There are a lot of video games out there and in this era of mobile and home-based gaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic?
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable games through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best video games, our attention this time turns to the best games set in Japan. From thought-provoking visual novels to comical action titles, you have a lot of games to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Steins; Gate is a fantastic visual novel and one that immerses folks in a world of time travel and scientific intrigue. The game’s Akihabara, Tokyo setting serves as a great backdrop for its unique blend of science fiction and Japanese culture.
One of the game’s defining aspects lies in its narrative. The story delves into complex ideas about time travel and the problems that stem from altering the past. At the same time, Steins; Gate touches upon subjects like otaku culture, technological advancements, and Japan’s history.
The game’s visual novel approach allows readers to digest its plot at a neat pace. This ensures that players won’t be left in the dust as they read through the game’s dialogue. Moreover, Steins; Gate’s attention to detail is commendable. The game recreates Akihabara’s iconic districts, giving the game a layer of authenticity.
In addition to having well-rounded characters many players can get behind, Steins; Gate is a great visual novel game and one that captures Japan’s essence excellently.
Judgment is a great game with a riveting plot and an excellent portrayal of Japanese society. The game follows Takayuki Yagami, a private detective who navigates through the dark corners of Tokyo’s criminal world. The game’s plot wonderfully depicts issues prevalent in Japanese society like loyalty and the pursuit of justice.
The game’s narrative is enhanced by its compelling cast, who have great personalities and backstories. Furthermore, Judgment’s settings are gorgeous to explore and glare at. The game beautifully recreates iconic streets and neighborhoods found in Japan. From ramen shops to arcades, every aspect of these settings feels real and adds depth to the game’s world.
On top of having a riveting combat system that draws inspiration from the Yakuza series, Judgment is worth picking up and trying.
Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima is a fabulous game developed by Sucker Punch Productions. It contains excellent combat, rich storytelling, and a breathtaking open world to explore. The game transports players to the land of Tsushima and faithfully recreates its dense forests and beautiful villages. Each region boasts remarkable detail and a vibrant color palette that brings it all to life.
In addition to its impressive visuals, Ghost of Tsushima’s narratives delves into the rich history of feudal Japan. The game follows KJin, a samurai torn between following the strict samurai code and protecting his home from invaders.
The narrative explores ideas like honor, sacrifice, and the struggle between tradition and necessity, resulting in a storyline full of emotional depth.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon
Yakuza: Like A Dragon introduces a fresh twist on the beloved Yakuza series. It features a new protagonist named Ichiban Kasuga and revamps the gameplay into a turn-based RPG. One of its best strengths lies in its detailed world, providing players with a lively and authentic representation of various locales in Japan. In addition to having lovely visuals, Like A Dragon portrays Japanese culture wonderfully through its characters and storytelling.
It delves heavily into the complexities of the yakuza world and highlights the controversies that arise within these groups. Furthermore, you can expect to participate in various activities and partake in cuisine associated with the culture to add to your immersion.
Coupled with the enjoyable side activities you can participate in during your journey through it, Yakuza: like A Dragon is a must-play for those who want an authentic Japanese experience.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is the definitive way to experience the fifth entry in the Persona franchise. The game’s set in modern Tokyo and follows a group of high school students who harness hidden powers to fight against corruption in an alternative world. From its stunning representation of Japan to its examination of its societal issues, Persona 5 Royal masterfully captures Japan’s essence.
For instance, Persona 5 Royal delves into complex topics concerning societal pressure, mental health, and the pursuit of personal freedom. Players will adore uncovering each character’s background and witnessing how they’ll triumph over the obstacles in their way. Furthermore, players can expect to engage in leisure activities that reflect the unique aspects of Japanese society.
From visiting Maid Cafes to attending live J-Pop concerts, you’ll appreciate Persona 5 Royal’s authenticity.
Okami is a fabulous action-adventure title many people want a sequel of. The game takes inspiration from traditional Japanese art and folklore, presenting players with a vibrant recreation of ancient Japan. Its cel-shaded graphics pay homage to Japanese ink paintings. This creates a world filled with brushstrokes and vibrant colors.
Moreover, Okami’s story draws heavily from Japanese mythology. You’ll assume the role of the sun goddess Amaterasu, as they embark on a quest to restore color, beauty, and harmony to a world consumed by darkness. The story contains numerous alluring revelations and memorable segments that’ll stay with you forever. Okami’s gameplay is equally enticing, as you’ll enjoy using Amaterasu’s brush to create grappling hooks to leap over difficult hurdles.
With its fun storytelling and beautiful style, Okami is a must-play!
Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio is a cherished SEGA gem, and one many want to see return to the limelight. This game captures Tokyo’s underground street culture phenomenally through its visuals, storytelling, and gameplay loop. In it, players control a group of inline-skating graffiti artists as they reveal against an oppressive government and establish their own subculture.
This game’s art style blends vibrant cel-shaded graphics with the colorful atmosphere of Tokyo’s streets. From its sprawling Shibuya district to its funky-themed neighborhoods, each location is lively and captures the spirit of Japan’s urban landscape. Furthermore, this game’s soundtrack features a great mix of electronic, hip-hop, and J-pop music.
With its unique style, a myriad of music, and phenomenal skating gameplay, Jet Set Radio’s worth checking out.
Fatal Frame (Series)
If you’re searching for a phenomenal horror series set in Japan, Fatal Frame is the way to go. This game combines a haunting narrative filled with Japanese folklore and tradition. With its atmospheric settings, chilling encounters, and unique gameplay mechanics, it immerses players in a deeply unsettling and authentically Japanese supernatural experience.
This game’s traditional Japanese settings look incredible. You’ll appreciate the development studio’s effort to make the game’s abandoned shrines and rural villages as accurate and eerie as possible. Fatal Frame’s photo-capturing gameplay is alluring and leads to many spooky encounters with the dead.
In addition to having incredible sound design and terrifying music, the Fatal Frame series provides an exceptional representation of Japan’s haunted history and traditions.
The World Ends With You
The World Ends With You is an incredible game from Square Enix’s library that captures many aspects of Japan’s youth culture. By intertwining a gripping narrative with its well-researched setting and unique gameplay mechanics, The World Ends With You creates a distinct gaming experience. In it, players follow Neku, a boy whose forced to participate in a deadly game called “Reaper’s Game.
“In Reaper’s Game, he must work with other participants to solve challenges and survive. During this event, Neku will encounter many people who suffer from issues regarding social isolation, friendship, and personal identity. Moreover, this game’s “pins” system feels inspired by aspects of Japanese culture. You’ll equip these pins to earn special abilities and many represent Japanese fashion trends, traditional symbols, and popular entertainment.
On top of having a colorful art style and distinct character designs, The World Ends With You is a great JRPG worth playing.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is known for having a gripping storyline and innovative game mechanics. It takes place in Hope’s Peak Academy, a school known for recruiting the best students across various talents. As Makoto, you’ll find yourself trapped within the academy and must participate in a deadly game.
This story is filled with incredible twists and tense moments, showing the dark aspects of humanity. Additionally, these games have satisfying Class Trial segments. These sections require players to engage in intense debates, presenting evidence and arguments in a “Non-Stop Debate” format. The concept of “truth bullets,” where players accurately shoot down false statements with factual evidence, adds a unique puzzle-solving aspect to Danganronpa’s gameplay.
On top of exploring Japan’s high school culture through its different cast members, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is an incredible thought-provoking title that’ll keep you entertained.
So, there we have it, our pick for the best video games set in Japan throughout the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!