Polish your magic sword and grab a handful of skill points as we look at the best PS2 RPGs of all time!
With over 3,800 games for the world’s best selling console, you’d think it would be hard to pick the 15 best role-playing titles for the system.
Luckily, yours truly here knows a thing or three about being a humongous nerd and loves RPGs on any home console or portable handheld. There’s just something about escaping into a world of magic and shadow that sets my mind racing!
Not only that, but I think I’m right in saying that there’s nothing more addictive in the world of video gaming than levelling up characters and working towards achieving new skills and abilities.
So, we know I’m a fan of RPGs, but one question still remains: Which titles have I picked for this list of the best PS2 RPGs of all time?
Don’t forget to click the pictures or links in each of the segments, and happy scrolling!
Kingdom Hearts II kickstarts this list of the best PS2 RPGs of all time. It’s Disney-licious action mixed with Final Fantasy vibes…
… wait, is that Mickey Mouse in full plate armour up there?
Listen, I know it’s a pretty weird mixture, but hear me out; it works better than you might think.
Control characters from Square classic series FF while getting help from everyone from Jiminy Cricket to Jack Sparrow as you head out to find King Mickey.
Come on; you know you love it!
As Disney now seems to own every series and film in the world, it won’t be a surprise that characters from Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron also feature in Kingdom Hearts II. Get a helping hand from Bambi, and watch as Donald and Goofy assist in your adventure.
The enemies that have inhabited the various worlds are called the ‘Heartless’ and the ‘Nobodies’. It sounds like one set are cruel and the other have low self esteem.
Either way, they’re gnarlier than Pete after a ‘Goof-Up’ from his neighbour, Goofy.
If you’ve ever watched a Disney cartoon as a kid, then picking out all the different characters provides extra entertainment in this fantastic fantasy RPG. Wield magical weapons, use abilities from the world of Final Fantasy, and call spirits to your aid in turn-based battles!
Dragon Quest VIII – Journey of the Cursed King is a bonafide PS2 classic. Trust me when I say that it didn’t need the playable demo of Final Fantasy XII bundled with it to sell copies… although let’s be honest, it probably helped in the long run!
The PS2 often surprises me with its graphics, operating far beyond what a console from the year 2000 should have been able to cope with.
Dragon Quest VII looks and plays like a PS3 game; just imagine how good Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age S Definitive Edition is on the Nintendo Switch now!
Ok, let’s talk about what this game is. Firstly, it’s the first ever 3D Dragon Quest title. It’s also the first game in the series to be released outside of Japan and also the first to feature voice acting as opposed to just text on the screen.
A lot of firsts there… that’s gotta mean it’s good… right?
The Final Fantasy demo might have given it away, but this is also a Square game and one that definitely takes and adapts key elements form the FF series.
But you know what; it certainly stands out from the crowd.
It boasts so many hidden items that you’d think it’s a Zelda game, and the characters are so memorable that you’ll still be comparing other NPCs to them years after you complete it.
Play it on the DS or the PS2. I don’t care how you play it, just play it, alright?
Tales Of Symphonia takes the 13th spot in this list of the best PS2 RPGs of all time! It doesn’t matter whether you first came to this cell-shaded masterpiece on the PS2 or whether you added it to your collection of the best GameCube games, it’s a winner on both platforms.
Who is this game for? Well, specifically fans of RPGs such as Phantasy Star Online and Final Fantasy, but generally anyone who likes attacking ferocious beasties with swords and magic.
That should be pretty much everyone reading this list, then!
Join Lloyd and his companions as they head out on a mission to save the world of Slyvarant. There’s a catch, however; everything they do in Sylvarant affects the fate of a parallel world.
One good turn doesn’t deserve another, it seems; good things make bad stuff happen in this mammoth open world adventure!
This game shouldn’t really be that much of a new concept to RPG fans. I’m sure many of you have played the ‘Tales’ series before, and Symphonia, the 5th title in the canon, is jam-packed full of Holy Magic Century style battles with all the tactical brilliance of Fire Emblem.
Persona 3 gives us a very accurate account of what happens to every orphan, high school student that moves to the suburbs. They all head to their dormitory for the first time, find themselves in a tussle with a weird shadow creature, and discover the power to summon Patronus-style demons called Personas.
Yeah… like I said… an accurate account.
With this new ability awakened, you join the SEES; ‘Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad’, and take to the realm between light and shadow that appears during the Dark Hour.
