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jackie jorp jomp
Junior Member
(09-18-2017, 11:06 PM)
jackie jorp jomp's Avatar
Parking this, I'll be working on it tonight but I'll drop a few in

Essential RPGs of 2017


Planescape: Torment

While I was a young book nerd completely lost by the D&D stuff in Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, PS:T feels like it was tailor made for me. I must have played through my old gatefold CD copy at least 10 times before I figured out you could copy the discs to a hard drive to avoid swapping discs. The edgy setting you'd expect in the 90's was one thing, but it couldn't have come together without the incredible writing, and we all know what that crew went on to make. I loved going exhausting the conversation trees and playing every seemingly pointless quest for the narrative pay off. I loved that most combat was relegated to optional areas.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Planescape:Torment
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Chrono Cross
Baldur's Gate 2
Final Fantasy VII
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
Fallout: New Vegas
Morrowind
Earthbound
SMT: Strange Journey
Final Fantasy VIII


--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by jackie jorp jomp; 10-14-2017 at 11:31 PM.
Fou-Lu
Member
(09-18-2017, 11:36 PM)
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I plan to expound upon this post, but this is a good start!

Fou-Lu's Essential RPGs of 2017


Terranigma is a truly special game. Its uniqueness shines through in every respect. From the story filled with twists, turns and surprises, to the addicting and fun Zelda-esque gameplay, to the ever growing depth in creating the new history of a world. It's a shame that North America did not get this game during the SNES era, for I am certain that if it had we would all be looking back on Terranigma as one of the greatest SNES games of all time. In my opinion it is THE best SNES game. It's also one of the most heartbreaking games I have ever played. SovanJedi's art inspired by the ending makes me tear up every time I see it.


Final Fantasy IX is the culmination of the Final Fantasy series up until that point. It brings together everything we knew of as Final Fantasy and does near perfectly. The charm of this game cannot be beat. It has some of the greatest character moments in video game history, one of the greatest romances in a video game, one of the most memorable worlds, the best chocobo minigame, the best iteration of the ATB battle system, and in the end it gives you an adventure that you will never forget. The ending is one of the most superbly down bittersweet moments ever. You'll tear up from both happiness and sadness in equal measure. It also has some of my favourite versions of jobs throughout FF history: Freya is my favourite dragoon in the series, Vivi is my favourite black mage, Zidane is my favourite thief.


Final Fantasy VII is an emotional game for me. I will never forget crying with my older brother over Aerith's death. I will never forget the first time I played the game for myself and I cried all over again. I will never forget Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, Yuffie, Vincent, Red XIII, or Cait Sith. I will never forget Rufus, Reno, Rude, Hojo, Jenova, or Sephiroth. I will never forget exploring Sector 7 and Midgar, entering the Shinra Building, encountering the dead Midgar Zolom, returning to Nibelheim, relaxing in Costa del Sol, enjoying the Gold Saucer (and the date with Tifa, Yuffie, Aerith or Barret depending on my playthrough), finding out the truth about Nanaki's dad, the failed rocket launch, or that final Omnislash. It's a game that has shaped me in ways that I don't even realize and got me through many rough times.


Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a wonderful game. The judgement ring system is incredibly clever and the implements of status ailments around it is even more so. Not to mention how customizable the rings are. Combine that great battle system with a spooky, silly and dark atmosphere in a truly novel setting and you get something exceptional. The fact that the story takes place after the BAD ending of Shadow Hearts 1 is mind blowing. PS2 JRPGs were an era of throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the game, and while sometimes that results in games with minigames and sidequests that feel out of place, every one of those moments in Covenant feels like it builds the world and characters.


Based on my username and avatar it should come as no surprise that I love Breath of Fire IV. As a series Breath of Fire was one of my firsts in gaming, and Breath of Fire II may have even been the first game I ever completed. To this day I still love each and every game in the series and replay them quite often. None of them has touched me in quite the same way as IV. Breath of Fire IV is a beautifully told and impressively dark story where you get to play as both Ryu and his friends, and Fou-Lu the ancient Emperor with a mysterious connection to our hero. Never before have I played a game where you watch the main antagonists storyline develop as the hero's does. This story is then fit into a gorgeous world with some of the best sprites that have ever existed and a battle system that is surprisingly tactical and deep.


The Mother series contains some of the best writing in gaming and the final installment of the trilogy is by far the most ambitious and impressive. Its whimsical nature hides a sad and thought provoking interior. For the first half of the game each chapter puts you in control of a different character, you see the world through their eyes and grow to understand this place where these charming characters inhabit. It has a fun rhythm based combo system, unique character abilities and two of those party members are animals (a dog and a monkey)! The quirky cast of NPCs interacts with you throughout the game and you grow to know them too, not just your party and the villains. This is a living, breathing world that you explore and set out to save. The ending stretch (including its connections to Earthbound) are some of the most impactful moments I've experienced in a video game. This is another tearjerker.


Everyone loves Chrono Trigger, and for good reason. You have a genuinely touching coming of age tale told to the back drop of a crazy time travelling adventure. You have a cast of characters that are unforgettable and true to themselves. You have the innovative take on the ATB battle scheme with battles taking place on the maps you explore and awesome combination attacks that people love to praise. You have the first new game+ in history and the many endings to keep you playing long after you first see the credits. You have the great Toriyama art, the phenomenal Mitsuda soundtrack, Kato's writing, and the mind blowing team up of Sakaguchi and Horii. This is another game that has made me tear up. Seeing a pattern yet?


Many people seem to consider Chrono Cross a bad game, or at the least a bad sequel to Chrono Trigger. I am not saying those people are wrong but.. if the shoe fits. Chrono Cross holds all the charm of its older brother, but takes everything to a deeper level and takes itself more seriously. That could have been a bad thing, but I think Kato really succeeded in making a truly special follow up to Chrono Trigger. And of course Mitsuda is back to make our ears fall in love. Cross has the most dazzling prerendered backgrounds ever. It has a setting teeming with life and intrigue and beauty. It has a great combat system that is very much its own animal. It took a new look at levelling up and was all the better for it. It brings you on a journey that will surprise, delight and weigh on your emotionally. To me, you cannot have Trigger without Cross, they are two parts of one crazy and wonderful whole. Oh, and it made me tear up.


Tetsuya Takahashi is a genius. I just had to get that out of the way. Xenogears is a twisted, beautiful, mindbending, terrifying journey into philosophical and moral questions. It's a game that was too big for its own good and ended far too soon. Despite that, it is an amazing product with some of the best writing AND plotting in all of video games. Xenogears is a game that you learn almost as much about yourself when you play it, as you do about the world and characters.


Xenosaga was a chance at redemption for Takahashi and his team, another go at the grand tale that they had wished to tell in Xenogears and its potential prequels and sequels. The first and second episodes are good but flawed games. The third and final episode is a different beast entirely, it is nearly perfect. It brings to conclusion an incredible tale told across the three episode in a satisfying and constantly surprising way. It will make you stare agape over and over. It finally sorts out the art style issues the previous episode had and looks beautiful because of it. It is probably the highlight of Yuki Kajiura's career as a composer.

Fou-Lu's Honourable Mentions (Or Perhaps Next Year's Essentials?)

I only played this recently, and I feel like the gameplay is too flawed to be in the top ten essential RPGs, but what it does have is an incredible, dark, cinematic tale from the brilliant mind of Matsuno. Everything ties together so beautiful, the story, the music, the art, the world. And the ending will blow you away.


One of the most unique games ever made. Undertale is something that has to be experienced to understand, its exploration of morality is far beyond what most games could even dream of. I get that the fandom scares people away, but it is a game that deserves to be appreciated by as many people as possible.


While this didn't make the top ten (placing it behind its older brothers FFVII and FFIX), Final Fantasy X is still an amazing game. I can say without exaggeration that it has the most complete story in a Final Fantasy game. Every scene, every complexity to the world has a place and a meaning and a tale to tell. The characters have growth and arcs that are satisfying and make sense. The soundtrack is without blemish. The battle system might be the best in the series and one of the better purely turnbased systems ever made. The introduction of changing characters on the fly is amazing.















--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Terranigma
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy VII
Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Breath of Fire IV
Mother 3
Chrono Trigger
Chrono Cross
Xenogears
Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Final Fantasy X
Persona 5
Trails in the Sky the 3rd
Vagrant Story
Undertale
Earthbound
Suikoden II
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Phantasy Star IV
Xenoblade Chronicles

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by Fou-Lu; 09-30-2017 at 09:18 PM.
Tali'Zorah
Junior Member
(09-19-2017, 12:08 AM)
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1. Mass Effect 2 - One of the greatest games of all time. An incredible cast of characters all with cool and unique motivations, a truly grand story on a galactic scale. I could talk for hours about how amazing the Jack recruitment mission is (and how surprised I was when it was revealed that Jack is female), or how cool it was to reconnect with Liari, or just how great the character of Tali is. Not to mention that all the loyalty missions were fun and, though they were optional, it never felt like a chore that I had to do - I did all of them because I wanted to, saving everyone at the end because of it was just a nice bonus. The combat was fun, the locations were memorable, the story was intriguing, and did I mention how great the characters are yet? Because they're all great.

2. Fallout 3 - I first played Fallout 3 as a wide-eyed 12 year old who's only real experience with gaming was the Halo trilogy and a handful of sports games, never even really being aware of the existence of RPGs. Then, one day, a friend tells me I have to go and play this game called Fallout 3. I go and pick it up, and within hours I'm hooked. I was unaware such a level of freedom existed in gaming and it is fair to say that Fallout 3 not only shaped my formative years in gaming, but is a key reason for my entire love of the medium. I'd love to be able to go back and experience discovering Megaton and then subsequently blowing it up all over again.

3. Fallout New Vegas - Now I know 2 Fallout games in a row is a bit unconventional, but there is a reason. I'm under no illusions that, realistically, New Vegas is a better game than Fallout 3. But, as I'm sure you'll be aware if you read the above entry, 3 is higher for purely sentimental reasons. New Vegas, however, takes player freedom, choice and consequence to a whole new level. Probably the game I have completed the most times, and still there's nothing quite like that first time you stroll into Nipton to find it taken over by the Legion, or the first time you see that huge Dino at Novac, or the first time you step foot in Vegas itself to take down Benny. And the game only gets better from there, with 3 unique factions to choose to side with (or side with none if you so choose), with the game truly making you feel like you're in a world on the brink of a war that'll change the wasteland once and for all. Not to mention how great the DLCs are and how well they link into the main story - all games should try to emulate the way New Vegas handled DLC.

4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - It's probably fair to say that Star Wars is my favourite movie franchise around. It's a unique, well crafted universe rich with lore, interesting and races and incredible locations. To simply get to play in that universe is cool enough, but for KotOR to deliver such a brilliant story, with one of the greatest twists in any medium, let alone gaming (hell, that moment is almost on par with I Am Your Father in The Empire Strikes Back) was far beyond what I could have ever hoped for from a Star Wars game. Taris is a very cool opening world (even if you do stay there for sliiightly too long) and when you finally receive your lightsaber and force powers the game reaches a truly high level of fun. I doubt any game based on a movie franchise will ever be as good as KotOR.

5. NieR: Automata - The most recent entry on this list. I went into this game with pretty low expectations - I'd heard good things but having never played any Drakengard games or the original NieR I didn't think it'd be for me. Oh how wrong I was. 2B, 9S and A2 were all such wonderful characters to control, and the gameplay felt fluid, responsive and, at times, just outright epic. The story is fascinating and had me gripped despite never playing any previous games in the series, and the soundtrack is one of the best in gaming (I could listen to Peaceful Sleep for hours). Comfortably my game of the year so far.

6. Kingdom Hearts - When I first saw this game I, as with the above entry, didn't expect it to be for me. I've not been a huge Disney fan since I was in Primary School but this game truly brought me back to my childhood. Much darker and more mature than I was anticipating, the universe hopping tour of worlds I hadn't thought about since I was 9 or 10 filled my heart with joy. Combat was fun, story was engaging and fascinating, and the worlds were just so well crafted. A truly fantastic crossover video game.

7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - As you can probably tell from the above games, I've never been hugely into fantasy role playing games. I could never get into things like The Elder Scrolls and have always found high fantasy to be a bit dull in all entertainment mediums. The Witcher 3, however, is different. Crafting one of the best, most vast and content filled worlds in gaming, CD Projekt Red's masterpiece had me hooked from minute one. Geralt was a far more interesting protagonist than I was expecting and the story and characters had me thinking about this game even when I wasn't playing it. Okay, the combat wasn't the best but nothing is perfect. A great example of modern RPGs done right.

8. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - Does everything Human Revolution does but better. Prague is a stunningly well crafted hub world, Jensen remains a great protagonist (and his voice is cool goddamnit) and everything about the game made me feel like I was in a near-future dystopia that could easily become a reality. Fine, the story ended a bit abruptly but overall it was a fantastic package with tonnes of possibilities for how to approach missions. Eternal shame upon those who didn't buy this and let a beautiful franchise die.

9. Mass Effect - I'll say upfront, this game hasn't aged like fine wine. The combat is at times abysmal and the UI can be overly convoluted, burying important things behind tonnes of menu screens. But if you can get past that you'll discover a beautiful RPG that is different every time you play it. As with the previously mentioned Mass Effect 2, the locations are all interesting and fascinating to discover, the characters all feel like they have unique motivations and their personalities are intriguing to uncover (except Kaiden, who is paiiiinfully dull, but he's the one exception), and a truly awesome space adventure. A must play game.

