AngelCityOutlaw

Action & Tactical RPGs

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So recently, I've been thinking of booting up "Star Ocean: The Last Hope" for the first time in 5 years and I was wondering what are some other good tactical or "action" rpgs that I should play?

 

Some others I have enjoyed:
 

Kingdom Hearts

 

Deus Ex

 

Fire Emblem

 

FF Tactics

 

Vampire: Bloodlines

 

Basically, RPG games that actually require skill and strategy beyond "My stat numbers are higher than the enemies', therefore I win."

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The Might & Magic: Heroes series is pretty good, though it doesn't quite fit into the tactical RPG genre. The main portion of the game is exploring the map, capturing resources and artifacts and the like and upgrading your army and strongholds. It's more along the lines of a standard turn-based strategy game. When you get into the actual combat, it plays something like Fire Emblem or FFT, but with stacks of units instead. You play as a hero and move your units across a grid-based map, using your hero's tactical abilities and spells to help. Relies a lot on positioning and the type of units you brought. And also your starting faction's units, which often have unique effects or abilities. But again, it's probably not quite what you want.

 

 

For more of a standard RPG, I'd really really really suggest Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for PS1. It's a fairly straightforward RPG and a remake of Lunar: The Silver Star. The battle system is somewhat unique though. It's turn based and at first glance looks like your typical JRPG system, but your characters actively move around the field during combat. If you command them to attack an enemy, they'll run up and attack but won't move back. You can also manually command them to move if you need to get them out of range of an attack.

 

In typical RPG fashion it does rely a lot on stats and equipment, but still requires a little more thought. I'd highly recommend it regardless. The only issue is that it's somewhat hard to find now. There's also Lunar Legend(a GBA remake) and [i]Lunar: Silver Star Harmony(a PSP remake), but I haven't played either of them and can't say how well they stand up.

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Definitely more on the tactical side but a great game: Valkyria Chronicles.

 

Totally forgot about that, but it's an awesome game and very heavy on the tactics.

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Some interesting suggestions thus far!

 

 

While not in the same vein as FFT and VC, Resonance of Fate has a pretty unique battle system that was developed by tri ace. The story is sorta unintelligible tho.

 

I haven't witnessed many JRPG storylines that actually make sense. 

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It's hard to come by now since it was the last game Working Designs translated before they closed up shop, but Growlanser Generations for the PS2 is pretty good. A lot of story battles have special conditions that determine not just whether or not you win, but also how successful your victory is (clearing a mission flawlessly earns you a Mission Accomplished while allowing some things to go wrong like one or two NPC casualties earns a Mission Complete). Some special conditions may include fleeing from the field without killing any enemy units, or avoiding hazards on the map like a collapsing floor, or escaping from a villain you are simply not powerful enough to stand up to at that point in the game, stuff like that. Growlanser II also has branching story paths that can drastically change the direction the plot goes, one of which includes joining forces with the final villain of the game and turning against your friends.

 

If you can find it, I recommend checking it out.

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It's hard to come by now since it was the last game Working Designs translated before they closed up shop, but Growlanser Generations for the PS2 is pretty good. A lot of story battles have special conditions that determine not just whether or not you win, but also how successful your victory is (clearing a mission flawlessly earns you a Mission Accomplished while allowing some things to go wrong like one or two NPC casualties earns a Mission Complete). Some special conditions may include fleeing from the field without killing any enemy units, or avoiding hazards on the map like a collapsing floor, or escaping from a villain you are simply not powerful enough to stand up to at that point in the game, stuff like that. Growlanser II also has branching story paths that can drastically change the direction the plot goes, one of which includes joining forces with the final villain of the game and turning against your friends.

 

If you can find it, I recommend checking it out.

 

So much love for Working Designs.  Iron Storm was my absolute favorite Sega Saturn game right next to Panzer Dragoon II. 

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If you can handle the anime factor - Disgaea remains my absolute favorite of the genre - the original has the best story, but the latest ones have the best mechanics - they are great little SRPG gems. I have yet to play one that tops the original.