An after school club that kills demons… that’s a bit more exciting than drama club, isn’t it!
Persona 3 is part of the epic Shin Megami Tensei canon, which I’m sure you’ll hear a lot more about through this article on the best PS2 RPGs. Still, you don’t need to have played the other games in the series to understand what’s going on in P3, which is always good for newbies to the RPG world.
There’s life-sim elements to this game that feel a little like Bully too. Go to normal classes, sift through boring homework, and deal with the angst of teenage love as you wait every day for demon bashing to begin…
… that wasn’t a euphemism, by the way… I’m talking about when the rift the the shadow world opens at the Dark Hour and not… well, you know!
Summon personas to fight for you, use weapons, or wield magic spells assumedly learnt in magic class of the science of wizardry. The turn-based battles are sublime in Persona 3, with stunning backdrops for every fight and terrifying enemies that will leave you looking forward to doing that virtual homework in the morning!
Final Fantasy XII takes the 11th spot in this list of the best PS2 RPGs of all time! I think we all knew it was only a matter of time before a Final Fantasy game appeared in this list; I’ve mentioned the series about 10 times already!
With so many titles on so many platforms, it’s hard to pick which ones to feature in this list. Still, XII has always been one of my favourites in the canon and more than holds its own with modern RPGs on all the new consoles coming out today…
… especially if you can’t get a PS5 due to all of the scalpers and need good games to play!
Can you believe that this was the first Final Fantasy game to boast open world gameplay? Crazy, isn’t it! It also gave players more control over other party companion characters and what actions they can perform in battle.
Let’s get into the nerdiness, shall we?
Gamers start off in Ivalice, a region that is constantly at war. The PS2 makes it look pretty nice to say that it’s filled with death and destruction!
Follow a princess who has joined the resistance and taken up life as a pirate. If that’s not bad ass enough for you, then there’s also a young chap who want’s to become a Space Pirate.
We all know how annoying Viridian Forest is in Pokemon Red, and for the first time, those same random battles don’t appear in Final Fantasy. Monsters can be seen in advance, but it’s still worth fighting them to get gold and other treasures!
Xenosaga Episode 1 – Der Willie Zur Macht is an absolute belter of a game. Some of you might not have heard of this one before, but it’s definitely worth a look.
In fact, if we had a Retro Dodo stamp of approval, I’d put one on your screen right here!
Der Willie zur Macht is the first chapter in a trilogy of games, although the big ‘Episode 1’ in the title might have given that away. It’s filled with magic and mystery, with players developing spells and new abilities by upgrading a skills tree.
Great news for fans of knowing when they’re going to get their arses kicked; the enemies in Xenosaga can be seen from a distance. There’s no random encounters to be had here, just plain old beatdowns with enemies that you choose to fight.
Like Fire Emblem and Tactics Ogre, players must plan moves in advance if they have a hope of coming out of tussles with enemies alive. Calculate your attacks and make every hit count!
RPG fans will love the need to purchase spells and nurturing specific character traits. It’s also a pretty deep game too, drawing inspiration from multiple spiritual beliefs and philosophical speakers.
Fancy that, an RPG that you might just learn something from along the way!
Told we’d be seeing another Shin Megami Tensei game game in this list, and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne takes the 9th spot in this list of the best PS2 RPGs of all time!
Sony fans will no doubt know all about Dante and the epic Devil May Cry series. Well, he features in this game alongside a cast of excellent characters, including the main protagonist ‘True Demon’.
Dante appears as a boss pretty early on in the game, and if you manage to beat him in the right way, you can actually take him along on the adventure with you as a party member.
Pretty cool, right?
Nocturne is the first Shin Megami Tensei title that PAL and NTSC gamers ever got to try, and it certainly left a lasting impression.
The whole game has a bit of a Dark Sith vibe to it, and as it’s an enhanced version of the original Japanese release, there are lots of features that give it an edge over the original game.
For newbies to the game, Dante isn’t the only boss that can be recruited into your party. Add humongous demons to your team as your progress through the game, becoming a force that even the Fellowship couldn’t stand up against!
Explore dungeons and labyrinths, pull off epic moves, and face off against ‘The Fiends’ in fierce battles. It’s dark, it’s dangerous, and it’s damn addictive!
Persona 4 takes the 8th spot in this list of the best PS2 RPGs ever made, bringing more high-school-demon-slaying antics to Sony’s most famous console.