10. Final Fantasy X - I will admit, I've not played nearly as many Final Fantasy games as I'd have liked (I'm working on resolving that, don't worry). But of the one's I have played this is probably the best. I do find Tidus to be a biiit annoying sometimes but luckily the rest of the party members are all fun and interesting and great to play as. Yuna is a truly great deuteragonist and her, coupled with the likes of Auron, Rikku and Wakka make this a great cast. The universe-ending story is compelling along with Tidus' own journey, and the game truly feels like an absolute epic.


--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Mass Effect 2
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Kingdom Hearts
Fallout 3
Fallout New Vegas
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
NieR: Automata
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Final Fantasy XV
Persona 4
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Horizon Zero Dawn

--VOTE INFO END--
Fou-Lu
Member
(09-19-2017, 12:11 AM)
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I am the only vote for Terranigma so far...

You're all dead to me.
Dandy Crocodile
Member
(09-19-2017, 12:41 AM)
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Looking through the OP without a way to CTRL-F, are there any restrictions against import titles?
It'll affect whether Dragon Quest XI makes my list.
kswiston
Member
(09-19-2017, 01:19 AM)
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Originally Posted by Dandy Crocodile

Looking through the OP without a way to CTRL-F, are there any restrictions against import titles?
It'll affect whether Dragon Quest XI makes my list.

No, but since this is an English forum, import titles typically don't factor into the aggregate ranking. You are still free to vote for them.
leroidys
Member
(09-19-2017, 01:46 AM)
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Originally Posted by FiveSide

This post consists of my choices for the 5 Most Essential JRPGs. My choices for the 5 Most Essential WRPGs are here, and my Honorable Mentions
are here.



Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne {Highlight}

The end-all, be-all. The most essential RPG, and one of the greatest games of all time. In my opinion, the greatest work of art this medium has yet seen.

Nocturne's biggest strength is its thematic coherence. There are no extraneous systems in its gameplay, no unnecessary tropes in its narrative. It is a barren wasteland of competing philosophies, a post-apocalyptic fever dream exploring and implicating the most challenging questions of reality, morality, and self-determination. It is the perfection of the video-game narrative; restrained, suggestive, and concise, its curt dialogue offering only a tantalizing glimpse of the vast subtextual quandaries lurking beneath its surface. The familiar JRPG conventions of Japanese teenagers, world-ending monstrosities, chosen protagonists, and god-slaying warfare are effortlessly woven into an altogether unfamiliar tapestry, a role-playing game that eschews the good/evil dichotomy and instead challenges the player to think about the world not as the product of a antipodal moral system, but as the product of competing beliefs about the fundamental nature of existence.

What elevates Nocturne above many of its peers is the way it conveys these themes not only through its narrative proper, but through its gameplay systems and scenario design. The narrative itself explores the power (and danger) of determination, of the singular focus necessary to change the world. But Nocturne's brilliance lies in the way that its gameplay systems elegantly convey the same themes. The Press Turn system has no "balance" mechanics, but rather strengthens the strong, and weakens the weak; it rewards focus, punishes mistakes, and turns battles into merciless, strategic, and dangerous encounters. In this world of existential terror and spiritual warfare, there is no room for hesitation or half-heartedness; only pure, unadulterated determination will emerge victorious, and this insight is conveyed through a combat system that takes these abstract concepts and develops them into actual gameplay.

An entire book could be written about Nocturne. From beginning to end, it is an awe-inspiring, towering accomplishment; 60+ hours of sustained excellence, a dark, meditative allegory of the existential uncertainty that gnaws at the heart of the human condition. It is challenging both intellectually and mechanically, its fierce combat and twisted dungeons a meticulously designed accompaniment to a powerful story of death and rebirth.

I'll end this write-up with one of my favorite examples of Nocturne's thematic brilliance. Nocturne, as series veterans know, is the first SMT game to be in a 3rd-person perspective. The player controls the Demi-Fiend as an avatar; he is always present on the screen, an object to be manipulated in this long quest towards a new world.

However, after completing Nocturne, NG+ has a strange new feature - the camera can now be shifted to 1st-person, and the entire game can be played in the 1st-person style of the earlier SMT games. While this might seem like merely a nice bonus for beating the game, there are always two sides to Nocturne's mechanics. After finishing the game, after wading through this brutal world and ultimately choosing a philosophy to grasp onto and fight for, you are no longer an impartial spectator controlling somebody else. You have made your decisions, and you have owned up to them. They are your decisions, your self-determination; and, after successfully waging bitter war against angels and demons for them, you, the player, have shown Nocturne what kind of person you've chosen for the Demi-Fiend to be. The two of you have become one; and, naturally, you now have the option to play in 1st-person.

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is the most essential RPG ever made, and it is a monumental work of artistry that has never been surpassed in this medium. My favorite game of all time.



Earthbound

What exactly is experience? In life, it's a vague collection of memories, skills, and knowledge. In RPGs, it's abstracted into a number that goes up after every battle.

Earthbound's great central theme, even more so than Mother 1 and Mother 3, is how we go about accumulating experience. Earthbound retains the RPG mechanism of gaining XP and leveling up, but ties those mechanics to a narrative about the power of experience - of seeing the world, trying new things, and even looking inward and getting in touch with one's own soul. Ness only shakes his head "No!" when you move backwards, away from the camera, and away from everything that awaits you in Eagleland; the game is a celebration of pushing forward, of reveling in life and all the smiles and tears that come from it.

The game is brilliantly structured, and as with all truly exceptional video-game narratives, it paints in broad, suggestive strokes. Its general plot points and bizarre incidents bring to mind similar occurrences in our own lives. Its quirky characters are only a few degrees removed from our own friends, enemies, and neighbors. I honestly can't say what Dungeon Man is a metaphor for, but, in some peculiar way, I feel as though I've known people who were just like him. That feeling of bemused familiarity is the key to Earthbound's potency and insight.

Working alongside this world-building and narrative is the gameplay. Though outdated in some ways, there are some real design gems here, such as the rolling HP meters during combat. Some of my most intense turn-based encounters were in Earthbound; flipping through menus is substantially more engaging when every second leads to more and more damage. Other novelty mechanics, like auto-defeating weak enemies, are well-documented, but unfortunately rarely-copied.

And of course, there's the final boss. It is, simply put, the most powerful, emotional boss fight in gaming. It's not at all hyperbolic to call it a full-blown spiritual experience.

Quirky but surprisingly dark, bizarre but surprisingly incisive, and set to one of the most rocking soundtracks I've ever heard - Earthbound is an absolute triumph, and edges out the stiff competition as the most essential RPG of the 16-bit era. My third-favorite game of all time, and my second-favorite RPG behind Nocturne.



Suikoden II

Video-games have issues with conventional "writing." Games are often at their best when their dialogue is restrained in favor of environmental or gameplay-oriented storytelling. The two games listed above took advantage of these game-specific methods of conveyance to tell incredibly affecting stories - stories that are arguably reliant the least on their dialogue, and the most on their scenarios, gameplay systems, and the themes that those elements explore.

Suikoden II does barely any of that. Its story is dialogue-focused and communicated in one of the most horrendous localizations on the PS1. It spends large amounts of time being a fairly formulaic JRPG. Extremely well-executed, admittedly, but not a thought-provoking, mechanically fascinating work that plays to the specific strengths of its medium.

Why, then, is Suikoden II one of the most essential RPGs of all time? Because it's not always necessary to do things differently. Another perfectly viable option is to do things the same way as everybody else - only do it a lot better.

Suikoden II is the perfection of the conventional JRPG. It doesn't rely on fourth-wall hijinks or meta-commentary. There are no modernist, arthouse design elements; no enormous articles written about the way it brilliantly conveys its plot point and themes "in a way only a video game can." It doesn't involve heady philosophical concepts and psychobabble words so long that they have to be hyphenated to fit in a text box. Instead, it tells the tale of two young men pulled apart by the politics and unrest of the society in which they live. It tells the tale of a young revolutionary gathering a band of misfits and changing the world. And, seemingly against all odds, it succeeds in telling this story with devastating, incredible effectiveness.

The experience of playing Suikoden II is like playing an anime structured like a Shakespearean history. It's the kind of game you play when you're nine years old, and throw on an essentials list because of the nostalgia. Then you play it again as an adult, and throw it on an essentials list not because of the nostalgia, but because it's good. When it's firing on all cylinders, it's one of the greatest, most engaging stories in an RPG. Its setpiece moments are legendary, and at least one of them is arguably the best turn-based boss in all of JRPGs (not counting Earthbound's bizarro final boss, of course). Its a game that knows when its got good stuff up its sleeve, and when the time comes it sells those moments completely.

The battle system doesn't do anything particularly revolutionary or remarkable, but is instead a rock-solid turn-based system that is simply a blast to play around with. The presentation, especially the beautiful sprite work, is also a joy to behold. And the music is absolutely stunning. By time you've seen Suikoden II through to the end, you will not be able to listen to "Reminiscence" without getting misty-eyed. I guarantee it.

When I think about many of my favorite RPGs, I often think about how they challenged me intellectually or mechanically. How they really pushed the envelope for what a video-game can do. But when I think of Suikoden II, I think of feelings. Not how this certain scene made me think about the medium of video-games, but instead how it made me connect with the characters.

I have never played an RPG with more heart than this game. It is undoubtedly one of the most essential RPGs ever made, and amongst conventional JRPGs it has no equal. It is the quintessential adventure, and an absolute triumph.



Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter {Underrated}

Like Panzer Dragoon Saga (spoiler alert: right below this!), Dragon Quarter is uncompromisingly unique. It was so ahead of its time at release in 2002, that 15 years later it's arguably still ahead of its time.

Dragon Quarter is systems-driven, focusing on a series of overarching systems that interact with each other to form a canvas of rules operating in the background. And, in the web of interlocking mechanics it constructs and challenges you to navigate, it is by far the most elegant systems-driven JRPG I've ever played.

Absolutely no mechanics are wasted; everything has been meticulously implemented, from the ground-up, to be a system playing off of all the others. Even setting aside the phenomenal soundtrack, memorable setting, and unique art direction, it is the gameplay systems themselves that lead to the incredible sense of immersion that the game offers.

The combat is incredibly strategic, dependent on positioning and manipulating traps and environmental hazards. There is an ominous countdown until the main character dies and the game ends (not a temporary game over - the playthrough literally ends), and this mechanic interacts with the limited saves and special abilities to form a complex web of risk/reward decisions. The narrative itself is even systems-driven, and unfolds differently depending on how many times you've viewed the cutscene (a substantially more likely scenario in this game, given how comparatively easy it is to essentially make the game unwinnable and force a restart). Hell, there is even a respectable risk/reward decision in choosing to restart the entire playthrough, as the lost progress is counterbalanced by certain things that you hold onto on a manual restart.

In many gameplay-driven games, the game gives me the tools I need to fight the enemies I face. In Dragon Quarter, more than any other RPG I've played, I feel like the only truly critical tool I have is my own brain, and behind the mask of enemy units, my true enemy is the game itself. Not in a frustrating or tedious way; but, rather, in a chess-like, challenging battle of wits, against a team of designers who engineered an enormous puzzle to ensnare me if I let my guard down. Sightseers and those looking for a relaxing, fun romp need not apply under any circumstances - Dragon Quarter is punishing, challenging, and preys on your poor decisions mercilessly. But the payoff for that intensity is one of the most thrilling and immersive experiences in all of gaming, and the absolute pinnacle of systems-driven gaming in the JRPG format.

As a bonus, the narrative itself is a fascinating, surprisingly well-executed thriller that reveals itself in tantalizing chunks. A brutal, powerful testament to game design, and one of the most memorable experiences in the medium. Second only to Nocturne in its elegance. Absolutely essential.



Panzer Dragoon Saga

I have very, very rarely seen such a mixture of obscurity and quality, as I have with Panzer Dragoon Saga. Perhaps due to its obscurity, it remains a stunningly original work even two decades after it released; its post-apocalyptic world, like Nocturne, is dream-like and surreal, but it combines those elements with an atmosphere of post-industrial mysticism that has yet to be matched, or arguably even challenged.

Its real-time combat system is also entirely unique, and relies on positioning and cooldown-based actions in intense aerial skirmishes. Even its soundtrack, a bizarre but effective mix of tribal drums, exotic melodies, and electronic rhythms, has very few peers. In many ways, the game feels like it was somehow imported from the game industry of a different planet; it's hard to communicate just how foreign it feels.

While Saga's narrative begins with a relatively pedestrian setup, the world-building and atmosphere carry it until it evolves into something far greater. By time Saga reaches its finale, it is a different beast altogether; the formulaic revenge story has morphed into a stunningly ambitious sci-fi fable, one that even comments on the nature of video games and player agency in the style of EarthBound and Undertale. It is, without question, one of my favorite endings in an RPG, and perhaps the most thought-provoking ending I've ever seen in a video game.

Reproduced here is a snippet of an article I wrote five years ago about Saga's ending. The sections dealing with the actual plot points of the ending are spoiler-tagged:



Ridiculously unique, powerfully thought-provoking, and - maybe the most important of all - incredibly fun to play, Panzer Dragoon Saga is an underrated masterpiece, and absolutely well-worth the hurdles of trying to track it down and play it.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Breath of FIre: Dragon Quarter
EarthBound
Suikoden II
Panzer Dragoon Saga

--VOTE INFO END--

Ridiculously awesome post. Great choices and fantastic write ups!
neurosisxeno
Member
(09-19-2017, 02:16 AM)
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Might add info later.


