NeoGAF's Essential RPGs: 2017-2018 edition - Vote open until Oct 13th - Win Free RPGs

can i include advance wars or not?
5. All sub-genres of RPGs are eligible for voting. Votes can be for any RPG released on any system (or PC) at any point in time prior to the time you post your list. This list does not make any distinction between WRPGs and JRPGs, and you can vote for either on your list. You are also free to vote for traditional turn-based RPGs, action RPGs, strategy/tactical RPGs, and other hybrid games. 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. Some people consider games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Heroes of Might and Magic 3 to fit under the RPG umbrella, while others don't. You make the call. If your opinion is unique, the game simply won't appear on the final list.
I feel like this rule allows games like Advance Wars to be on here. If you think it's an RPG, go for it.
Yes. People can include whatever they want, within reason (if you vote for something like Tetris, it will be disqualified :p).

We crowdsource the definitions of an RPG in these threads. If most people disagree with you, the game won't get many points.

I'm not going to be an arbiter on edge case genre hybrids.

EDIT: Also, I think that my ballot instructions weren't clear enough. I want you to type out your pretty lists and explanations, however you choose to. Then at the bottom of your post, include the ballot with just the titles.

I will make my own list shortly as an example.
1) Persona 3

Persona 3 FES for the Playstation 2 was my introduction to the Persona series, so I may be a little biased, but I believe my choice for it as my highlighted game is solid. The characters are all memorable, and all have very in depth character growth. (Undone by Persona 4 Arena and Persona Q perhaps, but...) Persona 3 also has a very memorable storyline, rich with unexpected plot twists and turns.

It's also just a very personal game to me, being one of the few games I've gotten emotionally invested in almost to the point of not wanting to continue because not wanting the game to end, and being one of the games that got me through some rough points in life, as well as more recently a shared love for Persona 3 being one of the things that led to me to get to know my boyfriend (Sick lengthy post you have up there).

2) Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard

Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard was my introduction to both RPG and RTS games by way of combining both genres into the game ( I always considered it more of an SRPG myself though, due to the planning required for a successful base, and your control over hero units/factions that affect the story ), as well as to the Dungeons & Dragons franchise in general.

There's story campaigns for both the Order of the Flame, as well as the Lizardfolk, both of which are very distinct and fun to play through.

I never hear any mention of the game, though perhaps the reasoning for that is that it was released in 2005, and I mostly just played it with my dad back in the day as it was frowned upon for elementary students to be on the internet. But maybe because of that, I also have a strong sense of nostalgia for playing it on the ol' reliable Windows XP family computer.

3) Mother 3

Please Reggie, give me Mother 3 officially. I already bought a Switch within its launch year, what more do you want from me?

Unlike Persona 3, where I kept stopping mid-playthrough out of not wanting the game to end, I just couldn't stop playing Mother 3 despite the emotional ride it took me on. The story was gripping, and every one of the player characters had me rooting for them. I wanted them to be successful, I wanted to watch them beat the forces of evil into oblivion. The entire game had a sense of hope that everything will be okay in the end. Or more okay than they were. Even in moments like in the screenshots here.

4) Fire Emblem: Awakening

Not going to lie, I prefer Fire Emblem games like Genealogy and Shadow Dragon much more than Awakening now, but Awakening was the first one I played, and the one that made me fall in love with the series. It's a great introductory game for players who want to get into the franchise, but are too intimidated by the classic permadeath mode, and the oddly specific at times support conversations of games past. Casual mode and fewer things to keep track of (I'm looking at you, Genealogy. Your holy blood and hidden support ranks still elude me to an extent.) make Awakening a great place to start, and a nice taste of FE since it has both a dark dragon and
a dad that's your enemy or may or may not be alive by the end

Also Marth is cool, who doesn't want to play as Marth or his descendants? In the series itself or in the Smash Bros. series. Fire Emblem: Awakening also has some of the same sort of personal meaning to me as Persona 3 does, being that a love or interest in the franchise resulting in talking to/getting to know my boyfriend. He's also the reason why I've been working through the earlier games despite being intimidated by the permadeath myself, as he prevents me from accidentally slaughtering half the units. Though I'll forever be grateful for casual mode in modern Emblem as that's how I like to play, for its low stress.

5) Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is just really fun, and a great departure from your standard Mario storyline. The art style has always appealed to me, and the locations in the game are all memorable. Just a brilliant looking and fun to play game. No personal attachment to it or anything, no nostalgia or anything as I didn't play it as a kid, just sheer appreciation for the gameplay and art.
6) Pokemon FireRed

Ah, my introduction to Pokemon. I wanted to play the cool game my friend was, and it was FireRed, so I got it to be cool as well. All the fun of the original Red, now with the option to play as a girl and the ability to run. The added Sevii Islands and other generation Pokemon are also a supposedly huge boon. Playing in color is also a boon, I guess. Just a very fun and kid-friendly intro to RPGs, unless you consider braille not child-friendly. The amount of hours my friend and I would put into translating and figuring out all the braille, oh man. It's a wonder I don't recall any now.

Honorable Mentions

1) Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates! It was... okay. Good for beginners, but because I had played bits of classic FE games by the time I played Fates, I didn't enjoy it as much for the story or characters, as they were all fairly forgettable to me, but the improvements on the beginner-friendly quality of life options make it get an honorable mention from me.

2) Persona 4

I loved Persona 4 when I first played through it, but in the end it didn't take me on as much of a wild ride as Persona 3 did, and my fondness for the characters waned over the years. The enjoyment of the murder mystery story concept though, now that never waned. Persona 4 added a lot of quality of life improvements to the formula, like being able to control each party member's actions in depth, which I can appreciate. Probably the most beginner friendly Persona game, unless you'd rather not have to slog through the first 5 hours before you get into the actual swing of gameplay, in which case go for 5. The only reason Persona 4 got a spot from me is because I haven't beat Persona 5 yet myself due to watching my boyfriend play it while I was sick, and because the characters haven't really caught me.

3) Earthbound

I like Earthbound, I love Mr. Saturns. Earthbound is a fantastic game due to the story, characters (Jeff's the best though), scenery, and gameplay. I gave it an honorable mention though because I wanted to keep it to one game per franchise for full votes, and because it just wasn't as great as Mother 3 for me. I'd still highly recommend it to anybody if they were looking at it to play, though.


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Persona 3
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard
Mother 3
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Pokemon FireRed

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
Fire Emblem Fates
Persona 4

--VOTE INFO END&#8212;
Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter - Closest the RPG genre has gotten to "Art." Gameplay, story, music, and just general direction are all incredible. Stick with it past the steep learning curve - it's well worth it.
Wild Arms XF - A fantastic Strategy/RPG that doesn't get enough attention. Story isn't amazing, but the gameplay is top-notch with really interesting character classes & well designed stages. And like all Wild Arms games, the music is great.
Path of Exile - Best loot/RPG around and it gets noticeably better all the time. So many build options.
Persona 4 - Fantastic music, fantastic cast, and just all-in-all a fun game. The mix between dungeon crawler & life sim is quite addictive. Even better on the Vita with the various improvements & portability.
Xenoblade Chronicles - Stellar soundtrack, fun "MMORPG as a 1P game" gameplay, and a nice mix of linear & non-linearity.
Dark Souls - A revelation in Action/RPGs and still amazing even after the sequels came out.
Etrian Odyssey IV - My favorite Etrian Odyssey game although this may change after EO5 comes out next month. Great gameplay.
Lunar: Eternal Blue - Was amazing when it came out (CD quality sound! Anime cutscenes! Dialogue with character!) and still charming many years later.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - Lacks some of the QoL improvements that latter SMT games had, but still unparalleled in many aspects.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor - A fresh take on the Strategy/RPG genre with 3-character party-based units & some light CYOA/sim elements between combat.


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Wild Arms XF
Path of Exile
Persona 4
Xenoblade Chronicles
Dark Souls
Etrian Odyssey IV
Lunar: Eternal Blue
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} 1. Xenogears - The scope of this game is unparalleled. A transcendental journey that spans millennia and a deeply personal journey for the main characters, Xenogears is the quintessential modern epic.

{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} 2. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 - Surpassing its sequel in every possible field, Digital Devil Saga 2 is an expertly paced rpg that explores concepts of eastern philosophy through science fiction. It also sports a phenomenal turn-based combat system that rewards mastery of its many mechanics that feed into a unique and engaging upgrade system.

3. Chrono Trigger - An unrivaled classic, Chrono Trigger captures a sense of adventure and wonder that is utterly spellbinding. Delightful characters, entertaining combat mechanics that leverage those characters, and a world that begs exploration across all of its timelines.

4. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - The third SMT game is a testament to the potential of singularly realized artistic vision. Every facet of the game is steeped in the tone and themes its creators aimed to convey. The result is an odyssey across the apocalypse that has players challenging the very laws that shaped their world. It's influence on ATLUS's output since its release is undeniable.

5. Final Fantasy 9 - As an homage to the series' past, FF9 strives to embody the core elements that made Final Fantasy such a success. It is the most representative of Final Fantasy's best aspects. It also stands on its own as a gripping adventure with compelling characters and a fantastic system for learning new skills.

6. Grandia - Bursting with irresistible charm, Grandia is a remarkably simple adventure complete with all the trappings of jrpg tropes. Rather than detract from its appeal, Grandia's fundamental nature imbues it with authenticity. Matched with a combat system that focuses on astute timing and positioning, the game exudes a spirit of adventure that is sorely missed.

7. The World Ends With You - This game fully embraces its contemporary setting to deliver a unique jrpg experience. The seven days that comprise each of the three acts endear the player to their partner and makes it tough to adjust to a new one. Collecting and experimenting with new pins that reshape the active combat is consistently engrossing.

8. Dark Souls - Inspiring an entire sub-genre, From Software's breakout success is a benchmark for the series that it has yet to rival since, not even with Bloodborne. Like SMT 3, Dark Souls is in service to a singular vision and thematic purpose. The forlorn ruins of Lordran and its pitiable inhabitants make for an unforgettable narrative.

9. Nier: Automata - With exquisite controls and a powerful story about finding dignity through purpose in a world devoid of meaning. Automata builds on the lore and themes of its predecessor while exploring ideas new to Yoko Taro's extended canon and video games as a whole.

10. Final Fantasy Tactics - The job system remains one of the best character growth systems to exist in any game. The determination exhibited by the game's hero, Ramza, to remain uncorrupted in the face of so much wrong with his world is especially endearing. Tactics' twisted political machinations and tragic characters form the definitive tactical rpg.

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
1. Vagrant Story - Dripping with dark and eldritch atmosphere, the Metal Gear Solid of jrpgs presents a cinematic trek into a disturbing web of politics and forbidden magic. Its somewhat obtuse combat system is rife with the potential for engaging the patient player.

2. Dragon's Dogma - This thrilling action rpg has a surprisingly unique narrative despite what it's premise might have one believe. The flexibility its combat system lends itself to a multitude of play styles facilitated by the diverse selection of classes. Whether it's loosing the perfectly aimed arrow, crushing a charging monstrosity with the shear force of a greatsword swing, or sweeping enemies away in a tornado, Dragon's Dogma's encounters are some of the most exhilarating in the genre.

3. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5 - An accessible and tactile turn based combat system, a diversely appealing cast of characters, and unmatched aesthetic presentation all make Persona 5 the standout game in its series.

4. Rogue Galaxy - The interplanetary adventure of Rogue Galaxy is simply a delight. Diverse locations and an active combat system supported by a rewarding leveling system make the game a standout on a crowded system.

5. Lunar: Silver Star Story - Very much the ancestor to Grandia, Lunar's appeal lies similarly in how well it excels at leveraging the tropes of its genre. The game sports excellent character designs and fantastic world building with a tangible growth in the adventure's scale.

6. Kingdom Hearts 2 - Before the series became mired in its own convoluted lore, KH2 found the perfect balance between Disney charm and edgy jrpg storytelling. The combat was at its best, with dynamic reaction commands complementing the player's extensive array of spells and attack strings.

7. Final Fantasy 6 - While FF9 homages the best of the series classics, FF6 is the best of the classics. A richly characterized cast of heroes with mostly compelling and complete arcs to follow over the course of the journey, and some of the best pixel art of its time make FF6 the masterpiece that it is.

8. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time - The third Star Ocean game expands the series' combat beyond the mindless button mashing of the previous titles and ties it to an expansive adventure with plenty of party members to interact with and endear in meaningful ways. It also has a canon-annihilating twist that's too absurd not to love.

Will need some time to figure out what my list is. At least it's a little less stressful just voting instead of trying to run everything.

Like the addition of the underrated highlight. Nice twist on the highlight formula.
I'm not sure what should I put in my underrated spot.

As I understand it, it shouldn't be in the top 50 in at least both of 2015 and 2016 Essential RPGs threads. Is that right?
You cannot use the "underrated on GAF" special vote for games that have been on previous lists, or games that are recent. I have added a link to the list of the 80 ineligible titles to the OP. You can access the list via Google Docs here:
I'm still a bit confused about your wording in the doc, so Xanadu Next IS allowed for the underrated vote?
Yes, it is allowed. The game had a full English fan translation 4 years ago, even if it was just recently released on Steam. The rule was to disqualify new games that missed previous lists because they were new, not obscure games that were never localized, or localized late.

As such, I amended the rule. If the game released in Japan prior to 2014, it is allowed to use the underrated vote, even if the first official English localization was recent. This will only affect a small handful of games.
To start with, Matsuno owns my fucking soul. Yes, 4 of his games are in my top 10. I'd happily put more, if he'd get back to doing those kinds of games again. It kills me inside every time I find out he's working on some piddly little thing, or just a small project (like the FFXIV raid).