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I wouldn't necessarily lump together action and tactical RPGs within the same sphere... What I'd define as action RPGs are those that are more about immediate, twitch-based action gameplay with much less focus on abstracted systems to represent the combat. Tactical RPGs have a much different pace and are more slow and methodical.

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Another tactical RPG that I just remembered that you might be interested in would be Arc the Lad. The PSone titles were translated and released together by Working Designs as The Arc the Lad Collection and they are all available on the NA PSN store (not sure about anywhere else). They're pretty challenging, especially Arc 2, and the overall story is good even if it's nothing particularly groundbreaking. The soundtracks are enjoyable with a wide variety of character and battle themes in particular. The characters are what really make these games, especially in Arc 3.

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I wouldn't necessarily lump together action and tactical RPGs within the same sphere... What I'd define as action RPGs are those that are more about immediate, twitch-based action gameplay with much less focus on abstracted systems to represent the combat. Tactical RPGs have a much different pace and are more slow and methodical.

While I agree that I've never seen Deus Ex and FF Tactics lumped together before, I do see the similarity: games that have heavy RPG elements but in which combat is decided by equal parts stats and positioning/control.

 

Front Mission 3 is the only game in that series I've played, but I sank over 200 hours into it.  Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is my favorite in that series.  I'd personally include the 2D Castlevania games (post-Symphony of the Night) among action-RPG's as well, and they range from solid to amazing.  Not sure if you'd count the Mana series, which are heavily stat-dependent, but if you do, Seiken Densetsu III is my favorite.  And actually, Dragon Age is along those lines as well, especially playing as a mage.  Maybe Mass Effect, too.

 

I stopped playing Disgaea because the mechanics of it started bogging me down--the best tactical options were through insane combinations of picking up and throwing your allies, which was fun at first but quickly became tedious.  I'll probably pick it up again when I can convince myself to focus on playing through the story and not worry about all the min-maxing.  (I'm also "that guy" who unlocked most of the classes in FF Tactics before reaching the point where I could buy equipment for most of them.  Samurai Punch!)

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I wouldn't necessarily lump together action and tactical RPGs within the same sphere... What I'd define as action RPGs are those that are more about immediate, twitch-based action gameplay with much less focus on abstracted systems to represent the combat. Tactical RPGs have a much different pace and are more slow and methodical.

 

Yes, but as mindwanderer said and I posted in the OP, these kinds of RPGs aren't solely dependent on stats to decide victory. Like, in (older) Fire Emblem, even if your pegasus knight is a total badass, she's still going to get wrecked in the event that she is surrounded by archers. Even in Awakening, which it's very easy to break the game via stats, I only classed up two characters once on my playthrough and still beat the game via legit strategy. 

 

Like, the reason I can't do games like MOST Final Fantasies, is because I came to the realization that the final boss is no more "difficult" than the game's weakest enemy - (s)he just has higher numbers. So long as your numbers can at least compete or ideally, are superior, victory is essentially guaranteed. The menus and stuff just progress toward the inevitable. 

 

 

While I agree that I've never seen Deus Ex and FF Tactics lumped together before, I do see the similarity: games that have heavy RPG elements but in which combat is decided by equal parts stats and positioning/control.

 

Front Mission 3 is the only game in that series I've played, but I sank over 200 hours into it.  Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is my favorite in that series.  I'd personally include the 2D Castlevania games (post-Symphony of the Night) among action-RPG's as well, and they range from solid to amazing.  Not sure if you'd count the Mana series, which are heavily stat-dependent, but if you do, Seiken Densetsu III is my favorite.  And actually, Dragon Age is along those lines as well, especially playing as a mage.  Maybe Mass Effect, too.

 

I stopped playing Disgaea because the mechanics of it started bogging me down--the best tactical options were through insane combinations of picking up and throwing your allies, which was fun at first but quickly became tedious.  I'll probably pick it up again when I can convince myself to focus on playing through the story and not worry about all the min-maxing.  (I'm also "that guy" who unlocked most of the classes in FF Tactics before reaching the point where I could buy equipment for most of them.  Samurai Punch!)