--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Final Fantasy X
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Diablo III
Fallout 3
World of Warcraft
Pokemon Heart Gold\Soul Silver
The Witcher III
Nier Automata
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Final Fantasy VII

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 4
Final Fantasy VIII
Dragon Age: Origins
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls Online
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Diablo II
Baldur's Gate
Earthbound

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by neurosisxeno; 09-19-2017 at 06:33 AM.
NoblesseOblige
Member
(09-19-2017, 02:43 AM)
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I am only going to list the closest things to an actual RPG I have played. Which means none that JRPG or 99% of action-RPG nonsense. Also anyone who includes Zelda should have their whole list disqualified. As a side note you don't specify which Vampire: The Masquerade game in the 'underrated' list, OP. There are two, but I'll assume you mean Bloodlines.

Top 5:



My favorite game based in my favorite IP (White Wolf's World of Darkness). I love exploring the lore and how it's a world that focuses on the politics of vampires and not just how they're immortal killers. The aesthetic and sound design is on-point. The replayability is excellent with numerous vampire clans to play with, and two of them offer very unique playthroughs that none other do. Even in its somewhat clearly unfinished state it is my favorite game. However even to this day ten years after its release its fans continue to fix bugs, balance it, and mod cut content back in. If that doesn't speak to how deep this game sinks its fangs into RPG fans then nothing will.



I absolutely love the world. It's set in a steampunk setting with both technology and magic. These two elements are always at odds with another resulting in interesting game mechanics where a high magic user suffers penalties with technology, and technological focused characters are more susceptible to magics. Other than that it plays like most CRPGs of its era with an open-world to wander filled with many side quests as you uncover the mystery of the main quest.



Game with a fleshed out background and characters with good dialogue. Storyline that really pulls you into it despite starting in a somewhat cliche manner. Not quite the level of character customization as I like but enough, and it offers multiple paths to encourage replaying.



Hard for me to pick between this and Fallout 2 but in the end I give it to New Vegas just because I like the region better. I might also be cheating because I enjoy the game extensively with mods, so much I'm not entirely 100% what is and isn't in the base game. But even on release without using any mods I loved playing it. It feels closer to a more 'modern' Fallout than 3 did for me.



I had been waiting for a game like this for awhile. It captures a lot of what I love about older CRPGs in its characters and world, but it modernizes the controls and mechanics and gives the genre a needed facelift from its isometric origins. I don't think the story or side-quests is as good as some other RPG I highlighted, but it's still good enough to keep me playing.

Edit: The fact Arcanum only shows up three times in this thread is proof gaf don't know good rpg.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Pillars of Eternity
Planescape: Torment
Baldur's Gate 2
Fallout 2
Fallout New Vegas
Deus Ex
Icewind Dale 2
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Baldur's Gate
Fallout 1
The Temple of Elemental Evil
Icewind Dale
Age of Decadence
Divinity: Original Sin
Wizardry 8
Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Jagged Alliance 2
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by NoblesseOblige; 09-19-2017 at 06:17 AM.
kswiston
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(09-19-2017, 04:15 AM)
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I am glad to see so many high quality entries so far. It looks like we have had about 40 participants up to this post. A diverse aggregate list is going to require about 5x that many people, so I hope that many more of you plan on participating before the deadline. In my experience, if you leave it to the last day or two, you won't participate at all!

To give some incentive for participating, I am going to bring back a contest feature that I ran during at least one of the past Essential RPG threads. The info below can also be found in the second post of the thread:




In the spirit of getting people to try new RPGs, and as an incentive to participate in the voting stage, I will be holding a prize contest for all GAF members who cast a ballot. If you have typed up a list of votes, you are already entered in the draw, with the caveat that your list has to have comments on at least 5 titles, explaining why you chose those games. Like I said in the lengthy OP, this isn't just a list thread. We are trying to encourage people to try stuff.

If you want to be entered, make sure to participate in the thread!

There will be a number of games to be won, including several classic titles that have appeared on these lists in the past.

Prizes Include: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout New Vegas, The Last Remnant, The Legend of Grimrock 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Might & Magic 1-6 pack, Might & Magic X, Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun Dragonfall, Space Pilgrim Ep1-4, System Shock 1+2, PSN credit towards Final Fantasy VIII, one winner’s choice of $10 eShop or PSN code (US account), and more to be added.

Thank you to Bumrush, MoonGred, RunWhiteBoyRun, NoblesseOblige, and Wazzy for donating prize keys. If anyone else would like to donate a (good) RPG to the prize pool, send me a PM. I’ll make sure to give you credit as well.
Last edited by kswiston; 09-19-2017 at 05:34 PM.
Morrigan Stark
Arrogant Smirk
(09-19-2017, 04:19 AM)
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Very cool. Thank you for your generosity!
Wazzy
Member
(09-19-2017, 04:38 AM)
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That's really awesome of you to do! I love these threads since it always encourages me to try out many RPG's I've missed out on so I hope people continue to do detailed write ups for their lists.
Kwixotik
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(09-19-2017, 04:59 AM)
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I don't know if I'm going to submit a list or not, but I just wanted to pop in and say the previous iterations of this thread have guided my gaming selections for the past few years. You're doing good work. Thank you.
RespectThySole
Member
(09-19-2017, 06:10 AM)
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--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} The Witcher III: Wild Hunt ; Possibly my favorite game of all time. This game is a masterclass in nearly every aspect. Divine atmosphere that is varied in each location with a lovely designed world that you can get lost for months in. My personal favorite would be the oppressive vibe in Velen/No Mans Land. Novigrad is one of the best cities in a game, full stop. The realistic scale of it alone puts other cities in recent games to shame. Going to Skellige and Kaer Morhen is like playing The Witcher 3: Part 2. I know everyone's jaw dropped when they first arrived to Skellige and heard the glorious "Fields of Ard Skellig" playing. The gradual change of the aesthetics as you journey is highly impressive and believable. The attention to detail is just staggering and seeing landmarks in the distance such as lighthouses, mansions, cities, etc. feel like rewards that the game is giving you and all of them feel distinct in some way. It features a soundtrack that perfectly captures the feel of Poland. I actually listen to this soundtrack from front-to-back on Apple Music fairly frequently. I can probably count on one hand the amount of game OSTs I've done that for. Some of the greatest characters in gaming not just this year, but ever. A few of my favorites are Gaunter O'Dimm, Olgierd von Everec, Keira Metz, Cirilla, the Bloody Baron, Djikstra and the ghost of Vlodimir von Everec just to name a few of the new ones. Every single sidequest in this game is very high quality and often takes twists in ways you wouldn't expect. This is true with even quests that appear simple and routine such as the infamous "pan" quest. This is probably the only game where I've ever done sidequests because they were that damn good rather than to reap rewards or experience. It's hard to argue that this isn't the best written game in a long time. How is it even possible that a 200+ hour game actually didn't disappoint with the ending of its narrative? Combat nails the feel of being a witcher and is almost dance-like once you get into a rhythm and realize the importance of utilizing your full toolset instead of just slash/dodge. I'm a huge fan of The Witcher series and CDPR managed to completely shatter my extremely high expectations. I generally do not like most open world games, but if there ever was a model that showed the validity of that design, this would have to be it. If this was truly Geralt's last ride, then it was one hell of a way to go out. Did I mention that Gwent is amazing and that the content in the Hearts of Stone expansion is just as good as anything in the main game? I cannot wait for Blood and Wine, Cyberpunk and whatever else CDPR decides to do next.

{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Freedom Force ; Possibly the greatest superhero game ever made. Great writing and combat. The mods are awesome as well especially the DC/Marvel ones.

Persona 4

Dark Souls

Bloodborne - Very few games ooze as much style as this one. The combat is fast and rhythmic like a dance yet also incredibly macabre. The game world resembles a freakishly bizarre nightmare that is beautiful in it's own way. It may not have the depth of the other Souls games, but it uses what it has magnificently. Each weapon has it's own unique feel, etc. Some of the greatest bosses in video game history reside in it's world. The Lovecraft influences are right up alley as well. This is From's best game yet.

Final Fantasy VI

Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal

The Witcher ; The original Witcher has a special place in my heart. Incredible atmosphere, fantastic music, a story that is true to the books, the series' trademark morality and fun rhythm-based combat that forces the player to use Geralt's full arsenal of tools. It's world inspired a sense of wonder in the player especially in the Lakeside areas.

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Diablo II


<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines ;

Demon's Souls ;

Mass Effect 2 ;

Divinity: Original Sin ;

Dragon's Dogma ;

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky ;

Undertale - Witty, humorous, and charming. Undertale is one of the most soulful games I've played in years. It features an inventive battle system that is part-turnbased, part-bullet hell shooter that tests your reflexes, while also giving you information about the enemy you're fighting. Its soundtrack is very engrossing with many great tunes. My personal favorite being the rhythmic "Spider Dance." Choices are vital in this game and shouldn't be taken lightly. The game even remembers what you did in previous playthroughs and punishes you for it. The aspect that truly makes Undertale shine though is its characters. Every major character is layered and well done, which is quite a feat in a game that only lasts 6-7 hours. Finally, one of the things I love most about this game is how it features virtually no "filler", which plagues so many games today. The nearly perfect pacing makes Undertale an easy game to replay and an even easier one to recommend.

Lost Odyssey - The Thousand Years of Dreams short stories are wonderfully written. Their impact is hard-hitting and described in a way that makes them easy to visualize.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings -

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind -

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance -

--VOTE INFO END--

I'll add more comments before the deadline.
Last edited by RespectThySole; 09-20-2017 at 08:21 AM.
Lynx_7
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(09-19-2017, 07:50 AM)
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Oh, I wish this thread hadn't come so soon. I still need to give Automata a try. Well, I suppose there's still time to play it before writing my own list... If I can be arsed to stop my P4G playthrough :P
I'll also be cheating a little bit by copying (and polishing) some of my previous write-ups.

For curiosity's sake, does Breath of the Wild qualify as an RPG for this thread?
Robert at Zeboyd Games
Zeboyd Games
(09-19-2017, 09:00 AM)
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Originally Posted by Lynx_7

For curiosity's sake, does Breath of the Wild qualify as an RPG for this thread?

From the OP: "I am not going to make the call on what is or isn't an RPG unless you are making outrageous choices like Super Mario 3D World or Advanced Warfare. "

It's up to the individual's discretion for edge cases like Zelda games.
kswiston
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(09-19-2017, 05:31 PM)
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Two more donations to the prize pool. NoblesseOblige threw in KOTOR 1 and KOTOR 2. Wazzy offered to put in PSN money towards Final Fantasy VIII.

With the rate the thread has been moving lately, there soon will be more prizes than participants, so I really hope that more people post their essential RPG lists! The final product only works with participation! You will help build a useful thread for game recommendations, and have a (pretty good) chance at winning a free game in the process.


Speaking about the eventual aggregate list, outside the juggernaut series (Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Fallout), vote splitting in long running series often leads to them being underrepresented in the final product, even if the series itself is excellent. I was thinking of doing a separate spotlight of the top 20ish long running series by votes. I'm just not sure what the restriction should be on number of games before something is considered a "long-running" series. 4 or 5?
Last edited by kswiston; 09-19-2017 at 05:59 PM.
FiveSide
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(09-19-2017, 05:41 PM)
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Originally Posted by kswiston

Speaking about the eventual aggregate list, outside the juggernaut series (Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Fallout), vote splitting in long running series often leads to them being underrepresented in the final product, even if the series itself is excellent. I was thinking of doing a separate spotlight of the top 20ish long running series by votes. I'm just not sure what the restriction should be on number of games before something is a considered a "long-running" series. 4 or 5?

I'd consider any series with more than a trilogy of mainline entries to be "long-running." So, I guess my cut-off would be 4. It's a great idea to implement though, I think it'll really help give visibility to Dragon Quest in particular.

Great thread so far. I haven't really had a chance to sit down and look through it yet, but just from skimming I've seen some great entries that I'm looking forward to reading.

Also, thanks for doing this list again, kswiston. The 2013 version of this thread was the very first thread I ever read on NeoGAF.
BumRush
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(09-19-2017, 07:20 PM)
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Thanks for doing this thread as always Swiss! (I shamelessly stole your exact format)

I tried to stick to different game series wherever possible but FF is my favorite series so it reared its head a few times...

Also, games are in no order!

FULL POINT GAMES

Final Fantasy VI {Highlight vote} - I had played FFI, FFIV and a few other JRPGs before VI and - while I knew I enjoyed the genre - those games did not prepare me for the greatness of FFVI. The story, soundtrack, characters and villain are all (still) top notch, and the ambience of the game (e.g. Narshe's atmospheric melody coupled with it's bleak palette) makes it feel incredibly real, despite the limitations of the SNES (visually speaking). FFVI is not only my favorite JRPG or my favorite RPG but my favorite game of all time.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade {Underrated Vote} In my eyes, this is Vanillaware's finest and the most beautiful game on the Vita. Crisp combat and a rarely-used setting, made it feel like a one-of-a-kind experience.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – this is the first game I can remember that TRULY felt like you were personally playing a role (which is what the genre is supposed to do). The choices felt like they mattered and the weight of your actions made you feel. It hasn't aged well in the looks department, but it was one hell of a ride. Also, that twist...

Suikoden 2 – an amazing game with the second best villain of all time. I didn't have a chance to play it until the PSN release but I'm extremely glad it is widely available today.

Final Fantasy Tactics - We are never getting a AAA return to Ivalice (at least in T-RPG form) and that is one of the saddest realizations in modern gaming. As a kid, I didn't know you could switch jobs and I discarded the game. Luckily, when I was older (and much wiser), I came back to it and it's one of my top 5 games of all time. The combinations you can create with the (unparalleled) job system are so vast, you could play the game 10 times and play it 10 completely different ways. The difficulty is super uneven at times (hi, Finnath Creek), but in some ways, knowing every random battle could be a nightmare is part of the fun.

