Role-playing games have always been a centerpiece of the video game industry, and 2022 was still a landmark year. From turn-based titles and action RPGs to MMOs and monster collecting, 2022 quite literally had something for everyone.
With dozens of titles released each month, especially in the fall season, it can be hard to keep track. Still, there are a handful of RPGs that either dominated the conversation or were so acclaimed that they simply cannot be overlooked. Here are the 10 biggest RPGs of 2022.
10. Live A Live
Live A Live is a cult classic JRPG from the 1990s that simply never had its chance in the West — until now. The gorgeous HD-2D remake from Square Enix finally lets fans play this forgotten gem, made better than ever with some modern adjustments. Live A Live features eight different stories with eight protagonists spread out across time, from the prehistoric age to the distant future. The sheer variety is impressive enough, but when everything comes together it’s truly incredible. Seeing such a beloved RPG get a second chance is fascinating, especially when it was so influential on the genre at large.
9. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
Stranger of Paradise is a fast-paced action game with incredibly satisfying, crunchy combat, but that’s not why the game initially drew so much attention. An off-the-wall marketing campaign spawned hundreds of memes, as fans instantly fell in love with the game’s protagonist Jack Garland, a gruff and grumpy anti-hero who throws Limp Bizkit music on in the middle of a conversation.
While the memes and jokes fed a lot of anticipation for Stranger of Paradise, it turned out to be a surprisingly deep and enjoyable action RPG. The story and characters are fittingly ludicrous, and the game, as a whole, feels like a fitting tribute to the 35th anniversary of Final Fantasy.
8. Citizen Sleeper
Citizen Sleeper is easily one of the most important games of 2022 (and one of the most ambitious indies in years). Set on a space station hovering on the brink of collapse, Citizen Sleeper smartly integrates tabletop RPGs and dice systems into a video game. What really makes the game shine, however, is its phenomenal narrative that tackles some hefty contemporary themes, like the cost of capitalism, the power of community, and the importance of bodily autonomy. Citizen Sleeper is easily one of the most stunning and impactful games of the year.
7. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Pokémon Legends: Arceus was a massive step forward for the gargantuan franchise, finally integrating open-world elements into the monster-catching formula. Set in an ancient version of the Sinnoh region, Arceus isn’t your typical Pokémon game. This is largely achieved by putting an emphasis on action combat, exploration, and serious storytelling. Pokémon Legends: Arceus may have some issues with mechanics and pacing, but it’s a fascinating look at the future of the franchise.
6. Persona 5 Royal
Originally released in 2016, Persona 5 is an absolutely landmark game, quickly going down as one of the greatest RPGs ever made. So it should be little surprise that Persona 5 Royal’s long-awaited ports became some of the biggest releases of the year. Nintendo Switch fans begged to play the game for years. Now, players on any current system can take up the mantle of The Phantom Thieves.
Persona 5 Royal is simply a near-perfect confluence of turn-based combat, character-focused storytelling, and utterly engrossing gameplay mechanics. The series’ unique approach to social simulation and school life feels more vibrant than ever. All in all, Persona 5 Royal is an experience that no fan of the genre can afford to miss.
5. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwaker was technically released in December 2021, but the way Square Enix followed up on the expansion throughout the year is a true testament to why fans love FFXIV. Not only has Square Enix managed to bring meaningful new stories and dungeons, but 2022 saw the addition of some wildly ambitious gameplay additions. Chief among these is the Island Sanctuary, which adds a vibrant farming sim experience to the already massive MMO. If 2022 proved anything, it’s that Final Fantasy XIV still deserves its spot at the top of the pack.
4. Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Any new Marvel game is a big deal, but it’s pretty rare to see a strategy RPG with an ambitious original story from the superhero publisher. The developers at Firaxis Games are masters of the strategy genre with both the Civilization and XCOM series, and their expertise has been put to good use with Midnight Sun’s fascinating mix of turn-based combat and card mechanics. Superheroes and Marvel continue to be more popular than ever, so it should be a little surprise a Marvel game is one of the biggest RPGs of the year.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feels like the culmination of everything the series has done so far, combining the best elements of the first two games into one incredible experience. As you might expect Xenoblade is a massive, complex RPG with tons of intricate systems, but the game’s narrative and characters are by far the biggest surprise. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes a passionately pacifist stance with a story that isn’t afraid to throw one emotional gut punch after another. This passion rings through clearly in each aspect of the game, and it’s a big part of what makes it one of the most notable RPGs of 2022.
2. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
The release of a new mainline Pokémon game is always a major event, but off the heels of Legends: Arceus it feels more important than ever. While Arceus toyed around with new ideas, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet finally bring a fully open world to the franchise. Players can approach gyms and storylines in any order they want to, and the new games also provide plenty of tools that make it easy to explore the Paldea region, like ridable legendary Pokémon. Ever since 1996, fans have been dreaming of a fully explorable Pokémon world, and now that’s finally here.
1. Elden Ring
Elden Ring isn’t just the biggest RPG of 2022, it’s quite possibly the biggest game of the year, period. FromSoftware has built a massive reputation over the years with its Dark Souls series, and Elden Ring is a brilliant way of incorporating everything that’s come before into an open-world formula. The game revels in exploration and discovery, creating a vibrant experience that constantly feels rewarding to players. At the same time, Elden Ring came out of the game with a blast, selling over 10 million copies in just a couple of weeks. It’s one of those rare phenomena you only see come around every few years in gaming.
Inverse celebrates the best of the best in entertainment, gaming, science, and technology of 2022. Go to the Inverse Awards hub.
The Game That Motivated EarthBound-Like RPGs
Natsume Shows Gameplay and Details of New Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
The clock is ticking for the RPGs of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U to be preserved