 

Come to think of it, I might have played one of the Front Missions. I remember a tactical RPG on the PS2 way back about some French girl and giant robots, but I don't remember what it was like beyond that.

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Oh, another I might recommend would be Way of the Samurai for the PS2. It's not strictly an action RPG. It's a somewhat short story-driven game that takes place in a small area. It's got real-time combat with a wide variety of melee weapons(primarily various asian-themed blades, but a few bludgeoning weapons and the like). All of the weapons have a different style and unlock moves based on how you fight with them. Trying things like jumping and attacking might unlock a new aerial  themed attack, while blocking and attacking with good timing might unlock a counter type move. In addition, your blade has a "Heat" meter that goes up by attacking or blocking(and down when doing nothing), along with a durability meter divided into 1-5 bars. Whenever the Heat meter hits max you lose a durability bar, and if you have no durability the weapon breaks completely. You can have the local blacksmith appraise a weapon ahead of time(before it breaks) to sort of save a copy, but outside of that you're screwed if you aren't careful.

 

No levels or stats. It's all about reflexes. Story-wise it's very short and takes place over the course of a few days, but has a large amount of endings based on almost everything you do. At the start of the game you can even decide to just turn and leave the area to it's own problems. You can respond to dialogues by attacking, or you can even stay silent by not choosing a reply for a period of time. It has a very ambient environment.

 

 

There's also Way of the Samurai 2(PS2) and 3(PS3), but I haven't played them and I've heard they don't quite match up. WotS4 is available on Steam, but I have yet to play that either.

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When I think Tactical RPG, I think more along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. Assuming that's what you have in mind, the main series that stands out for me is Shining Force.

 

Shining Force I & II are both Genesis games. They're fun, but admittedly there is a bit of level-grinding around the middle (though nowhere near as bad as FF Tactics). If I didn't play them emulated with the ability to speed up things, it probably would've been a little more irritating. Nevertheless, the strategy is good, and the fact that nearly all battles are story-related (i.e., very few random encounters) helps to keep it from feeling repetitive.

 

Shining Force III is one of my favorites. It contains a very epic story that spans across three episodes. That is, there are three separate games, each of which is from a different character's perspective, and they're interrelated such that certain events in one game affect certain events in the next. The strategy is challenging, and while it doesn't require leveling up per se, I did find it really difficult without a bit of grinding. Unfortunately, there are two major down-side: it's only for Saturn, and only the first episode was ever translated. (...I have a Japanese Saturn and all three episodes, so this wasn't a problem in my case, but the rarity might make it prohibitively expensive.)

 

For more of a standard RPG, I'd really really really suggest Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for PS1. It's a fairly straightforward RPG and a remake of Lunar: The Silver Star. The battle system is somewhat unique though. It's turn based and at first glance looks like your typical JRPG system, but your characters actively move around the field during combat. If you command them to attack an enemy, they'll run up and attack but won't move back. You can also manually command them to move if you need to get them out of range of an attack.

 

In typical RPG fashion it does rely a lot on stats and equipment, but still requires a little more thought. I'd highly recommend it regardless. The only issue is that it's somewhat hard to find now. There's also Lunar Legend(a GBA remake) and [i]Lunar: Silver Star Harmony(a PSP remake), but I haven't played either of them and can't say how well they stand up.

 

So, well, if it's not apparent from my signature and name I can elaborate a bit on this {^^}. To give a few 10-second reviews of the games (not counting imports)...

- Lunar: Silver Star Story (PS1): Major overhaul of the first Lunar game (The Silver Star for SCD). Feels like a classic JRPG though with a richer backstory and mythology. It's not my favorite of the series, but it sets up the universe and is relatively the easiest one to find. I didn't find it terribly difficult, but I've heard varying opinions on the challenge level.

- Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete (PS1): Remake of the second Lunar game (Eternal Blue for SCD). This is a more epic and longer JRPG and goes deeper into the background of the world. This is my favorite of the series, though it's better to have played SSS first. This is also one of the more challenging games of the series, though not as difficult as the original SCD version.

