The Best 8 Japanese Games of the Last 5 Years
Japan has always been a powerhouse in the world of video game development, known for producing some of the most iconic and influential titles in the industry. Over the past five years, Japanese game developers have continued to push the boundaries of creativity, storytelling, and gameplay, delivering a wide range of outstanding titles that have captivated players around the world.
We will explore the best eight Japanese games released in the last five years, celebrating the innovation and excellence that Japan has brought to the gaming world. iGaming is another big category in this space with payments via atone, but for now, we will stick to the big titles.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017).
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece that redefined the open-world action-adventure genre. Developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U, this game immerses players in the vast and breathtaking land of Hyrule. With its stunning art style, dynamic weather, and physics-based gameplay, Breath of the Wild set a new standard for open-world exploration..
The game's emphasis on player freedom, challenging puzzles, and intricate combat mechanics earned it widespread acclaim. Its non-linear approach to storytelling allowed players to shape their own adventures, making each playthrough a unique experience. Breath of the Wild was not only a critical success but also a commercial juggernaut, solidifying its place as one of the greatest games of the last decade..
Persona 5 (2016, Royal Edition in 2019)
Persona 5, developed by Atlus, is a JRPG that combines stylish visuals, a gripping narrative, and turn-based combat to create an unforgettable gaming experience. Originally released in 2016 in Japan and 2017 worldwide, it received a significant update with the "Royal" edition in 2019, adding new characters, storylines, and gameplay enhancements.
The game follows a group of high school students who double as phantom thieves, entering the psyches of corrupt adults to reform their hearts. Persona 5's unique blend of dungeon-crawling and social simulation mechanics creates a deep and immersive world where every action has consequences. Its memorable characters, stunning art direction, and catchy soundtrack make it a must-play for RPG enthusiasts.
Nier: Automata (2017)
Nier: Automata, developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix, is a critically acclaimed action RPG that explores themes of humanity and artificial intelligence. Set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by machines, players control androids 2B and 9S as they uncover the mysteries of this dystopian future.
What sets Nier: Automata apart is its thought-provoking narrative and unique gameplay mechanics that seamlessly transition between genres, including hack-and-slash combat, bullet-hell shooter segments, and platforming. The game's philosophical storytelling and emotional depth have left a lasting impact on players, making it one of the standout titles of the last five years.
Monster Hunter: World (2018)
The Monster Hunter series has long been a staple of Japanese gaming, and Monster Hunter: World, developed and published by Capcom, brought the franchise to new heights. Released in 2018, this action RPG invites players to become hunters and engage in epic battles against colossal creatures in a beautifully realized world.
Monster Hunter: World introduced significant quality-of-life improvements, making the series more accessible to newcomers while retaining the depth that long-time fans love. Its cooperative multiplayer hunts, robust crafting system, and stunning monster designs make it a social gaming experience like no other. With regular updates and expansions, Monster Hunter: World continues to thrive and evolve, keeping players engaged for hundreds of hours.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
FromSoftware, known for the challenging Souls series, surprised fans with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in 2019. This action-adventure game features a samurai-themed setting and introduces a new combat system focused on precision, timing, and parrying.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offers a gripping story, set in a beautifully detailed feudal Japan, with a strong emphasis on exploration and stealth. The game's punishing difficulty level and intense boss battles earned it a reputation for being one of the most challenging games of its generation. However, the sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering its combat mechanics is incredibly rewarding, making Sekiro a standout title in recent years.
Ghost of Tsushima (2020)
Sucker Punch Productions' Ghost of Tsushima, released in 2020 for the PlayStation 4, transported players to feudal Japan during the Mongol invasion. This open-world action-adventure game allows players to step into the shoes of Jin Sakai, a samurai who must adapt to new, unconventional combat techniques to defend his homeland.
Ghost of Tsushima captivated players with its stunning visuals, rich storytelling, and the ability to explore a meticulously crafted open world inspired by real-world locations on the island of Tsushima. The game's "Kurosawa mode" paid homage to classic samurai films, adding to its cinematic appeal. With its compelling characters and moral choices, Ghost of Tsushima became an instant classic and a shining example of Japanese storytelling in gaming.
Resident Evil Village (2021)
The Resident Evil series has a storied history of survival horror, and Resident Evil Village, released in 2021, continued this tradition while introducing new elements to the franchise. Developed and published by Capcom, this game sees the return of Ethan Winters as he ventures into a mysterious village in search of his kidnapped daughter.
Resident Evil Village combines the best elements of past titles, offering a tense and immersive survival horror experience with modern graphics and gameplay enhancements. The game's memorable villains, such as Lady Dimitrescu, garnered significant attention in the gaming community. Resident Evil Village successfully revitalized the franchise, appealing to both long-time fans and newcomers.
While Hades may not have been developed in Japan, it was published by Supergiant Games, known for their previous titles like Bastion and Transistor. This action roguelike game took the gaming world by storm in 2020, earning acclaim for its engaging gameplay, storytelling, and art style.
Hades follows Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he attempts to escape the Underworld. The game's procedurally generated levels and challenging combat keep players engaged while the rich narrative unfolds through interactions with a colorful cast of characters. Hades' addictive gameplay loop and innovative storytelling approach make it one of the standout indie games of the last five years.
Japanese game developers have continued to excel in delivering exceptional gaming experiences over the last five years. These eight titles, ranging from open-world adventures to challenging action RPGs and survival horror classics, showcase the diversity and creativity of Japan's gaming industry. Whether you're a fan of breathtaking visuals, immersive storytelling, or challenging gameplay, these games offer something for everyone and demonstrate why Japan remains a powerhouse in the world of video games. As we look forward to the future, it's clear that Japan's influence on the gaming world will continue to grow, bringing us even more incredible titles to enjoy.