I stuck Bahamut Lagoon in my underrated slot because the first time I played it I couldn't put it down. It was only partially translated at the time, so I couldn't make much out of the story, but something about the look and feel of it really grabbed me. I feel like it's (among several other Square games) one of the greats that we never got here, and I wish like hell it could get ported and translated on a modern system.

Skyrim is on here because I fucking love it. Start to "finish" I couldn't put it down, and the ES games are basically the rudimentary form of my ideal RPG: an open world, freedom to build your character as you will, and ease of making each playthrough unique. Sure, I want more from them, but each game gets closer and closer to being exactly the thing I want.

PS:T is still the best-written game I've ever played. I loved the setting long before the game came out, as I was a big Tony Diterlizzi fan, and played a ton of Planescape back in high school. My friends and I stayed up late many nights working our way through Torment, and that experience really stuck with me. To this day, I can't listen to Lustmord's "Metavoid" without thinking of it (one track was used for the game's trailer).

BG2 is still the most epic D&D game, and despite being anchored to the godawful 2nd edition rules, it's a ton of fun. I wish we could get another game this big, but using modern D&D rules.

DQ6 is my favorite in the series, though I've never been able to put my finger on why. Something about the look of it in the late SNES years clicked with me. And it forgoes the job/class system that I've never been fond of in DQ, strangely enough.

Xenogears is here because it's goddamn Xenogears. I don't feel like there's much to explain here.

All the honorable mentions are games that stuck with me over the years (or not quite a year, in FFXV's case) but don't quite crack the top 10 under careful consideration.


<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Vagrant Story
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Bahamut Lagoon
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy Tactics
Planescape: Torment
Tactics Ogre
Baldur's Gate II
Dragon Quest VI

Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy VII
Legend of Legaia
Dungeon Hack
Tales of Destiny
Breath of Fire IV
Chrono Cross
Parasite Eve
Dragon's Dogma
Suikoden 3

Full Points:

Persona 5 (Highlight): Quite possibly one of the best games that I've ever played, period. It's no surprise that it would be among my favorite RPG's by default. I have never played a game that has oozed with this much style, from the menus to the animations to the music. Everything in the game works so well together. On days where you're not dungeon crawling, you're building confidants, which feeds back into your Personas, which in turn improves your dungeon crawling experience. The progression loop in this game works so well. I love the episodic nature of the story, which lends an ebb and flow in the pacing, ensuring I was never bored. Upon finishing, I immediately wanted to play again, despite already putting in 100 hours. That says it all.

Persona 4: Before Persona 5, this was my favorite RPG, especially with the Golden version. Although I think 5 is a better game overall, I prefer the cast and music in 4. I can still hear ”Snowflakes" in my head, reminding me of how bittersweet parting with that cast was. I wasn't just finishing the game, I was saying goodbye to my friends.

Persona 3: And before 4, there was 3! I have a fondness for this game since it was my first Persona. It was a rough start getting used to the flow but I'm so glad I took a chance on this series with this entry. I'm not the biggest turn-based fan but Persona 3 (and later entries) made me a believer.

Bloodborne: This is the Souls formula perfected. By removing the shield, From Software put an emphasis on offense. This pushed me out of my comfort zone, since I typically used a shield and sword in Dark Souls. The world, a wretched mirror to Victorian London, conjures up horrifying images that stay with you long after your journey ends. I loved how getting in hits on the enemy regenerates your health if you attack immediately after getting hurt. This serves to reinforce the focus on offense. The Old Hunters expansion added more weapons and bosses, including my favorite fight in the series. In fact, I would say the Old Hunters has the best areas and weapons.

Dark Souls: My first exposure to the Souls series. I died so many times in the early portion, and I wasn't quite sure what the hype was about. But then I started to engage with the game on its own terms. I took things slowly, I explored, and I paid more attention to enemy attack patterns. Somehow things clicked and I loved learning more about the world and the fascinating stories of its inhabitants.

Final Fantasy XII: The best Final Fantasy. A different take on Final Fantasy, and yet it feels right. Amazing cast, voicework, worldbuilding, and music. The Gambit system allows for deep customization, and the Zodiac job system later added even more personalization. And the game is just filled to the brim with great optional content like hunts! Also, Balthier is the best.

Final Fantasy XV: A flawed masterpiece. This game gets a lot of hate, and I certainly don't want to pretend like this game doesn't have issues. Plot holes and janky combat are just the tip of the iceberg. And yet, something works. Maybe it's the memorable cast, or the wonderful music, or the undeniable feeling of being on a roadtrip. But I had so much fun playing the game in spite of the jank. And the journey with the four bros resonated with me like few games do.

Mass Effect 2: Bioware's magnum opus. They stripped away what didn't work the first entry, and polished the good parts to perfection. Goodbye Mako, awful inventory, etc. An amazing cast of characters joins you on your suicide mission, and their lack of focus in the third game really soured my opinion on that one. The Illusive Man is a compelling villain, the loyalty missions demonstrated some great character writing, and the last mission is simply one of the best in gaming. A thrilling ride from its explosive introduction to its climactic finale.

Mass Effect: An adventure into the unknown. It doesn't quite hold up as well as 2, but there's something about the first entry that was never quite delivered again in later entries. Perhaps it was that feeling of journeying into uncharted frontiers. But being introduced into the world of Mass Effect and feeling a strong sense of mystery was unforgettable.

Nier: Automata: A strange but fascinating journey. My first Yoko Taro game, combining the best parts of Platinum action games and Taro's weird but interesting design sensibilities. I loved the way it used its nature as a video game to deliver its story. The music, good lord. Incredible. I still listen to the OST all the time. Although Route B kills some of the pacing, in my opinion, steering the game to its conclusion was great fun.


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Persona 5
Persona 4
Persona 3
Dark Souls
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XV
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect
Nier: Automata

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Dragon's Dogma
Mass Effect 3
Tales of Symphonia
Horizon Zero Dawn
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 2: Assassins and Kings
Final Fantasy X
Dragon Age: Origins

RESERVED/Hard Hat Zone
HIGHLIGHT! Persona 5
This JRPG is probably the best RPG of the year, maybe even the decade. I can't think of a game I enjoyed more than this one. Some think it may start off just a bit slow due to the somewhat lengthy tutorial dungeon, which can be a fair critique. It's pretty necessary though since this game is so complex and complicated it really needs to explain all of the options and the mechanics otherwise you won't even realize some options exist! The Persona series is known for it's ability to weave together a Visual novel and JRPG dungeon crawling relatively masterfully. This game more or less retains the same level of VN but really improves the dungeon crawling aspect. All dungeons are very memorable and carry with them characteristics of the character they represent. This gives them a charm that I haven't seen in a dungeon crawler-esque JRPG in a loooong time. The only exception to this is mementos...But when you get to the bottom of it even that changes as well. What really blew my mind with this game is, I was 80 hours in and then the plot started. Everything else was the prologue just something to introduce you to the characters and feel for them. Now the real plot starts.
I could Not Believe it.
My mind was blown.
Probably the best use of story telling I've ever seen in a game. Which really stuck with me even months after I finished the game.Music is also amazing just check out the OST on youtube! I still can't get over how great this game is!

Digimon World Next Order
This game hit right in the nostalgia. Not only does the main character from the first game return but so does JiJimon! This rpg is the sequel to digimon world 1 from the 90s a PlayStation 1 classic that really should be played by you if you haven't tried it! It's pretty much a Monster raising simulator. You hatch 2 digi-eggs and train it's stats and as the days or hours go by it grows into a mega level digimon (if you're diligent enough). Where this game shines and falls is the fact that your digimon will die...alot just because it's too old. Not to worry they will be resurrected into an egg with some stats retained but man after about 30 generations (especially the last dungeon) it's no longer amazing but quite annoying! Luckily the story, the dialogue, and the side quests are all interesting, bizarre, and hilarious enough to even keep new comers entertained. Just good luck on the first boss fight it's not easy!

Horizon Zero Dawn
This game looked awesome on it's upcoming release, but some were skeptical on the story. Luckily the story ended up being pretty awesome! What started off as "Our God the Door God told us you are evil so we banish you!" to becoming a huge expansive story of twists that really helped keep me involved! Getting past the tutorial is easily the hardest part, but once that world opens up you realize the world isn't as "primitive" as it initially seemed. Leading the story to become a sci-fi plot of how the world ended and why it had to end as we knew it. These mysteries really drove me and it's actually a point often avoided avoided in post apocalyptic settings and just accepted as a fact and this is the way life is now. Ignoring that always makes me want to know why I can never just accept it for some reason, especially in gaming.

Final Fantasy 15

Being the first main title final fantasy single player game to feature combat that isn't turn based and more of an ARPG/Kingdom Hearts feel kind of gameplay was a relatively risky move. To really shake up the franchise after the last single player games criticism upon release was a bit risky. The pay off could not have been better. This change not only brought players of old to it, but also drew in an entire new audience as well. I've never seen more friends who hate JRPGs and never played a Final Fantasy before, love a game more. Despite the on the rail driving, the being able to fast travel right away was a huge plus for the game, really allowing me to check things out and explore when I had time, as well as get to the next quest location, or monster hunt area, or hotel, whatever when I needed to relatively efficiently. The boss fights were huge, grandiose spectacles that really left me in awe. Especially the Levathian and Ifrit hooollllyyy crap! Go watch their cutscenes on youtube right now if you haven't seen them yet! When playing the game through the main questline it feels cinematic but upon playing sidequests it feels more dungeon crawler-esque kind of like dragon's dogma if I'm being honest (also a great game btw). Being able to balance these two play styles is really what helps the game gain the audience it did thus helping it sell incredibly well. With continued dev support even to this day of this post, you can smell the love coming right off of this cookie. More and more play styles are being added every day so you can nearly recommend this to every one. Oh you like MMOs? Theres a mode for that. Oh you like pinball.....Theres an overly complicated mini-game for that. Not to mention an ending so perfect that I could not have seen it coming until it hit! Leading me to leave the game with a good taste in my mouth, despite the slight hic-up mentioned in every review ever right before the final act begins in the story.

Yakuza 0

Being my first Yakuza game I was a little bit skeptical going in. Luckily the price point was right in the sweet spot (around $40 at release) for a noob like me to join in. This game is a roller coaster. Not only is it the most serious hard core game about the Japanese Yakuza that I've ever played in my life, but it's also one of the most hilariously whacky and light hearted ones. Although the light heartedness and bizarrity is actually what drew me in, specifically a character named Mr.Libido/Walking Erection who is always looking for a new girl to masturbate to (ya that's essentially his sub quests). I ended up falling in love with the main story I actually was so enthralled in it I stopped doing the sidequests until the end because I just NEEDED to see what happens next, something I never do in a video game. This game alternates between 2 characters every 2 chapters always leaving you on a cliff hanger keeping me invested in each character (though Majima ended up being my favorite of the two) and more often than not their lives constantly get worse with shady dealings and constantly getting nailed with bad luck. The story has tons of drama, action, and honestly brutality. But it also has a very innocent and honest heart to it, despite the game being about Yakuza. The feeling of each character trying to do the right thing while still being a man of the Yakuza life in 2 completely different situations which really just felt awesome to play as.

Under-rated Metroid Fusion
Yes you could argue that super metroid is the one true king (or queen) but for me this is where it all started! Not only that but the story to this game kept me going! I could not wait to see where this was going and how samus was going to best her evil clone. Who just as the game starts takes all your gear and leaves you with nothing but the fusion suit. It not only explains the "well where did all my upgrades from the last game?" problem i have with metroid games but also proves that samus is more than her tech. The game as a whole also really just felt fluid for the first time on a handheld metroid looked amazing and played equally well.

Final Fantasy VI
This game just works, the story is engaging, the combat is great, and the characters could all be the MC in a game on their own. Art style is amazing, the world ends, you fight a train, what else can you even ask for in an RPG?

South Park and The Sitck of Truth
This game is the show. It couldn't be more faithful to it and it couldn't feel anymore like it in my opinion. I played through the game feeling like I was watching a new season of south park which is really an impressive feat considering you get to make a new character in the show! The story seems simple enough but really spirals out of control towards the end and develops into a huge plot that could affect the world...over a stick. It couldn't be any more South Park and it couldn't be any more hilarious!

Persona 4

Granted I only played the Golden remake and the original is actually a bit different (specifically the shuffle time at the end of a battle which is the best reward system I've ever seen in a video game!) I love this game. The story is light hearted enough and you can't help but think if these guys took the case they were trying to solve a little more seriously less people would have died or become involved but heck w.e they're just highschoolers! The story takes a very serious turn towards the end of the game which really makes you realize this game is not messing around anymore. Once you get to the true ending you begin to realize the whole story was somehow all along tied together from the start! The characters are also pretty great. Though being the main character and being able to trash on Youske any chance you get is absolutely hilarious the antics these guys go through to go there and the sad moments when they realize who they are really make you connect with each of them and brings you in for a story you can't miss! Music is also amazing just check out the OST on youtube!

Digimon Cyber Sleuth

Honorable Mentions

Shadow Warrior
This game takes the usual you need to save me I've kidnapped by the mafia and sold off because you're so kind and generous story and then just parodies it. The main character is a total jerk and couldnt be any more selfish. He makes dirty jokes the entire game and is a hitman hired by the yakuza. Luckily for the victims of the story the MC hates the guy who's ruining their life. Lo Wang ( the MC ) couldn't care less about the demons, couldn't care about the magic, the mechs, ok yea he's pretty impressed by alot of it and thinks it's cool....But it's definitely no match from him. The style this story takes and the doom-esque play style makes you feel like a badass neet more or less. Which is a pretty unique story surprisingly enough!