It follows on from Persona 3 and sees players returning to high-school life for more mystery, murder, and mayhem.
All of the same features from the last game apply once more, including the use of personas in battle. This time, however, players delve into a TV world to try and figure out why corpses keep appearing in their sleepy, one-horse town.
I don’t know what you’re thinking right now, but I’m pretty sure I’d be scared witless if I found dead bodies on the streets and stuff coming out of my TV!
A new feature to the series is a weather forecast system, with events only happening at certain times of day if weather conditions are met. Using the system, players can plan ahead for events and make sure theyre prepped and ready.
Upgrade characters, battle with mythical personas, and collect more items than you’d see in a series of Storage Hunters. Seriously, even just making new personas in the weirdly titled ‘Velvet Room’ is enough to keep you coming back for more!
Shadow Hearts: From The New World is up next in our list of the best PS2 RPGs. It might be sitting at the middle point in this article, but don’t let it’s position fool you. This is definitely a game that you need to try out as soon as humanly (or demonly) possible.
Players follow the story of 16-year-old Johnny Garland. His profession; not paper boy or shop worker – he’s a detective.
Yes, a detective that’s got amnesia and who lost his father and sister in a terrible accident. Even with this severe condition, he teams up with a bounty hunter 5 years his senior to follow a criminal gang, before coming across an otherworldly demon that gobbles up criminals.
Yeah, this is a weird one.
Shania, the bounty hunter I mentioned above, is also searching for the criminal eating demons and wants to use her powers to stop them. She’s like the bounty hunter version of Eleven from Stranger Things.
This is the first RPG in our list that has a battle-system based on a power generator.
Like Shadow Hearts: Covenant, From The New World’s predecessor, players must spin the judgement ring and stop it on a correct area in order to let loose a powerful attack. The more accurate your reflexes, the more damage you’ll end up inflicting!
Once again, the graphics look incredible and are further proof that the PS2 was a console before its time. This is one title everyone needs in their life!
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is another one for the Dungeons and Dragons fans out there. It’s basically a video game version of every epic tale that my orc-ish friend Josh has ever subjected me to, with creepy Gauntlet-esque battles and more magic spells than a Gryffindor Common Room party.
It’s so much like D&D because it’s actually based on the the franchise. For those learned in the art, Baldur’s Gate is based on the D&D ‘The Realms’ series, using the same gameplay rules as the third edition.
Honestly, I have no idea what that means. I just love the game, but I’m trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about for all you purists out there!
BG is all about hack ‘n slash meets magical RPG madness. Customise characters and fight in real time; there’s no turn based skirmishes here, folks!
And the best part for me when I was a kid was the option to play alongside a friend for co-op beatdown action. Games like this are always more fun with a mate beside you, and what better way to quash the forces of evil than with someone who you can shout at without fear of repercussions.
Stop the forces of evil from sullying yet another peaceful realm. Listen, it’s a tried and tested formula, and one that you’ll find in pretty much all of the best PS2 RPGs.
Once again, war is the main theme, although this time it’s the gods of light and darkness battling against each other. Heroes vs Villains, both wielding unimaginable powers that forged the universe, and you’re the one to make sure that good comes out on top…
… simple, right?
Players control a dude called Ryudo, not to be confused with the Hadouken-wielding legend from the Street Fighter series. It’s your job to make sure he and his companions survive through dangerous dungeons and perilous open-world locations as they fight to save the planet.
And while Grandia II follows more of a traditional turn-based battle system, the characters all have a limited range of movement they can use to whack enemies on their turn. For younger gamers, it’s like the extra hit you get on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle on the Nintendo Switch.
The plot of Grandia II is fantasy fiction at it’s finest, and all the regular RPG elements such as upping skill points, improving character traits and abilities, and of course kicking some serious butt add to the overall experience!
We’re slowly coming to the end of this list of the best PS2 RPGs, which means it’s time to introduce the big guns. Dark Cloud is one of my favourite RPGs of all time, and that’s not just because the front cover looks like a still from a Zelda game.
Ok. so it looks exactly like Link, but I would imagine that the developers knew that when they made the front cover. Immitation is the most sincere form of flattery, after all.
Plus, if it worked for the guys who made Windbound, then I’m sure the Dark Cloud team are sleeping easy at night.
Like Windbound (although Dark Cloud did it first- something else they stole!), players need to watch a thirst meter on the screen to make sure they’re topped up with liquids. Without enough H2O, health starts to drain away, so find some water pronto!
