In 1995 the world met the Sony PlayStation, shaking the gaming industry and laying the foundations for the new generations. The PS1 stood out mainly for its power and playability, thanks to which developers took their games to the next level to squeeze the most out of this new console.
With that premise, the PS1 welcomed RPGs, which already had great titles on the SNES and Genesis but the Sony device made the leap to CD and 3D, with new game mechanics and a much greater ability to tell their story and develop their characters.
All the effort Sony made in offering good role-playing games paid off when many gamers bought the console just to enjoy those new adventures, which more than 20 years after their release, are still as entertaining as the first day.
So grab your sword and spellbook, today we’ll take a look at the
Table of Contents
10 Best RPGs For The Original Sony PlayStation
Valkyrie Profile (2000)
We start this list of best PlayStation RPGs with a title set in Nordic mythology, anticipating a certain god with anger problems from Greece.
Developed by Tri-Ace and under the seal of the company par excellence of role playing games, Square Enix, Valkyrie Profile tells us the story of Lenneth, a Valkyrie who, honoring her title, must collect the souls of the warriors fallen in battle to form an army to fight in the Ragnarok, the apocalyptic event that will end the 9 Worlds.
While she trains them for war, she discovers his past as a human, something she forgot when she was initiated into the winged warrior troops.
The Valkyries have always been cool, and this video game exploits their abilities with its protagonist, who can move around Midgard with her wings, completing missions, discovering cities, and recruiting fallen soldiers.
Throughout 8 chapters, you have the mission to send at least one warrior to Valhalla, while competing against time as Ragnarok approaches in each period, and the Aesir gods need to swell their army as soon as possible.
But what shines in Valkyrie Profile is its turn-based combat system, in which each member of your team has an assigned button. This gives a bit of difficulty and strategy to the battles, but there is no better feeling than chaining a destructive combo against the enemy.
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (1999)
The name may be unnecessarily long (but we all know RPGs love to do that). Still, this Game Arts game, an adaptation of the original Sega Saturn title, made a name for itself, popularizing the Lunar saga.
The story introduces us to Alex, a young boy from a humble village who dreams of becoming Dragonmaster, a warrior with dragon powers whose mission is to protect the goddess Athena, the creator of all things in Lunar.
His longed-for opportunity presents itself when his friend Ramus proposes the search for the White Dragon Diamond to claim the title of Dragonmaster, initiating a dangerous but fun adventure with allies who join your lines.
With this game, we are looking at a classic RPG experience of yesteryear, so there are no extraordinary polygons or special effects beyond the animated cinematics that develop the story, which boasts a great drawing combined with rendered animation.
However, what really makes a role playing game is the story and its overall orchestration, and it is in this area that Lunar scores good points with its plot twists, lively characters that feel like your friends, and battles where you have different ways of dealing with the enemy.
Despite not being a technical marvel, Lunar is an experience that will leave a lasting impression on your heart, especially if you are of the “Final Fantasy” generation.
Star Ocean: The Second Story (1999)
This Japanese RPG saga took its first steps in North America with the second installment, The Second Story.
Created by Tri-Ace, the game takes place on Expel, a planet that suffers the strange power that emerges from the “Sorcery Globe”, a meteorite that collided with the planet that is causing strange natural phenomena and the appearance of unfriendly monsters.
Claude, a cadet of the Earth’s space corps, arrives on this planet by coincidence, and its inhabitants will mistake him for the one chosen to save them, at which point our adventure will begin, both to save Expel and to get Claude to return to his home.
But that’s what you will see if you decide to play as that human, because you also have the option to play as Rena Lanford, a native of Expel, so the story changes slightly depending on which point of view you choose.
The game maintains the tone of the genre from years ago, with randomized combat, an extensive map that you can explore on foot or by transport, plus a good number of cities and dungeons to visit. All this is accompanied by a good soundtrack and a long duration.
An RPG game that veterans will enjoy more than anyone.
Final Fantasy IX (2000)
Of course, we all knew that Final Fantasy games were not going to be missing from this list of best RPGs on the PlayStation, and we all know it is not going to be the only appearance.
After the success of the previous games in the series, Square Enix decided to say goodbye to the RPGs on the PS1 with the ninth installment of Final Fantasy, with which they returned to the origins of the series, showing us a classic world between the medieval and the fantastic.
