10 Square Enix series FINAL FANTASY fans will love

Are you a big fan of FINAL FANTASY games? Here are 10 more series of games that we think you’ll adore!
Por Duncan Heaney

Square Enix has a lot of FINAL FANTASY fans - and with good reason. But once you’ve taken down Shinra, defeated Sin or reached the end of the road with Noctis and chums, what’s next?

Fortunately, we have plenty of other amazing series, that we think that FINAL FANTASY fans will adore.

You may have already played some of these, others you may yet to discover. Either way, here are 10 suggestions for games and series that are well worth your time.


KINGDOM HEARTS

Sora from the KINGDOM HEARTS series

What do you get if you take some of the most beloved Disney and Pixar characters of all time, and some of the most popular FINAL FANTASY characters, and then put them together in the same series?

You get KINGDOM HEARTS - and it’s amazing.

The series typically puts you into the protagonist Sora - a young boy with the power to wield a keyblade. Accompanied by Donald and Goofy, he travels between worlds, facing off against the shadowy Heartless and interacting with some familiar faces for both Disney and FINAL FANTASY fans.

Which KINGDOM HEARTS game should I play?

There’s no ‘correct’ place to start the KINGDOM HEARTS series - each entry is a chapter of the larger story, but each is also enjoyable and distinct in its own right.

Fortunately, the games are available in collections that comprise multiple titles, so it’s easy to start exploring the wonders of the series.

Here are some starting points you might consider:

  • KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX: this collection contains four full games, and two additional story experiences. For a good starting point, try KINGDOM HEARTS Final Mix and KINGDOM HEARTS II Final Mix. These classic action RPGs have been lovingly remastered with HD visuals, improved controls, remastered music and more.

  • KINGDOM HEARTS III + Re Mind DLC: the most recent mainline entry in the series, KINGDOM HEARTS III features some truly inspiring worlds, amazing combat and jaw-droppingly gorgeous visuals.

  • KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory: this is a little different to the rest of the series in that it’s not an RPG - it’s a rhythm action game, similar to FINAL FANTASY’s Theatrhythm series. As well as being an entertaining music game (with some incredible tunes by series composer Yoko Shimomura), it also recaps the story of the entire saga, making it a great way for new fans to experience the story so far.


DRAGON QUEST series

DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

FINAL FANTASY is one giant of the Japanese RPG genre. DRAGON QUEST is another.

Not only is it a very popular series, it’s an influential one too. It was one of the first console RPGs and in many ways set the template for the whole genre - many games released today continue to hold a debt to this prestigious series.

As for the games themselves… they’re terrific. Like FINAL FANTASY, each entry works as a standalone adventure, but share common enemies and themes.

Every one is packed with personality, and many of the elements have become truly iconic - even if you’ve never played one before, you’ll surely recognise a humble slime.

Which DRAGON QUEST game should I play?

There are plenty of DRAGON QUEST games available, and each one offers a great experience in its own right. There’s no correct starting point then, but if I had to give some personal picks, I would point new players to the following titles:

  • DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition: The most recent entry in the DRAGON QUEST series brings modern concepts with traditional RPG gameplay together to create an unforgettable adventure. Incredible characters, exciting turn-based combat and a gripping story…if you’re a fan of RPGs, you simply must play DRAGON QUEST XI S. It’s a modern classic.

  • DRAGON QUEST Builders 2: If you’re after something a little less traditional, check out the DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2. The game fuses a substantial story-based RPG with building and crafting mechanics to create a literal blockbuster. It’s one of those games that’s so fun it’s hard to stop playing.


Mana series

Trials of Mana - Duran

The Mana series and the FINAL FANTASY series are inextricably linked. The original Mana game was released as a Nintendo Game Boy spinoff of the FINAL FANTASY series, known as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden in Japan, and FINAL FANTASY Adventure in the US.

Since then, of course, the series has gone on to carve out a wholly unique identity across handheld and consoles, and it’s now highly regarded as one of the most inventive action RPG series out there.

Like FINAL FANTASY, each game in the Mana series works as a standalone experience - monsters, items and themes carry over between games rather than narrative elements. While different games present markedly different experiences (again, like FINAL FANTASY), each one is brimming with color, imagination and charm.

Which Mana game should I play?

There are plenty of options to start your journey with the Mana series. Here are some recommendations:

  • Trials of Mana: a full 3D remake of Trials of Mana, this fast-paced action RPG features beautiful visuals, snappy, satisfying combat and a good amount of replayability - the narrative plays out differently depending on the characters you pick.