Ys: Oath in Felghana – a masterpiece in the action RPG genre. Tight controls are at the forefront here, making every success or failure feel truly deserved. The game would rank even higher on my personal list if the end boss difficulty spike wasn't so unreasonable. As I'm typing this, I realize it's the only Ys game I've played. I need to rectify this...

Mass Effect 2 – "space exploration", the game. While I enjoyed 1 and 3 (and to be honest, I think Andromeda is underrated), ME2 best embodied what the series set out to do...make the player feel like a space explorer. The stakes felt real and each world felt beautiful and unique. The perfect blend of shooter / RPG I've ever played.

Bloodborne – I thoroughly enjoyed DeS and the DkS games, but feel that the more aggressive combat in Bloodborne (and the Victorian / Lovecraftian setting) make it the better game. It's not easy at all (with Defiled Watchdog and Defiled Amygdala being two of the hardest bosses I have ever faced) but every victory felt more rewarding than the last. I still have no idea what happens in the game (story-wise), but the gameplay (for me) is the best in any game, ever.

Witcher 3 – while Bloodborne took my GotY, Witcher 3 is STILL one of my Top 10 games of all time. The amount of love packed into this sprawling adventure is insane. I probably play 150-200 hours of games a year now (MAX) and I put over 100 into TW3 with the DLCs included. CDP have earned day one buys from me for a long time.

Final Fantasy VII - probably my second favorite game of all time. While the blocky visuals look rather rough today, at the time of release they blew my mind. The characters, story, etc. are all great but the Materia system is the real reason for its inclusion on this list. Its so simple, yet allows for so much creativity. As a kid, figuring out which combinations worked better than others ate up hours of my time. To me, its still my favorite JRPG battle system to this day.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Chrono Trigger
Demon's Souls
Fallout: New Vegas
Final Fantasy XII
Super Mario RPG
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Salt & Sanctuary – if Muramasa was never released (and S&S came out a few months earlier), this would have made my "underrated" slot. The game definitely has flaws (the art style is the biggest one) but - in my eyes - it's CRIMINALLY underrated. Combat feels great, there's a ton of builds that feel much different and (most of) the boss fights are great. PLAY THIS GAME.
Horizon: Zero Dawn



--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Final Fantasy VI
{UNDERRATED - 4 points} Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy VII
Witcher 3
Bloodborne
Ys: Oath in Felghana
Mass Effect 2
Suikoden 2
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic


<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>

Chrono Trigger
Demon's Souls
Fallout: New Vegas
Final Fantasy XII
Super Mario RPG
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Salt & Sanctuary
Horizon: Zero Dawn

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by BumRush; 09-19-2017 at 09:55 PM.
Thores
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(09-19-2017, 07:26 PM)
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Just popping in to say that I will be participating this year. I'm just mulling over how I'm going to make room for my new entries, and I'm currently playing a couple more games that may or may not make the list. I'm really excited to contribute, though. Thanks for running again, kswiston!

Also noticed that I'm one of the examples of a good post. I'm honored and flattered, thank you! Hopefully I do an okay job this year, too.
Fou-Lu
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(09-19-2017, 07:29 PM)
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Originally Posted by kswiston

Speaking about the eventual aggregate list, outside the juggernaut series (Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Fallout), vote splitting in long running series often leads to them being underrepresented in the final product, even if the series itself is excellent. I was thinking of doing a separate spotlight of the top 20ish long running series by votes. I'm just not sure what the restriction should be on number of games before something is considered a "long-running" series. 4 or 5?

That sounds like an awesome idea. Some of those series could really use the exposure. I would probably start at three or four games for long running series.
Dandy Crocodile
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(09-19-2017, 07:33 PM)
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Originally Posted by Fou-Lu

That sounds like an awesome idea. Some of those series could really use the exposure. I would probably start at three or four games for long running series.

Etrian Odyssey can finally have its moment in the sun!
MoonFrog
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(09-19-2017, 07:38 PM)
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I was surprised that I could've given under-rated instead of highlight to Dragon Quest IV.

I still have two points behind Dragon Quest V and another behind VIII (two behind VII as well), so I don't think I'll have vote-splitting regrets with regards to that.

I do regret when I see Radiant Dawn or Thracia 776. I will be contributing to Jugdral and Tellius vote-splitting but Radiant Dawn for all its promise and ambition fell on its face too much imo--it could've been my dream Fire Emblem and it did do many interesting things--and I have yet to beat 776.
Dvidus
Junior Member
(09-19-2017, 07:44 PM)

{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Final Fantasy VII
I mean, of course. Many discussions have been had all boiling down to people prefering either VI, VII or IX. Everyone has valid arguments. Final Fantasy VII has bounced from being on top of all lists to the bottom of all list. It has went from lovabale to worst game ever about 6 or 7 times in the last few years. Whatever the stance, it's my favourite RPG. To me this world is the only one that I seem completely invested in. I don't care about the negative response to the compilation of FFVII. I don't care about Dirge of Cerebrus. I just wanted to see more of Midgar, the North Crater, Nibelheim etc. Also, I may dislike the FFVII Remake, but I'll still play it and will be getting all achievements, DLC and costumes. I love this game. I can replay it any time despite the outdated graphics. Everytime I get back into it, I'm back in my old house amazed by the FMV's wondering if that was what future games were gonna look like.


{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Can I say Criminally underrated? I'm talking about the Ys series as a whole. A picture about 'what I expected vs. what I got' sold me on this game last year and within a year I've completed all Ys games except for the newest (damn you delay). The game is solid fun, hectic and very skill-based. The dungeon bosses are a really amazing crossover between a hack and slash and a bullet hell shooter. I guess you could compare it to a semi-3D Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance with some Nier:Automata bosses. Remember that amazing soundtrack from Metal Gear Rising? RULES OF NATURE!!! This game is packed to the brim with epic metal music complementing every hectic section of this game. Give this game untill the end of the first dungeon to decide if you like it. I'm positive it'll win you over. And when you're done with it, try Ys: Origin. Ys: Origin extremely similar and holds up greatly next to this game.


Final Fantasy VIII
The black sheep of the family. I'm sad for all the flak this game got while boasting the best mini-game in the series, wonderful gameplay and amazing visuals/music. Having some serious enemies eventually join you because of reasons was amazing. The dream sequences and what it was leading up to were amazing as well. And you can say whatever you want about lightning, but Squall's revolver is the OG gunblade and the only one that actually matters. Also small bonus: after playing this game, read the Squall is dead fan theory. Confirmed to be false, but a very interesting read.


Dark souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
If you'd give me one souls game to play for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. It has its problems as do all souls-games, but none is more expansive and bursting with content like this. Unbelievable how many different enviroments your getting in this game. This game is replayable all over with new classes, pure classes, original hybrids and everything. The other games have this as well but it feels like it has never been perfected like DSII: SOTFS did. Also, the game has enough bosses to keep you going for ages. Play the game co-op fully for more fun right up to the end.


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Although Skyrim is technically more advanced, the game didn't grab me quite like Oblivion did. I felt like I was free to be any character I wanted and live life like only I can. Strolling around at the speed of discovery. I had places to go but I followed my own path. Especially for the time this game felt grand.


Deus Ex: Human Revolution
This game just felt so nice to play. There was something to discover everywhere. The hubs in between missions were never left fully unexplored. The sequel sadly only has one main hub. One of the first missions is getting into police office, and you can get in whatever way you want. Stealth, cyborging, hacking. It was like a futuristic RPG Metal Gear on steroids. My best achievement with this game is playing it on hard mode, no kills, no alarms. I still have the achievements saying I got this at the same time to prove I made this challenge. Just so much fun condensed in this game.


Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Yeah I said it and I'm not taking it back. This game was my Christmas game back in '03. Didn't know what to expect and certainly look back on it more fondly compared to the shakespearean drama that is Final Fantasy Tactics. Language-wise the game was much better to follow and started light-hearted but went deep at the end as well. This game needs more love.


Fallout 3
This game gave me the same feeling as Oblivion, just in a more post-apocalyptic way. No other game has ever given me the feeling I got when first leaving the vault, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the sun and seeing just and expansive landscape full of things to discover. I'm still awed sometimes by people finding little things I never found.


Ys: Seven
My most recently finished game. This game plays like a 2D Zelda with better combat. There are puzzles, but they're slightly less present. Dungeons give you special items and an upgrade at the end. You meet a lot of new characters and the story actually genuinly suprised me a few times. Would love to play this game again on a higher difficulty some other time.


Persona 4: The Golden
As my first Persona game, this game blew me off my socks. I'd say Persona 5 is better in every way, but there's someting about your first experience with a new game. If Persona is a series you've never played, start with 5. It's much better. But this game is just so freaking cool. And the music. And the big impacting moments felt really big because I didn't know what to expect from this series. Ahw, I just love it.

Honorable Mentions
Dark Souls
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Lost Odyssey
Dragon Quest IX
Ys: Origin
Kingdom Hearts II
Recettear
Alundra
Super Mario RPG
Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning


That's it :)

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Final Fantasy VII
{UNDERRATED - 4 points} Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Final Fantasy VIII
Dark souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Fallout 3
Ys: Seven
Persona 4: The Golden

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Dark Souls
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Lost Odyssey
Dragon Quest IX
Ys: Origin
Kingdom Hearts II
Recettear
Alundra
Super Mario RPG
Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by Dvidus; 09-19-2017 at 08:24 PM.
Silvergun-Blue
Junior Member
(09-19-2017, 08:29 PM)
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Chrono Trigger (Highlight)

I'm not entirely sure what I can say about Chrono Trigger that's not already been said a million times. I'll start by saying that it features what I consider to be precious and increasingly rare in todays rpg's, a sense of adventure.
A fantastic and quick battle system, where you're encouraged to do more than just tap confirm on the attack command by giving you a moveset that suits different occasions and enemy placements. It's only made better by there being no transition to a battle screen, everything stays on the map.
Fantastic cast of likeable characters that make me feel like I'm getting together with old friends every time I fire up the game.

Shining The Holy Ark (underrated)

I'm throwing Holy Ark in as my underrated vote because I feel it's... Well, underrated.
This game won't change your life, but if you're looking for a rock solid old-skool dungeon crawl style jrpg, then try and give this a shot.
Being released for Sega's ill-fated Saturn is as good a way as any to condemn a game to obscurity, so I'll champion it wherever I can.
Sonic Software Planning (aka Camalot) would later go on to do the highly regarded Golden Sun games, and honestly, they feel like spiritual successors to this very game.
Featuring a very zippy battle system that allows rapid access to attack commands helps push the pace of the game along. Being a dungeon crawl style game means combat takes place in first person from the player characters point of view, and has your teammates dashing past you to deliver their attacks and spells.
The way enemies appear is awesome, they'll jump out from behind corners, drop from the ceiling, rise from the ground and come charging from dead ahead. No fading in or out here, it keeps everything very much in-world.
This is where the games most unique feature comes in, the pixies. Scattered throughout the world, you'll find tiny helpers that you can command to attack approaching enemies if you choose the right type depending on which direction the enemy appears from. This will nail you some preemptive damage and net you a bonus for experience and money at the end of the battle.
Your characters will gradually learn power attacks as they level up, and these replace critical hits in other rpgs, so your party members have a random chance to fire off one of their special moves as they strike the enemy. This adds some genuine excitement to battles as you're not just watching the same attack animations over and over as the frequency and variety of these attacks increases as the game moves on and your party gets more powerful.
Add in the odd logic based puzzle that may well have you scratching your head and throw in a solid soundtrack from industry veteran Motoi Sakuraba and you'll have a fantastic way to spend a few evenings or a long weekend, as unlike modern games filled with bloat, this one definitely doesn't overstay it's welcome.

Panzer Dragoon Saga.

A game more famous for being ridiculously expensive than anything, which is a shame, because this is easily one of the best things to appear during the 32 bit generation.
I firmly believe that if Panzer Dragoon Saga had been released on the Playstation it would be rated up there with Final fantasy 7.
With an engrossing and compelling story set in one of the best realised worlds in gaming. To this day, the ending remains the single most emotional experience I've had with a video game.
Incredibly original and slick battle system that fully takes advantage of the fact that you're on a dragon, every encounter is a joy.
And then there's the soundtrack that perfectly accompanies it's mysterious, desolate world, everything about this game screams labour of love.

Shining Force 3

(Yes, I know I'm a shameless Saturn fanboy)
I'll say this is for the trilogy because as far as I'm concerned it's all one game, but as far as voting is concerned, take it as part one.
The first game I ever bought on release if I remember correctly, Shining Force 3 takes a slightly more serious tone than the previous games with an interesting plot revolving (initially) warring factions and political intrigue. Some of the exposition dumps are a bit of a chore tbh,, but overall it's well executed and a change of pace from many rpg's.
Solid turn based tactical battle system with few bells and whistles, it still rewards common sense tactical thinking. Plenty of characters to recruit to your party, with some tricky to find hidden ones, you'll easily be able to build a squad to your liking. There's not much character development here in all honesty, but the game doesn't really feel like it needs it.
The star of the show is definitely the eye popping special attacks and spells that really let you feel like your army is comprised of badasses.
Watching your gang grow in power is really satisfying, a solid sense of advancement seems to be a hallmark of Camelot that I really appreciate.

Persona 4: The Golden.

A jrpg starring a group of anime high school students is normally the sort of premise that sets my eyes rolling, but it's those very characters that make this game so endearing.
If you were to look from a purely gamplay and mechanics perspective, Persona 5 is undoubtedly the better game due to much slicker dungeon design and ui improvements, but games, especially rpg style ones are always more than the sum of their parts.
Watching your group slowly become friends and understand not just one another, but themselves is immensely compelling due to how the games narrative heavily features the concept of suppressed emotions and trying to live up to other peoples expectations.
Add on the murder mystery element and lots of genuinely touching and funny story beats and you'll be sorry to say goodbye to gang by the time you finish this meaty game.