Dark Souls 1


World of Final Fantasy

Ratchet and Clank (2017)

People want their post to be read so they reserve a position on first page.
I'm way more likely to read new lists as they are posted then go back to the first page and try to remember which posts were formerly 'reserved', but are now fleshed out and read the updates.

It's dumb and counterproductive.
Here are my personal picks. If you are still unsure how to write up your post, this is the correct format. Type out your list, and then include the voting ballot with just the titles at the bottom.

Titles are in alphabetical order, outside of the highlighted games. I tried to stick to one game per series (with one spin off series cheat) to add variety to my suggestions, but you can probably see that I have a big soft spot for strategy JRPGs. A lot of my picks are recycled from previous years, but I did some revising of the text where appropriate. I still have several games in my backlog that could end up making a similar list in the future. If I have time to beat one of them in the next month, I might shift things around a bit.


Suikoden II {Highlight vote} - Suikoden 2 is my favourite PS1 rpg. Its battle system is quick and simple, avoiding the bloat that has plagued the genre in the last 10 years. You would think that a game featuring over 100 playable characters would lead to a cast that lacked individuality, but most of the characters were unique and memorable. The story itself was engaging, and while most of the plot threads have been done before, the entire package had a lot of emotional impact. The mini-games in Suikoden 2 were actually fun, and I spent many hours customizing my castle, recruiting optional characters and competing in various cooking competitions. This game was a harder recommendation back when the price tag was over $100, but since the release on PSN, you can enjoy this classic on PS3, PSP, or Vita for $10!

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven {Underrated Vote} &#8211; Might and Magic VI is awesome and deserves to get the same amount of love that other late 90s CRPGs like Baldurs Gate and Fallout enjoy. The game is a non-linear, open-world RPG that featured excellent dungeon design and an immersive world to explore. While the story is pretty light, exploring the game's dozens of dungeons and defeating the hordes (and I mean HORDES) of enemies can be very addicting. I lost more than one night of sleep to this game in my high school and college years. I have been promoting the classic Might and Magic games on GAF for YEARS. Yet, these titles never make the Essential RPG top 50. Hell, they rarely crack the top 100. You can get the first 6 Might and Magic Games as a bundle for $10 on This is a fantastic deal, offering hundreds of hours of entertainment (even if the first two games are really rough now). Might and Magic VII is also fantastic, so I recommend that as well. Might and Magic VIII is rougher around the edges, but is still enjoyable. It deeply shames me that I have not played M&MX yet.

Baldur's Gate 2 &#8211; I don't know if I have anything to say about Baldur's Gate 2 that hasn't been said already. It featured one of the best crpg stories of its era and contained one of my favourite game antagonists. The voice acting was excellent for the time, and Athkatla is one of the best major crpg cities out there. Baldur's Gate 2 really felt like the end cap of the CRPG renaissance that started around 1993 or so, and was my favourite videogame implementation of the D&D ruleset.

Dragon Force &#8211; Dragon Force is another good candidate for the underrated vote. It is a real-time (with pause) tactical game for the Sega Saturn. At the start of the game, you take on the role of one of the continent's eight rulers, and are tasked with the quest of conquering the other seven kingdoms in an effort to unite the world against an ancient threat. Most of this happens via skirmishes and castle sieges that take place between various cities on the world map. Your army is made up of Generals, each of which controls 10-100 generic troops from one of 10 classes (from soliders and archers to harpies and dragons). Probably the most memorable aspect of Dragon Force are the large scale skirmishes between enemy generals. Starting at opposite sides of the map, you send your forces head first into a Braveheart style melee that can feature up to 200 sprites. While it is light on story, Dragon Force is one of those ”one more turn" games that will keep you playing for hours. Some may classify this as a strategy title, but I feel like there are enough RPG mechanics for it to count.

Fallout 2 &#8211; Fallout 1 and 2 are open world crpgs that featured isometric, turn-based tactical combat. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, you play the descendent of a fallout vault dweller. At the start of the game your character is forced to leave his or her small village in search of an item that would end the horrible drought threatening to destroy the entire community. Fallout 2 is a true sandbox rpg, allowing you to attack/kill anyone (if you can survive the reprocussions of your actions), go anywhere, and complete quests in any number of ways. You can diligently work towards your goal of saving your little village, or you can let them wither away as you partake in whores and gambling. Whether you prefer brute force or diplomacy in your interactions with the denziens of the wasteland, you will be rewarded with well written characters and dialogue, and memorable locations. I really enjoyed both Fallout 3 and New Vegas. However, playing Fallout 4 (which sits unfinished 2 years later) has me feeling that Bethesda's current Fallout formula doesn't hold up to iteration as well as the original two games did.

Final Fantasy Tactics - Probably one of my top 3 favourite games of all time, even if Tactics Ogre is a more balanced game. You get the heavily political story line found in previous Matsuno games, but now with the Final Fantasy job system and bestiary. The difficulty is very uneven and some character builds break the game, but taking down 3-4 enemies with Calculus is hard to top. I started writing a detailed play through of Final Fantasy Tactics in the Final Fantasy 30th anniversary thread here on GAF. I need to get back to the game to finish that up. If you want to, You can read through my walk through of the first chapter of the game here:

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn &#8211; I could pretty much fill my list with Fire Emblem games, as the series is full of excellent titles. Fire Emblem titles are turn-based strategy games which utilize a paper-scissor-rocks combat system where swords have an advantage over axes, axes an advantage over spears, and spears an advantage over swords. The series is well known for its difficulty, mainly due to a permadeath feature which means that characters lost in a battle are gone for good (at least prior to the casual modes of the 3DS titles). Radiant Dawn probably has the largest scope and greatest mission diversity of any game in the series (although Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest has a ton of map variety as well). The first three quarters of the game are played from the perspective of three separate armies, each with different (and sometimes opposing) goals. It is fun to see the same battle or moment played out from two opposing viewpoints, and Radiant Dawn offered a nice change of pace from the series' typical one-dimensional evil villains. While the game features a gigantic cast of characters (over 70), the three party system allows you to utilize a larger percentage of them than is typically the case in other Fire Emblem games. I know that Path of Radiance is typically viewed to be the stronger game, but I still prefer Radiant Dawn for trying something new (even if the balance is a bit wonky between the parties and maps).

Mass Effect &#8211; The Mass Effect series gets a lot of hate on GAF nowadays (Thanks ME3 ending and Andromeda), but this was my favourite game of last generation for quite some time. Yes, the combat was janky and yes, most of the explorable planets were empty copy-and-paste jobs, but rarely have I seen such a well realized game world. I loved exploring the citadel, learning the history, culture, and philosophies of every new race I came across. The Elcor are still my favourite fictional space race.

Shining Force 2 &#8211; Shining Force 2 copies the Fire Emblem battle formula (right down to the unit promotions and battle cutscenes) and adds more RPG elements to it. When you are not fighting, you can explore towns and traverse the world map like a normal 16-bit jrpg, revisiting past locations as you please. While the plot centered on defeating an ancient evil that destroyed your kingdom and stole away your princess, Shining Force 2 is a cheerful game that features an excellent soundtrack and made great use of the limited Genesis colour palette. I still whistle the town theme on occasion.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together &#8211; Tactics Ogre is an isometric, turn-based strategy title that served as the template for dozens of SRPGs that followed it. Like a lot of Matsuno games, the story is a tale of war and political backstabbing. You are forced to make several choices throughout the course of the game that actually influence the events and battles you experience, and the characters that you recruit, a neat feature for a tactical JRPG. Tactics Ogre also features an item crafting system that I had a love-hate relationship with. While it is very extensive, the crafting process is soooo slooow, and recipes for the best equipment (which you can't buy from vendors) came from enemy drops in an easily missable side-quest chain. If you are thinking of playing this title, definitely go with the PSP version.


Age of Decadence &#8211; Age of Decadence is a recent addition to my list of favourites. It is a very non-linear computer RPG, set in a world that resembles a fallen Roman Empire. If you love player choice, meaningful consequences, skill-based character development, and tons of dialogue trees in your RPGs, this game is for you. Just expect graphics and jank that are straight out of 2003 :p At the start of the game, you choose one of seven backgrounds/professions, each of which plays differently. Some are combat oriented, while others rely more on diplomacy. I am not a huge fan of CRPG combat in most cases, so I played the game as a Merchant. From what I understand, every profession has their own unique quest lines, leading to a ton of replayability. Age of Decadence is on Steam. Pick it up during the coming Winter sale!

Chrono Trigger - Chrono Trigger is probably the easiest game to recommend to those interested in JRPGs. It's a tight, 20-25 hour experience that doesn't waste your time with filler. The time travel aspect of the game could have easily been a shallow gimmick, but instead is used in several clever ways throughout the storyline. The Characters are likeable, the soundtrack is top notch, the game has a ton of replayability, and the sprite work has aged very well. I don't know that I would call it the best JRPG of all time, but it is easy to see why others give it that title.

Dark Cloud 2 - I like Level 5 games and their crafting system, even if their titles tend to be uneven. While Dragon Quest VIII is arguably the best game that Level 5 has worked on, this is my favourite title of their solo ventures (although Fantasy Life came pretty close). Dark Cloud 2 is an action JRPG that features randomly generated "dungeons", item crafting, a pretty deep weapon upgrade system, fishing, and much more. The game is now available as a PS2 classic on PlayStation 4, so check it out.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - For some reason, I never got around to playing the original DX. My PC in 2000 was a shitty Pentium MMX 200mHz that couldn't run anything requiring more juice than Diablo 2. By the time I had a decent PC (2003 or 2004), there were newer, shinier things to play. That said, I really liked Human Revolution. It's a sandbox shooter/RPG hybrid that leaves it up to you to complete the various game missions. The story was interesting (until the end) and playing around with the various cybernetic character upgrades is fun. I still haven't played Mankind Divided, but was bummed to hear that it was a step down in many ways.

Dragon Quest V &#8211; Dragon Quest V is the only JRPG that I can think of which opens to a montage of your young character being sold into slavery and growing up in a slave mine. The story and characters, while fairly simple, were very well done and DQV featured my favourite campaign in the series. The game's battle system is pretty traditional. You receive a number of party members who each have their own class and who learn new abilities at set levels. However, the game allows you to recruit a number of enemy monsters (up to 70 types in the DS version) that can be used in battle. This monster recruitment system allows for a lot of party customization, and avoids some of my issues with the earliest DQ titles. Battles are quick, and the entire game can be wrapped up in a reasonable 30-35 hours. Fans of games like Chrono Trigger should check out DQV if they haven't already.

Final Fantasy XII - FF12 was a major change-up of the Final Fantasy formula, but its uniqueness made it one of my favorite titles in the series. Battles were no longer turn-based, but based on MMO style cooldowns. You control one character at a time, while scripting handles two other PCs. The game isn't quite open world, but is made up of large zones that offer a lot of non-linear gameplay options. If all of this sounds like Xenoblade Chronicles, that's probably because XC clearly took inspiration from the title. The voice acting was arguably the best on the PS2. The Soundtrack was also excellent (as is typical in the series). While Matsuno's departure left the game's scenario in a bit of a mess (it starts and ends strong, but is aimless in the middle), I think the game's other features make up for that shortcoming. With the recent release of the remastered Zodiac Age on PS4 (and eventually PC), there's little reason not to try this title if you haven't already.

Grandia &#8211; The Grandia series features one of the best battle systems in jrpg history. While Grandia 2 offered a refined version of the original's combat, I think Grandia is a stronger game in every other respect. Full of interesting locations, charming characters, puzzles to solve, and dungeons to explore, Grandia captured that sense of adventure that a lot of titles aim for. While the graphics are dated (the game is 20 years old) the colorful sprites and 3D overworld still hold up fairly well, especially when playing the game on a PSP/Vita via the PSN version of the game. The biggest downsides to Grandia are the somewhat sloppy translation and the horrendous voice acting. If you can get past those, you are in for a great game.

Panzer Dragoon Saga - It's a pity that playing PDS (legally) is near impossible these days unless you have $300-400 to throw at a used copy. The game takes the universe and atmosphere of the on-rails shooter titles in the Panzer series and adds an RPG spin to it. The battle system is among the most unique that I have played, and the story-telling is first rate. if Sega wasn't Sega, they would outsource a remaster of the entire Panzer Dragoon series.

Persona 4 &#8211; I contemplated replacing this with Persona 5 (which I am really enjoying so far), but I have not finished that title yet, and would just be playing into recency bias. With that said, Persona 4 was my favourite PS2 era RPG. The game fixed almost all of my issues with the PS2 version of Persona 3 (giving you control over your entire party being the most welcome fix). It featured a well-rounded cast of characters, and offered a level of challenge missing from most modern jrpgs. Since status effects and element resistances were actually important in regular battles as well as boss battles, Persona 4 is one of the Rare JRPGs that doesn't have you spamming the X button for 90% of the game.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Bethesda (rightfully) gets a lot of bad press for their buggy software, but there are very few modern games that give me the same sense of exploration and freedom that their titles do. Skyrim borrows heavily from Norse history and mythology to create a world filled with interesting and diverse architecture, beautiful northern scenery, and (of course) big ass dragons. The somewhat shallow game systems start to lose their luster after 20-30 hours, but the time before that is magical. PC owners also have access to an extensive host of fan mods that will enhance their experience from a visual and gameplay perspective. There's a reason why the PC version of this game still has 20-25k concurrent players on Steam a full 6 years from release. If you don't care about mods, but would like Skyrim on the go, Bethesda will have a Switch version of the game out this fall. Hopefully it holds up!


