RPG of the Year – 2011

I was hoping this year would be a little more eventful and tough to pick a top 5, but it really isn’t. Sure, the top 5 are EXCELLENT and there are a few good runner ups, but there are also a lot of terrible MMOs and poorly thought out mobile games. There are 81 games in total, but you probably already know what’s going on the top 5.

#5 – Dungeons of Dredmor

This was one of my earliest reviews for this site and I tell ya, it’s still so goddamn fun. What’s DoD? Oh, you’re new here, eh? Dredmor is a fun little roguelike that offers a lot of variety, humor, and scaling challenge. So what exactly makes this #5 and not, say, Bastion, ClaDun x2, or Dead Pixels? Well, I think it all boils down to depth.

See, there are many, MANY classes in DoD, some of which contradict other classes, but will still allow you to screw yourself by taking on both at once. Now some would call that broken, but I simply call it allowing your own ignorance to afford bad decisions, which really, is what a roguelike is all about anyway.

Many of these classes also drastically change the tactics you must use to win to the point that it’s almost an entirely brand new game, especially if you get the DLC expansions that add even MORE classes. Dredmor is something I haven’t played in a while, but it’s still one of my all time favorite roguelikes, possibly my absolute favorite.

#4 – Witcher 2 – Assassin of Kings (PC)

I’ve been meaning to talk about this game for a while, but never really have. I kinda want to compare this one to Fable, but that’s not really doing it justice. If anything, this would be like a very adult version of Fable to the point that Fable looks like a cartoon on Nick Jr. in retrospect. I don’t say that because I don’t like Fable; I say that because this one doesn’t fuck around.

In this game there’s plenty of nudity, hardcore violence, adult themes and situations in general, prejudice, and just dark shit in general. It’s a very fun, but very hard game, even on the easier difficulty settings. This is because, and I don’t think it would be much better on a controller, the game has all kinds of little settings and subsettings for spells, potions, etc.

Really, the game can get complicated quick, especially depending on what kind of fighter you want to be. Ultimately, Fable is the closest thing I can think to compare it to, but there’s also meditation, potion making, spellcrafting, better types of gambling, brawling, better side quests, etc. If anything, it’s what I would want a new Fable to take a cue from, and yes, I’m definitely looking forward to Witcher 3.

#3 – Radiant Historia (NDS)

Games that deal with time travel have to be very delicate in how the tale is told. Try to do too much and you’ll confuse the game, but do too little and it either ends up less about time travel and more about one single time use gimmick…or absolutely riddled with plot holes. Radiant Historia takes the high road by doing just enough to make it strange, but entirely playable and highly intriguing.

The game is very 90s anime/JRPG inspired in that it doesn’t feel like it was a game made in this decade…and that’s actually a good thing. It reminds me of older games like Thousand Arms that weren’t afraid to try something different and should receive high praise for such. The plot branches and interweaves in clever ways that you can go back and mess with for different results to see which one creates a better future.

Zipping back and forth in time has additional benefits as well in that you constantly level up and develop new and more powerful abilities, allowing you to take down previously “impossible” bosses. There really isn’t a whole lot else I can say other than BUY IT…if you can find it. Last time I checked it was still super rare, so hopefully you look into buying it right now (at the moment there’s decent distribution, so check the picture link).

#2 – Dark Souls (Multi)

Even after all the high praise I’ve had for this game, no, it doesn’t take #1. Obviously, you know now what took the #1 spot. Dark Souls is an amazing RPG that reminds me of old games like Myst for the scenery, Deathtrap Dungeon for the feel of the combat, and many others that you wouldn’t expect in what at first glance appears to be a straightforward hack n slash action RPG.

There’s even a hint of Metroidvanias in there as you unlock more and more shortcuts to different areas as time goes on and a deliberate feeling of isolation and loneliness with the game developers going on record saying it wasn’t a budget concern, but an atmospheric effect that they wanted there to barely be any music at all in the game so you could take in the scenery and area as well as really focus on audible cues in combat.

The game is immersive, deep, and just frustrating enough to make that one battle you can’t figure out that much more gratifying when you succeed. In other words, this is a tough game for this decade that I can actually get behind in terms of how difficult it is. While it might not be for everyone, Dark Souls is definitely a game any true RPGer can appreciate and slowly but surely get better and better at.