Grandia

A vibrant, colourful, grand adventure that was released before jrpg's decided to get all moody and ponderous, Grandia wears it's heart on it's sleeve and is all the better for it.
The Grandia series has, imo, the best jrpg battle system. It takes the now familiar atb system and adds to it in spades allowing you to position characters better, effectively block incoming attacks and stun cancel enemy assaults.
It also has an interesting approach to the party where additional allies come and go according to their own situations so you never actually get to choose a party. Some may dislike this concept, but I found it refreshing and solves the nitpicky problem of "What exactly are the rest of the party doing?"

Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, complete.

With a potently simple love story at it's core, Lunar 2 was such a beautiful experience for me. There are no hidden meaning here, no deep subtext, just a whimsical Saturday morning cartoon style adventure, that's potentially even more palatable in this era of edginess.
I know the localisation ruffled a few feathers with fourth wall breaking pop reference jokes, but I liked it, I felt it added extra humanity to the dialogue.
Plus, this game features possibly the best ever end game section ever that wraps everything up in a fantastic way.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Chrono Trigger
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Shining the Holy Ark
Persona 4: The Golden
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Shining Force 3
Grandia
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue
Dark Chronicle (Dark Cloud 2)
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt



<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Dragon Quest 8
Xenogears
Chrono Cross
Vagrant Story
Phantasy Star 4
Shining Force 2
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Dragons Dogma
Secret of Mana
Final Fantasy 12

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by Silvergun-Blue; 09-24-2017 at 05:39 PM. Reason: wording
solo220
Junior Member
(09-19-2017, 08:30 PM)
<FULL POINT GAMES - 2 POINTS>
1. {HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Planescape: Torment - This has one of the most unique stories in all of the rpgs I've ever played. It is well written with charming, engaging characters. It's also at the time one of the few RPGs that didn't revolve around the traditional hero journey to save the world story beats. The main plot is very personal and philosophical. To this day, I don't think another RPG comes close to it on story.

2. Fallout 2 - Two things made this game great, the variety of ways you can approach any quest, there were so many moments where I discovered a way to resolve a quest and couldn't believe the developer put it in. The second thing was it's blend of apocalypse and it's sense of humor. In this post nuclear destroyed world with slavery, you can become a pornstar, get shotgun married and encounter UFOs.

3. Baldur's gate 2 - Another entry in the pinnacle of old school rpgs. Great characters, amazing world building. A great cast of villains in the form of John Irenicus. It's another game where well-written story and character makes it shine. Not to mention the variety of character builds you can have, it's truly a pen/paper rpger's dream.

4. Chrono Trigger - One of the first RPG I played. An incredible story, a cast of memorable characters that have well-developed backgrounds and motivations. It's also one of the first games to have multiple endings. This game had me glued from start to finish.

5. Mass Effect - While it may not have been the most reactive world and player choice does tend to boil down to "good" vs "bad" what it tries to do: tell a epic space fantasy across 3 games that are all connected is remarkable. For me the first game in the series was the most memorable one. From how it handled it's main villain to the colorful cast of characters and crew members. It was one of the best gaming experiences I've had.

6. Witcher 3 - Having played witcher 1 and 2 both of which I thought were just okay games, I didn't go into 3 with a lot of hype despite the general consensus at the time that it was one of the best games ever. I must say, I agree with everyone that it is simply amazing. The thing that stands out to me the most is just how realistic all the characters and quests were written. Playing the game you really get a sense of what type of person Gerald is. While the combat does get a bit repetitive and the main plot isn't the most engaging. The side quests and stories stands out head and shoulders above other rpgs.

7. Final Fantasy 6 - The best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise IMO (though haven't played 15). What stands out to me about this one is the characters. The game has an over abundant # of party members and a lot of those are not really flushed out. But the few that are, are amazing. From a gameplay perspective, I love the way each character had a unique set of abilities

8. Mass Effect 3 - I know this isn't a popular opinion but yes this game had a terrible ending but it also had some of the most emotional story lines inbetween. Story threads that started back in ME1 gets proper conclusions here, the ending to the Krogan Genophage is one of the best quest endings ever.

9. {UNDERRATED – 4 points}Jade Empire - This is definitely a hidden gem, just setting alone sets it apart. How many RPGs are set in ancient china? The combat system was also fun, a blend of the real time action of ME and the older pause system. The story while not the best of bioware's work definitely was engaging enough to play through. I'd recommend this game on setting alone.


<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Fallout: New Vegas
Dragon Age: Origins
Knights of the old republic 1
Knights of the old republic 2
Persona 4 Golden
Skies of Arcadia
Diablo
Xenogears
Bravely Default
Shadowrun: Hong Kong
Last edited by solo220; 09-21-2017 at 01:50 AM. Reason: Updates to survey
lord_of_flood
Member
(09-19-2017, 08:51 PM)
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I'm in. I might adjust this later, but so far this is a solid list for me.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Bloodborne
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Bravely Default
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Nioh
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
NieR: Automata
Xenoblade Chronicles
Paper Mario
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
Tales of Symphonia
Dark Souls III
Borderlands
The World Ends With You
Persona 5
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Tales of Vesperia
Paper Mario & the Thousand-Year Door

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by lord_of_flood; 09-19-2017 at 09:00 PM.
Aaronrules380
Member
(09-19-2017, 08:54 PM)
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Originally Posted by lord_of_flood

I'm in. I might adjust this later, but so far this is a solid list for me.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Bloodborne
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Shin Megami Tensei IV
Nioh
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
NieR: Automata
Xenoblade Chronicles
Paper Mario
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Borderlands
Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
Tales of Symphonia
Dark Souls III
Bravely Default
The World Ends With You
Persona 5
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Tales of Vesperia
Paper Mario & the Thousand-Year Door

--VOTE INFO END--

You'll need to adjust it since SMT IV was on the list of games that don't qualify for the underrated award
lord_of_flood
Member
(09-19-2017, 09:00 PM)
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Originally Posted by Aaronrules380

You'll need to adjust it since SMT IV was on the list of games that don't qualify for the underrated award

That's unfortunate. Adjusted.
kswiston
Member
(09-19-2017, 09:02 PM)
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Originally Posted by Aaronrules380

You'll need to adjust it since SMT IV was on the list of games that don't qualify for the underrated award

He could use Mario and Luigi Super Star Saga instead. Only Mario RPG and Paper Mario 2 have made the Top 50 in the past IIRC

In general, if you choose a game that doesn't qualify for your underrated pick, I will just give it the regular 2 points when tallying votes. The special votes are optional as it is.

EDIT: Bravely Default works too.
Last edited by kswiston; 09-19-2017 at 09:04 PM.
CrichtonKicks
Member
(09-19-2017, 09:03 PM)
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Originally Posted by FiveSide

These are my choices for Top 5 Essential WRPGs. Top 5 Essential JRPGs are on the first page, and Honorable Mentions are right below this.
SNIP

I just want to say that this is an outstanding write up. Oh, and you are also have excellent taste...
Barrel Cannon
Member
(09-19-2017, 09:07 PM)
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Crazy undertaking but I'll bite and drop my list soon
Vecks
Member
(09-19-2017, 09:12 PM)
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Aside from the underrated vote near the top, this is pretty much in order of enjoyment.

FULL POINT GAMES

Xenoblade Chronicles {Highlight vote} - I'm highlighting this as a personal favorite. Xenoblade Chronicles starts off with a pretty cool setting: it takes place on two dead giants. The humans are at war against a mechanical race. As your party of main characters attempts to unravel the mystery behind this war, you'll be wandering around the bodies of these giants, hunting monsters and exploring all the nooks and crannies. The sense of exploration is great, the combat plays kind of like an MMO, there's plenty of customization for your party, and the music is sublime. The graphics haven't aged well, but if you can play it on Dolphin with the high-res texture pack, that is certainly the way to go.

Paper Mario {Underrated Vote} – I'm sure everyone knows about this game. Yet, it has never broken top 50 on this "yearly" list, and I doubt it ever will. Most people will put the sequel above it, but to me Paper Mario is the quintessential Mario RPG. Compared to most RPGs it will appear simple, even the damage values are tiny in comparison. But that's to its strength. This is a delightful adventure into the Mushroom Kingdom that's straightforward, brisk and doesn't contain much "filler" at all.

Persona 4 – Persona 4 is stylish, solid and serious time-sink. You play as a high school kid in a small town of Japan. Mysterious deaths are popping up and it's up to the hero with the power of going inside the television world to stop it. It's an awesome blend of life/dating sim and standard turn-based RPG goodness. The first few hours are kind of slow, but once it gets going, it's a wonderful ride.

Final Fantasy 9 – I've played a good chunk of the Final Fantasy games, and 9 stands out as my favorite. It's a lot more down-to-earth than some of the later titles of the series. There's not much in the way of spiky hair, goofy looking smiles, or over-the-top action sequences. Instead, what you get here is a charming adventure that sticks to its NES/SNES roots while delivering a warm and memorable cast of characters. One thing in particular that's rather unique about the game is the ability to view side events while you're progressing through the main story. They are optional little cut-scenes that tell you what the rest of your party is up to while they split up in town. Because they are optional, some may choose to skip them entirely. But I find them a wonderful way to flesh out the characters.

Mass Effect – The first Mass Effect was really my dream game that I never thought would actually exist. As much as I love existing Sci-fi universes, like Star Wars or Star Trek, there's nothing more satisfying that being a part of something entirely new. Each world was waiting to be discovered, and there was seemingly no end to the lore of the various races. It was a pretty standard story, drawing inspiration from popular sci-fi movies and themes, but that made it all the more enjoyable because the player was still the one at the helm and the choices made would determine the fates of the characters on the screen.

Final Fantasy 7 – Final Fantasy 7 was my first Final Fantasy game. This is where it all started for me. It was also, probably, the first time I played a game that was intent on being so cinematic. The SNES games just didn't compare. This was an exposure to a grand 3D world touched with a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and JRPG bizarro plot twists. I replay this one every so often, and over time, as I get older, this one has fallen farther down my list. It's still one of my favorites, but the flaws of clunky dialogue and random twists just become so much more apparent as the nostalgia wanes.

Dragon Quest 5 – It's been a while since I last played this, so I can't remember all too much about the plot. But I do remember how I felt about the game as I played it. I think the closest thing I can compare this to is Dragon Ball. It doesn't have aliens, or martial arts capable of destroying worlds, but it does have a hero that you follow from infancy. You watch this hero grow up, getting stronger and fighting evil--all the while finding love, marriage, and kids.

Chrono Trigger – Even after so many years since Chrono Trigger's release, there really hasn't been anything quite like it. At first glance, it looks like any other major JRPG of the SNES era. The graphics are pretty good for SNES standards. The music is memorable. The battle system is fairly standard with a few neat features of its own. The story is epic and interesting. All these things alone make it a top of its class RPG among its SNES brethren. But what really sets it apart is its willingness to do so much that most games don't dare to do. It has time travel that influences the way you complete quests. It tracks the progress of seemingly mundane tasks for the purpose of the narrative. You can even fight the final villain early on and, supposing you know how to win, beat the game--and this ties into the fact that there are many different endings you can get depending on how you complete the game.

Dragon Age: Origins – I'm not really a fan of the style of combat in the game. It's not bad. I just prefer something simpler like JRPG turn based combat or action RPG combat. Because of this, I can't say I find the game all that fun to play through. But for me, I don't play RPGs solely for the battle system. I play it for all that it offers--whether its the story, the characters, the gearing up, the stat building, the combat, etc. And with this game in particular, I think what I enjoyed the most was the cast of characters. Depending on who you have in your party, they'll have little conversations as you're progressing through the story. Even the choices you make during quests will change the way your party members react and also change how they view you. Don't get me wrong--the rest of the game is fine too. It's a solid Bioware RPG in all respects. If you've played something like Mass Effect, you know what to expect out of it. But that feature with the party members was the main reason I kept on playing and the thing I remember most fondly about it.

Nier:Automata – Automata is weird, but a good kind of weird. The plot is rather unique. It takes place in the far future of earth. Aliens invaded and used robots to take over the earth. Humans fled to the moon and retaliated by sending their androids to earth to try to reclaim earth. You play as several of the androids in this war of androids vs robots. To talk about what makes this game good would be to spoil a lot of what makes it great. All I'll say is, if you have any interest in a weird action-packed JRPG, you should definitely give it a try. My only issue with the game is that the gameplay gets tedious and repetitive after a while. But everything else was so intriguing it kept me soldiering on.



HONORABLE MENTIONS

Fallout: New Vegas – Post-apocalyptic settings are so wonderful, aren't they? I mean, yeah, it's often dreary and depressing. But there's a certain aura of fascination about it. You just can't be sure what to expect. Now the whole series of Fallout fits into this fascinating setting, but New Vegas is the one that I love the most. For one thing, I prefer the newer Fallouts because the first person perspective really adds to the immersion for the exploration of this desolate and mysterious wasteland. For the other, the writing is just intensely interesting.

Deus Ex – Deus Ex is basically a stealth RPG. As you follow the story of the game, you'll have to break into places, hack into things, fight or escape past enemies, and try to uncover certain secrets. But what makes this especially great is the freedom of the gameplay. There are often multiple paths to any given location and how you go about reaching your destination or accomplishing your tasks is up to you. You play this the way you want, with the tools, weapons and skills that you prefer to use.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines – For the most part, Vampire is like your typical western cRPG. You can customize your stats and skills. You can try to uncover secret paths using various methods, or you can try to force your way through. But it's the story, setting, writing and atmosphere that makes it a compelling experience. If you have any interest in playing an RPG as a vampire, this is easy to recommend.

