimes you want to play a game that’s unlike anything else. When you crave something different from what’s available in North America, pick up Okami HD. This action-adventure title is one of the most artistic video games I’ve ever seen.
Critics have praised this game for its compelling story, art style, and gameplay. At times, it even looks like you’re playing through a traditional painting instead of a video game.
In Okami, you take the role of Amaterasu, a sun goddess who must restore life to a world being overtaken by darkness. To do so, you’ll have to defeat enemies with your celestial brush or rely on your companion for help.
This action-adventure game is by far one of the best in its genre, and I highly recommend that you check it out.
|Release Date:||February 25, 2022|
|Find at:||Steam and Amazon|
|Multiplayer:||Co-op and V.S.|
|Average Playtime:||56 hours|
Elden Ring is the spiritual successor of Dark Souls, which is a franchise that seems heavily inspired by western RPGs.
Elden Ring takes place in a fantasy, medieval setting where you must figure out why you were brought back to life and what to do to fix the world.
However, FromSoftware’s action RPGs have something special. They are made to fulfill the artists’ vision.
They don’t seem to follow any trend or model considered good for games; they just do their own thing. As a result, the studio has made some of the best and most iconic games of the eighth console generation.
Elden Ring doesn’t track your quests and doesn’t hold your hand. The game is challenging and somewhat unforgiving. Still, it also offers one of the most satisfying and immersive experiences in video games.
This is hardly something you see in such a high-budget game when it comes from the west. After all its success, I believe that developers are watching Elden Ring and trying to understand what makes it so good.
Meanwhile, I’m having a blast figuring out how good faith is in Elden Ring’s paladin build while swinging a giant ax.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
|Developers:||Toylogic, Square Enix|
|Release Date:||April 23, 2021|
|Average Playtime:||20 hours|
NieR is one of my favorite franchises for many reasons. This game feels like an experimental project that sadly was overlooked when it first came out.
However, the storytelling, progressive thoughts, and highly poetic take on individual choices, responsibility, and spirituality.
It is also a game about family, blood bonds, and points of view. Although the gameplay is fun and innovative, combining bullet hell and action RPG elements, it is also very creative when it comes to how the story is told and how it subverts your expectations.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… is a weird name, but it is also the best way to enjoy this game. It is a remaster that delivers a more polished product and comes with extra content that gives you even more context on what is going on.
Unfortunately, you can only play brother Nier. Yet, it won’t make any difference if you don’t know father Nier from the older version of the game.
Nier Replicant is one of those games that is art before being a video game. However, it also delivers in the game area of the experience, so it is very easy to recommend.
Although this game might feel weird for most people, those familiar with Japanese RPGs might not find it that strange, but they can still be pleasantly surprised by what it offers.
|Developers:||Square Enix, PlatinumGames Inc.|
|Release Date:||February 23, 2017|
|Average Playtime:||21 hours|
NieR Automata is a sequel to the NieR Replicant. Weirdly enough, it doesn’t seem like it when you play the game since the world of Automata is radically different from the one in the previous title.
Although the setting in this game is radically different, you will be able to notice similar things that show the connection between both games.
For instance, NieR Automata also combines action RPG and bullet hell mechanics. Besides that, and probably most importantly, this game is trying to send a message to players through a convoluted story.
It is possible to miss it, but NieR Automata also has multiple endings, hidden plotlines, and subtle connections to the previous game that explain what is going on.
Besides all that, this game also has a hidden message in the end. Players who have tried to unveil its secrets for long enough will be rewarded with the main message that the game attempts to convey.
NieR Automata has a rich world and fun gameplay. That alone is more than enough for me to recommend it. However, it also has something else that is very special.
NieR Automata is a truly unique game in many aspects, and we have Square Enix to thank for authorizing this project. Much like the previous title of the franchise, it is a video game, but it is also a work of art.
Street Fighter V
|Release Date:||February 16, 2016|
|Multiplayer:||1v1 (local and online)|
|Average Playtime:||The storymode takes about 3 hours|
Street Fighter V is indeed one of the best fighting games on Steam. This might surprise you, and I understand why, but it is true. Sales-wise, It once was one of Capcom’s worst-performing games for years.
At launch, it had a small roster of characters that lacked any real punch, a lack of single-player content, and an online mode that wasn’t ready for prime time.
Somehow, Capcom turned all that around, and this fighting game became one of the best Capcom games ever.
To be fair, it had to give players quite a bit of free DLC and new content for free, such as story mode, the Arcade Edition, and more.
However, Street Fighter is once again one of Capcom’s most notable titles and has paved the way for the following title, Street Fighter 6.
Street Fighter didn’t have many characters when it started, but things changed. All of the original World Warriors are present in the game.
