10 Best Square Enix Games Ranked

This list ranks the ten best Square Enix games ever made. This includes extremely popular and somewhat obscure games that all have an outstanding quality. Story depth, combat systems, music, legacy, and multiple other factors are all taken into consideration.

10 Best Square Enix Games RankedSquare Enix is a company known for their cast RPG library. They own some of the best selling and most iconic RPG franchises of all time; Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts just to name a few. They’ve made hundreds upon hundreds of RPGs over the decades, but not all of them are of equal quality.

This list will be ranking the 10 best games they’ve ever made, but with one rule. Only one game per franchise is allowed, unless there is a noteworthy spin-off sub-series. This is so that more series get a chance to shine on this list, rather than having a list full of the same franchises on repeat.

#10: Drakengard 3

This 2013 action RPG was only ever released on the PS3 when it came to consoles, although the best way to play is with a frame rate mod on PC due to some instability on the original platform. Regardless of its frame rate flaw, Drakengard 3 makes its way into this list due to its incredible story and humor that could only ever be written by Yoko Taro. Very few RPGs have taken an adult comedy approach in the same way this game has. The story follows a foul-mouthed woman named Zero and an innocent dragon baby who have to team up to kill Zero’s holy goddess-like sisters. The pacing of comedy and action sequences are phenomenal, and it’ll leave an unforgettable impression on all players.

Zero and Mikhail from Drakengard 3.

Zero and Mikhail from Drakengard 3.

Drakengard is very obscure so many NieR fans may not actually know this, but both are actually connected series. Drakengard 1, Drakengard 3, NieR Replicant, and NieR Automata all share an amazing overarching storyline. Both a Drakengard and NieR title get to make the list despite this due to the large difference in fandom size and gameplay qualities. They’re still different enough to warrant a separate placement despite technically being connected.

Drakengard 3 - English Trailer

#9: Chrono Cross

Most people think of Chrono Trigger when the Chrono series is mentioned. Chrono Trigger is a fantastic must-play game about time travel, but it’s actually the 1999 PS1 sequel that is taking a spot on this list. Chrono Cross is a game that takes place in two parallel dimensions. This concept was seen in a few older Square Enix games like Final Fantasy 5 and Dragon Quest 6, but Chrono Cross has a story that feels more complex than what either of those offer. It’s full of time devouring lore, body switching, and many other concepts that keeps the player itching for more.

Chrono Cross official art.

Chrono Cross official art.

Not only that, but it also has a massive roster of 45 playable characters. Very few older RPGs have a roster of this magnitude. Square Enix truly put maximum effort into this game after the success of its predecessor. Many Chrono Trigger fans overlook Chrono Cross despite it being an incredible conclusion to the Chrono multiverse. The best way to play the game is the Radical Dreamers Edition remake on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition - Announce Trailer | PS4

Honorable Mention: Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is an era defining game that was worked on by many incredible Square Soft and Enix devs who worked on Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and other legendary games prior. A team full of the best of the best would result in a game brimming with quality of life details, an entertaining story, and gameplay that was above the standard quality at the time of its release. Features like having monsters in the overworld, a New Game+ (a term Chrono Trigger created) feature, and more were very uncommon at the time.

CHRONO TRIGGER – Launch Trailer

There is no doubt that Chrono Trigger is an incredible game that most fans of older RPGs should play. The reason it’s sequel takes the spot instead is merely due to more engaging plot twists, a more definitive finale, and for feeling a little more unique. While it is true that Chrono Cross is not the first game to take place in two parallel dimensions, neither is Chrono Trigger the first time travel themed RPG made by Square Soft. That game in question will appear later in this list. You can find CT on Steam, as well as some older systems like the SNES and Nintendo DS.

#8: Neo The World Ends With You

Neo The World Ends With You (Neo TWEWY) is one of Square Enix’s best modern games. The story is about recently deceased characters being trapped in an afterlife game created by grim reaper-like entities that will decide the fate of their hometown. That concept is interesting enough on its own, but the characters are also in a race against time. The protag’s ability to revert time by an entire day leads to some incredible plot twists on a level that surpassed most modern Square Enix games.