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Suikoden 2
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Might & Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven
Baldur's Gate 2
Dragon Force
Fallout 2
Final Fantasy Tactics
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Mass Effect
Shining Force 2
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
Age of Decadence
Chrono Trigger
Dark Cloud 2
Deus Ex: The Human Revolution
Dragon Quest 5
Final Fantasy 12
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Persona 4
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Hmm I wonder if I did the format right? I included my comments in the VOTE INFO START thingy. Should I not have done that? I can edit if it makes tallying easier.

but how could Panzer Dragoon Saga be the best japanese RPG of all time when you put 5 of them above it
Please don't start. I don't consider them JRPGs (and I consider Cosmic Star Heroine a JRPG) for obvious reasons, let's not derail the thread with this dead horse.


I won't be ranking my list, so keep that in mind when reading it. Don't be mad thinking "This bastard didn't vote for ____?!" because it's quite possible that I just haven't played it yet. There are many classics I haven't finished, but that kept me from voting last time. I still want to participate as best I can.

NieR: Automata
Sell me with a gif, Aizo!

I'm interested in just about anything the director, Yoko Taro, puts out, because he believes in games as a medium capable of telling stories that other mediums cannot. These are the kind of games I'm most drawn to: Virtue's Last Reward, Undertale, NieR. This is philosophy is recognizable in Automata. Like anything, it has its flaws, but the way it utilizes being a video game and game systems to produce this thoughtful Scifi epic about trans-humanism and the meaning of humanity itself is powerful to me.

I think the ideal experience is to know all of Yoko Taro's projects from the past 20 years deeply to understand the whole timeline, but the game can be understood on its own. Did I mention the game was developed by Platinum? Not only is the story really fresh for video games, but it handles fantastically, too. Also, the soundtrack is once again done by Keiichi Okabe, who is just brilliant, and has some of the most standout tracks that, with context, sent shivers down my spine. Emi Evans also returned to do vocals in her own haunting language. Finally, the voice casts in both English and Japanese are really top class (though I think the Japanese one is overall better). The voice actor for the male android protagonist, 9S, is especially great at capturing strong emotions without coming off as hammy.

I couldn't stop thinking about some of the revelations towards the end of the game. The whole game paints this bleak but simultaneously hopeful picture of humanity's future. How will machines play a part in that? How will AI advance? How will machines view humans after evolving past our potential? The game was really touching, and it consumed my thoughts for weeks. I really don't think a game has ever impacted my life so much before.

I'm amazed that Yoko Taro and his team could make a game as charming, depressing, and wonderful as the original NieR, which was one of my favorites from last generation. Amazing.

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword
Sell me with a gif, Aizo!

Before playing this, I'd never played any Fire Emblem games, and it really made me fall in love with the series. Lyn, the first protagonist, is so charming and quite a bit more interesting than a lot of the other lords in the series. I've always adored games with ensemble casts, and I especially appreciated this one. There are so many great characters with interesting stories. Some of the rivals and villains are quite cool, too. The combat stayed fresh for me throughout the whole game, and the animations for critical were always exciting. There were many edge of the seat kind of moments where I was so afraid a character of mine was about to die, only to be surprised by great luck when he or she dodged every attack and survived. Moments like that are insanely fun. The story, the characters, the graphics, and the maps... I think everything is just top notch in this entry.

Sell me with a gif, Aizo!

If you love Horror and atmosphere in a game is important to you, you owe it to yourself to play Bloodborne. Those seeking a challenge will be pleased. Those afraid they're not good enough need only persevere. There are for sure moments that were a great challenge for me, but I'm honestly not very good at the game and managed to beat it. That being said, the challenge was really fun. Learning how to overcome a boss was extremely entertaining. The combat feels incredible, and transforming your weapon is such a spectacle that never gets old.

The setting is really what sold me on the game. I just knew that as a fan of the Horror genre, I had to experience it. I was not let down at all. The monster design is incredible, and the design for the world honestly left me in awe. It's almost October, and what a perfect month to it would be to play Bloodborne. It's a Neogaf darling, and it really deserves the prestigious reputation it has garnered for itself.

Dragon Age: Origins

Although I grew up playing PC games, this was my first cRPG. I recognize that it's not really as in depth as other games in the sub-genre, but I thought it was a great one to start with. I found myself really struggling to get into the game, but when I finally gave it a real shot, I couldn't stop playing. Again, due to my love of ensemble casts, I really enjoyed amassing my party and learning their backstories. I found it enthralling to help each member of my party with their personal problems so that they could move past them and join me. Selecting tactics, similar to FFXII's gambit system also really clicked for me, as a big fan of FFXII; you get to select what a member of your party should automatically do should certain circumstances arise. When you see your plans all work out, it just feels good!

Although it always takes me a bit to get used to a new RPG series' systems and world, this one was so deep in terms of its world and characters. I even started a new playthough last time I was in my home country, and it's just as fun to go through again and make vastly different decisions. Since you have all these different origins your character can start with from a high class human to a elf from the forests, or even a dwarf that grew up underground. This game will always be timeless to me, and it still outshines its successors in the series.

Dragon's Dogma
Sell me with a gif, Aizo!

What a gloriously fun game. Fun, fun, fun. That's really what comes to mind when I think of this game. I tried a bunch of different classes out, and when I had gotten mine fine tuned how I wanted, every battle was incredibly enjoyable. Because the game had Itsuno of Devil May Cry fame, the controls and combat feel perfect. The monsters are awesome, and going from a weakling that can't survive at night (when stronger beasts come out) to a badass who pummels giant and frightening creatures of the night has never felt as good as with this game. The DLC that's included in the most recent copies of the game is a whole new challenge after you beat the game, too! I had so much fun with my main character and her assistant that I created taking down all these enormous monsters.

Worth noting is that not only is combat fun with a sword and shield, but archers and mages feel great, too. I played most of the game with a class that used knives and a bow. Bow combat in many games is pretty dull, but due to the great feel and use of special abilities that are worth using, any class you choose will always be exciting. It's a must play action RPG for fans of the genre.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Kingdom Hearts 2


The World Ends With You


Pokemon White

Mega Man Battle Network 3

Final Fantasy XII

Mass Effect 2

Chrono Trigger

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim



<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} NieR: Automata
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
Dragon Age: Origins
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The World Ends with You
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Dragon's Dogma
Kingdom Hearts 2

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
Pokemon White
Mega Man Battle Network 3
Final Fantasy XII
Mass Effect 2
Chrono Trigger
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Hmm I wonder if I did the format right? I included my comments in the VOTE INFO START thingy. Should I not have done that? I can edit if it makes tallying easier.
I want the ballot at the end of the list so that I can do the first pass of the vote collecting by script.

I made the ballot for your particular list for you. Just paste the following after your commented list, including the start and end tags.


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Bloodborne
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Dark Souls 2
Demon's Souls
Dark Souls
Dark Souls 3
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Final Fantasy Tactics
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
Shining Force 2

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
Final Fantasy 6
Wild ARMs
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Shining Force 3
Suikoden 2
Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Fallout: New Vegas
Salt and Sanctuary
Dragon's Crown


You can then delete the extra tags from your actual list to make it look nicer. Basically, I want everyone to have the same ballot at the bottom of their list, but they are free to get creative with the list itself.
Here is my list of favorite RPGs. Click on the banner to see a youtube video of the game in play, except for ToME which I couldn't find any for!

Baldur's Gate 2 (PC)
What I love about BG2 is the high level encounters and the strategies they make you employ to beat them. The story was good, much improved over the first game.

Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
This was my first FF game, and the setting was great. A steampunk world with magic. The story is epic, with the downfall of the world, and a villain that is, well, insane.

Gothic (PC)
The first thing you'll notice about Gothic is the control system being just plain awkward. Once you get past that, the game reveals itself to be a real gem. Its a little odd, in a good way. I felt there was more "role playing" in this game than many other RPGs and the story intriguing.

Lufia 2 (SNES)
Even though Lufia 2 is an RPG, it felt in some ways like a puzzle game of sorts. The ending had a lot of feeling, and proves that a good story doesn't always need a happy ending.

Legend of Grimrock (PC)
LoG attempts to relive the long past glory days of dungeon crawlers, and does it well. It applies a modern layer of polish over an old and dusty formula. The focus of me is the progression of the characters, not from a story point of view as there isn't much of one, but just from an ability point of view.

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition (PS4)
Specifically the console version. I am very familiar with the Diablo series, particularly on PC. D3 though I played on PS4 and really enjoyed the action this game bought to the series. True to its origins its a loot game (see Moria/Angband) and you are constantly on the lookout for better equipment to improve your character.

Mass Effect 2 (X360)
I love a good space opera, and the Mass Effect series is the best space opera on gaming side. ME2 is the best of the series. Its character development was better than the first, and on par with the third.

Demons Souls (PS3)
Here was a game where the world was dark, the game was hard, and the story, well not non-existent, but buried in layers away from the player. If you decided to dig you were rewarded with something satisfying. This game had me on the edge constantly.

Troubles of Middle Earth (PC)
Otherwise known as Tales of Middle Earth or ToME. And in particular I am referring to version 2. Version 4 is Tales of Maj'Eyal. This is a variant of Angband that took the original and expanded upon it greatly, kind of what Angband did to Moria. Like Diablo this is a loot game, where the real goal is to improve your character by getting better loot from drops. Really the joy of this game is developing a character that is super powerful, but still has a hard time with the biggest and baddest enemies in the game.

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
This is the game where Square looked at FF6 and realized they could make it bigger and better. They very nearly did. The story is an epic, world changing one. The characters are memorable, and the villain a bad-ass, with an epic plot twist early on.


<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Baldur's Gate 2
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Gothic
Final Fantasy VI
Lufia 2
Legend of Grimrock
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
Mass Effect 2
Demons Souls
Troubles of Middle Earth
Final Fantasy VII

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Diablo 2
Black Crypt
Golden Sun
Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
Ni No Kuni
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy VIII
Torchlight 2

I'm way more likely to read new lists as they are posted then go back to the first page and try to remember which posts were formerly 'reserved', but are now fleshed out and read the updates.

It's dumb and counterproductive.
Well, I wrote too much so no one will read mine anyway but I feel stupid for thinking I had to fill in that post :p. It was a dumb reaction to a) having posted before I read the OP and b) seeing the other reserved spots and thinking I'd done something wrong. Now I feel like an ass for essentially reserving the first non-OP spot :p.
Well, I wrote too much so no one will read mine anyway but I feel stupid for thinking I had to fill in that post :p. It was a dumb reaction to a) having posted before I read the OP and b) seeing the other reserved spots and thinking I'd done something wrong. Now I feel like an ass for essentially reserving the first non-OP spot :p.
No judgement, I've reserved posts in ranking threads in the past, I just came to realize it doesn't accomplish what I hoped it would :)

The single greatest game I have ever experienced! Bloodborne is my highlight pick for its oppressive atmosphere and boss and weapon design. The euphoria experienced overcoming the challenges of Yharnam, combined with heart-stopping exploration and addictive mechanics make this a must-play masterpiece.

2. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

This game has actually become my favorite of From Software's Souls Trilogy, and is HIGHLY Underrated due to how divisive it is portrayed. It is one of the most unique experiences I have had in games, and is probably the most replayable RPG out there. The stories I have gained from this game are as good as it gets.

Post#13729 in the SotFS community thread contains a particular story I shared a year ago. Its a little spoilery which is why I won't link it here, but It is just one of several several examples of why I love and adore this sequel. Play it! :)

3. The Elder Scrolls V SKYRIM

Wow wow wow, I can't say enough great things about how amazing the world and atmosphere of TESV is! The MUSIC is one of the greatest compositions in any RPG, and the exploration gave me hundreds of hours of role-playing goodness that fulfilled things I had wanted from games since I was a kid. And this was all before mods! Mods make the game endless, you can truly make Skyrim your own. Highly recommend.

4. Dark Souls

This list cannot be complete without the game that began an obsession and changed my expectations of games. When the game "clicks" it really does a number on you and never lets go. Everyone knows the title and the praise already, BUT Dark Souls can be a life-altering experience for anyone fortunate enough to actually discover why the game gets so much buzz. You will get out of it what you put into it, guaranteed!

5. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten

Such a unique game I decided to try on the PS3! I got sucked into the characters, the combat, the colorful and whimsically delightful presentation for hours. It remains as a very unique experience compared to games I normally have played. I loved it! PLAY this RPG if you have a PS3 or any other platform it is found.
Have fun! :)


<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Bloodborne
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim
Dark Souls
Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten

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.

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar

This is it. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is largely an exercise in destroying the simplified good/evil moral systems found in countless RPGs. It is only fitting that Ultima IV, the most essential WRPG, is also an exercise in developing a more complex moral system.

The difference between Nocturne and Ultima IV? Ultima IV came out in 1985. It is both the literal beginning of morality systems, and arguably the beginning of choice and consequence. Perhaps more importantly, it is still a standard for morality mechanics that, in many respects, has yet to be surpassed.

Other than an ambiguous satisfaction in knowing that you're playing arguably the most important PC game ever made, the experience of playing Ultima IV is one of realizing how underwhelming many story-driven WRPGs have become. In Ultima IV, there are no ultimate evils threatening the world; there are no binary conversation options, or Paragon/Renegade/etc. simplifications. Ultima IV is a game not mainly about combat, but rather about moral growth. The Avatar's quest is one to discover the Eight Virtues, not to discover a legendary sword or an ancient treasure.

