Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Picking Favorites

Posted by Rampant Coyote on August 8, 2011

Matt Barton, author of the excellent “Dungeons & Desktops” history book of computer RPGs and host of the “Matt Chat” Youtube video series, has posted his list of favorite computer RPGs:

Matt’s Top Ten CRPGs

I love lists like these. Not because Matt is an authority on the subject (though, having literally written the book on it, he really is), but because these kinds of lists spawn discussions. He covers his butt by way of explanation for what’s missing from the list – the Final Fantasies, the Ultimas, etc. – to avoid losing too much street cred I guess. That’s what happens when you admit to a list that may diverge from those of other fans.

But the point, I think, is to generate discussion. So hey, I’m gonna jump in.ย  Every game he lists would probably be on my list of top twenty or so CRPGs, with the possible exception of Nethack – I’ve played that one many times, but never gotten far enough in the learning curve to really fall in love with it.

I have until very recently divided my favorites into two lists: My favorite “mainstream” CRPGs, and my favorite indie CRPGs. But thanks to my more recent gaming habits (which more often than not involves “sampling” a lot of retro and indie titles rather than playing games to completion), I’m finding that A) the two lists are merging as some indie titles are proving to hold their own against historical and modern favorites, and B) The list is becoming highly unstable – not always by newer games, but by some old gems that I missed when first released, which prove (after getting acclimated to their clunky interfaces and retro graphics) extremely entertaining.

I’ve always listed Ultima VII: The Black Gate as my favorite CRPG, and Baldur’s Gate 2 as a close second. I’m not sure those two are at risk of being dethroned quite yet, and my list of top ten CRPGs probably would include Final Fantasy VII and Diablo 2 (but probably near the bottom), I’d have a tough time figuring out where everything else fits. I’ve tried to order my other favorites – new and old favorites, and new and old titles (not always corresponding), but I have trouble narrowing it all down. On the indie side, I’m pretty sure the indie game Knights of the Chalice has found its way to my top ten, and there’s a handful of other indie RPGs that have probably found their way to my top twenty. There are some old classics I didn’t really play until years after their release, which I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit missing the first time around. But Wizardry 8 is a prime example that probably belongs somewhere in my top ten list, though I’m not sure what it would bump. Unlike Matt, I would probably have Final Fantasy VII and Diablo 2 on my top ten list – I think – though they’d now be somewhere near the bottom, if they haven’t been bumped by newer discoveries.

What about you?ย  How would your list compare?

Filed Under: General - Comments: 23 Comments to Read

  • Matt Barton said,

    I wish I had played more indie CRPGs so I could comment more on those. I dipped my toe in Knights of the Chalice but really need to get serious about exploring that side of things. The indie CRPG scene has obviously come a long, long way since I wrote Dungeons & Desktops.

    If I were making a list of top ten best or greatest (and not just personal faves), Ultima VII, Ultima I, and Ultima Underworld would all be on there, and I probably couldn’t justify leaving off Diablo and Final Fantasy IV since they left such a huge impact. I’ve played about halfway through FF VII (enough to get the gist of it), but for some reason just have a hard time slogging through those games. I’m sure some of it is just ignorance, especially since in my mind that sort of thing is associated with fanboys to the point where it’s obscuring the actual art of those games.

    Part of me just always loved an underdog, and let’s face it, Final Fantasy and Diablo are the popular kids in school. The prom queen gets told she’s pretty to the point where your opinion doesn’t mean much, whereas that nerdy gal that’s kinda sexy in her own way will actually appreciate it. At least that’s my attitude.

    And there’s that bloody Wizardry 8 again. Come on, I’m starting to actually feel very guilty about not getting into that…and probably Gothic 3 or whichever one everybody raves about. Why can’t I just like what I already like and not have to bother with anything else? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Groboclown said,

    I would include Morrowind and Eye of the Beholder in the list. Morrowind because of the incredible story, and Eye of the Beholder because, well, at the time it really captured my imagination, but it’s a toss up of whether that one would beat out the gold box games.

    As for indie games, I would include Blue Lacuna – some would say it’s a stretch to label it a CRPG, but to me it classifies because you are really thrown into a role, and can make solid decisions about the kind of character you want to play.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Why canโ€™t I just like what I already like and not have to bother with anything else?