Xenoblade Chronicles X – Compared to the first Xenoblade game, this one does not have much acclaim or praise. Honestly, it has a ton of quirks and flaws that make it hard to recommend to most. While it does play very similarly to the first game, it's also a huge departure in terms of story, soundtrack, and theme. But I still enjoyed it. The game offered a really beautiful and varied open-world to explore, and there was a ton of content in its side quests. It also features the ability to use giant mechs, called Skells, in exploration and combat.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – This sequel plays a lot like the original. It still has that unique Paper Mario look to it. It still features the same kind of turn-based combat with an emphasis on timing. Basically, it was for the fans of the original but wanted more. I prefer the first game for its tighter pacing, as I do feel this includes some slower, tedious sections and backtracking I could do without. But it's still a fine game in its own right.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – In spite of the fact that this a Star Wars RPG set thousands of years in the past, it's about as familiar to the movies as you can get. It's a decent RPG as it is, what with all the customization, combat and decisions that you'd expect out of a Western RPG, but it's chock full of the flavor of Star Wars that fans crave. Force powers, blasters, light sabers, jedi vs sith--it's all here. If you are a fan of the Star Wars universe, this game and its sequel are experiences that are not to be missed.

Dragon Quest 8 – Dragon Quest is a series that's pretty popular in Japan, but has never really caught on in other parts of the world. This is not due to lack of marketing or anything like that, but because the series just doesn't have a strong universal appeal to it. It has built its massive fan-base in Japan and is designed to appeal to existing fans. Even by the 8th game in the series, the roots of the series doesn't seem to have changed much. It relies heavily on nostalgia: on familiar sound effects and music, on a simplistic fantasy story, and on a traditional battle system. Don't expect big twists, crazy special attacks, or in-depth character development. In many ways, Dragon Quest 8 is just a snug game to play when you want to go on a relaxing adventure.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Normally, I'd never call a Zelda game an RPG. The structure and focus of Zelda games just generally tend to feel too different from the spirit of RPGs that I can't see them as RPGs. But Breath of the Wild is different. It's still hard to call it 100% an RPG as there's still no leveling, or skill trees, or proper gameplay/narrative choices that you have to make. However, it still has elements that distinctly make me feel like I'm playing an Action RPG. Setting that debate aside, Breath of the Wild is a very expansive game with a huge world to explore. The sword combat isn't particularly anything special, but it works fine and when you combine it with the all the wonderful systems in place, you can still be quite experimental in how you approach combat. But the real heart of the game is definitely the exploration. You don't explore for the sake of rewards, as most of the items in the game are of little value. Rather, this game is best enjoyed exploring for the sake of exploring.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim – Skyrim is the type of RPG to play if you want to just get lost in a world. Everything else about the game is standard-fare, but the scope of the world and the size of its content makes this game shine. There's a lot of places to explore, lore to discover, and things to do. I like to play it in small bursts because I get tired of the open-world formula quite quickly. But fans of huge open-world should definitely feel right at home.

Alpha Protocol – Alpha Protocol is a special little game. It's an espionage RPG, like Deus Ex, but without the extra complexity. You'll be doing a bunch of missions where you'll want to stay out of sight, hack computers and security systems, and knock out unsuspecting guards. If you want to play it as an action game, the option is there too. Regardless, the missions are okay, but the most interesting thing about the game is the dialogue options. The game changes depending on how you talk to people. You can make enemies out of friends, and friends out of enemies. During certain missions, you'll receive help from certain groups depending on your past actions. You can also just mess around and make everyone hate you, if you're into that kind of thing. You'll at least want to do two play-throughs, just to see what differences your choices make.


--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Xenoblade Chronicles
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Paper Mario
Persona 4
Final Fantasy 9
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy 7
Dragon Quest 5
Chrono Trigger
Dragon Age: Origins
Nier:Automata

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Fallout: New Vegas
Deus Ex
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Dragon Quest 8
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Alpha Protocol

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by Vecks; 10-04-2017 at 06:13 PM.
whatever6352
Member
(09-19-2017, 09:36 PM)
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Full point games

Horizon Zero Dawn (Highlight): From the minute I booted the game up I was invested in Aloy's story. No character in any RPG has gotten me so invested in their journey as much as Aloy did. Everything about the game was so well done the soundtrack, the story, the gameplay. I experienced the full range of emotions playing the game. The anger for how the world got to be the way that it was, the sadness for Aloy as she was uncovering her past and who she was. The disgust at how she was treated as an outcast. I could go on and on about how this wonderful game spoke to me as very few games have done, but I'll let you experience them for yourself and hopefully you'll love the game as much as I did.

Fable 2 (Underrated): What a weird, but wonderful game Fable 2 was. The morality system blew me away, and how my appearance changed by my actions whether good or evil. I could be a merchant who screwed over my town and they would still love me. I could be married to 2 people in the same town. The options seemed limitless and I can't wait to revisit the game in the future and see where my next playthrough takes me.

Final Fantasy 10: A game I hold very close to my heart. The game released 1 day after my 20th birthday and I spend my entire Christmas break playing this game and experiencing the journey to Zanarkand with my younger brothers. It has the best combat system, the best soundtrack and the best set of characters in any FF game imo. It also has so many menorable moments and I'll occasionally find myself going onto YouTube to view those moments again.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: My favorite RPG of the last generation and probably the game that I've put the most time into with over 20 characters and over 1000 hours in game. Just an amazing experience with all the seemingly endless builds/styles you can do. Such a great soundtrack as well and a game I revisit yearly.

Fallout New Vegas: Such a great game that expended on everything I loved about Fallout 3 and made it that much better. Much love Skyrim I have but in to many hours into this game. Plus who doesn't love having Danny Trejo as a follower. I would call/text my brother weekly who was also playing thru the game at the same time when the game launched and we would just talk about our adventures in New Vegas for hours on end.

Final Fantasy 7: The game that I owe my love of rpgs too. Was the 1st ever rpg I've ever played after mainly playing sports games prior to it. When me and my brothers got this on Christmas morning, we immediately started playing it and seeing Midgard for the 1st time was awe inspiring. The music was unlike anything I had heard before and was the 1st game that I can recall where I actually felt emotions because of the story and characters.

Xenogears: Fei Fong Wong is one of my favorite video game characters across all genres. I loved the dark and religious tones. I'm hopeful for a remake one day that can fully flesh out the 2nd disc, but even with that the game spoke to me on so many levels that I can overlook that.

Dragon Age Origins: Such a well designed game and the depth of the quests is one of the best if not the best I've ever experienced. I also never felt as if the game was holding my hand. The combat also felt so personalized and deep. It also had so many meaningful moments and even the minor quests all had moments that I'll always remember.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Like the previous game on my list this game had such depth and complexity attached to the quests and characters. It also has the best cities/towns in any RPG I've played. Walking into Novigrad the 1st time was as magical as walking in Midgard for the 1st time as a teenager.

Xenoblade Chronicles: The game that rekindled my love of JRPG's. It has one of the better stories and soundtracks in any game from any genre. Within the 1st few hours I knew I was playing a special game. Each boss fight has meaning to it and it has one of the best battle systems in JRPG's.

Honorable Mentions

Dragon Age Inquisition: This game is very divisive here on GAF, but I for one love this game. While not as deep as Dragon Age Origins, for me it fixed a lot of what was wrong from Dragon Age 2. Making the journey to Skyhold remains one of my favorite video game memories and I get goosebumps just thinking about that whole sequence. I would park my character at the tavern and just listen to the bard sing.

Darkest Dungeon: The most recent game I've played from my list so it being fresh in my memory might've put it in this list, but I say the game is just that good. The game has so much decision making involved that I was struggling on who to take to the next dungeon, deciding if you're going to retreat or keep going to that last room. The art style is so unique and the battle system is so deep and allows for a lot of customization among party members.

Chrono Trigger: A very well made game that it is the 1 game I recommend to people who ask me what classic RPG they should play next. It's not in my personal top 10, but I can definitely see why this game is so loved.

Chrono Cross: I'm probably 1 of the few people who actually prefer this game over Chrono Trigger. I loved the battle system, soundtrack, and the world was so full of life and mystery.

Valkyria Chronicles: I didn't play this game last generation and from the moment I booted it up I automatically regretted that decision. The combat had me so involved like very few games do. The fear and then the losing of 1 of my favorites was so nerve wrecking that I almost reloaded a old save, but I didn't as I dedicated the rest of the playthrough to them. I also loved the story and the way in which is was presented.

Mass Effect 2: I love every single 1 of the original trilogy, but if I had to only pick 1 it would be this game. All the planets were so unique and beautiful and the best story in the trilogy in my book.

The Legend of Dragoon: Such a shame we never got a sequel. The battle system was so good and I was really curious to see what they did with it for the sequel. The CGI cutscenes were amazing and the town's all had a special vibe to them.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: In a world where The Witcher 3 never released this would most likely be in my top 5. I remember the game having a steep learning curve, but once you got the hang of the combat the game became so much better.

Persona 5: It took me awhile to get into the game, but once it did the hooks never came off of me and I enjoyed it so much I replayed it as soon as I finished it. The soundtrack has so many memorable tracks and it might just be the best OST for any video game I've ever played. The combat was so satisfying once you get into your groove.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: It's hard to replicate the feeling I had when I first escaped the prison and was greeted by this big beautiful world. The Dark Brotherhood faction quest line is my favorite faction quest line in any game and I would rank Imperial City right behind Novigrad and Midgard as the 3rd best city in any game.


--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Horizon Zero Dawn
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Fable 2
Title 3 Final Fantasy 10
Title 4 The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim
Title 5 Fallout New Vegas
Title 6 Final Fantasy 7
Title 7 Xenogears
Title 8 Dragon Age Origins
Title 9 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Title 10 Xenoblade Chronicles

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
HM Title 1 Dragon Age Inquisition
HM Title 2 Darkest Dungeon
HM Title 3 Chrono Trigger
HM Title 4 Chrono Cross
HM Title 5 Valkyria Chronicles
HM Title 6 Mass Effect 2
HM Title 7 The Legend of Dragoon
HM Title 8 The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
HM Title 9 Persona 5
HM Title 10 The Elders Scrolls IV: Oblivion

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by whatever6352; 09-21-2017 at 06:14 AM.
Morrigan Stark
Arrogant Smirk
(09-19-2017, 10:42 PM)
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Fucking hell how could I forget about Horizon? Edited my list. Sorry Dragon's Crown, getting bumped off.
MoonFrog
Member
(09-19-2017, 11:03 PM)
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Has me thinking about how I'd rank all the games I left off my list...

Also thinking about a games of all time list, of which this list would fill the bulk :P. (Followed by a list of Nintendo games, which would probably tend to populate the higher echelons of the list but not have as much quantity).

I also really can't put Zelda games into a list like this, even though they are, to varying degrees, debatably RPGs. I think BotW definitely is an RPG, for example. It is just a different headspace for me and frankly insofar as a Metroid-like or Zelda-like steps into RPG territory it becomes problematic in that respect for me. Obviously it isn't a fatal flaw or something and RPG elements can be balanced well, particularly within a Zelda-like, it just is a design, of which I'm going to be suspicious.

On a similar theme, I suspect we'll see much more Souls-likes in here than Igavanias. There is more build-forming in the Souls games and much less platforming, but you do level-up, collect weapons and proceed primarily through combat through an interconnected world in both sorts of games. In a lot of ways, Souls I think of Souls as 3D Igavanias (which is where I think we get the frequent "FROM Metroid Prime, please!" refrain--which I disagree with precisely for this same reason :P).

But I think some Zeldas definitely could count as could, say, SotN. I'm just in a place where I don't think I would put them on the list even though, with respect to the latter, I did have Bloodborne in my pool of games, from which to make a list.
kswiston
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(09-19-2017, 11:11 PM)
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Most people don't count the Zelda series as RPGs, but we always get a few votes for them.

Breath of the Wild is a mish-mash of genres, and definitely has a number of RPG traits. For once, the combat isn't purely skilled based, with weapon stats making a huge difference in combat flow, but their extreme breakability sort of fits an open world survival game more so than an open world RPG. Ultimately, the lack of character progression is what discounts it for me personally. Extra hearts or grip strength aren't enough.

But I do think that it is an edge case, and have no problem with people disagreeing with me.
BumRush
Member
(09-19-2017, 11:14 PM)
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This thread should be stickied until voting is over.
tiebreaker
Member
(09-19-2017, 11:24 PM)
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Bloodborne is one my favourite game ever. But if I have to put it in one genre, it would be action adventure, not RPG. So I omitted it from my list.
Although I don't have any problem if someone would call it a RPG.
Taruranto
<3 BioWare <3
(09-19-2017, 11:37 PM)
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Hmm, let's see. I'll mostly copy-paste my old list at this point, with some modifications:


Full point games:

1) Planescape: Torment
2) Xenosaga ep. III: Also sprach Zarathustra (Underrated)
3) Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (Highlight vote)
4) Chrono Trigger
5) Persona 2: Innocent Sin
7) Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
8) Xenogears
9) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
10) Nier

Honorable Mentions:
1) Dark Souls
2) Anachronox
3) Dragon Quest VIII
4) Trails in the Sky: SC
5) Lufia II (This year I didn't forget, yay)
6) Panzer Dragon Saga
7) Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
8) Baten Kaitos: Origins
9) Infinite Space
10) Terranigma

I could probably switch some of these games around (MotB with BK, maybe), but whatever. I hope Xenogears can land in top 10, at least.
Last edited by Taruranto; 09-19-2017 at 11:42 PM.
MoonFrog
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(09-19-2017, 11:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by kswiston

Most people don't count the Zelda series as RPGs, but we always get a few votes for them.