It is the first, and still one of the best, games to challenge you to think about your own ethical and moral preconceptions. Like Nocturne and Earthbound, it is an abstraction and codification of an internal process, the one by which we form values, beliefs, and convictions. It takes those mechanisms and adapts them into a D&D-styled video-game, requiring you both to navigate imposing dungeons, and to cultivate your own sense of virtue and integrity.

Though obviously a product of its time, Ultima IV is the Battleship Potemkin of video-games: a manifesto of artistic value, the first foray into a realm beyond arcade games and D&D-inspired campaigns. For games that aspire to be more than pure entertainment, this is both the groundwork and the literal ground zero. The classic of all classics, and essential in this context is an understatement.

Planescape: Torment

In Dungeons & Dragons, there are two kinds of Dungeon Masters.

The first is what we might call the "Larian" DM. His campaign is systems, systems, systems. Let the dice fly high. Combat is everywhere, and it is meticulously crafted. The only good Beholder is a dead Beholder. Beware the mimics. Divinity: Original Sin is probably the best representation of this style.

But the second kind of DM is the "Black Isle" DM. Gameplay systems, combat, etc., are a part of the campaign, sure. But the focus is on the role-playing itself. On building the characters and building the world. On grappling not with a goblin, but with complex moral decisions. Wrestling with philosophical concepts rather than living skeletons.

In that second style, no WRPG has matched - let alone approached - Planescape: Torment.

Planescape's Sigil is the most well-realized setting in the entire medium. Colorful fountains of words literally spring from almost every object, every NPC, every line of dialogue. It is all the world-building potency of a good book, except accompanied by a phenomenal soundtrack rather than the occasional sound of you turning the page.

At Planescape's core is a grippingly personal story of loss, recovery, and redemption (or not...), of an immortal man searching for the fragments of himself, and discovering a new self along the way. The quality of the writing, both in terms of the plot and in terms of the dialogue and descriptors, has no equal (unfortunately not even amongst the other Black Isle and Troika games, in my opinion).

To this day, Planescape remains the only WRPG that really captures the feeling of sitting at a table, and watching a master DM do his thing. With the lights low and the night going on, a few guys sit around him, and he carefully describes the city you've just entered. And if you close your eyes, you can see it. The grimy streets, the broken windows, the horse-drawn carriages sheltering the traveling nobility from the sweltering refuse of the stone streets. Planescape is that experience in video-game format; with nothing but words and some late 90s WRPG graphics, it conveys a haunting, evocative image of the Planes that seems to sprawl in front of you, immersing you in one of the most unique and interesting RPG settings out there.

Sure, Planescape stumbles a bit on its clunky combat, and some sequences in the final third could've used some balancing, but its flaws melt away in light of how much it gets so right. The storytelling gold standard both for RPGs, and for video-games as a whole.

Divinity: Original Sin

Speaking of Divinity...

I've often felt that D&D's influence might've been a restricting influence on WRPGs, pigeon-holing them into certain settings or gameplay systems right off the bat. The over-reliance on these mechanics has made me ambivalent towards a lot of the more notable games in the genre, and I still find it a bit disappointing that WRPGs didn't take cues from Ultima, de-emphasizing D&D systems and instead prioritizing unique world-building and NPC interactions.

The problem, though, wasn't necessarily the D&D framework. Divinity: Original Sin is a game engineered to essentially be D&D in WRPG form, and it succeeds incredibly well. Why? Because Larian understands D&D.

Divinity is a game about two things: freedom and consequences. These two elements, while seemingly unrelated, are very important counterparts. Total freedom with no consequences leads to Skyrim, where the player can do everything non-exclusively, cheapening the entire experience as a result. Consequences with no freedom, while much rarer than the other option, leads to games like Arcanum, where build decisions and dialogue options can negatively affect too much of the experience, with no real way to mitigate or recover from the disadvantages imposed.

Divinity strikes the perfect balance of doling out consequences for your decisions, while simultaneously giving you the freedom to solve the problems those consequences create. I can't speak for other players, but Divinity's thoughtful design actually encouraged me to shift away from the min-maxing mentality, and back into the mentality of pure role-playing. Sure, this dialogue option will lock me out of that quest; but I can accomplish the same thing in a different, more roundabout way anyway. The game doesn't require strict adherence to its own internal logic; instead, it encourages strict adherence to the character that you've created, and the kind of story you want that character to be in. That is the root of D&D, and a hugely commendable thing to accomplish in a WRPG.

It also bears mentioning that Divinity's combat is arguably the best turn-based combat in all of RPGs, and almost certainly in WRPGs. The decision to go turn-based rather than RTwP was an important one; I always viewed RTwP as a bizarre experiment that added too much chaos for a slight increase in speed and intensity, and Divinity's more free-form approach to environmental manipulation wouldn't have worked nearly as well in that context.

A banner WRPG from the last few years, a modern classic, and one that will almost certainly be replaced by its sequel that just came out. Nevertheless, at the moment, it is unquestionably one of the essential WRPGs.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

In my opinion, the modern WRPG began with the first Knights of the Old Republic. Using Star Wars as a backdrop, it was really an opportunity for Bioware to perfect their formula. That formula, emphasizing character dynamics, cinematic presentation, and toned-down gameplay for accessibility purposes, is still alive and kicking.

But we're not here to talk about the first KOTOR.

KOTOR II is what happens when people who are good at making classic WRPGs get a hold of the Star Wars license. Unlike Bioware's work on KOTOR, KOTOR II doesn't just use the Star Wars property as incidental commercial branding. Rather, Obsidian took Star Wars as a whole, and did the unthinkable: broke the time-honored Light/Dark moral dichotomy down into various shades of grey.
I'm sure by now you've noticed a trend in my RPG tastes. Big fan of interesting moral systems, because an interactive narrative is the absolute best way to explore those themes organically and meaningfully.

Though unfortunately marred by production woes and cut content that was thankfully restored by the incredible fan community, KOTOR II is a fantastic combination of modern, cinematic WRPG style, and old-school choice and consequence. Obsidian's Black Isle heritage is on full display, as each of your main party members brings a little thematic nugget to the table, combining to form a fairly comprehensive exploration of the Force and the implications of absolutist moral positions in the context of social and political upheaval. Kreia, for my money, is the best-written character in any video-game.

Where KOTOR II really shines, though, is in its cast of villains. Each of the Sith Lords featured in the game play off of each other perfectly, offering some interesting insight into the way that the Dark Side both empowers and corrupts. The final Sith Lord's ultimate plan is the most interesting philosophical conundrum that has come out of the Star Wars franchise.

Even in its vanilla form, the strength of the themes and dialogue would earn KOTOR II a spot on any essentials list. But with the Restored Content Mod, it's simply a no-brainer. KOTOR II is the most interesting story to emerge from the Star Wars mega-franchise (and yes, I've read a ton of the EU books), and beyond its technical flaws and troubled development, it is a classic that stands toe to toe with the WRPGs of the late 90s.


Last, but certainly not least, is the entry that probably isn't even an RPG.

The immersive sim has always been a hard genre to pin down. Part of the issue is that its roots were in Ultima, which is unquestionably a WRPG. But by time we got to Thief, System Shock, and Deus Ex, that distinction became a bit more problematic.

I won't go into my guidelines for what I consider an RPG; I'll merely say that I consider Ultima Underworld an RPG, and by extension I consider Prey an RPG. And what an RPG it is - it brings the classic immersive sim, kicking and screaming, into the modern era, gaining accessibility and QoL improvements without sacrificing depth, and casting the player into a sprawling, meticulously-designed spaceship that would do System Shock proud.

Prey's greatest strength is, in fact, that spaceship. The game's setting is incredibly well-realized, and its layers of rooms and facilities open up in a natural, Metroid-esque way, rewarding exploration while also subtly guiding the player towards the next area of interest. The crew that once inhabited the ship are mostly long gone, but the notes, emails, and audio logs they left behind gradually paint an intriguing picture of office politics and everyday life aboard the ship, with a sinister undercurrent of corporate greed and dangerous secrets. The plot, tied to these piecemeal environmental details, unfolds organically, and culminates in an absolutely fantastic and thought-provoking twist.

While combat is merely serviceable, traversal and puzzle-solving options are truly inspired, and the almost obsessive attention to detail and quality level design propel the entire experience into the realm of the classic games of the genre.

Regardless of where you fall in the debate over whether immersive sims constitute RPGs, Prey remains a stunning achievement in world-building, level design, and gameplay options, and a fantastic story of an isolated community falling prey both to monsters within and monsters without. It is the culmination of an entire subgenre, a modern masterpiece, and an essential WRPG.


<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar
Planescape: Torment
Divinity: Original Sin
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

Honorable Mentions

These honorable mentions will only have a paragraph apiece. With one exception. All excellent games though, and easily on par with the ten listed above.

Final Fantasy VIII

I've played and completed every mainline Final Fantasy. I played them in this order: IV, VI, VII, V, VIII, I, II, IX, III, X, XIII, XII, XV.

Why explain my play order? To show that there are no rose-tinted goggles on my face. I played Final Fantasy VIII roughly smack-dab in the middle, only a couple weeks after V and a couple days before FFI.

Final Fantasy VIII is an absolute mess of a game. Its own gameplay systems seem to be at odds with one another. Occasionally its own plot points even seem to be at odds with one another. The game can be stupidly easy or insufferably difficult, depending on factors that the average player might not entirely understand. Its characters are often a jumbled mess of contradictions.

But it is precisely those characteristics that make Final Fantasy VIII such an incredible and interesting game. It is a smorgasbord of ideas, of concepts, of gameplay mechanics and narrative elements, all of which collide in unexpected ways. But the only reason all this chaos, this swirling mass of entropy and duct tape, doesn't implode on itself, is because those elements all orbit haphazardly around a rock-solid core.

Final Fantasy VIII, for all its idiosyncrasies, has the strongest themes in the series. The love story is one focus, but to call it merely a love story is reductive; it is a story, not just of teenage infatuation, but of love in its many forms. Of romantic love. Of fatherly love. Of self-love, and love for the world. Of love for your friends, and even for your enemies.

Running alongside these concepts is the other major theme: the nature of time. The various uses of time, that I won't specifically discuss due to spoilers, aren't just random parts of the narrative; they're important jumping off points for identifying how FFVIII explores the concept of time, both its joys and its sorrows, and how time alone can often make things right. Far from the bizarre, borderline drug-induced scenes and sequences which it's well-known for, Final Fantasy VIII has a more grounded side, a strikingly consistent thematic core that informs even its most ridiculous eccentricities.

It's very likely that no one who loathes this game will ever get turned around on it. And, in reality, it's a very easy game to tear down, because it absolutely is a jumbled mess on many levels. What pains me is that so few people seem to see the beauty that is inside that mess. Not every game needs to be Chrono Trigger, ripped and trimmed and polished to perfection. Final Fantasy VIII is bold, experimental, and uncompromisingly strange. But I sincerely think that under that explosion of ideas, concepts, and mechanics, rests the strongest Final Fantasy in the series.


Mother 3
I tried to stay away from including multiple games from the same series, but Mother 3 is such a different beast than Earthbound, that it felt disingenuous to keep it off for that reason. One of the best-written games around, and also one of the most emotionally devastating. Those turned off by the free-wheeling nature of Earthbound's loose narrative might be better served trying this one. The story is much more concrete, and in many respects much more interesting. No crying until the end!

Vagrant Story
Absolutely Squaresoft's best game in terms of gameplay and presentation. Vagrant Story's narrative is legitimately one of the best, and one of the best conveyed, stories in the medium; a bizarre mix of low fantasy, graphic novel aesthetics, and noire atmosphere, its style is undeniable and its characters are fleshed-out and engaging. The combat system, while clunky in certain ways, is satisfying and skill-based, and the final boss is one of the most thrilling RPG encounters to this day. A stone-cold classic, and incredibly underrated.

Dark Souls
It's Dark Souls. You know what it is. Modern classic, despite imploding on itself after Anor Londo. What the first few areas of Dark Souls really succeed at is creating a sense of place. In film we'd say it had excellent mise en scene. It is the kind of game that is so well-designed and engaging that it can start to feel like a second home. Like a world that really exists, somewhere.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana
The Action-RPG in its purest form. Blazingly fast, brutally hard (at least on the higher difficulty levels), and absolutely badass. The only choice and consequence here is whether to play on Inferno or Nightmare. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Dragon Quest III
While Suikoden II is the quintessential JRPG, Dragon Quest III is the fundamental one. It is incredibly polished and incredibly sprawling given the era in which it released, and to this day is still one of the most satisfying adventures in JRPGs. The twist is mind-blowing and one of my all-time favorites. Still an essential worth playing to this day, and my favorite game on the NES/Famicom.

NieR: Automata
The miracle of 2017. Similar to Yuji Horii and Squaresoft's seminal work on Chrono Trigger, Yoko Taro and PlatinumGames' collaboration resulted in a momentous accomplishment, one in which their different skillsets perfectly complemented one another and resulted in a truly extraordinary game. While it doesn't entirely escape some of the various flaws and issues that plagued Taro's earlier work, the central tale of self-identity and sacrifice is fantastically conveyed. And, of course, Route E's ending is a moment for the ages. With Prey, and now Automata, I don't think it's too early to call it. These are essentials now, and they will be essentials for years to come.