    Awww, how boring! Wouldn’t it be better if there were so many great games coming out that you had to revise your list every six months? ๐Ÿ™‚

    One problem I have with making these lists is that so much depends upon my life situation at the time I was playing them. Going back to replay an old favorite can be hard. Sometimes it clicks, and after a couple of hours of suffering through the pains of an antique game, I find I really get into it and am transported back to understand completely why it was so awesome in the first place.

    Other times, it can be something of a disappointment, and I wonder if only nostalgia is keeping it on the list. Games from the 1980s – written for 48k of RAM and no hard drive – are particularly hard to appreciate from my modern vantage point. But not necessarily – only last year I played Might & Magic 1 for the first time, and found myself getting sucked into it pretty quickly in spite of the mid-1980s tech.

  • Matt Barton said,

    Funny you should say that, Rampant, because that’s basically what inspired this list. I was thinking that M&M 6 has a special meaning for me along with 7 because of the time period in which I played them. It was a terrible, awful time emotionally for me; definitely the lowest point I’ve ever been at. I hear people talk about their favorite music like that; “such and such album saved my life,” etc. Except for me it’s a game rather than a song or album that helped me cope.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I finished Ultima VII the day after I wrecked my knee (in an *ahem* sword-fighting accident, which gave the doctor a double-take when I admitted it). I was in pain, couldn’t walk without crutches, and… completely forgot about all of it most of the time while I finished the last 8 hours or so of the game. I always wonder how much of a part of the magic of that game for me was how it did manage to help me escape like that.

    Amusingly, after it was over I wanted more, and that night I re-started Ultima IV. Finished that one a couple of weeks later.

  • Matt Barton said,

    Man, that’s got to be the best Ultima VII story ever.

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    In no particular order:

    Quest For Glory 1, QFG4, Ultima V, Ultima VII: TBG, Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (without expansion), Diablo 2, Neverwinter Nights (even the OC, which I have completed 3 times!), Vampire TM: Bloodlines (even though I haven’t finished it yet, first playthrough with a Malkavian is rather good), Ultima Underworld, Megatraveller (never completed it, awful controls, a slightly updated version would be amazing), Final Fantasy VII, Phantasy Star IV, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Legend, Daggerfall (not completed, buggy as hell), Morrowind, Fallout, The Witcher, Mount & Blade, Anachronox…

    That’s 20, because I find it hard to cut the list down, and I’m yet to play loads, including other people’s favourites like KOTOR, New Vegas, Arcanum, Drakensang etc.. I could also never put it in a coherent order, because I like these games for various different reasons, some are based on nostalgia (FFL, Megatraveller), others based on sheer awesomeness, some based on being interesting and surprising.

  • Maklak said,

    I can only say for myself, what I enjoyed and what I found memorable.

    I played about half of Baldur’s Gate 2, but somehow stopped playing for a month due to real life and dropped it.

    I really liked Gothic 1 first time I played it. Well, killing monsters was a bit annoying, but otherwise I liked it. 3D graphics looked great, and I loved mobility (jumping, climbing, etc.) in that game. I played some 3D FPSes before, but nothing this pretty and with such freedom of movement. Gothic 2 was less fun, and plants everywhere obscured my view. I never got to Gothic 3, but Risen trailer looked somewhat promising. After a few years I revisited Gothic. Graphics looked bad, interface was still clunky, I knew the story anyway, killing monsters was boring, and I installed some overpowered mods. In short, I enjoyed Gothic at the time, but can’t return to it.

    Morrowind got me hooked for half a year. It had mobility, like Gothic (even more, because I could fly), much more stuff, bigger world, scattered random quests and locations. Lots of usefull mods. It was glorious.

    I finished Neverwinter Nights and enyoued it much.

    Witcher 1 was OK, but I was bothered in how they made “3D game in 2D engine” (that is graphics was 3D, but Geralt couldn’t jump, and anything would block his way. Camera was annoying too.

    I watched a Let’s Play of “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”, and if I played it in its time, I’d probably really enjoy it. It is more of a platformer than RPG, but had quests, hidden locations, storyline, etc.

    I played Diablo + Hellfire, but don’t think of it as an RPG.

    I guess I really like “big open world” and “unrestricted movement” in games.

  • bagelobo said,

    It’s really hard to make top 10 lists for CRPG’s when so few can even define the genre. You can’t easily just say good CRPG’s should do x, y, and z and do them well. Even more confusing is trying to evaluate the different elements against each other. Which is more better, a strong story or nonlinear gameplay? Tactical turn-based combat or real-time first person combat? Etc.

