With games like Overwatch and Fortnight taking centre stage in the world of gaming, and with several game franchises moving into the world of online, storyline-free gameplay, it’s easy to think that the days of role-playing, heavily story guided gameplay are over. Well, think again, because role-playing games are far from over. In fact, throughout the course of the history of gaming, RPG’s have maintained one of the highest ranks among the genres of gaming, with some of its elements even being moved around to support other genre’s, and to add to the overall quality of the games themselves. If you consider the best games in recent history, you’d notice that they are the best because of the exceptional way they tackle these basic elements of a game: role, combat, exploration ability, and game setting. Conversely, if you consider the worst games that have been around, you’ll notice that they’re so terrible mostly due to the fact that their implementations of the above elements are very poor.
Now, what’s interesting is that the above-mentioned elements are also the elements that make up an RPG game, showing that you cannot have a great game without rubbing of some RPG-ness. So, honoring the genre that created thousands of games across all sorts of platforms, here are some of the best RPG’s from back in the day, to 2019.
The Diablo franchise has always been on the top of any list of RPG games. I mean, who doesn’t love its extremely addictive and innovative combat system, loot collection methods, and intense gameplay? Thanks to game developer Blizzard doing exceptional work on games like Diablo II and Diablo III, the Diablo franchise has always shown exceptional results when it comes to critics and reviews (okay, not Diablo immortal perhaps, but let’s forget about that for the moment).
As you take on the role of the hero of humanity, you will battle thousands and thousands of the Diablo’s minions, which adds to its violent gameplay. The hack and slash, gory nature of the game really is capable of tickling the Diablo inside everyone. The best part about this game is that even though you have to kill so many minions, the gameplay doesn’t get boring thanks to its highly intuitive and customizable combat styles. With a huge range of weaponry and action-packed scenes, this game is sure to keep you on your toes right from the beginning.
The late 90s certainly was an experimental age. If you think about RPG’s, going all over the place smashing everyone’s heads in is what immediately comes into mind, and this is generally what RPG’s are best known for, even considering its origins as a tabletop game. This is where Planescape: Torment flips everything you know about RPG’s on its head. This game allows you to play as an unknown person, covered with tattoos and scars of countless lives, all of which you cannot remember, as you slowly wander into the depths of hell itself. Instead of adopting a “kill everything” policy, which is the cliché associated with RPG’s, this game is driven forward by short and interactive dialogue, as opposed to combat. The step the developers took with this game was certainly risky, but it ended up being what critics called “one of the most imaginative and best-written games”
True to its nature, the developers weren’t afraid to drop hard philosophical facts right in the middle of its humorous yet dark storyline, leading to unique and unforgettable gameplay.
Final Fantasy VI
Produced as a game from a well-loved franchise, Final Fantasy VI is greatly unique in the way that it approaches the storyline, with surprising twists and turns which address heavy themes and unexplored possibilities. Think about most RPG’s. They tend to have a slightly repetitive and sometimes downright boring theme, with plot twists that you saw coming from a mile away (Ooh! He ended up being the bad guy? You don’t say…). Well, that’s all in the list of things that you won’t be getting from Final Fantasy VI. Final Fantasy VI starts off by making the bad guy win halfway through the game, making you expect the unexpected, and is explorative in a way that it isn’t afraid to talk about things that video games in that day and age generally didn’t talk about, such as dark topics and open-minded thinking.
The world is expansive, its characters have a lot of personality, and it’s really fun to play. All in all, it is a Final Fantasy game, so you don’t need a lot of explaining to do when it comes to awesomeness.
Chrono Trigger is, what critics called, without nostalgia blinding their judgment, one of the best RPGs of all time. It ended up going all the way to the top of IGN’s list of “best RPGs of all time”, with fans from all genres wholeheartedly agreeing, and with IGN stating that placing it at #1 was surprisingly easy. So, what makes it so great? Well, to put it in one sentence: multiple endings, an extremely fun combat system, and a very unique and original approach into creating its storyline, coupled with one of the best game soundtracks ever made.
The battle transitions are extremely smooth and the choices you make affect how the game progresses. The characters are lovable and unique in their own ways. With so many fans asking for a new remaster of the game, there might even be a possibility of enjoying this great classic with updated design and features. That being said, making the perfect remaster that satisfies everybody is quite hard, especially when there are so many fans as of now. So… maybe it’s just wishful thinking.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Yes, yes, I know. You probably have seen the Witcher 3 appearing in every list of “best RPG games” but that’s only because it’s really, really good. The reason why the game is so good is that it opens up an extremely magical and imaginative world up to you while keeping the core of the world rooted in reality. Because you see, magic is like science. Use too many scientific words in a movie or game, and the critics are gonna be on you in seconds. In the same way, overload the game with so many magic-ish words that you eventually stop understanding what’s going on, and you really won’t feel in touch with the story. You need to have just the right balance, and the Witcher three does this perfectly.
With a gorgeous open world, intricate storytelling, character development based on the choices you make, and the huge number of stuff you get to do, Witcher 3 certainly deserves its place on this list. Slaying both man and monster alike in the goriest ways imaginable using realistic game physics and combat styles is bound to end up making you feel like a Witcher yourself. Just don’t go around wagging a sword in real life. It doesn’t end well. Trust me.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Imagine being nice and happy as the son of a blacksmith when a bunch of mercenaries arrive at your doorstep and burn your entire village. Wait. No. Don’t imagine that, it’s an extremely depressing thought and the perfect start for a role-playing video game. Feel the thrill of the European countryside as you fight your way from being an ordinary peasant to the savior of Bohemia. With an excellent first-person combat system, you’ll feel exactly as your character would feel when heading out right into the middle of a bloody civil war. Every small choice you make affects the type of person you end up being, and there is nothing in the game that is holding you back.
Now, I must say that the 1400s weren’t exactly a picnic, and this game does nothing to disqualify my statement, and if you had the opportunity to go live in the 1400s, I highly suggest you turn that opportunity down and play this game, simply because it will give you the full experience of being in that century without… you know… horrifying stuff happening to you.
Well, that’s my choices for the absolutely best RPGs so far. What’s yours? Tell us in the comments below.
About the Author
Ramesh Radhakrishnan is the content lead for OffGamers. An avid gamer, Ramesh is keen on exploring digital worlds and the world behind the scenes.