Demon's Souls
I'm not breaking my implied "one per franchise" rule again with this entry - Demon's Souls is well and truly its own beast, differing from the Dark Souls series in a lot of critical ways, and I think that that is often overlooked when it's lumped under the same "Souls(Borne)" umbrella as the others. What DeS lacks in the polish that later games brought to the formula, it more than makes up for in its mechanics and encounter design. Many of the bosses are startlingly unique, with intriguing or aggressively experimental elements that unfortunately weren't replicated in later games. It is also the best-paced of the games in this style, a brief, strange odyssey through a dying kingdom. The Nexus is also the best hub in a video game.

Skies of Arcadia
Were it not for Suikoden II, this would probably be the quintessential JRPG. Whimsical, adventurous, and also capable of wringing the emotional gauntlet when necessary, Skies is a masterpiece of atmosphere. While it's mechanics and combat design are certainly solid, the real strengths here are the presentation and the high concept scenarios. Being a sky pirate is simply some of the most fun you can have in an RPG.

Chrono Cross
Its art and music are unequaled. The combination alone makes it an essential game. The combat system and narrative, while both problematic in critical ways, ultimately carry the moment-to-moment gameplay. And despite the flaws with its plot, the narrative nevertheless explores some interesting concepts - and even ties into the first Chrono game in subtle and satisfying ways, as long as you keep an open-mind.


Final Fantasy VIII
Mother 3
Vagrant Story
Dark Souls
Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Dragon Quest III
NieR: Automata
Demon's Souls
Skies of Arcadia
Chrono Cross

I'm not sure my list will be drastically different from last year. No great RPG has come out since and I'm not comfortable including Divinity: Original Sin 2 already.

also *insert JRPG rant*
Just to say I love these threads as a 'living' list of great RPGs rather than just enshrining the classics, it's been interesting to see it change over the years. Well done OP, I'll pop back with my thoughts later on.


Is currently staging a hunger strike outside Gearbox HQ while trying to hate them to death

{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
Mass Effect 2
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Final Fantasy 10
Fallout: New Vegas
The Witcher 3
Final Fantasy 7


Not noticing a lot of love for Horizon: Zero Dawn yet. Effortlessly has the best combat of any RPG I have ever played, and probably top 3 story wise as well.

{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Morrowind
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Diablo 2
Baldur's gate 2
Gothic 2
Divinity:eek:riginal sin
Diablo 3
Fallout 2
Deus ex

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
Diablo 3
might and magic 6
ultima 7
vampire the masquarade bloodlines
the witcher 1
the witcher 3
knights of the old republic
Divine divinity
Age of decedance

1. Ys: The Oath in Felghana
The game I always wanted but could never picture before playing it. Combines platforming, bullet hell, dynamic difficulty, and awesome music into an addictive brew of action RPG bliss.

2. Dark Souls
Something of a miracle. The interconnected world design makes exploration rewarding and dangerous. I'll never forget the first time I made it to Blighttown and wondered if I could get out or if I'd have to live there from now on, subsisting on barbecued leeches. The sense of place is unmatched. With how much I love the exploration I would honestly have forgiven the game if it didn't have great bosses, but far from it: it has (among others) Ornstein and Smough, Artorias, and that first instructive encounter with the Bell Tower Gargoyles.

3. Shining Force III

Three scenarios, each better than the last. The way the stories intertwine, and the superb broad narrative strokes, make for an epic experience.

4. Final Fantasy VI
It has a big cast of beloved characters, beautiful music and atmosphere, possibly the best villain, and Ultros... but what stands out the most is the leadup to and aftermath of the big plot twist, my favorite sequence in any RPG.

5. Shadowrun: Dragonfall
Shadowrun is a brilliant setting and after playing three of these games I'm still yearning for more of that world. Dragonfall goes above and beyond with exceptional plotting that forces complex and consequential decisions onto the player.

6. Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard

The Etrian Odyssey series has best-in-class combat, beguiling ambience, scary foes, and wonderful labyrinth design. I chose II because it has my favorite characters, maps, and overall mystique to Yggdrasil.

7. Legend of Grimrock
I'll go with this for most underrated, since I like it even more than the sequel. The simplicity of design (you are thrown into a dungeon, now try to survive) made it very immersive, and the puzzles are excellent.

8. Ys Origin
Everything I said about Oath applies here, plus it has 3 character options for replayability (Yunica is my favorite, followed closely by The Claw).

9. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Thankfully it is easy to switch classes in Dragon's Dogma; the combat is absurdly fun and you'll want to try out everything. Magic and archery have never been better. I couldn't believe it, but one of my favorite ways to play was jumping around shooting arrows at weak points to stun monsters (speed boosted assassin with eminence and terrible bend). Bitterblack Isle is tightly designed and challenging, one of the best locations in any game.

10. Panzer Dragoon Saga
11. Wizardry 8
12. Shining in the Darkness
13. Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword
14. King's Bounty: The Legend
15. Brandish: The Dark Revenant


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} Ys: The Oath in Felghana
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Legend of Grimrock
Dark Souls
Shining Force III
Final Fantasy VI
Shadowrun: Dragonfall
Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard
Ys Origin
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
Panzer Dragoon Saga

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
Wizardry 8
Shining in the Darkness
Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword
King's Bounty: The Legend
Brandish: The Dark Revenant

1. The Witcher 3

For me the best game of this generation and the culmination of everything a modern RPG should bring to the table: An exciting and engaging story and lore, a likable main character, an interesting and diverse cast of side characters, a vast, beautiful, living and and breathing world to explore and high quality content that lasts for over 100 hours of gameplay. I want to dive deep into an RPG, fully immerse myself in its world, forgetting everything around me and my world. No other game in my recent memory managed to deliver that like The Witcher 3 did.

2. Xenoblade Chronicles

It remains the ultimate JRPG experience for me. It blends everything that I loved about traditional JRPGs with everything that propels the genre to the 21st century. I loved the dramatic shounen story, the likable characters, the imaginative setting and lore, the vast and extremely varied areas to explore, the beautiful score and its modern accessability, comfortability and freedom.

3. Horizon Zero Dawn

A brand new IP, which is just as grand and imaginative as if it too was part of a long established RPG series. This game's combat system is exciting all the way to the end credits and surprisingly in-depth and intricate for a game in which you slaughter giant mecha dinosaurs. Horizon Zero Dawn also shows that even open world RPGs can tell a tight and engaging story. Aloy, as the strong female lead, demands great respect as well.

4. Tales of Symphonia

My first big 3D JRPG encounter and it remains one of the very best that I ever played. Two amazing, vast worlds to explore (oh, the surprise when there is one more after you finished the first world), a lovable cast of characters, great combat system and all packaged in a beautiful, endearing art style that defies the limited graphical abilities of the Gamecube to this day.

5. Tales of Vesperia

The spiritual successor of ToS, arguably even better, and with one of the best lead characters of any JRPG, Yuri, a likable and relatable anti-hero. After ToV the Tales series never reached its heights again. To this day I hope the series finally finds its stride again to produce a spiritual successor to both ToV and ToS.

6. Pokemon Silver/Gold

Pokemon Red and Blue introduced me to the Pokemon franchise, but it was Pokemon Silver and Gold that really cemented this franchise as one of my most favorite and Pokemon Silver in particular as one of my all time favorite games. The creativity, the depth, the immersion and the addiction a game with this limited graphics and on such a small screen was able to convey is really mind blowing.
Similar to Tales of Symphonia, the biggest surprise came when I thought that I had finished the game and the whole world of Red and Blue lay still ahead of me to be rediscovered.


< FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} The Witcher 3
Xenoblade Chronicles
Horizon Zero Dawn
Tales of Symphonia
Tales of Vesperia
Pokemon Silver/Gold

I am glad to see several of those reserved posts filling in. Best to do that early while people are still fiscovering the thread, and we are still on the first page or two.

Etrian Odyssey V comes out the same day as well. I'm guessing the deadline intentionally missed those 2 since it didn't want the voting to be skewed by brand new games.
There will always be something left off by the deadline. I originally has hoped that Original Sin 2 would have been out for more time before I got the thread up, but I wanted to get this up and finished before the glut of end of year voting threads.
There is no particular order for my list.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2

I consider Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2 as only one big game cut in two halves. DDS2 is indeed the direct sequel of DDS1, it released few months afterwards, uses the same engine, the same gameplay, the same voice actors, the same everything, really. They are, counted together, my favorite game of all time, and they are clearly underrated. I would even say DDS2 is a little more underrated than 1 because lots of people complain about its ending and that's unfair, but I'll talk about that later (without spoiling anything, mind you).

Why do I love these games so much? First, for their amazing story and characters. It is my favorite RPG story ever. I cannot tell much about it without spoiling, but just know that if you like cyber-punk and sci-fi merged with religious and philosophical themes (I'm thinking of Akira, Xenogears, Gunnm...), this is a game for you. The battle system is also very good since it uses the perfect Press Turn system from SMT: Nocturne. The music, composed by Shoji Meguro, is also one of the highlights of these games. Some people complain about the lack of rock tunes in DDS2 compared to DDS1, but this is thematically justified. Same for the ending of DDS2, that is basically perfect. Usually, people who don't like it just didn't understand it, since some cultural background (hinduism in particular) is necessary to perfectly grasp what the story tellers want to say.

Here it is, this is my GOAT.

Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story is another hidden gem. Developed by the incredible Yasumi Matsuno, it tells a terrific story through the interactions of a myriad of memorable characters. Composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, the OST of Vagrant Story is unique and still one of my favorites.

Suikoden 2

A fan-favorite. Suikoden 2 has so many qualities that I don't really know what to tell about first. Maybe I just won't tell anything. This game is one of the best ever made.

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile is a very particular game. In order to enjoy it at the fullest, it is necessary to follow a guide and get the A ending. But once you know what to do, the game becomes an amazing experience. Thanks to the writing and the OST of Motoi Sakuraba, the player assists to very tragic moments of death and loss. Every cutscene of this game is a delight. The battle system is also one of the funniest of the JRPG genre.

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

As the demi-fiend, you are going to live the transitory time between the death of the old world and the birth of a new universe. Put like that, it's already amazing. The atmosphere of this game is incredible. The Press Turn system is perfect. The best thing, I think, is the exploration. I always wanted to see more of this Vortex World and its inhabitants. Oh, amazing OST by Shoji Meguro, of course.

Final Fantasy 7

Well, you all know why I love this game. This was my first JRPG and I still have very fond memories of me playing it.

Dark Souls

This game is an adventure. Thanks to the absence of HUB, I really felt like I was discovering a very intricated and captivating world. This is a feeling I rarely encounter in video games and that I will remember all my life. It would be actually great to just forget everything about this game and do it again. I would love that.


Everything is perfect in this game. Combat, boss, music, "story", characters, aesthetics... From Software really nailed it.


I don't really know if it can be considered as an RPG... For me it's a SRPG, so I'm going to put it anyway. I love everything in XCOM 2. It's as if Enemy Unknown had just been a draft. I am looking forward to play War of the Chosen in october.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

SMT: Strange Journey is also very underrated. That's my favorite handheld game. If you like dungeon-crawlers and western science-fiction (I'm thinking of 2001 Space Odyssey, Alien, Event Horizon...), just go play it, it's a game for you.


<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1 + 2
Vagrant Story
Suikoden 2
Valkyrie Profile
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Final Fantasy 7
Dark Souls
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>

Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen
Final Fantasy Tactics
Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Suikoden 3
Suikoden 5
Final Fantasy 8
Final Fantasy 9
Dark Souls 3


<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Dark Souls 2
The Witcher 3
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dark Souls
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Liberation: Captive 2
World of Warcraft (I never teamed up)

Mass Effect
Secret of Mana
Zelda - A Link to the Past
Hero Quest
Fall Out 4
HM Title 8 here
HM Title 9 here
HM Title 10 here


My experience with RPGs is somewhat limited.

I would give Breath of the Wild and Witcher 3 2nd and 3rd if I could
I want the ballot at the end of the list so that I can do the first pass of the vote collecting by script.
Ok cool, edited my post.

Quick question: Dark Souls 2 and Scholar of the First Sin are gonna count as one entry, right? At least that's how I interpret rule #8, but just checking.

Are spoilers allowed in order make a point or should we avoid them?
Sure, just use spoiler tags?

Nice list but come on, follow the rules please -_-
RPGs are my favorite genre. I could fill books with them, but I have no time because I have to play so many RPGs ...

So I chose the lazy-version with the IMO most essential RPG of the following sub-genres: action-rpg, open-world-rpg, isometric crpg, first person crpg and JRPG.

1) Bloodborne
2) Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
3) Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn
4) Might & Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven
5) Final Fantasy 8
Thanks for doing this again kswiston! These threads might be my favourite on GAF. I have played a ton of amazing RPGs that I hadn't before since the last thread, so this will require some soul searching.
<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Chrono Trigger: It gets the highlight nod because everything in it is at a B+ level or higher. I've also got a growing appreciation for sub 40 hour games.
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Ultima IV: It's largely seen as a historic relic nowadays. Sure the UI is damn near impenetrable and you have to read the manual to discover what the hell you're suppose to be doing in the beginning, but I think it still has a lot to offer the modern world of RPGs. First there's no bad guy which would be novel even now and second the goal is to just become a paragon of virtue by doing systemic actions in the game world. With technology and scripting beyond what was available in 1985, its a shame more hasn't been done with this.
Baldur's Gate II - It set the bar in many areas of wrpg design and it the one Bioware has been trying and failing to surpass for all these years. If your game uses a top-down view, chances are it is going to be compared to BG2 somehow.
Dark Souls - If there's an RPG that has been discussed more on GAF than this since its release, then I have some how magically missed all those threads. It took the core that worked in Demon Souls and refined everything else to perfection.
Deus Ex - A master class in level design. Which is good because the other parts of it are not quite at master class level. So sure you can claim the emperor has no clothes all you want but I'd argue that allows us to see his incredible and magnificent dong.
Fallout 2 - Sure, it broke verisimilitude about a trillion times more than Fallout 1 did but everything else is better so this gets the nod.
Final Fantasy VI - The eastern version of BG2.
Gothic II - Still the best designed open world. Tons of secrets to discover with no level scaling or loot scaling.
Jagged Alliance 2 - This straddles the line between strategy and RPG with this landing on the RPG side and XCOM landing on the strategy side. Don't ask me why because I don't know. But that does allow to have some of the best turn based combat around.
Planescape: Torment - With Tides of Numenera's failure and Chris Avellone repeatedly saying that this game + FO2 damn near killed him, I'm not sure when we'll see its like again.