- Lunar: The Silver Star (SCD): The original and first Lunar game. This was ahead of its time in terms of the music (which is fantastic), voice acting (...perhaps only so-so by today's standards), and depth of the world. I also like the original more than the remake. The challenge level here isn't too high, though, especially if you're used to more recent RPGs.

- Lunar: Eternal Blue (SCD): The original sequel. This and EBC (the remake) are very similar, and (unlike TSS/SSS) the remake added a lot and only removed a few things. This is also possibly the most challenging game of the series, and requires you to consider position, turn order, and a few other factors well beyond "which one's stronger" in battles (unless you toss up your hands and just level-grind).

- Lunar: Legend (GBA): Very toned down version of The Silver Star / Silver Star Story. Not worth playing and the challenge level is a complete cakewalk.

- Lunar: Dragon Song (DS): THIS GAME DOESN'T EXIST MOVE ALONG NOW

- Lunar: Silver Star Harmony (PSP): Toned down version of Silver Star Story with a few added plot points. It's... all right, and gives you the same story, so it's worth it if you can't find Silver Star Story. It's much easier by comparison, though.

 

I admit my own bias here, considering these games formed a core part of my life. So, I won't go into talking up the games (and don't feel bad if you find them a bit meh). KF

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King's Bounty series (PC on Steam and GOG)- It's a bit of RPG and strategy. There's plenty of story (though it's often got typos), and the battles are turn-based on a hexagonal grid. You can use magic, buy troops, complete main and side quests, and things like that. However, the strategy gets more important later on, as there's a finite number of any given troop in the game. The weaker ones are usually pretty plentiful throughout the game, but the strong ones can become scarce very quickly if you're careless in battle (especially the dragons). So while strategy isn't in place so much at the beginning outside of gold management and trying to get some of the achievements, it really seeps in as the games progress.

 

There are five games in the series at the moment, with "The Legend," "Armored Princess," "Crossworlds" (an enhanced version of "Armored Princess"), "Dark Side" and "Warriors Of The North." The last two also have a DLC for each of them, and right now, you can get them all for $14 over on Humble Bundle for the next 24 hours with this pack, and the premium version "Dark Side" (for some reason, "Dark Side" isn't in the pack).

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I second Resonance of Fate. By far and away one of the more unique and clever JRPGs of the previous generation.

 

If you're fine with it being something of an FFT ripoff, Mercenaries Saga 2 on the 3DS is an excellent little TRPG. Think FFT merged with Fire Emblem class progression. And it's only like five bucks!

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Tactics, but turn-based: Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor. Not only is this game's story rather morbid, but it's also very...very...difficult. Characters can and will die if you're not around to save them.

 

I didn't like Devil Survivor 2 that much, but maybe its upcoming re-release will fix the balance issues I had with it.

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Holy crap  :shock:

 

Tons of great suggestions in here! Thanks a lot, people.  ^_^

 

Another one I just remembered for the saturn was Dragon Force.  Outside of some cheap hair pulling moments it's actually a very unique strategy game/wall-of-death simulator.  

 

 

 

 

 On a cold winter morning...in the time before the light 

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Hm, well considering you were talking about Star Ocean I'm surprised to see no mention of any of the Tales series games.  Tales of Symphonia was probably the first huge RPG that I've actually completed more than once.  All the Tales games have a battle system is very similar to Star Ocean (And the music is by Sakuraba in both series as far as I recall, which is always nice).

 

Another interesting one is Eternal Sonata.  It is pseudo-turn based as far as I remember, but it involves a lot of positioning and even aiming with ranged weapons and the like.  The story is pretty whack, it's basically in Frederic Chopin's dream world or something.  Characters and locations are mostly named after musical terms which is kinda cool.  I don't remember many other details but it's worth a shot I'd say if you can find it somewhere for cheap.

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It's hard to come by now since it was the last game Working Designs translated before they closed up shop, but Growlanser Generations for the PS2 is pretty good. A lot of story battles have special conditions that determine not just whether or not you win, but also how successful your victory is (clearing a mission flawlessly earns you a Mission Accomplished while allowing some things to go wrong like one or two NPC casualties earns a Mission Complete). Some special conditions may include fleeing from the field without killing any enemy units, or avoiding hazards on the map like a collapsing floor, or escaping from a villain you are simply not powerful enough to stand up to at that point in the game, stuff like that. Growlanser II also has branching story paths that can drastically change the direction the plot goes, one of which includes joining forces with the final villain of the game and turning against your friends.