Some characters received an awesome update, such as Cody, and others returned from dead franchises, such as Akira Kazama.
This franchise is one of those that cannot fail. Unfortunately, it nearly did. Street Fighter players are happy with how it turned out, but it took a while. If you are getting the game after reading this article, make sure to get the latest complete edition.
|Release Date:||March 22, 2019|
|Average Playtime:||30 hours|
You’ll die a lot, but each death is a lesson. You will get frustrated, but the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge is unmatched.
When playing this game, you will feel like every victory is earned. Although this is a power fantasy, it makes you work to master the power of a ninja capable of facing giant demons on his own.
Sekiro is a game about learning from your mistakes and improving, but it is also about reaction time and adaptability. There are few cheap deaths, and nearly every mistake is yours to own. If it sounds familiar, it’s because this is another game made by FromSoftware.
Your character is tough, but he’s also fragile. You might be able to parry and dodge all of your enemies’ attacks and feel unteachable. However, a wrong move is more than enough for you to be taken down by a single hit.
This kind of game is not for everyone. There’s a reason Sekiro was a polemic game. It is hard, and you might want to make sure that this is what you are looking for.
That being said, all challenge seekers seem to enjoy this game. If you are that kind of person, you might consider this game a masterpiece.
|Developers:||Sega, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio|
|Release Date:||March 12, 2015|
|Average Playtime:||31 hours|
It took a while, but now we can experience one of SEGA’s Japanese flagship series on your PC. Run the underworld of Tokyo and Osaka with Kiryu and Majima from their days as yakuza underlings.
Yakuza 0 is an epic, well-told story, but it is also a fun brawler. Those two things don’t usually go together, but this is a special franchise.
This series has been known for its awesome brawling. The game allows you to go up against multiple enemies at once while using environmental objects to your advantage. It also has excellent storytelling with some exciting plot twists.
Yakuza 0 takes place in Kamurocho and Sotenbori—both fictional versions of Tokyo’s Kabukichō and Dōtonbori districts.
Kiryu and Majima were both Yakuza members residing in different cities in Japan in 1988. Over time, the fate of these two characters becomes intertwined in a gritty, violent, and often touching narrative.
As you might expect from any game with Yakuza at its core, there is a lot to do besides just following along with story missions. In fact, it can be hard to resist getting distracted by other activities while you’re supposed to be playing through them.
Devil May Cry 5
|Genre:||Action-Adventure, Hack and Slash|
|Release Date:||March 8, 2019|
|Find at:||Steam and Amazon|
|Average Playtime:||11 hours|
There’s a lot to like for veterans of Devil May Cry. The combat is still satisfying as ever, Dante is still the goofy, charming Demon Slayer, and Nero is back with his Red Queen sword.
This game also shows off Capcom’s RE engine, causing it to be one of the best-looking PS4 games — and it looks even better on the PS5.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s mostly more of what you’ve come to expect from DMC. This is a fast-paced action game with minor platforming elements thrown in here and there.
Some new enemies look pretty cool, you get to play three different characters, and the story is decent. Overall, I would say that if you enjoyed previous entries in the series, then you’ll feel right at home here.
Capcom’s latest entry in the Devil May Cry series, Devil May Cry 5, is full of over-the-top action.
If you haven’t played a Devil May Cry game before, then there are two things you should know: it focuses primarily on stylish combat, and there are quite a few anime cutscenes.
The cutscenes are goofy and fun, the characters are charismatic, and the fights look amazing — especially with that new battle mechanic that Capcom threw in for good measure.
Even if you don’t play action games often, DMC5 has enough charm to get even non-genre fans hooked. And if you play other games in the genre, such as Bayonetta or God of War, you’ll probably enjoy what Capcom’s done here.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
|Release Date:||January 25, 2019|
|Average Playtime:||9 hours|
Capcom is a well-known Japanese company that has been around for decades and has delivered many classic games and popular franchises.
Even twenty years later, the original Resident Evil 2 still stands as an important and unforgettable game, which is why the remake was so important.
Capcom’s best-known survival horror series has had a bumpy ride over its long lifespan. From forgettable prequels to games that changed direction too often, Resident Evil has never quite managed to live up to its reputation as one of gaming’s elite horror franchises.
That all changed with Resident Evil 2 Remake. It is arguably Capcom’s most polished, complete game of the eighth-generation era.
With its unique atmosphere and pacing that combine action and horror, Resident Evil 2 is one of the most well-known games in the world.
Its remake retains all the features that made the original game so good while also upgrading to modern graphical standards with 3D models and detailed textures.
The visuals are incredible and seamless, with fantastic lighting effects that bring every room, alleyway, and secret passageway to life. There’s a reason this game has 97% positive reviews on Steam, but you won’t understand until you try it.