The Age of Decadence - It pretty much looks exactly how you'd expect an 11 year old game developed in Torque to look like. Which is slightly unfortunate because its not even 2 years old. Beyond the visual elements though it has a lot going for it. Deceptively deep combat if that's your thing and/or choices and consequences aplenty.
Divinity: Original Sin - The sequel may be better but I'm about 10 hours into it and by the rate I go through games nowadays, I doubt I'll be finished in time for the end of voting and I definitely won't have enough time for it to have properly digested so the first one gets the nod for now.
Dragon Quest VII - On the one hand this essentially made me realize that I don't really have the time or energy for a 150 mega-epic RPG romp. On the other hand, I actually finished it which I feel should serve as good testimony to its quality.
Dragon's Dogma - Some days I regard this as some open world game with neat action combat. But then I'll read a post here about all the little things that it does like cosmetic character generation actually mattering gameplay wise and remember just how special this game was. Thanks GAF
Fallout: New Vegas - Hopefully with the cult that has rallied around this game in opposition to Bethesda, some crazy modder ports the entire thing to a FO1/2/Underrail like engine with a liberal homage-ing of Underrail mechanics so I'll be able to definitively crown that as the best fallout.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - Its kinda like Pokemon meets Dark Souls.
Suikoden II: Solid story. Solid combat. A crap load of playable characters. You can't lose with a combination like that.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together: A SRPG with branching paths and a story by Matsuno. Combat can also be pretty strategic thanks to elevation, weather and encounter design.
Undertale: A superbly executed deconstruction of some of RPGs dearest tropes.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Character development and character interaction are among the genre's peak in this game. Unfortunately when it comes to combat, the first person shooting and the third person action aren't particularily good turning this into "just" a flawed gem.
Ok here we go

1. Xenoblade Chronicles- Just a fantastic game from start to end in my opinion. Fantastic music, great story, fun gameplay, and easily the coolest setting I've ever seen in a game. I loved the characters, I loved everything about this game
2. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky- A fantastic game with easily one of the best stories I've encountered in a video game as well as setting off one of my new favorite series and the beginning of a continent spanning epic.I'd put SC here instead, but since this list is most essential I feel this needs to go here as it is the start of the franchise and pretty much required to play SC
3. Final Fantasy VI- The classic, a fantastic game that's my personal favorite SNES era JRPG. Great characters, fun gameplay and systems, and a great two part story for it's time
4. Persona 5- my personal favorite Persona game, I feel it really improved on many of the flaws of its predecessors and on top of that it just oozes style
5. Etrian Odyssey IV- A fantastic DRPG with some of the best combat and encounter design I've seen in an rpg. Great customization and skill system as well, and fantastic music. Story is very light, but charming overall
6. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance- My favorite fire emblem game, it's a fantastic strategy rpg with a great story and endearing characters. Props to having the best villain character in the series with the Black Knight who just oozes menace and intimidation whenever he shows up
7. Pokemon Sun and Moon- I love Pokemon, and firmly believe there's almost never a reason to go back to older generations. Competitive multiplayer is still amazing and the most engaging turn based battle experience I've ever encountered
8. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC- A fantastic game that picks off where the first left off. Improves on the story and combat of the original while completing the saga of Estelle and Joshua. While Estelle was always great, this game easily elevated her to being possibly my favorite rpg protagonist of all time
9. Xenoblade Chronicles X- A divisive game on GAF, but I love it nonetheless. A fantastic world with amazing traversal options both on foot and in your mech, combat that becomes fantastic once you learn the ins and outs (I have great memories of tearing into the global nemesis fights alongside other GAF members), and some great sidequest stories. Unfortunately the main story is pretty weak, but the game is still fantastic overall.
10. Radiant Historia- A fantastic DS gem that easily holds up to the classics and in most cases surpasses them, it has a fun and unique combat system, great characters and story, fantastic music, and a really unique system that allows you to play between two timelines and hop between moments in the story to progress the game

Honorable Mentions
Persona 4 Golden- Persona 4 is fantastic, but it's ultimately outclassed by 5 in my opinion and it has some major shortcomings in its randomized dungeons and other gameplay aspects
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse- A great sequel to SMT IV, it improves on it in every aspect and probably would've made my top 10 if not for the fact that it pretty much demands that you've played SMT IV to get the full experience, and while SMT IV is still a great game, it's a fairly flawed experience
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II- A fantastic game in the trails series, ranks down here due to a worse cast than the Sky games (especially in terms of the lead) but is still a fantastic experience that is well worth playing for Trails fans
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd- Another fantastic entry in the Trails series, the door sequences had some amazing smaller stories that fleshed out the world and in some cases really teased at major things to come for the series. Ranks outside the top 10 because it requires knowledge of the events of the both the first Trails in the Sky and SC to really appreciate.
Tales of Berseria- My new favorite Tales of game, it was really fun to see a Tales of game with a more grey sense of morality
Final Fantasy IX- Really fun game, great characters, Vivi is great
Final Fantasy V- Amazing job system, enough said
Nier Automata- Really close to making top 10, it's a fantastic game that marries the gameplay brilliance of platinum with the storytelling brilliance of Yoko Taro to create a truly special experience
Tales of Symphonia- My first Tales game and it has a very special place in my heart. Fun action combat and a really memorable cast of characters set it here
The World Ends with You- A great quirky rpg. Really unique combat and an interesting story


<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} Xenoblade Chronicles
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} Xenoblade Chronicles X
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Final Fantasy VI
Persona 5
Etrian Odyssey IV
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Pokemon Sun/Moon
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC
Radiant Historia

Final Fantasy IX
Trails in Cold Steel II
Persona 4
Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse
Trails in the Sky the 3rd
Tales of Berseria
Tales of Symphonia
The World Ends With You
Nier Automata
Final Fantasy V
I always miss participating in these threads so now is my time!

1. Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII is a high recommendation and favourite from me for many reasons. There's a lot of fantastic traits VIII has that makes it a monster of an RPG. The story follows a 17 year old named Squall Leonhart who was raised in a military school called Balamb Garden. The development of Squall is incredibly interesting as you watch an introverted teenager thrust into situations and grow as a person because of them. Squall's growth is especially noticeable when he meets an upbeat teenager named Rinoa Heartilly whom he takes an interest in. Both have clashing personalities and together both these characters learn from their mistakes and improve throughout the story. The biggest thing about VIII's characters is they have many flaws and feel like real teenagers trying to get through situations that they shouldn't be in. VIII's leads are also contrasted by another small story in the game that follows young adults Laguna, Kiros and Ward who are complete opposites to VIII's young cast.

Final Fantasy VIII is an RPG full of lore and content. The game rewards you for exploring and taking time to talk to NPC's with changing dialogue expanding the history behind the games story. The side content is plenty such as Triple Triad, a card game that you can spend hours collecting and modding, hidden boss fights that net you powerful fighting tools, towns that expand on different races within VIII or characters that lived in them and mini games that are silly fun and reward you for completing them. The world is incredibly lively making you feel like you're actually part of a living world. The game blends realism and fantasy in a way that makes it easy to just relax in such a beautiful world.

The best aspects from VIII come from it's gorgeous world and character design and of course it's massive and fantastic soundtrack. Each town is memorable with it's own unique structure and mood. The music for each location creates a perfect setting. The game's soundtrack features a variety of different sounds, the gorgeous orchestra and chorus that immediately get's you pumped right from the intro to the relaxing and cozy Balamb Garden theme which then switches to the battle theme Don't Be Afraid making you ready to take what's coming on. There's very little to be dissapointed with when it comes to VIII's vast soundtrack, especially since it was the first Final Fantasy to contain a song with vocals that featured vocalist Faye Wong and composed by Nobuo Uematsu. The character and town designs are European influenced with many choices looking incredibly familiar yet unique in it's own way. Most of VIII's characters wear clothing that is a simple design but still has the fantasy feel and look to it. Each character stands out on their own and can easily be remembered for their design or personality quirks. The Full Motion Video's that use expression and motions to convey the meaning of each scene without words was extremely well done. A lot of VIII's cutscenes felt like short silent films with exciting and emotional moments in each one. There is many iconic moments from these FMV's that will easily be ingrained into players memories such as the Opening fight, The Dance and Ending.

Final Fantasy VIII's battle system is quite different from most RPG's due to it's Junction system which links magic to a characters stat when equipped with a particular summon(called Guardian Force in VIII) opening up particular stat increases depending on what magic is placed and where. The system, while easily broken due to Guardian Force abilities and Triple Triad modding, is quite open to player customization and allows for many differenty play styles in VIII keeping it fresh every time. The neat thing about VIII is that the game has an option to avoid Random Encounters, a staple complaint about RPG's, with no punishment if the player decides. The game does however punish players for over levelling by increasing monster levels with Squall. That is also easily avoided if you do not over level Squall. The system does still involve a three party setup with ATB battle but the options available in battle is quite vast. The limit break system is full of fun player interacting specials and the Guardian Forces can be boosted in battle when the ability is purchased.

To finish, VIII is an RPG that will not leave you bored. There is plenty to do and lot's of ways to play. There will be music setting the mood wherever you choose to go, dialogue to expand lore, quirky quests that have fun rewards and beautiful locations to explore. This is a must play RPG.

2. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment[Underrated]

I'm giving this the Underrated rating due to it being absent from many Persona lists. The writing and characters in this are wonderful. This also avoids a lot of the recurring issues that the newer titles have such as weird treatment of female and gay characters, personality types carrying over from game to game and finally the romance system which while fun can also take away from characters to fit the romantic aspect. Even with these issues I still adore the later titles for their stylized appearance and poppy soundtracks but Persona 2 EP is special for it's place of being just before the huge changes that have become most known in the series. The music is great, as most Persona games are and the game features an adult cast which is not common in later games. The story, which is a sequel to the game Innocent Sin( I heavily recommend playing it before EP IF you want to understand some motives and characters) follows a female writer named Maya who begins following rumours that lead her into a chase to find someone.

The gameplay has a negotiation system that we saw return in Persona 5 in which you can convince monsters to give you Tarot cards or Items. It's a straightforward system outside of the negotiation system with regular attacks and spells that you can combo together depending on the order and spells used.

This is a game I heavily recommend people play, especially if you're a fan of the series but want something with a mature cast and focused character development.

3. Final Fantasy Tactics
A world full of medieval war and politics, what's not to love? The game mixes fantasy and realism perfectly with a deep story about betrayal and corruption. The Job system is full of variety and abilities that will leave you addicted. The soundtrack is another major appeal to an already excellent game and is perfectly suited to each moment leaving you completely engaged to whats unfolding. Some personal favourite tracks would be Under The Stars, The Pervert, Trisection, Battle On The Bridge, Decisive Battle and Run Past Through The Plains if you want to get an idea of how fantastic this soundtrack really is.

The game follows a young man named Ramza who is from house Beoulve. What follows is a story of class corruption and clashing of beliefs that force Ramza to make difficult decisions and question his role and morals. He travels with his close friend Delita who was not highborn and is constantly reminded of it by those who were. These two coming from different classes makes for a struggling fight against those with corrupt morals.

Tactics is an RPG that you will be invested in for it's incredible story and have a ton of value gameplay wise.

4. Xenogears

Xenogears is a massive game that has so much complexity to it's story and characters. The lead is Fei Wong who starts off in a small peaceful village but when something goes wrong, Fei is soon forced to deal with the consequences of his choices. The game features what they call Gears, giant Mecha's that characters pilot.

The battle system features two different types of fighting, one with your characters and one with the characters in their Gears. Each style has it's own combo's and abilities that is unique to each character. The camera can be a little wonky throughout Xenogears but it only can be a bit of trouble when it comes to the platforming sections many of which are simple enough.

The music is another top notch RPG soundtrack that will put you right into the games mood. It features two gorgeous vocal tracks sung by Joanne Hogg and composed by Yasunori Mitsuda. The game has a great selection of battle and boss themes and the town themes full of celtic music influence.

5. Pokemon Silver
Pokemon Silver was an incredible game. It took everything great about the previous generation R/B/G/Y and made it so much better. The game is huge with a ton of new pokemon to find and catch. The sprite designs were fantastic and a huge improvement over the previous ones. The story was a great tie into R/B/G.Y with it's option to travel back to Kanto once you completed it's new location, Johto. The game also introduced roaming Pokemon where you could run into these legendary beasts randomly throughout the world thus creating an unexpected aspect to travelling through populated pokemon areas. Silver added many other cool features to the series such as communication with trainers on a cellphone and a Night and Day system that also tied into evolving specific Pokemon.