Breath of the Wild is a mish-mash of genres, and definitely has a number of RPG traits. For once, the combat isn't purely skilled based, with weapon stats making a huge difference in combat flow, but their extreme breakability sort of fits an open world survival game more so than an open world RPG. Ultimately, the lack of character progression is what discounts it for me personally. Extra hearts or grip strength aren't enough.

But I do think that it is an edge case, and have no problem with people disagreeing with me.

I think grip strength is interesting.

It is a Zelda game that puts its main traversal abilities behind a "stat" as opposed to things like, say, the hookshot, which you get in a dungeon at a ~set time and just changes the way the game is played. You do have things like the Zora suit giving you water-fall climbing abilities but so much traversal is climbing (and flying) further, which is primarily determined through leveling up a meter.

This is generally the primary thing I think of to distinguish Zelda (and Metroid) from RPGs: a focus on fixed ability growth (embedded in the gameflow, rather than, say, leveling up to boot) and abilities that dramatically change the way you interact with the world (whether it be in combat, puzzle-solving, or traversal). The focus tends to be on obvious application and high impact changes to the way the game is played.

RPGs on the other hand tend to give you power-ups at a more player-controlled pace (and often through player choice, of some form) and that often have a higher level of interchangeability and it is usually not completely obvious which ability is used when, i.e. it is nuanced, skilled play to find the optimal builds and usage of things and you can make it through with plenty of suboptimal approaches. This approach also translates less well to abilities that interact with the environment and such things are usually not a primary focus of RPGs (and if you get them, you may well have them gifted to you at specific intervals, taking them outside the leveling system).

(RPGs with rich multiple paths are perhaps the counter-example to this, especially if they approach this in a dynamic way as opposed to through menus. Still, this is a notably difficult thing to pull off imo.)

It is in light of this sort of consideration that BotW seems particularly RPG to me.

But, notably, I come at that feeling from within my thinking about Zelda; not from my thinking about RPGs. That is, I am saying it is particularly RPG for a Zelda, which is not the same thing as it being an RPG, although, perhaps, it is.

IDK. I was making a leap there is my point, but there could well be a positive case for it as an RPG: it just isn't what was going through my head :P.
turbocat
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(09-19-2017, 11:58 PM)
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1. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow
Pokemon is my favorite game series, hands-down. Nothing else comes close. This is what DEFINES both RPGs and video games for me. Every game in the series feels just different enough from prior entries that I keep coming back for more. The games are infinitely replayable, not for the story, but for the party composition and different tactics you can use. I wish I could properly express my love for these games, but words won't do them justice.

2. Final Fantasy VII
This was my first "real" RPG. I played plenty on SNES and NES, but I was pretty young and didn't really stick with them. Final Fantasy VII was the first game that made me realize that a game could make me feel something. The Materia system is my favorite character customization in any RPG, though it does water down the individuality of the characters significantly.

3. Dark Souls
I didn't play Demon's Souls upon release, but I remember watching my brother play it and...I didn't get it. I avoided Dark Souls on release. I saw all the memes and fans in the comments on every website. Still ignored. Eventually, my brother brought the game over, and he walked me through the first hour or two. I STILL didn't get it, but after he left, I had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I wanted to see more. I wanted to do better. I think those sentiments are what drove me to love Dark Souls. One of the few games I've ever played where I truly felt like I was discovering a world and being rewarded for it. The reward for defeating a challenging enemy is unparalleled.

4. Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 3 brought me into the fold and taught me to love post-apocalyptic. New Vegas is a vastly superior game with a much more interesting story. Having a story and choices to make that are not black and white in terms of morality is extremely interesting. Also, it's set in the west. What's not to love?

5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I never could get into Oblivion, but when Skyrim came around, I was hooked. There is no other exploration experience that can rival it, in my opinion (though Breath of the Wild comes very close). It's like playing "The North" from Game of Thrones. <3

6. World of Warcraft
My first MMO. Played up until a few months before Burning Crusade came out. This is probably the first game that legitimately changed my day-to-day life. When it came out, I wasn't doing much of anything other than going to class, coming home, and playing. The gear treadmill and carrot-on-a-stick gameplay loops have never been better for me than they were with WoW.

7. Undertale
Easily the most original and interesting RPG in the last 10 years. I'm not typically one for more lighthearted, humorous stories in video games, but this is the best that it has ever been done. Several parts of the game are extraordinarily challenging as well. This is a must-play for anyone that enjoys RPGs and wants something interesting and new.

8. Bloodborne
Dark Souls with better combat, running more smoothly, in a more "modern" setting? As far as actual "quality," this might be the best game on my list. Superb in every regard (save for having to farm the consumable healing items).

9. Persona 4 Golden
First Persona game, first big Vita game, and easily the best game on the system. This pairs a fascinating story with rock/paper/scissors elemental weakness gameplay from Pokemon. I never would have expected it, but the "dating sim" elements of this game are incredible. The story in this game opened me up to other types of storytelling that I hadn't had any experience with, including visual novels.

10. Chrono Trigger
I'm very, very late to loving Chrono Trigger. I played back on PS1 (yuck) and never fell in love with it. I host a video game podcast, and a couple of years ago, we were doing a game club, where we'd each pick a game, we'd all play it, and we'd come back and discuss it. That's when I finally beat Chrono Trigger, and I'm really sad that I waited so long. It's incredible! What an achievement in storytelling and replayability, and it was released over 20 years ago. Many, many RPGs could still learn lessons from Chrono Trigger even today.

Honorable Mentions
Guild Wars 2
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Nioh
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy X
Fallout 3
Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver
Mass Effect 2
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Pokemon
Final Fantasy VII
Dark Souls
Fallout: New Vegas
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
World of Warcraft
Undertale
Bloodborne
Persona 4 Golden
Chrono Trigger

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Guild Wars 2
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Nioh
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy X
Fallout 3
Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver
Mass Effect 2
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by turbocat; 09-20-2017 at 09:07 PM.
PensivePen
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(09-20-2017, 12:28 AM)
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I spent the better part of my youth avoiding most rpgs, sure I'd play the occasional Final Fantasy or other game here and there, but by and large I was more interested in direct action games back then, and also slightly intimidated by the length and seeming complexity of many rpgs. Reading through the other posts in this thread tells me I still have so much to play as I'm currently going through games like Earthbound and SMT4, and still have so many waiting for me like Shadow Hearts and Chrono Trigger. It's only within the past five years I would say that I've begun to explore the genre in more depth, and was reluctant to make a list of my own since I think I probably lack the breadth of experience many other posters do, but I hope that I can still bring a unique and worthwhile perspective to the table.


Bloodborne (Ps4) - When Bloodborne released I was absolutely floored, I had been an avid player of Demon's Souls and the Dark Souls games, and expected to enjoy this one just as much. What I had not expected was for it to quickly become one of my favorite games of all time. Two and a half years later I still continue to think about the game on a weekly basis, and will still pop it in now and again just to spend a few minutes, or hours, exploring the world of Yharnam again. It has its flaws to be sure, the imbalanced and underutilized gem system, the tedium of the early depth Chalice Dungeons, and some bosses who are not particularly well designed, but what it accomplishes is so great that for me, those minor issues all but vanish entirely.

In terms of aesthetics and world building Bloodborne follows in the footsteps and exceeds past games like Eternal Darkness and The Legacy by taking inspiration from Lovecraft, but choosing to build its own internal cosmology and mythology. It is neither slavishly devoted to his creations nor his beliefs, choosing to express its own themes and ideas through the medium of cosmic horror that often differ from and subvert our expectations of what the genre stands for. From an artistic standpoint it is a sight to behold, from the towering streets of Yharnam, to the eerie tranquility of Byrgenwerth, to the incomprehensible and alien landscape of the Nightmare Frontier, every area is evocative of the game's apocalyptic tone, yet beautiful in their morbidity. Perhaps my favorite location are the Chalice Dungeons, whose vast chasms and caverns perfectly capture the feeling of exploring ancient, lost civilizations.

From a gameplay perspective the game is no less well-crafted, using the Souls games as its base, whilst stripping out certain mechanics and adding in new ones of its own. The removal of the weight system turns armor into more of a visual trapping with minor gameplay benefits, but also encourages bringing a more diverse and experimental loadout of weapons to each encounter than I think would have been possible otherwise. And what a good thing indeed, as the Trick Weapons are among the highlight of the game, sacrificing volume for variety as each boasts a huge repertoire of attacks in each of its modes, and the additions made in The Old Hunters only expand the options further, balancing out nicely categories of attack type which were previously under-represented. The addition of the dodge and rallying mechanic turns battles, especially boss fights, into equal parts a visually spectacular dance of death, and a brutal slugging match. This is to say nothing of the previously mentioned Chalice Dungeons, which I've spent hours exploring both alone and with other players, mining their depths for new and interesting encounters, getting to enjoy just a little bit of newness with each one.

It still feels incredible to me that a game like this could even exist, such a rich and dense experience in every facet of its creation. It feels like the sort of thing a young high school version of myself could have only dreamt of ever playing as he spent nights poring through old Lovecraft anthologies in his room, to get to experience it as a reality is one of the best and most rewarding video game experiences I've had, and continue to have.


Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer (Super Famicom, DS) - Roguelikes are extremely endearing to me for what they offer in terms of experience compared to more 'designed' games. Rather than let the player rely on their prior knowledge of a stage layout to overcome challenges, they instead demand a strong knowledge of the game's mechanics and internal workings in order to react to and overcome novel and dire situations. Beyond that though their quick pace of progression and often short play time turns them into something wholly different from the typical, lengthy and slow burning rpg. If I had to simplify my thoughts on Shiren to a single sentence I would call it the arcade version of an rpg. A game in which no time is wasted on repeating the same petty encounters, or slogging through dungeons to retrieve an item at the end and return back to town. Instead every moment is new, every encounter deadly, and every step you take a step forward toward the game's finale or your own demise.

The game pushes the player away from every bad habit they've learned from other games. There's no value in hoarding that powerful item for when you 'really need it' if you lose it upon depth. There can't be any dallying to grind on random monsters as every moment wasted costs you a bit of hunger with no guarantee of finding more food. On nearly every floor you will have to make some decision that matters, one with long-term, far-reaching consequences, good or bad, not in terms of story but of your very survival. And the 2D sprite are is a real sight to behold, the mountain stream standing out in particular.

Combine this with the brilliant enemy roster, each with unique abilities that can interact with the player and each other, and you have a nearly endless number of unique scenarios in the waiting. As a simple example let's look at the seemingly puny ghost who spawns when you kill certain enemies, that run away from the player and pose no immediate threat. But, if they manage to get within range of another enemy, they can possess them and turn them into a vastly more dangerous foe, one that might spell death for you instantly if you choose to hang around them. But a clever player might just be able to use this to their advantage, as if they can manage to find a way to kill that dangerous enemy, usually with some ingenuity and clever item use, they'll be rewarded a vast sum of experience, giving them an early game boost. And that's just a single enemy among dozens, a minor example of just what the mystery dungeon has to offer.


Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (Gamecube) - Fire Emblem was my first strategy rpg, beginning with the first Western released one on the gba and following through to play most of the localized titles. Its a series that would shape my understanding, taste in and expectations of the srpg genre, and one which still has some of my favorite execution in terms of design. Like Shiren above Fire Emblem benefits hugely from the map-by-map design which prevents grinding (outside of certain unintended exploits) and makes each battle distinct and meaningful. No boring and uneventful filler maps here, just progress through successive campaigns all the way up until the end. And there's a great variety of mission types supported here, including straightforward fights, defense, reaching a certain destination, battles with fog, npc comrades and even an odd stealth mission. Add in the game's excellent map design, such as the memorable and harrowing trek across a trap-filled an enemy laden bridge, and you have a real winner in terms of design.

Path of Radiance also deals with many of the minor design problems past games suffered from, such as turning the needlessly obtuse support system from the GBA titles into something much more manageable, as units only need be deployed in the same map now to gain support rank, rather than having to waste time standing next to each other. There's also the bonus experience system, which offers rewards for things like completing battles quickly, protecting npcs, or other objectives, adding a concrete benefit for smart and interesting play. One area the game suffers in is its difficulty which is on the easy side, especially in the Western version which lacks the highest difficulty mode, which is something the sequel Radiant Dawn would go on to rectify. Though it's by no means toothless.

Storywise it's among the more interesting games in the franchise. Though fairly straightforward it has a well-rounded cast with good development. The plot wraps up but leaves itself open for the follow-up game, which expounds upon its ideas and develops the cast further. Ike also stands among the more memorable Lords in the series, especially since he doesn't come from a place of nobility.


Etrian Odyssey 4 (3DS) - The first Etrian Odyssey game I played, and one of the best dungeon crawlers that I've enjoyed. Etrian Odyssey was built upon the idea of revitalizing old-school ideas yet with a refreshingly modern user-interface and production values. Having a map always on-hand and built into the game itself turns the classic rpg map drawing experience into something that's convenient and rewarding. And Yuzo Koshiro's composition is as unforgettable and enjoyable as any of his past works, making those hours of exploration pass right by as you're absorbed into the atmospheric dungeon themes and exhilarating battle music.