The plot is set on a split continent where the nations of Alexandria and Lindbulm coexist in harmony, in a world where the “fog” is the source of energy itself, responsible for the movement of flying ships but with a strange relationship with the creation of the evil black magicians.
You control our main protagonist, Yitan, a brave and carefree young man of 16, a member of the theater group Tantalus. In addition to being an actor, our hero is a skilled petty thief and a real Don Juan with women.
As the first mission, always under the orders of Baku, our corpulent boss, we plan the kidnapping of the beautiful princess Garnet, daughter of the evil queen Bahne, following the orders of Cid, king of LindBulm.
And the rest is up to you to uncover, because you know, Final Fantasy stories are not easy to summarize. But incredible graphics, a majestic soundtrack, and challenging gameplay can never be missing.
Although at first glance it may seem from the characters that its development is somewhat more childish than the previous ones, the plot is one of the most adult and complicated of the entire series.
Final Fantasy IX closes the PlayStation stage for the series with a great video game, which gathers the best of the Super Nintendo titles and the best of the PlayStation ones.
Suikoden II (1999)
Konami revisited the Chinese legend of the 108 stars of destiny fighting against oppression in this sequel to 1995’s Sukoiden, also a PS1 JRPG.
Suikoden II presents the Kingdom of Highland in full conquest of the rest of the regions, taking by force all the territories that resist it.
Our protagonist, Riou, militates until a failed skirmish puts him in contact with the rebel side. Their leaders, Viktor and Flik, will entrust him with the real plans behind the war ravaging the kingdom and its true origins, turning the young man into an insurgent and leading him on an adventure to obtain the 27 Runes to stop the war.
At the gameplay level, we have a classic RPG style: exploration, combat, dialogues, equipment purchase, and party customization… Its sequel brings back many elements of the gameplay of the first Suikoden, even its protagonist in NPC form if we have a saved game at the time of starting Suikoden II.
If it failed some in the visual aspects, as fans were expecting something more attractive than the retro 16-bit style of past consoles. However, the complexity of the combats and the charisma of the main characters, together with a great war story, will make you spend great moments.
Oh, we almost forgot, there are more than 100 playable characters!
Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)
We already mentioned the Final Fantasy series was the one that shone the most on the original PlayStation. In this spin-off, Square Enix changed a bit the traditional role-playing formula to give us an adventure more focused on the tactical format.
The plot places us shortly before a devastating war whose consequences for the kingdom of Ivalice, where the protagonist, Ramza Beoulve, lives, have been devastating, raising a situation of poverty that is also aggravated by the death of the king.
Two bloodlines will dispute the throne, and this will give rise to a new conflict known as the War of the Lions. Beyond this, the game adds a third and decisive element in the shadows: the church, whose goal is to regain the loyalty of the people regardless of means or consequences.
Conflict of interests and plot twists are on the table, then add the battles, the main axis of this game and you have a truly unique PS1 game.
The mechanics consist of confronting our cast of characters with another side in a delimited terrain, by turns, and with many variables that we have to take into account when planning the development of the fights. So yes, it is a complicated video game but at the same time, it is quite accessible to all audiences.
With almost infinite possibilities and combinations in the battle system and a story worthy of a novel, FFT is still considered to be the best tactical RPG by fans.
Chrono Cross (2000)
As soon as we hear Chrono, we all relate it to Chrono Trigger, that SNES classic that 30 years after its release is still at the top of the JRPG list. For this reason, Square Enix had a complicated task if they wanted to launch a similar game that would not be overshadowed by its predecessor, although it should be noted that Chrono Cross is not a sequel to that title, it only takes the idea of time travel and exchanges it for jumping between dimensions.
The plot focuses on Serge, who after an unexpected incident is transported to a parallel dimension (“Another World”). The problems begin when Serge discovers that he has been dead for a decade in that dimension, and although there is no apparent difference with his world (“Home World”) no one seems to recognize him.
From this moment on, a series of events is unleashed that include the typical elements of any Japanese RPG such as friendship, love, betrayal, war, dragons, magic amulets, and a host of other classic elements of the genre.
With the jump to 3D, Square also innovated the combat system, far away from Chrono Trigger. In battles, you must combine both physical and elemental attacks of your party members. In addition, you can choose other options such as escape, because there is no dishonor in recognizing that you are outclassed.