    Eh, whatever, Ultima VII: The Black Gate is the still best CRPG ever made.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    Well, here I go; in no particular order:

    1) Chrono Trigger [The time travel plot, dozens of endings, and New Game+ kept me playing for months, and I still come back to it once a year. I still vividly remember buying it on launch day at Toys’R’Us.]

    2) Arcanum [An original steampunk setting that is absurdly detailed and well-thought out, it made elves and orcs fantasy fresh for me again.]

    3) Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines [The best vampire RPG on PC, bar-none. The game makes you truly feel like a creature of the night and has amazing replay value. The ending breaks down a little, but the ride is more than worth it.]

    4) Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer [One of the best and most intriguing CRPG plots I’ve played in years. The dialogue and writing is above top notch and is truly nuanced. Plus, it proved to this D&D player of nearly 2 decades that a high-level campaign CAN be just as fun, tense, and interesting as a low-level campaign, something I hadn’t previously thought possible.]

    5)SSI Gold Box – Champions of Krynn [All the Gold Box games were good, but as an avid Dragonlance fan, I was happy to ditch the Forgotten Realms for a more coherent and familiar world.]

    6)Fallout Series [I’m going to cheat a little here and list the whole franchise – excluding BOS of course. As someone who loves retro styles and music and also loves post-apocalyptic scenarios, it is like Fallout was made just for me. Not to mention I welcome any fresh setting in RPGs besides the standard High Fantasy ones.]

    7)Final Fantasy VII [A lot of people forget how fresh and innovative this game was when in first came out. There is a reason it struck a cord. Because I got this game before I got a memory card(!) the first six hours or so are vividly etched in my memory from replaying them so many times. Cloud was the original wangst character in JRPGs, but that was presented as a character flaw to be overcome. I only hate what Cloud started, but I can’t hate on the original JRPG emo himself.]

    8 )Alpha Protocol [A spy rpg, and a modern RPG without a karma meter, only choices presented in a natural manner? Oh, yes. Hard decisions and meaningful choices that rippled out invisibly to all areas of the game made this one of my favorite games last year. Having a tense conversation at a cafe table and realizing all your previous choices have condemned your friends to death? Gripping. Going off the edge and deciding to get revenge at the cost of the mission and innocent lives? Heart-breakingly amazing. The game not trying to slot you into a good or evil category based on your actions, but treating you as a nuanced human being? Priceless.]

    9)Princess Maker 2 [It has stats and battles, it counts right? Endless possibilities and endless replay value. A short and quick game were I discover something new every time I play.]

    10)KOTOR [The first thing to convince me that the Star Wars expanded universe might be worth looking into after-all. Who doesn’t love this game? It even had a video game twist not topped until Bioshock came around.]

    11)Dragon Quest VIII [The most fun I have probably ever had playing an JRPG. Full of old-school goodness, a gazillion side-quests and activities to do, and a fun and interesting story that felt like a fairy tale. It is also notable for being one of the first JRPGs I can remember where the plot remained clear and sane instead of delving into philosophical insanity as the end got closer.]

    12)Elder Scrolls [Yeah, I’m cheating again, but this is my last entry. I love me some open-world games and they rarely get better than in Bethesda’s home-brewed franchise.]

    There are more like Baldur’s Gate 2, the Eye of the Beholder series, etc. but this list is already long as it is!

  • cartman82 said,

    I find top CRPG lists rather boring. It’s always the same old dozen or so favorites. If you’ve played through them (and if you’re a CRPG fan, you have), there’s nothing really much to learn from whether some guy thinks Planescape or Fallout should be no 1 on his list.

    So, for a change, here are a few CRPG-s that aren’t mentioned often enough, and they deserve to be, IMO:

    – Arcanum – Troika’s best game and one of the most ambitious CRPG’s ever.

    – Vampire: Masquerade – Also Troika’s game, similar to Deus Ex and System Shock, but almost never mentioned.

    – Evil Islands – A Russian RPG that resembles Diablo on the surface, but that relies much more on sneaking than hack & slash (especially in the beginning). If you liked the feeling of despair when your 1st level character came upon an orc in Gothic, you might just like this too.

    – Divine Divinity – I disliked the sequels, but the first one was easily a top-20 candidate.

    – Anacronox – Plays like a JRPG but doesn’t feel like one.