The experience of party-building and character customization here is so finely, brilliantly tuned that it makes composing a team of characters a truly fun and thought-provoking process. It feels as though there's enough variety in the types of combinations you can create to make a massive number of viable parties, and just about any combination of character classes (within reason, a part of all healers or mages in the front row won't be much good) can work together. Analyzing skills to find which ones have the maximum move synergy and developing your own powerful combos never gets tiring. Unlike most rpgs status effects are well worth using here on both random enemies and bosses. And should you find that your party is lacking in some way for a specific zone or boss, you can reallocate their skills at the cost of just two levels, a minor setback, but also one that's good for discouraging constant switching without properly thinking about your choices.

Dungeon design is full of all manner of puzzles, some simple and some requiring a little more thought to execute. Perhaps the most fun are those that require navigating around the game's FOEs, extremely dangerous enemies that can be seen on the world map and avoided through careful play. Getting past them often requires a good spatial awareness of the map around you as well as a careful eye on the alert indicator which lets you know when a random encounter is nearby. Outsmarting and outmaneuvering these kinds of powerful enemies is one of those moments that I think really captures the essence of the Etrian Odyssey experience.


Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PS2, PS3) - Nocturne expertly juxtaposes a love of the old and yet a yearning to create new and interesting ideas. Long, grueling dungeons that wouldn't feel out of place in an NES dungeon crawler, devoid of opportunities for healing or rest (unless the player wishes to be warped back to the start of them), full of old-school trap floors that warp them at random, sometimes absurdly high encounter rates, and bosses that can wipe you out in an instant if you make a rash move or a bad decision. Yet this is combined with a completely unique and original battle system and a narrative which defies the expected tropes RPG players have been conditioned by over the years.

The Press Turn system, like any rpg battle system is only as good as the battles designed for it, and I feel that among the Megaten games I've played Nocturne manages to have the largest number of unique encounters that encourage exploration of its intricacies. While many random battles can be powered through by exploiting weaknesses, it's the boss fights where I think it greatly shines. And oh are there boss fights, a huge number of them and all distinct. Its here that the ability to devise your party whole cloth shines as you come up with distinct team combinations through the addicting demon fusion system. As the game progresses more and more paths of progression for your player character and the demons you recruit become open, leading to distinct combinations and strategies built around them.

The narrative, minimal as it is, does not pit you up against any singular villain or threat, but rather places you in its world and tasks you with hearing out the wills of its inhabitants, and deciding which it is you feel is fit for shaping the course of the future. While their ideas may not be fully developed, the structure of the story alone is enough to set it apart from almost any other game, let alone rpg, out there.


Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA) - The charm, wit, and distinctiveness of Nintendo's Mario RPGs feels like something that has been slowly dulled and diluted, and I personally think Superstar Saga stood as the peak of them. A funny, engaging and overall fun game with excellent sprite art and a unique and weird setting that has yet to be matched by any of the series' output since. The game conveys itself excellently, more so through imagery and body language than words, though the dialogue manages to be pretty funny too.

The timing based combat of these games has always been a favorite of many, and with good reason, blending itself perfectly with the Mario franchise whilst offering a rpg experience that rewards dexterity and a good eye as much as it does tactical know-how. They have always been on the easier-side of rpgs, but that isn't a bad thing in and of itself as the fights stay engaging throughout thanks to the need to always be on your toes to avoid attacks consecutively. And the battles have never quite looked as good since, with the awesome spectacle of Mario & Luigi's "Bros. Attacks" and their expressive and cartoony animations really coming to life. Even better they give you the option of going for a slower and easier to execute version for learning, or a quicker one that rewards you with more damage and feels better to pull off thanks to the lack of indicators.

The Beanbean kingdom and its strange inhabitants are among the most fun worlds Nintendo has come up with, and it's a real shame at the lack of unique ideas present in recent titles by comparison. Getting to experience something so distinct in a Mario game is an experience that feels like it hasn't happened in a long time, and it's one I'd be eager to have again.


Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC) - Dragon's Dogma does one thing better than any other action rpg, and that's being a good action game first and foremost. The game has exactly the kind of depth of combat you would expect from many of the people who worked on Capcom's signature fighting games and action games like DMC, rife with a huge variety of moves that interact and flow together, and challenging combat scenarios that really put your understanding of the system to the test. Dark Arisen further adds to the game's depth with an area filled with tons of new enemies and gameplay elements that are even more fun and exciting than what's on offer in the main game.

The story, art direction, and world design all have their merits, but none of them stand out as particularly worthy of note compared to the gameplay systems on offer. What does stand out though is the pawn system, a unique concept in the world of rpgs that allows you to completely customize your ally character, both in abilities but also their tactics, giving them something of a distinct personality perfect for roleplaying opportunities. You can even create a cowardly, useless pawn if you want to! And if you really hate the system you can throw your pawn off a cliff and never think about them again.


Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS2, PS4) - One of the last games I played on my PS2, at the time Final Fantasy XII felt to me like it ought to be what future games in the series strive toward. The narrative with its political undertones and brilliant voice acting. The vast world full of optional gameplay and beautiful scenery. And the distinctive combat system which removed much of the tedium from rpg random battles. Of course it wasn't without its flaws, such as the terribly slow gameplay speed, issues that would go on to be fixed in the Japanese rerelease, which only just finally made its way to Western shores in an official capacity. Zodiac Age gives the players the option to enable a speed boost which makes going through those lengthy dungeons or traveling sequences a breeze, and revamps the license board and balances the game around it to encourage making each character as distinct as possible.

Of course what was already great about FFXII is still here, such as the fantastic gambit system which essentially allows players to program their party AI to deal with basic situations (for example, healing when characters have low hp), whilst giving you the ability to control them directly when more complex scenarios pop up. Some may not like this system as they feel it takes control out of their hands, but in my mind it puts all the power in the player's hands by giving them the ability to fully customize their exploration experience. No longer do you have to press the attack button for every enemy that pops up, but instead you can devise a strategy beforehand and watch it unfold before your eyes. The Zodiac Age takes what was already a fun experience and irons out the flaws that kept it from true greatness.


The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Xbox) - From a gameplay perspective Morrowind is not a good game. The combat system is terribly dull, with little in the way of player feedback, choices or strategy. Most fights devolve into spamming attack without any positioning or tactical movement involved, and chugging potions if you're feeling down. The combat is not what you play Morrowind for though, what you do play it for is the richness of the setting, of the history, and for its distinctly told main story full of memorable figures and which ultimately stems from such simple, human emotions despite its seemingly grandiose and fantastical nature. The conflict at red mountain is told from so many varying sources of uncertain reliability and differing agendas that the player must decide what to believe in by the game's end.

The culture of Morrowind feels thought out, internally consistent and is explored from multiple angles, as the topics of religion, politics, slavery and the day to day life of the people are broached. The volumes upon volumes of text which serves to further illuminate you into the workings of the universe, and many of which can help to shine light on the themes and ideas expressed through the game's many quests and its main plot, are always entertaining to sit down and browse through. With better gameplay systems Morrowind might stand as one of the greatest games of all times, but as it is it manages to be one of the best rpgs I've played nonetheless. And you can play as a lizard person, that gets it at least a couple of bonus points.


Pokemon Black/White (DS) - I have always enjoyed the Pokemon games since childhood, as many others have, but I think Black and White deserve special attention for daring to take a risk and step away from familiarity. Abandoning the entire old roster in favor of creating a completely new one was something that was dangerous, and in the end probably didn't really pay off in terms of sales, but it was still a worthwhile thing to do. So many new and inventive designs were created as a result. On top of that the games stand as the last work of Pokemon sprite art before the series would move on to full 3D. I have also heard that the sequels added a very worthwhile hard mode, though I never got around to playing them myself, something I'd like to fix soon.

Beyond just its newness Black and White also represent the culmination of many years of refinement throughout the series combat, and I felt they were the last games that embraced adding fine-tuned adjustments to the gameplay system before we would be met with awkward features like the Mega-evolutions or Z-moves in later games, which felt more like marketing tools than well thought out additions to the combat, to myself at least. Pokemon's combat system itself hinges upon the fun of its team-building and the strategies that come with switching out your party to meet the challenge at hand, and the huge variety of attacks, monsters and types they've developed over the years have without a doubt made it one of the more complex rpg series around, though the depth of the combat is unfortunately often unexplored in the single player game.

Honorable Mentions
Final Fantasy V (Super Famicom, GBA, Mobile) - For its incredibly fun job system, still one of the most fun character customization systems I've enjoyed to this day.
Persona 5 (PS3, PS4) - For its extremely well-developed and balanced time-management, fantastic production values and engaging battle system.
Shadowrun: Dragonfall (PC) - For a finely crafted story and characters, coupled with a strong atmosphere and fun combat.
Planescape: Torment (PC) - For one of the best-written stories in video games, and one of the most emotionally moving scenes I've ever played.
Fire Emblem (GBA) - For being my introduction to the srpg genre, and a damn fine one to boot, with smart map design all around.
Demon's Souls (PS3) - For its distinctly grim tone, uniqueness at the time of release and excellent combat and level design.
The Legacy: Realm of Terror (PC) - For creating a superbly terrifying dungeon crawler with some devious puzzles and a great, Lovecraftian atmosphere.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked (3DS) - For mixing great srpg gameplay with SMT's signature Press Turn combat and making it work so perfectly.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1, Saturn, Xbox 360) - For being one of the most visually beautiful games ever with a soundtrack to match.
Pokemon Silver (GBC) - For a lot of great childhood memories of playing the game with my dad.

--VOTE INFO START—

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Bloodborne
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Etrian Odyssey 4
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
Pokemon Black

<HONORABLE MENTIONS – 1 point>
Final Fantasy 5
Persona 5
Shadowrun: Dragonfall
Planescape: Torment
Fire Emblem
Demon's Souls
The Legacy: Realm of Terror
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Pokemon Silver

--VOTE INFO END--
Last edited by PensivePen; 09-22-2017 at 12:38 AM.
Fou-Lu
Member
(09-20-2017, 12:52 AM)
Fou-Lu's Avatar

Originally Posted by Taruranto

Hmm, let's see. I'll mostly copy-paste my old list at this point, with some modifications:


Full point games:
2) Xenosaga ep. III: Also sprach Zarathustra (Underrated)

Honorable Mentions:
10) Terranigma

I could probably switch some of these games around (MotB with BK, maybe), but whatever. I hope Xenogears can land in top 10, at least.

Thank you! You are only the second person to vote for Xenosaga Episode III and Terranigma including me.

I am a little surprised by how slow this thread has been, I remember the previous threads having much more activity.
kswiston
Member
(09-20-2017, 01:47 AM)
kswiston's Avatar

Originally Posted by Fou-Lu


I am a little surprised by how slow this thread has been, I remember the previous threads having much more activity.

I think that was my fault for posting the thread on Sunday evening. Friday would have probably been better, but I didnt have time then.

Hopefully we can keep the thread from being too buried, and things pick up as we enter the weekend.
Robert at Zeboyd Games
Zeboyd Games
(09-20-2017, 02:15 AM)
Robert at Zeboyd Games's Avatar
Here's an idea - what if when prizes were given out, the first 200 people who are eligible for prizes (posted a full list with descriptions) also got a free Steam copy of Cosmic Star Heroine? Would be a fun incentive to participate. Of course, we'd remove the game as eligible for the list itself to avoid conflict of interest problems (which shouldn't change anything since based on the votes cast so far, it's highly unlikely it would make the list).
kswiston
Member
(09-20-2017, 02:52 AM)
kswiston's Avatar

Originally Posted by Robert at Zeboyd Games

Here's an idea - what if when prizes were given out, the first 200 people who are eligible for prizes (posted a full list with descriptions) also got a free Steam copy of Cosmic Star Heroine? Would be a fun incentive to participate. Of course, we'd remove the game as eligible for the list itself to avoid conflict of interest problems (which shouldn't change anything since based on the votes cast so far, it's highly unlikely it would make the list).

That would be extremely generous. Would you be OK with me making a banner announcing that in the OP, and maybe linking the news in the "What JRPG are you playing now?" and Steam threads?
Dandy Crocodile
Member
(09-20-2017, 02:56 AM)
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Originally Posted by Robert at Zeboyd Games

Here's an idea - what if when prizes were given out, the first 200 people who are eligible for prizes (posted a full list with descriptions) also got a free Steam copy of Cosmic Star Heroine? Would be a fun incentive to participate. Of course, we'd remove the game as eligible for the list itself to avoid conflict of interest problems (which shouldn't change anything since based on the votes cast so far, it's highly unlikely it would make the list).

200 is crazy! That should help with participation numbers for sure, though.
Thores
Member
(09-20-2017, 03:01 AM)
Thores's Avatar

Originally Posted by Robert at Zeboyd Games

Here's an idea - what if when prizes were given out, the first 200 people who are eligible for prizes (posted a full list with descriptions) also got a free Steam copy of Cosmic Star Heroine? Would be a fun incentive to participate. Of course, we'd remove the game as eligible for the list itself to avoid conflict of interest problems (which shouldn't change anything since based on the votes cast so far, it's highly unlikely it would make the list).

I feel like conflict of interest shouldn't be an issue? People trying to win a copy of your game probably haven't played it yet, and if people are voting for it it's because the game deserves the extra eyes that a presence on this list would give it. You're a class act for trying to stay as ethical as possible, but I'm personally of the mind that Cosmic Star Heroine should stay eligible for the Essentials list either way.
kswiston
Member
(09-20-2017, 03:02 AM)
kswiston's Avatar

Originally Posted by Dandy Crocodile

200 is crazy! That should help with participation numbers for sure, though.

It's also a great game that is easy to recommend to JRPG fans. The time commitment is in the 10-15 hour range. So many of the 2017 RPGs have been behemoths in length that CSH would be a great shorter experience between stuff like Persona 5 and Original Sin 2.

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