When it comes to the best anime games, you can expect to dive into sprawling adventures, try to solve puzzles, shed some tears with moving stories, and perhaps even dip into the realm of horror. Like manga and anime series, the best anime-inspired games range in tone dramatically from thoughtful and evocative to grandiose and adolescent, and everything in between.
Anime series are categorized into subgenres for that same reason – Dragon Ball is an unambiguous “shonen,” Neon Genesis Evangelion a “mecha,” Sailor Moon a “shojo,” and so forth. Whatever your tastes, you're almost certain to find something you like in the wonderfully diverse niche of anime-inspired video games.
10. Doki Doki Literature Club
Available on: PC
If you aren't at all familiar with Doki Doki Literature Club, you probably have a lot of questions. And I can tell you that whatever you might think of it given the name, Doki Doki Literature Club probably isn't anything like what you're expecting. Even looking at screenshots, you'd probably imagine you're dealing with a run-of-the-mill, anime-inspired dating sim, but you'd never guess the horrific psychological nightmare waiting for you just beneath that shiny harem surface.
Doki Doki Literature Club is a violent, genre-busting psychological horror game and interactive visual novel just waiting to mess you up. Final warning: Doki Doki wears cute clothes, but the plot deals in shockingly heavy themes and subjects including depression, suicide, insanity, and the grotesque. If you can stomach it, Doki Doki Literature Club tells a story worth hearing, well worth the scary trip.
9. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
If you've ever wanted to inhabit the most powerful heroes of the Dragon Ball universe and exact revenge on any one of their many foes, Dragon Ball FighterZ offers that satisfying, almost cathartic experience. Of course, you can also embrace your inner-villain and fight Goku as Frieza, Buu, Kid Buu, Beerus, Cell, and Captain Ginyu.
It's hard to live up to the sheer energy that's drawn so many viewers to Dragon Ball over more than three decades, but Dragon Ball FighterZ is easily the most successful fighting game at doing so based in the series' universe. It's fast, punchy, visually awesome, and most importantly, makes you feel like Goku – or Cell, depending on your moral compass.
8. Tales of Berseria
Available on: PS4, PC
If you're looking for a traditional JRPG with a heavy anime bend, Tales of Berseria fits the bill and then some. The combat, if not entirely innovative, is challenging enough to engage through the roughly 60-hour campaign, but the real highlight is the emotionally-captivating storytelling.
Bucking so many trends we aren't soon to miss, Tales of Berseria follows a relentlessly badass female protagonist – a first for the series – in her journey to avenge her brother's death by killing his murderer. It sounds formulaic enough, but Tales of Berseria will surprise you at every plot-turn, and in-between keep you satisfied enough with its battling to see what happens next.
7. Astral Chain
Available on: Nintendo Switch
If the anime you prefer are of the stylized, global, and awe-inspiring type, Astral Chain is right up your alley. And if you're at all familiar with PlatinumGames' other IPs, like Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, you're already largely familiar with Astral Chain's vibe.
The combat is frenetic, the visuals are bright and busy, and boss fights are brilliantly inventive. Better yet, and sort-of surprising for the genre, Astral Chain tells a well-crafted story well worth paying attention to. For a little bit of everything, including smartly-designed side quests, platforming, and puzzle-solving elements, Astral Chain is your most stylish and categorically shonen choice.
6. Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999)
Available on: PS4, PC, PS Vita
999 is another oddball sleeper hit with a unique gameplay flow structured around a surprisingly captivating story. Also like Catherine, the story branches into different paths based on your choices, although in 999 reaching the “true ending” requires multiple playthroughs.
Playing through the stressful, at-times violent story requires sitting through something of a visual novel, interrupted by sequences of puzzle-solving to escape situations. The plot is nothing short of a dreadful situation; you wake up on a cruise ship with eight other captives, and your goal is to find the door marked ‘9' before time runs out and the ship sinks. Worse yet, disobeying commands in “the Nonary Games” causes a bomb placed inside your stomach to detonate. Needless to say, the stakes are high in 999, and you feel the intensity from the opening sequence through to the end.