Switch RPG Recommendation
March 15, 2019 5:43 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to jump into a big JRPG on the Switch. What's the best entry point into modern or relatively modern JRPGs on Switch? Anything post FF7 without required crafting or loot-box mechanics.

The release of Final Fantasy games on Switch have convinced me to try a game in that style, as grinding exp in handheld mode sounds like a good way to relax. I'm looking for a game I can leisurely play through for a few months but that doesn't require dexterity or moment to moment focus- so I can still interact with partner and cat, or check on laundry/dinner, play in handheld mode when TV is in use. Standard Switch benefits.

I'm having trouble getting the info I want from video game websites, which are off-puttingly gamer-gatey or focused on a much younger audience. I can get into dense mechanics but I'd like a more chill experience on the Switch. I absolutely despise crafting mechanics, so much so that I bounced off of BOTW. For example I asked about Xenoblade 2 at a local indie game store after reading a review on Polygon that indicated the game was mediocre. The store said the game was amazing and that Polygon was a bunch of SJW bullshit. I left the store. I generally trust Polygon and Rock, Paper, Shotgun but a lot of their recommendations are for people a lot more invested in video games than I am. I usually play for 3-4 hours a week tops, but I'd like to stop reading the political mega-thread on my phone while my partner watches X-Files and Frasier. Does that sense?

I normally gravitate towards Skyrim/Fallout, Deus Ex/Thief, Bioware games and the Metroid end of the Metroidvania spectrum. I loved Mario Odyssey after not playing a Nintendo system since a big SNES emulation binge in the mid-2000s.
posted by kittensofthenight to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at Octopath Traveler? It's a modern Square-Enix turn-based RPG, but more FF6 than FF7 graphically (2D sprites with some neat effects). No crafting or loot-box issues. I have not yet played it, but I'm considering getting a Switch just to do so (it's a Switch exclusive).
posted by peakfrivolity at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maybe I am Setsuna? also SquareEnix in the FF vein, sort of cleaner and more minimal, a little more or focused than say FF1-IV.

I didn’t finish it but I very much enjoyed the 20ish hours I put into it, and I think it fits your use case well, it’s got that classic JRPG feel and is not ultra modern schlock though it is recent (2016). IIRC there’s some fairly clearly feminist themes to the plot.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:59 PM on March 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Came here to recommend Octopath Traveler too. Get the demo from eShop at least and play it, see what you think.
posted by deezil at 7:50 PM on March 15, 2019

Yeah, Octopath is exactly what you want. It’s what I play for 15-20 minutes after breakfast when I’m letting my stomach settle, or what I zone out with while listening to podcasts and petting my cat. No crafting—one character has a mechanic where certain herbs combinations have certain effects, but it’s super basic and you don’t have to ever use it (I frequently forget about it). No moment to moment focus needed, only dexterity is choosing menu buttons. It’s grindy but not in a bad way, I enjoy the battle system—it’s different but not too complex and it doesn’t make you memorize “axe is strong against spear is strong against sword is...” Very easy to pick up and then put down for a really busy week and pick it up again.

The demo lets you play for three hours. But you get to restart that as many times as you like, and there are eight different starting points you can choose (pro tip: the character you start as has to remain in your party until you finish their storyline) with different stories so I took a full 24 hours of gameplay to get a feel for it. The story and characters are interesting but pretty middle of the road, but I don’t mind that for a low-brain relaxing grind, which is what it sounds like you’re looking for.
posted by brook horse at 8:19 PM on March 15, 2019

Nthing Octopath Traveler. Not much in the way of a story, but bizarrely satisfying in a crunchy-cereal kind of way.

Other suggestions:

Child of Light
Gorgeous, intensely charming, and so overlooked. (Or...maybe not anymore? I see it at 14 on the bestseller list in the eShop now...) Straightforward but necessary ATB combat and rapid level-ups. It's got a great pace to it.

No turn-based battles or experience-building, but it's otherwise Earthbound with a funny time-loop twist. The game literally gives you an opportunity to pause or walk away every minute. This is a light game, but worth the $5 or whatever.

Hollow Knight
This goes against almost all of your criteria but, augh, Hollow Knight is such a rich experience that it makes you want to keep exploring and enduring. It's a Metroidvania, and it requires focus, and you can't easily put it down, but once you're in it you won't care...

Hyrule Warriors
Good for quick brainless, satisfying slashy-slashy sessions. Grindy, mission-based, though surprisingly extensive in story...very easy to pick and put down.
posted by greenland at 8:56 PM on March 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is enjoyable, but it's definitely weird from both a game design and thematic perspective. It got a pretty big hit to its review scores from being scaled down graphically in handheld mode, but it does some interesting things and it's pretty much the only other big Switch exclusive JRPG besides Octopath Traveler.

Game design wise, XC series combat in general has a lot of similarities to an MMORPG: your character auto-attacks and you wait for cooldowns on specials, all in real-time (I'll come back to this). You have a big broad world to explore, some of which is waaay out of your level cap. New to XC2 is the collection of Blades, humanoid Pokemon you get through a gacha/gambling style of loot drops. (No real money involved, but again, bizarre. Might not be a good match for the "no lootbox" requirement.) XC2 also has several interleaved combo systems, which aren't explained well but are key to winning the tougher fights.

Thematically, it swings between melodrama and anime trope humor and fan service at the drop of a hat. Some of it is pretty terrible, but XC2 is mostly cringe-worthy because your main Blades are wearing "armor" which certainly wasn't intended for protection. The best part is the localization of the XC series is done by Nintendo Europe, so they all have great accents with terrible acting. (Japanese voices are an option.)

There's a sequel/prequel standalone DLC which apparently approves on almost all parts of the game, but the biggest reason I got the DLC pack was that it enables two settings: disabling enemy aggro, and auto-attack. This takes all the "what's happening?!" stress away from grinding, so you can just wander around these gorgeous (if a bit low-res in handheld) environments and farm to your hearts content. For boss fights/unique monsters, you press a button to drop into manual control and manage it that way. Even if I look away and die because auto messed up, dying has pretty much no downside except for the wasted time.

There's also the Pokemon Let's Go games, which replace the old capture mechanic with one borrowed from Pokemon Go and have no random battles. Battles are still turn based, so easy to put down. Grind loop would be catching Pokemon, Pokemon management, etc. Pokemon drops aren't random, you know what you're going to get if you succeed.

The World Ends With You is a Square Enix game, but it's an update of a 3ds game: all the combat is swipes and gestures via touch or a motion joycon. It's short, which I appreciate more these days, so might not be a good grinding game.

Disgaea 5 is an SRPG, not a FF style JRPG, but I've heard it scratches the grinding itch well. Being turn-based, might be a good match for your requirements. I haven't gotten far enough to know if there's mandatory crafting.
posted by Anonymous Function at 10:41 PM on March 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Octopath Traveller is great, just what I was looking for. I added XC2 to my wishlist, in case it ever goes on sale, because I like the idea of playing a game like that but I may need to work up to it!

Thanks all.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:08 PM on March 18, 2019

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