  • Legend of Mana: the classic RPG has been recently rereleased with newly remastered backgrounds, rearranged music and more. It’s an impressively free form adventure and has a non-linear narrative where you choose how to experience the story.

  • Collection of Mana (Switch): this retro collection features the first three games in the series: the Game Boy’s FINAL FANTASY ADVENTURE and the SNES games Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana. If you want to see how the series begins, it’s a great way to do it.


CHRONO Series

Kid from Chrono Cross

The two CHRONO games have a reputation for being some of the best RPGs of all time - and they more than live up to it!

Both titles in the series feature amazing characters, stellar soundtracks, exciting and strategic combat systems, and compellingly twisty-turny plots that feature everything from time travel to parallel worlds.

Some might even call them masterpieces - if you’re a dedicated RPG fan, consider them required reading.

Which Chrono game should I play?

Both Chrono games work as standalone adventures, so you should feel free to start with whichever you like. That said, there are some fun connections between the two, and if you do play both (again, order doesn’t matter), you’ll enjoy spotting them.

  • CHRONO TRIGGER: This 16-bit adventure sends a young man onto a time-hopping adventure into the distant past and the far-flung future. It’s available now on Steam, iOS and Android. What’s more, the game’s been updated with 21:9 widescreen support, so it looks better than ever (well, wider than ever at least).

  • CHRONO CROSS: THE RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION: An enhanced version of CHRONO CROSS has just been released for Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC! In this tale, you play as a hero who finds himself transported to a world where he apparently died as a child. Along with a thief named Kid, he embarks on a quest across two parallel words to investigate the connection between his existence and the future of his planet. This version of the game also includes RADICAL DREAMERS – Le Trésor Interdit - a previously Japan-exclusive text adventure with links to both CHRONO games!


The SaGa series

Saga Scarlet Grace AMBITIONS screenshot

The SaGa series is another with strong connections to FINAL FANTASY. While the original Game Boy release was known as Makai Toushi SaGa, in the US it was titled FINAL FANTASY LEGEND.

Despite the name, the SaGa games are very distinctly their own thing - a collection of RPGs that typically focus on expansive casts, open-ended character growth and non-linear exploration.

Still, if you’re a fan of the classic FINAL FANTASY games, and you’re looking for an RPG that will scratch a similar itch, then make sure the SaGa series is on your radar.


Which SaGa game should I play?

A number of SaGa titles have been released in the last few years, and each one offers a fantastic starting point for new fans. Here’s what you should check out:

  • SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS: this is an RPG that’s all about choice. There’s no fixed narrative in the game - your adventure changes depending on who you play as and the decisions you make. It also features a richly tactical turn-based battle system that rewards planning with some of the most satisfying attacks out there.

  • Romancing SaGa 3: Originally released back in 1995, Romancing SaGa 3 has been recently remastered with optimized graphics, new content and more. As with SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS, the game features a unique free-form scenario system that lets you experience a different narrative depending on which character you choose. If you’re looking for a classic-style RPG with unique ideas, it’s an essential play.

  • Collection of SaGa: See where the SaGa started with this collection of FINAL FANTASY LEGEND I - III. These three classic Game Boy RPGs stand up as great games even today, with engaging worlds, satisfying mechanics and tons of replayability.


Voice of Cards series

Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars

The Voice of Cards series presents a fresh take on traditional RPGs.

It features everything you could want from an RPG - wonderful stories, excellent music and exciting battles. And… everything is presented through the medium of cards.

Yes, cards.

The world is made of cards, the items are made from cards… it’s all cards. As you’d expect from the creators of NieR and Drakengard, each entry is packed with stunning visuals, offbeat humour and imaginative encounters.

If you’re looking for a laid-back RPG full of wit and charm, look no further than a Voice of Cards game.

Which Voice of Cards game should I play?

Two Voice of Cards adventures have been released, and each is a standalone game that requires no knowledge of the other. They’re also both excellent, so we’d say go with the setup that sounds most appealing to you.

  • Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars: an… erm… less than noble hero sets off on a journey to defeat a dragon that threatens the land and its people… and maybe earn a nice fat reward in the process.

  • Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden: A remote chain of islands holds off destruction thanks to the Maidens that protect them. Well, most of them - one island finds itself without a maiden, but one resident refuses to let it die. Accompanied by a voiceless young woman and a self-proclaimed ‘spirt’ that looks like a soft toy, he sets sail to save his home.


Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians of the Galaxy facing a space whale

While Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is more of an action adventure than a pure RPG, it contains a lot of elements that will appeal to FINAL FANTASY fans.

Firstly, there’s the great story, which is full of heart and humor - the game won Best Narrative at the 2021 Game Awards, and for good reason. It follows the newly formed Guardians as they try to make a name for themselves, earn some money and just maybe save the galaxy in the process.

The basic structure will feel familiar to fans of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, with areas full of nooks and crannies to explore, and combat encounters to overcome.

Battles will also feel comfortable to fans of games like FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and FINAL FANTASY XV too. You control Star-Lord, and while he can hold his own, success in battle comes down to how you command the rest of your team. You’ll slow down the game to orders your fellow Guardians to stagger, immobilize or damage foes.

Finally, it has a stellar soundtrack - not just the numerous licensed tracks that often underscore the action, but also the superb score by composer Richard Jacques.

Simply put, it’s an incredibly well-made game that will fans of single player adventures will adore.

DUNGEON ENCOUNTERS

Dungeon Encounters Battle scene

There’s a lot of FINAL FANTASY DNA in DUNGEON ENCOUNTERS - it’s directed by the FINAL FANTASY series’ Hiroyuki Ito, produced by Hiroaki Kato, and with a soundtrack overseen by Nobuo Uematsu , the legendary composer who’s synonymous with the FINAL FANTASY series.

Players can enjoy a newly polished and refined iteration of FINAL FANTASY’s classic Active Time Battle (ATB) system brought to you by original creator, Hiroyuki Ito.

All this talent has produced a compelling dungeon-crawling adventure, that marries minimalist presentation with extremely strategic combat. It’s as pure an RPG as you’ll find - and once it gets its hooks into you, one that’s very difficult to stop thinking about.


Life is Strange series

Alex Chen looking at her hand in Life is Strange: True Colors

If you play FINAL FANTASY because you love strong stories, then you should definitely check out Life is Strange. It’s a narrative-focused series where your decisions impact the story, the characters and their relationships.

While some characters appear across multiple games, each entry in the series stands alone as an enjoyable and satisfying tale in its own right. Add some fascinating supernatural twists and you have a series that consistently delivers some of the best tales in gaming.

Which Life is Strange game should I play?

  • Life is Strange: True Colors: Why will FINAL FANTASY fans love Life is Strange: True Colors? Because Life is Strange: True Colors loves FINAL FANTASY! The game features some wonderful references to RPGs, both in background detail and gameplay segments - but to say any more would ruin the surprises. Rest assured that the rest of the game is terrific too - an emotional adventure with wonderful characters, visuals and plenty of twists and turns.

  • Life is Strange Remastered Collection: The original Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm are back, with updated visuals, improved lip syncing, a new lighting system and much more. It’s the best way to experience these classic games and see why the series has gained such a legion of fans.


STAR OCEAN series

Star Ocean First Departure R screenshot

The STAR OCEAN series is another long-standing series that RPG fans should check out - if you haven’t already.

Developed by tri-Ace, the science fiction series features numerous titles that lean into science fiction concepts, like space exploration and alien worlds, and meld them with fantasy elements. Since its first entry in 1996, the series has become famous for the sheer imagination and personality that’s packed into each entry.

Which STAR OCEAN game should I play?

There’s a new entry on the way in 2022: STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE - and it’s looking like one of the best in the series yet. As well as an amazing setting that fuses science fiction and fantasy, it also hands you an impressive amount of choice over how you traverse the world. Sick of always being on foot? This game lets you fly!

But if you’re looking for a STAR OCEAN game to play right now, you should take a look at the following:

  • STAR OCEAN First Departure R: this remastered version of the very first game in the series has been enhanced to make it even more enjoyable to play. Already a very highly regarded adventure, it now benefits from full voiceovers, new character illustrations, a high-speed mode to accelerate traversal, and rebalanced combat.

  • STAR OCEAN: THE LAST HOPE - 4K and FULL HD REMASTER: a fantastically action-packed RPG with an uber-satisfying battle system, some memorable characters and - as the name implies - lovely super-crisp visuals.


Those are just some of the series we think that FINAL FANTASY fans will love… but we’re sure that some of you have your own top tips for what to play.

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