Resident Evil 7 Biohazard
|Genre:||First-Person, Survival Horror|
|Release Date:||Jan 24, 2017|
|Average Playtime:||10 hours|
This game is very controversial because it was the franchise’s first numbered game from a first-person perspective. However, it was also a very good game with innovative ideas that brought back horror to the franchise.
Resident Evil 7 is a dramatic shift in the series. Besides its first-person gameplay, it also has a very photorealistic style. This game’s art style was new to the franchise then, but all Resident Evil games eventually adopted it after this one.
This game is also powered by Capcom’s new RE Engine, which allows the company to provide high-fidelity games. As a consequence, we get an unprecedented level of immersion that makes the horror storyline up close and personal.
This game has all the exploration elements and tense atmosphere that made Resident Evil memorable as a survival horror franchise twenty years ago.
At the same time, it is also a complete upgrade of the game’s systems and the overall survival horror experience.
Resident Evil Village
|Genre:||First-Person, Survival Horror|
|Release Date:||May 7, 2021|
|Average Playtime:||10 hours|
Resident Evil Village happens a few years after the events of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard. In this game, Ethan Winters is back. He and his wife Mia are living peacefully in a new place, free from the nightmares of the past.
However, peace doesn’t last long in horror games. Although the couple was trying to build a life together, they had to face a new tragedy.
Many fans consider Resident Evil Village a callback to Resident Evil 4. Both games take place in similar places and have a similar atmosphere.
However, Resident Evil Village is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, and it does feel like it. The first-person perspective returns, allowing you to feel immersed in the scene in a game that looks even better than the previous one.
However, Resident Evil Village has a DLC that comes with a new playable story and a third-person camera. If you like Resident Evil and skipped this way because of the camera, the DLC leaves you out of excuses.
Although this game does feel different from the classic Resident Evil games, it is definitely one of the best survival horror games on Steam.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
|Developers:||Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio|
|Release Date:||January 16, 2020|
|Average Playtime:||45 hours|
Yakuza: Like a Dragon features complex storylines and tons of content. There’s an assortment of street brawls to partake in as well as odd jobs to earn money to upgrade your character.
Each new fight or quest is a new adventure and takes you deeper into Yakuza lore.
This franchise is a deep dive into a fantasy that only exists in Japan. You play as strong men and criminals who deal with other criminals in overarching schemes and storylines. However, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a revenge and redemption story.
In this story, Ichiban is an orphan raised by Yakuza thugs. He takes the fall for a crime he didn’t commit to save his boss, only to be abandoned by his Yakuza family.
The players control Ichiban and his friends in a turn-based RPG to find out what happened and redeem Ichiban.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a game where morality is presented in shades of grey, but it is also a game with over-the-top Japanese jokes. You might need a very particular sense of humor to enjoy this side of the game. Yet, if that’s what you are looking for, you won’t be disappointed at Yakuza.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
|Release Date:||April 23, 2013|
|Average Playtime:||55 hours|
It took me a while to play Dragon’s Dogma. I was already familiar with Dark Souls when I learned about this title. It makes me a bit mad that I didn’t even know that Capcom had its own fantasy RPG.
Look, Dragon’s Dogma has its issues, and I’m not here to excuse them. That being said, despite all the problems of this game, I still had a lot of fun.
Generally speaking, my main issue with Dragon’s Dogma comes from the lack of variety in combat, making traveling very tiresome.
You fight the same enemies over and over on the road. However, building your character, exploring, and putting together a party are fun parts of this game. Yet, none of those is as fun as putting it to the test in a dungeon.
Once you go past that slower beginning of the game, Dragon’s Dogma is pure bliss. The animations and sound effects make the combat feel great once your character is able to use better techniques and spells. It also helps that some boss battles are very entertaining.
You can clearly see the combat using things you might recognize from games such as Demon’s Souls and even Shadow of the Colossus. This game even allows you to climb bigger enemies, such as giants and hydras, to attack them properly.
As I have stated before, Dragon’s Dogma is not perfect. However, it is a great action RPG that feels like a game made by a Japanese studio.
Fans of JRPGs tend to forgive games with a slow start, so you might want to try out Dragon’s Dogma if you are into medieval fantasy and Japanese games.
|Release Date:||September 22, 2011|
|Find at:||Steam and Amazon|
|Multiplayer:||Co-Op and V.S.|
|Average Playtime:||42 hours|
I’ll be honest; if there is a way to sneak in a FromSoftware game in my lists, I will end up doing it. Dark Souls takes place in a dark fantasy setting where you control an undead who might or might not be the chosen one to save the world.
The story is hard to follow and is told cryptically, but it adds to the mysterious and dangerous vibe of where the first game takes place.