#1 – Elder Scrolls 5 – Skyrim (Multi)

“Of course.” Yeah yeah, I know. It really does feel like a cop-out, doesn’t it? I recently jumped back into this game after a long hiatus and I gotta tell ya, even going back to play games like Oblivion and Fallout 3 just feels…wrong somehow. Skyrim hits all the numbers and it hits them with dead on accuracy.

There’s so much to do that it’s literally overwhelming. While I have made fun of it, sometimes calling it “Sidequest – The RPG About Procrastination,” truth is it couldn’t be any more brilliant. The new level up system is great, especially the way it emphasizes perks within given skillsets.

The new graphics system really shines, too, which normally wouldn’t be a selling point for me, but the people don’t look like walking mannequins and the entire world is beautiful, regardless the time of day. Seriously, one of the more fun aspects of the game is catching awe-inspiring vistas at different sections of the game and seeing what it looks like at night/day instead.

Conclusion

You’re going to notice something about the runner ups this time and I really want your feedback on this. Yes, YOU. The one in front of the computer or whatever you’re reading this on. There were a LOT of shitty iOS games this year and I’ve got to admit that I don’t have the resources for playing these games. Should I just omit them in the future?

Runner Ups

Allods Online (PC)
Anonymous Notes – Chapter 1 – From the Abyss (DS)
APB – Reloaded (PC)
Ar Tonelico Qoga – Knell of Ar Ciel (PS3)
Atelier Totori – The Adventurer of Arland (PS3)
Avadon – The Black Fortress (PC)
Avatar Fight (iOS)
Avernum – Escape From The Pit (PC)
Baconing (Multi)
Bastion (Multi)
Battleheart (iOS)
Blue Almanac (Genesis)
Chantelise – A Tale of Two Sisters (PC)
Chaos Rings Omega (iOS)
Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode 1 – Tides of Fate (PC)
ClaDun x2 (PSP)
Darkspore (PC)
Dawn of Magic (iOS)
Dead Pixels (XNA)
DESTINIA (Multi)
Digimon Masters Online (PC)
Divinity 2 – The Dragon Knight Saga (Multi)
Doom & Destiny (XNA)
Dragon Age 2 (Multi)
Dragon Nest (PC)
Dragon Quest 6 – Realms of Revelation (NDS)
Dragon Quest Monsters – Joker 2 (NDS)
Drakensang – The River of Time (PC)
Dungeon Defenders (Multi)
Dungeon Hunter – Alliance (Multi)
Dungeons & Dragons – Daggerdale (Multi)
Dungeon Siege 3 (Multi)
Eden Eternal (PC)
Elsword (PC)
Eve of the Genesis (Android)
E.Y.E. – Divine Cybermancy (PC)
Faery – Legends of Avalon (Multi)
Fate/Extra (PSP)
Fate – The Cursed King (PC)
Fighting Fantasy – Talisman of Death (PSP)
Fighting Fantasy – The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (PSP)
Final Fantasy Type-0 (PSP)
Forsaken World (PC)
Fossil Fighters – Champions (NDS)
God Eater Burst (PSP)
GO Series – Picdun (NDS)
Hyperdimension Neptunia (PS3)
Inotia 3 – Children of Carnia (Multi)
Jikandia – The Timeless Land (PSP)
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (NDS)
Legend of Heroes – Trails in the Sky (PSP)
Lord of Arcana (PSP)
Lord of the Rings – War in the North (Multi)
MapleStory Cygnus Knights Edition (iOS)
Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (PC)
Mighty Monsters (iOS)
Order & Chaos Online (Multi)
Pirates of the Carribean – Master of the Seas (iOS)
Pokemon Black (NDS)
Pokemon White (NDS)
Rift (PC)
RPG Alphadia (Android)
Rune Factory – Tides of Destiny (Multi)
Rusty Hearts (PC)
Shin Megami Tensei – Persona 2 – Innocent Sin (PSP)
Solatorobo – Red the Hunter (NDS)
Spiral Knights (PC)
Star Wars – The Old Republic (PC)
Trinity – Souls of Zill O’ll (PS3)
Two Worlds 2 (Multi)
Venetica (Multi)
White Knight Chronicles 2 (PS3)
Wild Frontier (iOS)
Wizardry – Labyrinth of Lost Souls (Multi)
Zenonia 3 – The Midgard Story (iOS)
Zenonia 4 – Return of the Legend (iOS)

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Filed under GotY Series, iOS, NDS, Nintendo, PC, PS3, PSP, Sony, Videogames, Wii, WiiWare, X Box 360, XBLA

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