We’ve got a list of the essential RPGs making the rounds, from Rampant and Scorpia (check out those comments). We wanted to create a list of essential RPGs based on story/writing as well as gameplay, building from Rampant’s original list. Of course, we haven’t played everything, so… what are we missing?
#1 – Fallout
#2 – Ultima IV and VII
IV and VII seem to be the big winners of the series. Ultima VII’s story ensured great sales despite few innovations in gameplay.
#3 – Final Fantasy VII and VI (aka III)
The gold standard for linear storytelling that gets you into the characters. Of course, we tend to see this kind of story often in the FF series, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
#4 – Baldur’s Gate I/II
Included perhaps the first opportunity for romance quests with branching options. If you got the hack, you could even have a gay romance. I’m just sayin’.
#5 – Pool of Radiance (Gold Box Series)
This game wins point for being true to its IP, and I believe it was the first great D&D translation. I also loved Curse of the Azure Bonds.
#6 – Chrono Trigger
Per Rampant: “Strong, memorable characters, a twisted time-travelling plot, and low-tech but high-quality graphics made for a game that is perhaps the best example of the ‘jRPG’ subgenre to date – even twelve years later.”
#7 – Starflight I/II
As the last remnant of old earth, you encounter “multiple alien civilizations, space exploration of a galactic sector, planetary exploration, mineral recovery and bio-sampling, interesting aliens, tactical ship-to-ship combat, and many RPG story threads on only two 5.25″ floppy disks.” Is this an essential RPG? Who knows, but players swear by it!
#8 – Suikoden 2
Fantasy series that took characters to the next level with over 100 unique characters to recruit from.
#9 – Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
Per Rampant: “If your evaluation of RPGs is based upon how well it immerses you into its world, then this game deserves to be in the top ten of anyone’s list.” The story did deliver the Masquerade pretty well, though they fell into the virgin/whore dichotomy with the love interest that always drives me nuts.
#10 – Deus Ex
An FPS with a chewy RPG center.
#11 – City of Heroes/Villains
Okay, maybe good writing/storytelling doesn’t jump to mind when you think of an MMORPG, but CoX has a lot to recommend it. Destroyed cityscapes immediately put you in the story without you having to read text, you habitually feel like a hero when someone thanks you, and getting a cape at level 20 is more a rite of passage than an opportunity for new gear. And, if you can actually get around to reading the text (which is a bit wordy, I can’t lie), there’s good stuff in there!
#12 – The Witcher (coming soon)
Fantasy RPG with meaningful branching narrative. Just thought we’d mention it :)
Last week’s game dialog came from Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. More Guess that Game Dialog to come this week!