Dark Souls is a trilogy, and each game of the franchise is worth playing. Dark Souls 2 brings new mechanics and the best DLCs of the franchise. Dark Souls 3 is a faster game that tries to close the open chapters of the first game and add to the lore.
Although Dark Souls was not the first, it did start the entire tough-but-fair concept that was copied by so many games after it.
Without this game, we would have never had things like Bloodborne, Elden Ring, Nioh, and The Surge. It might be frustrating at first, and it takes a while to understand what is fun about it if you start from the first game. However, once it clicks, you will be hooked till the end.
Guilty Gear Strive
|Developers:||Arc System Works|
|Release Date:||June 11, 2021|
|Multiplayer:||online and local V.S.|
|Average Playtime:||The game is meant to be played online versus other players|
Guilty Gear Strive showed up with some of the best cell shading graphics and animations ever seen in video games. Besides the fact that this game looks gorgeous, it also has a really good rollback netcode.
This new netcode used by ArcSys allows players to have a decent match even if they are on opposing sides of a large country. On top of all that, Guilty Gear Strive is a fantastic fighting game on a technical level.
It is hard to please everyone, and fans of the franchise’s older titles might prefer other games. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this game was the most successful Guilty Gear game so far and one of Arc System Work’s most significant financial successes.
I love the character redesigns, the anime 3D graphics, and the game’s music. Strive has many remarkable tracks, from feel-good rock and roll to Japanese heavy metal.
Guilty Gear has a lot of personality, and one can feel the passion and talent of the developers behind it. Fighting game fans should definitely try this game out.
Monster Hunter World
|Release Date:||January 26, 2018|
|Find at:||Steam and Amazon|
|Average Playtime:||48 hours|
There’s a certain magic to Monster Hunter that continues to make it one of Capcom’s best-selling series. In this game, you take on the role of a hunter and slay ferocious monsters. The ecosystem is well thought out and often feels like it could be real.
You can use the landscape and the diverse inhabitants to your advantage. Either hunt alone or work with your friends, making the experience even more exciting.
In Monster Hunter World, you will use materials you collect from defeated monsters to create new weapons and take on more challenging beasts.
Monster Hunter was always a boss battle gauntlet game or something close to it. Although you might get weaker monsters to deal with here and there, there’s an addictive thrill in trying to take down the gigantic, most threatening beasts that Capcom has managed to create.
If you like a challenge and this gameplay loop sounds fun, get ready to fight giant creatures. You will fit in just fine in Monster Hunter World.
Final Fantasy 15 Windows Edition
|Developers:||Square Enix, HexaDrive, XPEC Entertainment, Streamline Studios, Umbra|
|Release Date:||November 29, 2016|
|Find at:||Steam and Amazon|
|Average Playtime:||28 hours|
Final Fantasy is a Japanese franchise that needs no introduction. It brought to us some of the most iconic characters in the genre, such as Cloud, Terra, and Tidus.
There are many good stories in the genre, and this is another one of them. Although the launch version of this game was not the best, the Windows Edition has extra content and a higher quality overall.
Unlike most Final Fantasy games, this game focuses only on the main four characters, who are your party till the end of the game. You will be following the prince of a destroyed land and his three best friends.
This game’s story is about loss and sacrifice, but it is also about trust and friendship. The game hits hard on the emotional level and makes you feel like you are friends with the main characters.
When it comes to gameplay, Final Fantasy 15 was very innovative. Final Fantasy 15 was the first mainline game of the franchise with real-time combat. Although it retains many elements seen in previous games, it plays a bit like an action game or an action RPG.
Despite its deep combat mechanics and focus on action-packed sequences, Final Fantasy 15 is still very much a classic Japanese role-playing game through and through. It has a vast world, exploration, plenty of side-quests, a very cinematic story, and plenty of secrets to uncover.
|Release Date:||March 11, 1995|
|Average Playtime:||23 hours|
This game is often considered the best 16-bit JRPG, and with good reason. Chrono Trigger is an amazing experience full of hours upon hours of time-bending adventures and a lengthy, fascinating story that will keep you entertained all the way through.
An iconic entry in a very niche genre in the west, Chrono Trigger has a lot to offer fans, both old and new. This game was ahead of its time. In this game, you will find many endings, time travel, a variety of unique characters that join your party, and much more.
Even the combat is quite different from most games of its era. Chrono, his allies, and the monsters don’t stand there. The characters move around and team up for special moves, making the turn-based fights much more pleasant to watch.
While Square Enix is no stranger to making hits, few have come close to matching Chrono Trigger. Besides being a great RPG, it’s also one of the best pixel games on Steam. This game is a work of art and worth giving a shot if you like its genre.