 

If you can find it, I recommend checking it out.

Only played a bit of these and the psp version released by Atlus. Remember the combat system for these games actually being more like a console RTS where you move your characters and give them commands and they keep fighting till the enemy or they are defeated. Also had different missions like ones where you had to protect someone while they retreated from an advancing army and whatnot. Also believe the third games story was based on war/enemy invasions for resources due to worldwide famine which I hadn't seen tackled in a game.

Another tactical RPG that I just remembered that you might be interested in would be Arc the Lad. The PSone titles were translated and released together by Working Designs as The Arc the Lad Collection and they are all available on the NA PSN store (not sure about anywhere else). They're pretty challenging, especially Arc 2, and the overall story is good even if it's nothing particularly groundbreaking. The soundtracks are enjoyable with a wide variety of character and battle themes in particular. The characters are what really make these games, especially in Arc 3.

I remember playing a few minutes of the Arc Trilogy games and Arc 2 was totally bonkers with how it starts.

Believe it started with a flashback in a classical past era RPG village that an army or bandits were attacking or something, then next you're a mercenary or something stopping a terrorist attack at an airport in the future, and save a mysterious girl who's being chased by 1940's era gangsters.

Was pretty jarring but in a good way since it was so different from the norm.

 

 

King's Bounty series (PC on Steam and GOG)- It's a bit of RPG and strategy. There's plenty of story (though it's often got typos), and the battles are turn-based on a hexagonal grid. You can use magic, buy troops, complete main and side quests, and things like that. However, the strategy gets more important later on, as there's a finite number of any given troop in the game. The weaker ones are usually pretty plentiful throughout the game, but the strong ones can become scarce very quickly if you're careless in battle (especially the dragons). So while strategy isn't in place so much at the beginning outside of gold management and trying to get some of the achievements, it really seeps in as the games progress.

 

There are five games in the series at the moment, with "The Legend," "Armored Princess," "Crossworlds" (an enhanced version of "Armored Princess"), "Dark Side" and "Warriors Of The North." The last two also have a DLC for each of them, and right now, you can get them all for $14 over on Humble Bundle for the next 24 hours with this pack, and the premium version "Dark Side" (for some reason, "Dark Side" isn't in the pack).

Played the first game. Was good but can be really hard and the translation is bad, though I believe there are translation patches out there. Also each new game has randomized resources and troops.

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Suprised nobody mentioned any Ogre Battle games. Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis, is for GBA and super good if you like any of the FFT games. Theres another one for psp called Tactics Ogre: Let us cling together, that is just as good as the GBA game, and looks better to boot. 

 

Seconded on Heroes of might and magic, although its a bit more of a resource management game. 

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Suprised nobody mentioned any Ogre Battle games. Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis, is for GBA and super good if you like any of the FFT games. Theres another one for psp called Tactics Ogre: Let us cling together, that is just as good as the GBA game, and looks better to boot.

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis is my favorite in that series.

 

I started LUCT when it was just called "Tactics Ogre" on the PS1. The leveling system was a pain--enemies' power was based on the level of your highest-level character, and one level made a significant difference.  Ended up spending lots of time sitting around throwing rocks at each other to even levels up, IIRC.

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I started LUCT when it was just called "Tactics Ogre" on the PS1. The leveling system was a pain--enemies' power was based on the level of your highest-level character, and one level made a significant difference.  Ended up spending lots of time sitting around throwing rocks at each other to even levels up, IIRC.

 

I liked the old system myself as characters having a "base level" that changed stats based on the class like FFT was awesome. Though FFT improved on it in every single way.  I'd recommend the PSP release with all the new features. They really sharpened the game up and brought it up to date.  The GBA game was solid in it's own right.  But I loved that.. had a friend level a berserker, Lich, and a Terror Knight to max level at the start... was one shotting everything with rocks, naked.  Glorious battles.

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