I have expressed my admiration for Octopath Traveler in my lists of the 15 Best Pixel Art Games Of 2023 as well as the 10 Best Anime Games On Steam. It is one of the coolest looking 2.5d role playing games I have ever seen.
Besides the incredible aesthetics, I just think it is a really unique game and it is so incredibly beautiful to experience.
Octopath Traveler may not be the first to use a 2.5d graphic style, but it was certainly a beautiful example of a way it can be used to speak to oldschool JRPGs and also modern gaming in the same breath.
I have been wondering if there are other games that utilize a similar 2.5d graphic approach, because it would be great to have more gaming experiences in that same flavor.
I’m looking for that same 2.5d aesthetic that evokes 90s SNES JRPG vibes and a great story to experience.
So here we go people, let’s dig in and find out what are some of the best 2.5D role playing games in 2023.
Obvious Connection – Triangle Strategy (2022)
Alright, so let’s get the easy one out of the way…
Triangle Strategy is a new tactical RPG by the same awesome team that brought us Octopath Traveler.
Square Enix gave us yet another incredible RPG for the Nintendo Switch, but this time with turn-based tactical combat… something I am less a fan of.
It has that same beautiful aesthetic, but this time in an isometric view, and the reviews seem to agree that it has less heart in the story than Octopath Traveler.
So while I would say this is the most obvious game like Octopath Traveler, it doesn’t hit the same notes I am looking for. But it would be weird to not mention it. So here it is.
I might end up grabbing it just because of how beautiful it looks.
Romancing Saga 3 is a 1995 RPG for the Super Famicom that recently saw an HD remaster that brought it to the west for the first time.
The game was developed by Square (yeah, one half of Square Enix), so it’s easy to see how it shares DNA with Octopath Traveler and has some similar things going on.
It does have all of the same elements… it’s a JRPG that uses 2d sprites, but has a pseudo-3d aesthetic, its got a similar combat system.
Similarly, we could also point to Chrono Trigger. I wouldn’t say that are dissimilar. But I would say Chrono Trigger looks and feels more like a straight forward JRPG from the SNES era… because, well, it was!
If that were the thinking, we could just pick any one of the 15 Best SNES RPGs and call it a day.
If I had to point to any specific game from the 1990s that are most similar to the vibes we get from Octopath Traveler, it would be Romancing Saga 3.
No Pixels – Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (2022)
This one kept coming up in my research when searching for “2.5d games”, but I skipped past it because it did not have any sort of pixel art look to it. My eyes were specifically looking for that JRPG SNES-era pixel sprite look.
But if I can look past the fact that there’s no super obvious pixels going on, what remains is a pretty beautiful 2.5d JPRG, and has been often called the spiritual successor to the Suikoden game franchise.
And looking back at the old Suikoden games, those too are 2.5d JRPGs.
It actually looks a lot like Bravely Default, another JRPG classic by Square Enix. Which is another game that gets grouped together with Octopath Traveler.
The development of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was led by Yoshitaka Murayama who created the first two Suikoden games while working at Konami.
So the shoe fits.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising plays in 2d platform format. And could even be loosely described as a metroidvania.
It’s a smaller game, with a smaller budget. So you cannot expect the same impact as a classic from the 90s or the likes of Octopath Traveler.
But I did raise an eyebrow at Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, and it does seem like a worthwhile playthrough for fans of anime-type role-playing-ish 2.5d romps.
The followup, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, is due in 2023, and looks to be a more fully realized version of what “Rising” setup. So that is something interesting to look forward to in the 2.5d games genre.
New Release – Live A Live (2022)
This recent remaster for the Nintendo Switch brings one of the most beloved JRPGs of the SNES era back, in full 2.5d stylings.
The original 1994 game was only ever available in Japan unless you count the unofficial fan translated version (which I have played a bit on my RG351V).
Live A Live has a pretty unique story, though… now that I think about it… it might sound familiar when comparing to Octopath Traveler.
You play as one of eight different protagonists (that’s the familiar part) who live in entirely different time and locations. And game play will vary with each story segment as well.
Combat is turn-based as well, so yeah… I guess this is a pretty obvious precursor to Octopath Traveler.
And now that we have a full modern remake in the 2.5d game style, it is very easy to see how this would be a really easy game to get excited about for fans of Octopath.
A Surprising Find – Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent (2020 / 2022)
So this was something I knew nothing about… Octopath Traveler actually already has a spinoff game. One that was released two years ago!
I could blame the fact that it was a Japan-only release, but I was living in Japan in 2020, so maybe it could have come up on my radar.
Then again… I don’t speak/read Japanese, and it is a mobile game… something I don’t get into. So forgive me for having zero clue about this one.
Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent, developed by Square Enix and Acquire (who also worked on the first game) was an Android and iOS game that served as a prequel to the events of Octopath Traveler.
This game features three story paths, and features a new cast of characters (some characters from the original game making cameos).
It is a free to play game, though it does include microtransactions of some sort.. which we all know is some BS.
But the game had been downloaded by millions of Japanese gamers hungry for more Octopath, so maybe that’s a sign it’s worth checking out?
For us who currently live outside of Japan, we finally got an official release on July 27, 2022.
Presumably, it will also be a free mobile game, which means it can also be played on any one of the 7 Best Android Handheld Games Consoles.
I am not a big fan of mobile games, and I will definitely be annoyed if they keep asking me to buy stuff… But I’ll make it work.
It is pretty cool to know that at the time of writing this article there are a handful of 2.5d games that have recently come out, and a project directly connected to Octopath Traveler coming in less than a week! Talk about good timing.
Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.