Let’s met Toan, the Kokiri-looking protagonist in Dark Cloud. He’s no stranger to beating back enemies with a sword and has to gather together special orbs in order to rebuild his world.
True to RPG fashion, upgrading plays a key part of the gameplay. The difference here is that its the weapons get better with time and not the characters wielding them.
Defeat an enemy, and your weapon takes on the experience, not you. It’s a cool take on levelling up and makes the game feel fresh and inherently different.
As a fantasy novelist myself, the storyline in Dark Cloud sucks me in like the Large Hadron Collider. It’s a fantastic world to get lost in and serves as a taster for another title that you’re definitely going to see in a few minutes time!
Listen; as someone who has just named his new puppy ‘Bilbo’, it’s safe that I take Tolkien pretty seriously. I love The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age and have played it more times than I can count.
It’s an epic adventure and one that all LOTR fans should try for the epic battles and exciting characters alone! All of the best PS2 RPGs should (and probably have) taken a leaf from Tolkein’s book!
I know RPGs are all about exploring new and exciting universes, but what could be better than stepping into Middle Earth for your very own adventure, complimenting the original texts and following in the footsteps of real heroes?
Ok, not real, but you know what I mean…
So what puts Lord of the Rings: The Third Age above Final Fantasy XII and Tales of Symphonia? Well, it’s a game that sees warriors following the fellowship and dealing with the mess they left behind.
Do I need to say anything else?
If that isn’t enough to tempt you in, then let me drop a serious nerd-bomb. You can even play some of the epic scenes from the movies, taking part in battles that help to sway the fate of Middle Earth.
Plus, you don’t even have to fight on the side of good. Become one of Sauron’s most trusted warriors and see Middle Earth burn if you so wish.
Battle against Orcs or team up with the Balrogs in one of the most thought out titles in this list of the best PS2 RPGs. Which side will you choose?
What; Final Fantasy X isn’t taking the top spot in this best PS2 RPGs compendium? What kind of madness is this?
Before we go ahead, I’m going to let you into a couple of secrets. I once died my hair like the main character and got seriously bullied for it, and I also lied to all my mates when they asked me if I was free because I became so obsessed with it.
Yeah, that’s how sad I was as a kid. Still, the game that beats this has gotta be pretty good; I’m a harsh critic with obvious unaddressed obsessive traits that should probably be looked at at a later date…
It’s fair to say that FFX had a big (and unhealthy) impact on my life. Just look at the graphics below though; this was the first time I’d ever seen anything so mindblowing. Maybe without this title I might never have become a games writer…
… which could be a good or bad thing depending on how much you like my articles!
If you know your Final Fantasy games, then you’ll already be aware of how complicated the plot is. I could best describe it as being more puzzling than solving a Sudoku puzzle while hanging by your ears over a red hot lava pool.
Join Tidus on a mission to defeat a weird whale looking thing called Sin. Sin’s bad news and destroyed our hero’s hometown of Zanarkand, and now Tidus is out for revenge.
Take part in fast-paced battles boasting all the turn-based magic we’ve come to know and love from this series. Take part in Blitzball (a bit like the disc battles from Tron), dye your hair like a prat, and hide from your friends until they leave you alone with your precious game.
Hey, it happens to the best of us!
Dark Cloud 2 is the best PS2 RPG of all time!
Despite my freaky obsession with FFX, I can’t deny that Dark Cloud 2 is the best RPG on the PlayStation 2. It’s a sequel to Dark Cloud without having any of the same characters or storyline…
… a sequel in name only, then, along with the same epic gameplay style that made the first title such a success.
Wield a sword and a spanner as you help two brave heroes travel back in time in order to change the future. It’s a serious case of the Grandmother paradox (look it up and have your mind blown!)
So what’s changed and what’s the same as the first game? Well, players still have to find orbs to rebuild their home world, and the same dungeon crawling and explorative gameplay plays a big part.
Dark Cloud 2 introduces a new world building feature akin to Rollercoaster Tycoon crossed with Black & White. It’s only available after collecting a certain amount of Geostones, so make sure you look everywhere and get them all!
Any epic adventure where time travel is a key part of the storyline is a winner in my book. Battle enemies, chat to enigmatic NPCs, and recruit key allies into your party on your journey. Stop Emperor Griffin from sending the world into chaos or die trying (but also, try not to die, ok?)!