Kingdom Hearts has been pleasing RPG fans since its 2002 inception on the PS2. Even though it has sometimes been many years between mainline entries and spin-offs, the series have never left the limelight. The combat is simple on the surface, but extremely fun and comes with a depth of its own.
While no game is exactly like it, any fan might find some enjoyment from the ten games below. Some of them are simple hack and slash RPGs, while others are more advanced and offer a significant challenge. Even more so than turn-based RPGs, action-RPGs live and die by their combat.
10 Secret Of Mana
The Mana series feels like the closest to a true Kingdom Hearts predecessor. On the SNES, it was easily one of the finest real-time action-RPGs. Players could also go through to story with at least one friend with convenient cooperative play options. Many of the games have seen remakes in recent years as well. None of the games will be challenging your skills, but they are all smooth and fun experiences, especially with a friend.
9 Persona 5: Strikers
Kingdom Hearts is far from a musou, but Persona 5: Strikers is not the average game from developer Omega Force. This action-RPG carries many elements signature to the Persona series, and serves as a direct sequel to Persona 5, one of the most celebrated RPGs of the generation.
Fortunately, it does not take 100 hours to beat, and is instead a more manageable 30 to 40 hours. For an Omega Force game, the narrative is surprisingly deep.
8 Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Few towns exist in Kingdom Hearts, meaning most of your gameplay time is spent going from room to room taking out enemies. For an even more concentrated combat experience, we’d suggest a dungeon crawler like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Even if you are not a Marvel fan, it should still provide some solid entertainment. The most recent release, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, is a Nintendo Switch exclusive. The multiple characters also lend to gameplay variety.
Souls-likes might not be on the top of everybody’s minds when thinking about Kingdom Hearts, but similarities exist. The combat is way deeper, of course, and gameplay is given precedence over story, but it is an action-RPG none the less. Character builds are more customizable as well, and each weapon has its own distinct move set. Just be weary of the game’s extreme difficulty, because Bloodborne and other games from Hidetaka Miyazaki are renowned for their challenge.
6 The World Ends With You
The World Ends With You is worth playing for more reasons than the combat. This 2007 Nintendo DS game was produced by Tetsuya Nomura, the creator of the Kingdom Hearts series. The combat is reliant on touch screen controls, so it differs slightly from Kingdom Hearts in that respect. The game was re-released on Nintendo Switch with updated gameplay and visuals, and a sequel is in development for both the Switch and PS4.
5 Ni No Kuni 2
The Ni no Kuni franchise started life on the Nintendo DS, but it really blew up when it came to the PS3 with Wrath of the White Witch. The art style, crafted with the help of Studio Ghibli, shines on the more powerful hardware. The most recent mainline entry, Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom lives up to the series’ high standards. There is a separate battle screen and arena, but you are able to freely run around it during combat.
Supergiant Games is currently riding high off the success from Hades, one of the most celebrated video games of 2020. The roguelike has an unprecedented amount of narrative content for the genre.
The developer’s knack for telling great stories in unique ways did not start at Hades, however. Just go back to Bastion, Supergiant’s first game. In addition to being a fun isometric action-RPG, it also tells a somber tale through the use of an omniscient narrator.
3 Nier: Automata
Nier: Automata might actually beat out Kingdom Hearts for a weirder narrative. It also actually makes sense, at least if you think about the game’s several endings and analyze them enough. The combat is fairly simple and similar to the Kingdom Hearts franchise. In fact, the difficulty is its greatest weakness. Normal mode is too easy, while harder difficulties are just cruel. We wish a finer balance existed. All the same, Nier: Automata is a fantastic game for anyone interested in strange stories.
2 Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity
The second game from developer Omega Force on this list, Hyrue Warriors: Ago of Calamity is a must play for any Legend of Zelda fan based on how true it is to the franchise. Some are disappointed that it is not canon, but at least it gives fans a look at Hyrule prior to Breath of the Wild. Unlike the original Hyrule Warriors, the story is more involved. It is a pleasure seeing familiar faces from the 2017 mainline Zelda game.
1 Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Before making Kingdom Hearts, Tetsuya Nomura worked on Final Fantasy 7 and designed all the main characters. He eventually directed Final Fantasy 7 Remake in 2020. The gameplay perfectly mixes real-time combat with the ATB system from the original. Many were worried the gameplay would be exactly like Kingdom Hearts, and instead it manages to creatively marry the franchise’s gameplay with Final Fantasy. We wonder how the combat will evolve in future entries of the remake series.