As the prolific (and damn-near perfect) Final Fantasy "trilogy" of VII, VIII and IX drew to a close, many started to move away from turn-based Square RPGs, as the dawn of the PS2 was increasingly within reach.
It became a shame then, that Square Enix actually turned out one of their all-time best works, as a one-off instalment, devoid of any franchise ties.
Innovative as hell by discarding turn-taking combat in favour of a real-time approach centred entirely on positioning, timing and specific attack buffs that could be combo'd together, you were free to pause time and consider the next move, with animations playing out in between. Targeting limbs and weak points was here too, and you can do extra damage by using the right weapon per enemy, or timing an additional button press - all of which overhauled boss encounters and made the whole experience run far faster than any Final Fantasy.
Yes, the character designs fall entirely into the more "whacky", "everyone's half-naked" side of art direction Square became known for in the early 2000s, but gameplay-wise, Vagrant Story is one of the most unique RPGs ever made.