Pokemon music has always been fantastic and this game was no exception. With previous tracks and new combined, Pokemon Silver was always ready to make sure your journey was truly an experience having sounds that perfectly set the tone for the many different type of battles and towns.

6. Final Fantasy VII
One of the biggest and most well known RPG's, Final Fantasy VII is an amazing game that was a huge boost for RPG popularity and Final Fantasy as a brand. The game is led by a young man named Cloud Strife who works with a rebel group named Avalanche. The game starts you off with the idea that big companies are ruining the planet and Avalanche is trying to prevent it but soon the game opens up to something far worse than what the cast originally thought, especially when Cloud meets the mysterious Aeris Gainsborough . VII is full of tragedy and dark themes. We lose loved ones, experience identity issues, try to prevent the destruction of the planet and so much more. The gameplay introduced Materia which was a fun system to setting up magic and abilities. The story and cast is one of the best RPG casts out there with plenty of different characters to pick and choose from. While VII is a very dark game, it features quite a lot of quirky moments and humour. The music is quite memorable and while not the greatest Final Fantasy soundtrack it still holds up as a wonderful one.

This is one of the must play RPG's.

7. Dragon Quest VIII
My first Dragon Quest title and what a game to start with. This game had a massive open world that was fully explorable in 3D. The characters were fully voiced and well developed. The mini games were plenty and an easy time consumer that rewarded you with powerful equipment. The Dragon Quest games usually feature pretty straight forward but simple and charming stories so it was pleasant to see both VII and VIII still be completely charming yet have more depth to its characters and plot. There was so much to do in this game that you could spend hours on side content or exploration.

This is definitely the DQ title to start with and a fantastic RPG in general.

8. Suikoden II
Suikoden II is actually incredibly fresh for me since I've just completed it recently. The story and characters are probably one of the most well written in gaming with heart wrenching moments that will make you care for these characters and what happens to them. The soundtrack is enjoyable and fit's the game quite well. The one downside to Suikoden II is that it's a bit of a mess in terms of the localization department and has a few slow downs from certain spells in battle. There's also some glitches that can affect items or characters. Suikoden II's strength is absolutely it's story and the way it is presented along with the character design which is fantastic and one of my favorites considering the game has over a 110+ characters with portraits. If story, characters and art design are important in an RPG to you then you will not be disappointed. The games battle system is simple enough and still quite fun though it doesn't add anything to the genre but that is more than alright for a game with such great writing.

9. Chrono Trigger
The funny thing about Chrono Trigger is that it's not in my top 10 favourite games and barely breaks top 20 for me. So why do I have it in my top 10 essentials? Well it's because I DO think it's an essential RPG and here is why. The game is probably the most well packaged RPG out there. It doesn't do anything better than many other RPG's on individual categories but as a whole it's the most well rounded and one of the easiest to get into as a first. The artstyle is colorful, the cast is charming, the story is interesting and the gameplay is extremely fun. The soundtrack is another great aspect with incredibly memorable themes many of which are character themes. I may not place this game as high as other people do but I do think it's one of the most well made RPG's and absolutely deserves a high spot in this ranking. It's very difficult to find a game that manages to do every part of game well.

10. Fire Emblem Path Of Radiance
My first Fire Emblem and by far the most challenging one I have played. The game can be incredibly punishing when you lose units in battle but it makes the fights tense and more strategic. The story is my favorite for the series with it being led by Ike, a young man part of a Mercenary group commanded by his father, Greil. An encounter with a mysterious women set's off events that lead to a harsh journey that will change Ike's life forever.

The art style is another fantastic part to this game that is full of variety. Different heights, styles, ages and races can be encountered and recruited.

If you love a challenging game with a fantastic story and cast then this game is for you.

<FULL POINT GAMES – 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT – 3 points} 1. Final Fantasy VIII
{UNDERRATED – 4 points} 2. Persona 2 Eternal Punishment
3. Final Fantasy Tactics
4. Xenogears
5. Pokemon Silver
6. Final Fantasy VII
7. Dragon Quest VIII
8. Suikoden II
9.Chrono Trigger
10. Fire Emblem Path Of Radiance

11. Final Fantasy X - Final Fantasy X is an amazingly colourful game with an emotional journey following a summoners pilgrimage and her guardians perspective of it

12. Valkyrie Chronicles - Tactical gameplay that is fun and challenging with a great cast

13. Chrono Cross - Amazing soundtrack and world design. A lot of characters to recruit and use

14. Persona 5 - An incredibly stylish and fun game about fighting against society's normalization of many different types of abuse from people in power, particularly adults towards teenagers.

15. Tactics Ogre - Much like Final Fantasy Tactics this has a mature story and fun job system.

16. Kingdom Hearts - This series is greatest for it's battle system and soundtrack

17. Parasite Eve - Incredible horror story with a wonderful soundtrack and fantastic female lead

18. Ys VII - The three party system was a great addition to a wonderful action RPG series and plenty of party styles to choose from

19. Final Fantasy VI - Beautiful soundtrack and an interesting cast and story

20. Paper Mario

I also have to give mentions to Vagrant Story for it's challenging battle system, Suikoden for it's story and cast, Front Mission 3 for it's tactical gameplay and mecha customization and Persona 3 and 4 for their additions to the persona series that has become well known.
*Write Up's in Progress*
Another good reason to avoid "reserving" is that I absolutely would have never bothered to go back and read FiveSide's really nice Nocturne and Earthbound essays if they hadn't posted those very good Ultima and Divinity writeups later on. In fact, that's the only Reserved!!! post I've gone back to actually read.
<FULL POINT GAMES &#8211; 2 points>
{HIGHLIGHT &#8211; 3 points} 1) Persona 3 ; Without repeating what has been said dozens of times before about this game I can only offer my personal experience with this game. It really represents an odd time in my life, where life felt a little meaningless and I wasn't sure what was next. "A turn based RPG could be fun, I guess" and with that thought I picked up Persona 3 Portable on the PSP. I was absorbed into a sorrowful world with a dark tone and characters that all feel real. The dungeon(s) wasn't perfect, but it didn't need to be. Nothing quite compares to the instant nostalgia I now get from hearing a tune from this game, or hearing the stupid quotes from my favourite characters. For me Persona 3 is something I don't think I can ever replicate in my life, and I'm okay with that.

2) Persona 4 Golden; Not quite a match to Persona 3, for me, but a very good sequel. Gameplay mechanics wise it built upon the first while also establishing a new identity and feel.

3) Persona 5; In truth this game's biggest shortcoming is how similar it is to Persona 4. Character tropes are re-used, story doesn't seem as solidly written and conceptually it has a lot of similarities. It easily has the best dungeons in the series though, and is the most stylized game I have ever played. It deserves it's place on this list as a result.

4) The World Ends With You ; It's clear I enjoy the modern Japanese setting, but TWEWY is much more than that. I love it for it's unique mechanics and endless style. Characters that, though aren't particularly unique, definitely shine in their moments.

5) Golden Sun

{UNDERRATED &#8211; 4 points} 6) Baten Kaitos Origins ; The single greatest battle system in any RPG ever, combined with a beautiful world that builds delightfully upon the cheesy first game, this is an under rated gem right here. Secretly Monolith Soft's best game.

7) Xenoblade Chronicles X

8) Pokemon Emerald ; Still the best version to play of Gen 3. Still the best combination of story and gameplay in the series to date.

9) Pokemon Black/White ; The best story in a pokemon game ever and will probably never be surpassed on that front.

10) Xenoblade Chronicles

<HONORABLE MENTIONS &#8211; 1 point>
HM1) Golden Sun: The Lost Age
HM2) Pokemon Trading Card Game
HM3) Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
HM4) Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green
HM5) Final Fantasy X
HM6) Baten Kaitos
HM7) Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
HM8) Pokemon Colosseum
HM9) Ys: Memories of Celceta
HM10) Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones
Hey im gonna keep it about stereotypical rpgs and not include shit like zelda or even deus ex. Prob gonna miss a bunch of stuff

1. Super Mario Rpg
I think this was my first rpg, that's pretty important. It rearranged my idea of video games, and i feel like the fact that my first rpg had mario interpolated into the product was pretty meaningful. I played the shit out of super mario world and the way smrpg interacts with that context still unsettles me. I feel the same way about dante in nocturne. The depiction of the Kid (forget his name) playing with the geno and mario doll pretending that they have backstories and characteristics, while prob countless kids have done this for mario and co. is pretty formative for me.

2. Earthbound
Definitive game full of empathy and punk rock as fuck. Does shit other rpgs will never do.

3. Final fantasy tactics
Love the writing in this game, love how the translation came out. The writing and scenario is less fantastical and whimsical compared to some others in the franchise, but what's important about this game to me is how the fantasy aspect has been forwarded as mainly utilitarian. It's the job system, the idea that im gonna walk down the road and see 2 summoners, an archer, and a ninja. The world in ff is incredible because people are nonchalant and so unquestioning; "real" is always rearranged in ff games and normalized within their respective worlds, but fft made it part of their mechanics, and imo as a game nailed the magical realism of ff better than others in the franchise.

4. Planescape: Torment
Imo the main things that this game does well are it's presentation and timing, and it's willingness to "do the things it wants to do and tell what it wants to tell". The world feels alive and dead at the same time.
It feels much more like a role playing game than the ones i just listed, which are more about formative experiences. I dont really care about c&c in my rpgs (i want a sense of agency but i dont think the two are mutually exclusive). But the game tells it's story so artfully, i really wish other rpgs were up to snuff in this regard. Really wonderful experience that made me believe rpgs could strive to be more.

5. SMT Nocturne
Really really love where the budget went for this game. Incredible aesthetically, awesome twist on the post-apocalyptic trope. It does so many things well. The usage of first person, the coloring, the haphazardness and flippancy combined with the deathly serious. Probably the best iteration of "protaganist accepts everything that's happening way sooner than they should". This is my favorite looking rpg.

6. Caves of Qud
This game is so incredible. The writing, the atmosphere, and the music. Oh man the writing.

7. Fallout: NV
There are a lot of things new vegas improved on, but the most important for me is the background story. Foh with ohh im from the vault and have never gone outside and thus things are as new to me as they are for the player.

8. FF7
I played this on pc after FFX. I love the setting and that it starts with you as a mercenary for an eco-terrorist group. Was just good fun and felt less comprimising than most final fantasiez.

It also has one of the most comforting endings in an rpg for me; all humans gone, nature take back the planet, but the attempts from humans to save the planet mattered and redxiii, someone who had experiments done on him by humans, is a witness.

Honor mentions:
Age of Decadence
Great game but marred way too heavily by it's context. Would have loved to play this without any media exposure.

Divinity OS
really really great systems but i didnt care about the world at all and the game didnt help me with that

Gaf underrated:
Caves of qud
Seriously buy this shit

NEO Scavenger
Really good at providing a sense of urgency and just an interesting system in general
Doing this gets me thinking about why certain games don't appear on my list when perhaps they should. Things like KotOR, SMRPG, Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Gold, Oblivion, Skyrim, etc. are all RPGs that captured my attention and imagination for a great length of time and were, at some point, central to my gaming life.

Similarly it is funny looking back at the last time we did these list (and the only time I was here to participate) and see how my list changed and how it stayed the same. The obvious shake-up is that I have played a lot of Atlus games since then, something I am still in the process of doing, but which I had not done at the time. GAF and TMS#FE did Atlus to me, tbh, and I'm glad for that.

What is more interesting to me is what has happened to Final Fantasy in my rankings between these votes. There are still numerous entries there and they're mostly the same but they start lower down on my list than they used, and, in particular, lower down with respect to Dragon Quest.

I think this reflects that a) I've finished the western-released Dragon Quest series since the last vote--that is, the decay of Final Fantasy is part of a longstanding trend in my taste and play that was already in effect last vote, but more pronounced now-- and b) I've written and thought more about RPGs in the two years I've been on GAF than I ever did before that and in that time the way I think about JRPG has involved Dragon Quest much more so than Final Fantasy.

I think this is also relevant to the first thing I mentioned: I haven't focused on games, with respect to which they (the games I find oddly without place in my list upon reflection) are relevant. It is their dwindling relevance in my JRPG headspace, which pushes them from my list more than anything, I think.

That is to say, my list is a sort of cross between fannish "I really like this game" and a ranking of the importance of these games towards my critical understanding of other games in the genre.


Also, looking at the lists I drew up to make my actual ballot, it is depressing how little progress I've made in Fire Emblem. I replayed a couple of those Thracia 776 levels, got to chapter 10 or so in book one of Mystery of the Emblem and played Fates Conquest. Fire Emblem has a huge place in my gaming heart and I want to do better by it than I have, however ridiculous that probably sounds :p.

I do think I also should give Final Fantasy a closer pass. I never ended up beating or getting to the final boss of FFII, III, and IV (or XII and XIII). I feel IV in particular is something I'd like to see through one day, but II also intrigues me.

And then there are the all those RPG series and one-offs that I have yet to ever try. Some of those I'd probably like a lot--Tactics Ogre comes to mind.

At the same time, I'm still sinking deeper into Atlus and, to a lesser extent, Falcom. I'm planning on looking into fan translations of SMTII (do they exist? I'm just assuming they do) and I have recently bought the pre-P3 Persona games (I've played most of 2-2). Also just about done with the original TitS and I'll look into the sequel at some point.


Last time this thread was a good place to find exciting titles that I hadn't tried and either was complacent towards or never knew they existed. I'm hoping I find new games to love this time too :). It is what makes this thread so great imo.

(And yes, my ignorance of CRPG is great. I own the classics, but I haven't played them. JRPG just sucks up my RPG time, even if, ideally, I'd play those too).