Neo TWEWY official art.

New TWEWY official art.

Add in a soundtrack full of style, the original TWEWY‘s map in full 3D, and a massive amount of customization via equipable pin attacks. There’s a lot that Neo TWEWY does right, and very little that it does wrong. The combat can feel a little button mashy at times, but the customization easily makes up for it. The same can be said about its other minor flaws. Most of what it gets wrong is easily overshadowed by the sheer amount of things it does right. Neo TWEWY is available on both PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

NEO: The World Ends with You - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Honorable Mention: The World Ends With You

A lot of DS era games tried throwing in touch screen controls randomly as a gimmick, but the original TWEWY was a game that managed to do it right. Sliding, tapping, and other movements will determine what attacks you do. The second screen shows what attacks the paired up party member is using, and some attacks were themed around sending things from one screen to the other.

The World Ends with You: Final Remix - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

It’s full of smart ideas that made use of every quality that the DS was capable of. It also, of course, had an incredible soundtrack and story just like the sequel. While the sequel may not be as unique in terms of gameplay due to being a standard home console game, its story concepts and other qualities do surpass the original. The original TWEWY is available on Nintendo Switch with a small extra story that leads into the sequel, but original DS hardware is better for this game due to how it was originally designed. Regardless of version, it’ll still be a great experience nonetheless.

#7: Final Fantasy 10

The Final Fantasy franchise is by far Square Enix’s best selling series, and no list about their best games would be complete without an entry from it. Final Fantasy 10 is chosen due to its unique combat system. Conditional Turn Based combat involves each party member and monster having their own individual turn, and most attacks have a speed stat that determines how quickly they get to attack again after using it. This makes FF10 the most strategic game in the series.

Yuna and Titus artwork.

Yuna and Tidus artwork.

The world of Spira is also filled with many memorable characters and lore. The world is in ruin after a massive beast called Sin haunts the land. Summoners adventure across the world to collect powerful beasts known as Aeons that can seal Sin away for a set amount of time. The story is more than that though. It also covers themes about breaking a cycle and forging your own future. Check out this list that ranks every mainline Final Fantasy game.

#6: Live A Live

Takashi Tokita (the creator of Chrono Trigger) worked on a few other games before his most popular title. One of those games is Live A Live. This is a time-themed RPG in which every chapter takes place in a different point in time before an event causes all the protagonists to come together. Every chapter has extremely distinct story qualities; pre-history is about a caveman in an era where no one can talk since language hasn’t been invented yet, imperial China era is about a martial artist who trains pupils before he passes away, the Wild West is about a gunman who places traps to protect a town from invaders, present day is about a man who fights tough goes around the world Street Fighter style, distant future is about a robot who has to escape an alien on their spaceship, and so on. Each scenario is super unique, so there is a storyline for everyone.

Live A Live remake part.

Live A Live remake part.

This game was originally released on SNES, although it was never localized until the modern HD remake. This has resulted in the game mainly only being popular in Japan, but its legacy can absolutely still be seen worldwide. Games like Undertale were inspired by the Edo Japan era in Live A Live in which a ninja can do a pacifist or genocide route on his way through an enemy base. Chrono Trigger’s time based narrative was also clearly inspired by this game.

LIVE A LIVE - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

One thing that strangely few of its spiritual successors have taken notes from is its unique gameplay. Live A Live combat takes place on a grid somewhat akin to a tactical RPG (such as the combat seen in series like Fire Emblem), and a lot of special moves can only hit certain tiles. This results in some very strategic battles. Live A Live also has great quality of life features like the party being healed after each battle. This means every encounter is impactful, instead of the game throwing random fodder enemies at the player like a lot of RPGs do.