Chrono Cross offers us the possibility of controlling 45 characters (many of them optional), and each of them have their own marked personality.
Although it has many classic RPG elements, a sector of fans rejected this Chrono for not resembling the SNES, which is a real shame because this game is a great experience that deserves as much attention as its predecessor.
Vagrant Story (2000)
After their great success with Final Fantasy Tactics, the team of developers embarked on creating a new experience that would continue to keep Square Enix at the top but without belonging to their star saga. The result? Vagrant Story, an action RPG that unfortunately got a bit lost in history, but those who gave it a chance had an incredible experience.
In this “Story”, we control Ashley, a medieval knight known as Riskbreaker, who is immersed in a war between two factions, The Order of the Crimson Blades and the religious Cult of Müllenkamp, which will force him to go through a subway labyrinth located under the cursed city of Léa Monde.
With this title, Square Enix bet on something much more personal and away from the commercial formula of the action RPG, shaping a unique product that expands the possibilities of its genre to unsuspected heights.
And they succeeded, thanks to a mature, deep, and intense story rarely seen before, an immersive graphic environment full of possibilities, and a combat system in which we can choose which specific area of the enemy’s body we want to attack.
In conclusion, an RPG release that dared to attract more adult audiences and that today is remembered as one of the most underrated.
The silver medal goes to the game that started the legendary Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenosaga, the one at the top of the RPG genre.
In Xenogears, the ideas of Tetsuya Takahashi, its director, touched on very delicate subjects such as mental health and Christianity, but that is precisely what gives so much value to its story.
Speaking of that section, Xenogears begins by introducing Fei, a young man who lives in Lahan, a border town in the Aveh region. His fortuitous loss of memory makes him a mysterious person who spends his days peacefully… until one day, his village is attacked by Gebler’s army and his robots, which will change his life and his perception of himself forever.
But that’s just the surface because the world and the interconnected stories of Xenogears are so complex that gamers can interpret it in their own way, although some don’t understand it at all.
In Xenogears, we can get on a mecha called Gears, with which we can both explore the world and fight against enemies and bosses, but you must be careful not to run out of gas. The other mode of combat is turn-based, being able to unleash spectacular combos if you hit the right sequence of buttons.
The music by Yasunori Mitsuda gives the final touch to this masterpiece that more than. The game poses moral dilemmas ahead of its time in which the line between good and evil is somewhat blurred…
Well, let’s stop with the drama, it’s an enjoyable RPG that you can’t miss if you’re a fan of these games.
Final Fantasy VII (1997)
And we come to the first place, which is… Final Fantasy VII obviously (sorry Final Fantasy VIII fans), this is the best PS1 RPG and is considered one of the best games ever made, which maintains its popularity to this day as if time had not passed. Although this RPG series already enjoyed good numbers in the market, its seventh installment was the one that catapulted it to stardom.
The key was a dense script, one of those in which you have to pay attention to even the smallest detail, a story that went beyond “boy saves girl” by finishing off the bad guy.
Its premise you surely already know, but for those who have not played it, it puts us in the shoes of Cloud Strife, a young mercenary who embarks on an adventure with his friends to stop Shinra, a greedy corporation that tries to energy the planet. This objective leads them to cross paths with Sephiroth, a being that makes Shinra’s threat look like child’s play.
We start the game controlling only one character, but gradually our group will increase in number to form a team of warriors with which to emerge victorious from turn-based combat. Although you can also take things slowly because the game has elements of a sandbox even before things like that were a staple in RPGs.
You can dedicate yourself to raising chocobos, leveling up by fighting in the prairies, taking a walk through Gold Saucer and wasting time in its arcade machines, looking for new characters to join your small army… Activities that are perfectly accompanied by a somewhat static graphic environment but rich in details and finishes.
But until you play it, until you admire the beauty of its scenery, until you meet its characters and get fully involved in its story, everything we can say about it will be nothing more than a simple commentary. Because that’s how significant Final Fantasy VII is for gamers.
Simply, the best RPG of the PS1.
Square Enix and more Square Enix, that’s how the games on the list can be summarized, but if they appeared so much it was because of the great quality of their solid RPG library, popularizing the genre to exploit all that the new 3D technology offered.
For many PlayStation gamers, the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 2000s was the golden age of traditional RPG games, and looking at the names on this list of best PS1 RPGs they are not wrong at all.