With the remastered release of Saga Frontier, we’ve been thinking a lot about the original PlayStation. What are the best PS1 RPGs to check out today? Which stand the test of time? The experts here at Siliconera are here to help!
When people think RPGs on the PlayStation, Square immediately comes to mind. Any Final Fantasy is an easy pick, but there is a title that I believe stands out even more. While Vagrant Story‘s combat may not have aged fantastically, it is still remains one of the best RPGs of that generation. Perhaps, even, one of the most relevant.
Known for its complex storytelling that touches on various aspects of class and global politics, Vagrant Story is also a testament to what the PlayStation could do graphically. Looking for a game with a narrative that will leave you contemplating on the various perspectives of those intertwined and caught in the tangle of war? One that oftentimes soars above and beyond what more modern AAA games have attempted to present? Vagrant Story is what you need. — Kazuma
PS1 RPGs are a great place to recite a list of the usual suspects. It’s been long enough that I’d wager a majority of today’s players only know those games by reputation rather than personal experience. My picks: Suikoden and Suikoden II, two games largely overshadowed by Final Fantasy that built a world distinctly their own. One famous line of the ’90s was the notion that “it takes a village.” In Suikoden, getting things done takes a whole castle’s worth of heroes and allies, many of whom can’t even fight.
Suikoden acknowledges that single heroes and their closest friends just aren’t enough to render real change. That’s a prospect I appreciate more as a crusty old nerd. It also helped that they crammed in nifty strategic battles, too. Though Konami seems pretty firmly out of the Suikoden business, some key creators haven’t forgotten that energy. I’m hoping they can recapture that magic for a new set of players. — Josh
Tales of Eternia, released as Tales of Destiny 2 in America, was the first game in the franchise to really nail down the action-oriented battle system. In earlier games, you were basically the only person doing anything. It’s a colorful and flashy feast for the eyes that plays smoothly and comfortably. Not only is Tales of Eternia‘s battle system fun, but its main cast and story are also memorable.
I liked the way the game fleshes out the characters’ relationships in the main and side stories. The journey is everyone’s, not just Reid’s or Meredy’s. Though the story focuses on one of Tales’ favorite themes — racism and acceptance — it approaches it from a more personal angle as opposed to the grandiose scale of Tales of Rebirth. For fans still waiting for Tales of Arise, Tales of Eternia is one of the best PS1 RPGs to revisit. — Stephanie
When you think about it, Valkyrie Profile aged pretty well! Its story pulls from Norse mythology, something that wasn’t exactly common at the time, and explored the lives of people right as they were about to die. Some were sympathetic! Others, less so.
But it isn’t just about the dearly departed. It is also about those left behind and Lenneth, the Valkyrie, herself. As she collects members of a group of mercenaries, we see what the members left behind go through. As the seal on Lenneth weakens, we learn what her life is like when she isn’t called into service.
It also has a battle system increasingly implemented in more modern games like Indivisible and Super Neptunia RPG, which is exciting to see. Not to mention the multiple endings you get for making the “right” choices. — Jenni
The most wonderful thing about playing the best PS1 RPGs in 2021? There are so many more options opened up through the efforts of fan translation teams. My pick, then, is Tear Ring Saga! A Fire Emblem game in all but name, Tear Ring Saga offers more great action from creator Shouzou Kaga. It’s familiar in all the right ways. Though the legal action surrounding the game likely will continue to scare off anyone from bringing the game over officially, the fan work takes away a lot of that pain. — Graham
I’m not sure how no one else has mentioned either of these yet, but two of my top three PS1 RPGs are Revelations: Persona and Persona: Innocent Sin. (Number one is FFIX, the best Final Fantasy ever made. No further questions.)
These Shin Megami Tensei spinoffs laid the foundation for what has become one of the most beloved JRPG series. Perhaps it was the relatable high school students coming to terms with adulthood and delving into some pretty heavy topics most games were too afraid to cover at the time that makes me nostalgic. It could also be that Persona was the first PlayStation game I ever played. Either way, if you can find either of these, I recommend taking them for a spin. — Annette