#5: Kingdom Hearts 2

When it comes to action combat, no Square Enix series comes close to touching Kingdom Hearts in quality. KH2 may very well have the best action combat in any game from the PS2 era. That alone would be sufficient for it being placed on this list, but what helps it reach the top 5 is its crossover aspect. Kingdom Hearts blends Disney and Final Fantasy characters, spells, worlds, and other aspects together beautifully. KH2 is where this aspect reached its peak. There’s nearly a dozen Final Fantasy characters from FF6-10 in KH2, as well as the usual Disney icons like Mickey Mouse, Donald, Goofy, Hades, Mulan, Simba, and so on.

Kingdom Hearts 2 | PS2 | Trailer

This game is also where KH‘s story starts to really shine. KH1 and Chain of Memories had good concepts, but KH2‘s lore and plot twists elevate it to a whole new level. KH2 should only be played after its predecessors since their stories connect heavily. Luckily, there’s a collection of nearly the entire series called Kingdom Hearts All-in-One Package.


Honorable Mention: Kingdom Hearts 3

KH2 combat is great, but a lot of features have been added to the franchise since. KH3 has better movement options, Keyblade mechanics, and more that make it more fun to play. Its story doesn’t quite reach the same quality of KH2, but it’s still more than worthy of being an honorable mention on this list thanks to its addicting combat and larger worlds to explore.


#4: Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 Professional

Dragon Quest Monsters is a spin-off series that was originally created on the GameBoy. It was likely made to compete with Pokemon, although Dragon Quest did have monster taming mechanics as far back as Dragon Quest 5 on the SNES. This spin-off series quickly became one of the most popular and for good reason. Games like Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 1 pushed their original hardware to its limits. DQMJ1 released during the same time that Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were releasing, yet it had full 3D environments, monsters in the overworld, and other aspects that other monster tamers would not dare to until the 3DS and Switch generations. Getting a full scale 3D high budget DS RPG from a third-party company in 2006 was mind-blowing, and that’s not even the best aspect of this series.

Joker 3 protagonist.

Joker 3 protagonist.

Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 Professional has 700 monsters that can be fought, bought, mounted, and more. Even massive kaijus sized monsters can be ridden upon while exploring the unique space island setting. Players travel around islands in space that are remnants of a super computer experiment gone wrong. Dragon Quest is often known for its medieval atmosphere, but this spin-off is nothing short of sci-fi. DQMJ3 is not only one of the most unique and engaging DQ spin-offs, but also one of the best monster tamers ever made. The only unfortunate downside to this game is needing to play a fan translation since it was never officially localized.

Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 Professional Trailer

#3: Dragon Quest 4 Chapters of the Chosen

Most NES era RPGs did not age well at all, but one that rises above the odds is DQ4 (the DS and mobile remake is vastly better though). It’s one of the very first RPGs to have an engaging cast of characters, an intriguing villain who has a reason to be evil, and a story structure that changes protagonists from chapter to chapter. Some chapters even have concepts that feel unique to this day, such as Torneko’s chapter allowing you to work as the merchant who sells weapons at shops behind the scenes. DQ4 is full of charm at every corner.

Dragon Quest 4's party.

Dragon Quest 4’s party.

Dragon Quest is the oldest turn based JRPG series, and as such it went on to inspire countless other media (both game and anime alike). Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Earthbound, Phantasy Star, Persona, One Piece, Hunter X Hunter, and much more would not exist without this series. Dragon Quest 3 is certainly the most significant when it comes to how much it inspired, and there’s a good case for other titles like DQ5 as well, but DQ4 ranks high in that aspect too. DQ4 earns this spot among other titles due to its story structure and incredible villain most of all.

E3 2008: Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen Trailer

Honorable Mention: Dragon Quest 11 S Echoes of and Elusive Age Definitive Edition

This game would easily rank in the top 5 if not for the one game per series rule. DQ11 is a game that represents everything the series and genre stand for. It’s an incredible journey with a memorable cast of characters, lore that expands classic titles, and several neat twists on the classic formula that somehow still feel in place. The hero of legend being considered an outlaw, the main antagonist obtaining the legendary sword first, timeline lore, and other aspects keep the narrative fresh and interesting despite still sharing many qualities with games from the past.

