A beginner’s guide to first-person, party-based dungeon-crawlers on the PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita has become a haven for RPGs, but there is one particular type that has really made itself at home on the system. People who love first-person dungeon-crawlers with turn-based battles and often customizable parties can find tons on the system. Developers like Experience and Compile Heart have taken to the system. This means people who enjoy level grinding and customizing characters have plenty of options to choose from when looking for a new game to play. To help you out, here are some English-language options you can find for the system.

The must-plays

Demon Gaze

NIS America (Experience)

Demon Gaze is one of the first RPGs in this genre on the PlayStation Vita. It lets you create characters in different classes, with different races impacting their abilities. You can capture bosses you have fought and summon them to help you fight in battles. There is a rather strong story about Demon Gazers, people who can seal demons. You can also enter into relationships with characters at your hub area. It is not too challenging, making it a good place for Vita owners to start.

Ray Gigant

Acttil (Experience)

I like to think of Ray Gigant as a first-person, party-based dungeon-crawler for people who normally would not like the genre. People follow the adventures of three different protagonists and their teams as they defeat aliens called Gigants in a story-heavy game. All enemy encounters are shown on the map and it is challenging, but it is not too complicated and forces people to play smart.

Stranger of Sword City

NIS America (Experience)

Stranger of Sword City is a game that is complicated and diverse, but actually does a good job of explaining what you have to do and why. You create characters and sort them into classes. You gain faction skills that impact abilities. As party members age, their abilities change and they may eventually die and leave your party for good. Also, as you go along, you make choices that can lead to different endings. A revisited version with more content is also available.

The next steps

Demon Gaze II

NIS America (Experience)

If people enjoyed the original Demon Gaze, Demon Gaze II has a lot more to give. There are more characters to acquire and date, an even more involved story about a rebellion against a corrupt government and new ways to grow and maintain demons. It is more complex than the original and has an absolutely huge post-game section.

Dungeon Traveler 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal

Atlus (Aqua Plus)

Dungeon Traveler 2 is a complex game that has distinct, pre-made characters you can build up, lots of classes and skills that can be upgraded, a serious storyline and lots to do during the main campaign and after it. This is a game for people who know how to survive dungeon-crawlers designed to test them. Just be aware that lots of fanservice is present here.

Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy

NIS America (Experience)

Operation Abyss is a game where you get to completely create your characters, determining Xth Squad members’ blood codes and personalities. These squads you made head into a labyrinth called the Abyss, completing missions. In an interesting twist, you can leave notes for other dungeon-crawlers as tips or warnings. It does not offer many explanations, so only people familiar with the genre should dive into it.

The deeper cuts

The Lost Child

NIS America (Kadokawa)

It might be easiest to think of The Lost Child as a dungeon-crawler that borrows ideas from visual novels and games like Pokemon. There are lots of angels, demons and fallen angels to recruit, with each of them having multiple evolutionary stages. During story segments, you will be asked to make decisions that give you karma to evolve your party members and impact character responses. It is an RPG that dabbles in multiple genres, while also tapping into El Shaddai mythology a bit.

Mary Skelter: Nightmares

Idea Factory International (Compile Heart)

Mary Skelter: Nightmares is a game that can get quite difficult, due to players needing to manage pre-made party members’ corruption to keep them mentally stable, give the living dungeon what it needs and properly handle super strong Nightmare bosses that will chase you. Its use of fairy tales and horror elements act as accents to a game that makes you think. Also, like Dungeon Traveler 2 earlier, there is a lot of fanservice here.

Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy

NIS America (Experience)

Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is the sequel to Operation Abyss, which means it functions similarly. Again, it does not hold your hand. In fact, I would say it gets a bit more complicated, since it allows your party members to multi-class by having more than one Blood Code. It is not as long as the original game, so it is really more of a game for people who enjoyed the original and would like to adventure a little more in its world.

The rest

MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

Idea Factory (Compile Heart)

MeiQ is a relatively easy, not too long game with dungeons that are not at all difficult to explore. You have pre-determined characters who each have their own robots the can bring into battle.

Mind Zero

Aksys (Acquire and Zerodiv)

Mind Zero is inspired by the first entry in the Persona series, which means we have first-person dungeons to explore and a cast of pre-made high schoolers fighting our turn-based battles. The downside is, it ends on a cliffhanger that seems like it will never be resolved.

Moero Chronicle

Sony Computer Entertainment (Compile Heart)

Moero Chronicle is a game where dungeon-crawling is the primary focus. Players get monster girls to join them on a journey that involves attacking other monster girls. There are also dating elements and “touching” segments. To get it in English, you will need to import an Asian version of Moero Chronicle.

Moero Crystal

Sony Computer Entertainment (Compile Heart)

Everything I wrote about Moero Chronicle applies to Moero Crystal, as it is a direct sequel. Again, you need to import the Asian version of the game to play it in English.

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