DQ is arguably the most RPG-like series out of all RPG series due to its legacy and the sheer influence it had on the genre, so a game like DQ11 that knows how to spice up the formula while still staying true to its origins makes it a perfect modern classic. DQ11 knows exactly how to blend old-school charm with modern advancements which can’t be said for some other RPGs that transform drastically over time.

DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition - Story Trailer - Nintendo Switch

DQ11 also has some incredible other qualities. It’s brimming with optional content, and is essentially two games in one. The Definitive Edition of the game features a 2D mode in which the entire game is transformed into a top down pixelated game just like the classics. The skill tree, Draconian Quest challenges, and much more add additional replayability to the game. DQ11 is missing a few features like class changing from some older titles, but what it does offer makes up for that. DQ11 is a modern classic that can be found on all modern platforms.

#2: NieR Automata

NieR Automata is a game designed around a lot of psychology. Concepts like the meaning to life, what makes something sentient, and other questions are all woven together in a very impactful way. It’s a game filled with powerful messages like finding courage to keep going even after failing many times. Some aspects of NieR Automata‘s story feel more like a physiology work of art than a mere game. The main storyline revolves around androids fighting robots in an effort to save the last bit of humanity still alive on the moon, although there’s much more to its lore hidden beneath the surface.

2B from NieR Automata.

2B from NieR Automata.

The quality of life improvements NieR Automata makes over its predecessors makes it the easiest entry to get into, albeit not the best when it comes to story order. Most older Yoko Taro games required grinding a large amount of side content to get the real ending, but this time around you can get all main storylines by just progressing as you world normally (there are five main ‘endings’ that each become unlocked after beating the first one).

NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

NieR Automata also manages to incorporate a lot of game physics into its lore. Things like restarting after dying is explained by your character uploading their data to a new android body. There are countless other examples like this that help the game never break immersion, despite ironically breaking the fourth wall directly on a few occasions. Additionally, Automata is full of incredible music. All-in-all, NieR Automata is an extremely unique experience that is easily one of Square Enix’s best modern titles. Thankfully , it can be played on most modern systems.

Honorable Mention: NieR Replicant Ver 1.22474487139

The original NieR game is a nearly equally great RPG that would also be a top 5 contender if not for the rules of this list. It contains a better cast of characters than its sequel, one of the best soundtracks Square Enix has ever made, and some excellent small details that foreshadow its story. NieR Replicant is a better starting point for the NieR series since Automata references its plotline. It merely didn’t make the list like its successor due to less psychological symbolism. Replicant‘s remake can be found on PS4.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... - TGS Trailer | PS4

#1: Xenogears

Being overly ambitious can often be the downfall of a project, but Xenogears shows that sometimes ambition can lead to something breathtaking. Xenogears is by no means perfect, as the gameplay is merely on par with most other PS1 RPGs, but the story is nothing short of revolutionary. It’s a story so complex and thought provoking that even Square themselves thought it wouldn’t make sense to be called a Final Fantasy or Chrono game. It was originally pitched as FF7 before it ultimately became its own project entirely due to how deep the narrative dives.

Xenogears box art.

Xenogears box art.

The amount of depth to the lore and plot twists in Xenogears solidifies it as the best game Square Enix has ever made. There is so much lore in fact, that an actual lore book on the sane scale as The Legend of Zelda‘s Hyrule Historia was created. Having a lore book for a single game equal to that of an entire 20 game franchise should put Xenogears’ depth into perspective. The music, animated cutscenes, and other aspects also help Xenogears place this high.

The story follows an amnesiac who is skilled in both painting and martial arts as he finds the truth behind mecha called Gears, traverses war torn locations, and learns lore that flips his perception of the world upside down. It’s a story worth elaborating on very little, because every player should be able to experience what it has to offer as blindly as possible. Xenogears originally released on PS1, and is unfortunately not available on anything newer than PS3.

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