    – Dark Disciples 1 & 2 – Freeware indies that look like Roguelikes but they’re not. Also, some of the best puzzles I’ve seen in any RPG.

    – Transcendence – Barely qualifies as RPG; It’s more like an action space-shooter roguelike, but not mentioned nearly as much as it deserves.

    – Geneforge 3-5 – How about the good old Geneforge series? People give it lip service every once in a while, but Spiderweb’s hyperproductivity probably contributes towards their individual games often being taken a bit for granted. I still think the later Geneforge trilogy are some of the most original and deep RPG-s ever made, on par with Planescape in the elusive ‘artistic value/message’ department. If you could condense them into one game (and maybe fix the interface a bit), we’d easily have a top-5 candidate, even on the big boy’s list.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    LOL – Cartman, you kinda beat me to the punch on tomorrow’s article. But only kinda. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • McTeddy said,

    I’ve learned a long time ago that I am incapable of ranking things on a top 10 style list. I spend two days writing the list only to be reminded another amazing game and have to start over :/.

    So, instead… I am just glad to see so much love for Anachronox from people here. Even now, the mere mention of it’s name puts a wide smile on my face.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I never played Anachronox, but I would like to. I hope GOG.COM sells it someday soon.

  • Menigal said,

    It’s a tough list to make, especially since there’s a lot that I missed or just never got into.

    I have to second Arcanum and Vampire:Bloodlines. It’s such a shame that Troika’s imagination wasn’t tempered by QA.

    Then I’d probably have to go with Morrowind, which captured my imagination like nothing else ever really has.

    Pool of Radiance has got to go on any list like this. Nothing since then has felt as much like real D&D as this game did to me.

    Torment’s another easy choice. I’d probably put Baldur’s Gate on the list, but to me it was the first and only really good game Bioware made. I honestly can’t see what people got out of BG2 and later ones, but I don’t like JRPGs, and that’s the vibe they all had.

    I’m sure there’s more that I’ve forgotten all about, and only when I see the CRPG addict cover them will I really remember them.

  • Dread said,

    I’ll start with an honorable mention of Planescape: Torment. I haven’t played it too much (missed it on release and now I’m just lacking the time to play a lot), so I can’t give it a real judgement.

    10) Might & Magic 7/Mass Effect/Fallout 3
    I can’t really decide here, I love each of these games, but they all have some weak points. (MM7 with the mediocre story, ME and Fallout with too action-oriented), so I just give all of them 10th place

    9) Panzer Dragoon Saga
    The only eastern and only console RPG I really enjoyed, it’s pretty unknown, as it’s a Sega Saturn exclusive game. Great story, nice combat and many choices on how to develop your dragon make this absolutely excellent.

    8 ) Gothic 2
    Best game in the franchise offers a good story and many possibilities along with great world design and a great atmosphere.

    7) Knights of the old Republic
    Though a bit on the easy side, KotoR is ripe with decisions, has great characters, enjoyable combat and an intriguing storyline.

    6)Das schwarze Auge Nordlandtrilogie
    I believe those games were released as “Realms of Arkania” outside of Germany. Though the second game is my favorite by far, they form a trilogy which a new player should experience in its entierity. The best part is the atmosphere, I really feel like a group of adventureres wandering the wilderness.

    5) The Witcher Series
    I adore the atmosphere, the dialogue, the characters, the decisions and the combat system.

    4) Neverwinter Nights 2 (+ Mask of the betrayer)
    An excellent RPG in every regard. The main characters feel alive, the combat is tactical and challenging, the story and dialogue is the best I’ve seen since Baldur’s Gate

    3) Dragon Age: Origins
    Pretty much the same reasons as NWN 2 and I rank them very closely together, DA gets the slight edge due to the gritty atmosphere I find to be more intriguing.

    2) Elder Scrolls Series
    I can’t really pick a single game here, I’ve loved the series since I first palyed it with TES2. Each game has it’s own merits. Daggerfall for it’s vast world and large skill system. Morrowind for it’s exotic enviroment, Oblivion for it’s aesthetic and great quests (the Dark Brotherhood questline alone is worth a full priced game). Though Oblivion rally does need some mods to be truly excellent.

    1) Baldur’s Gate Series
    Again, all games, it’s one single epic and with mods you can play it like one massive game anyway. Story and character interaction remain unparalleled. You can literally play through this game 20 times and still find new lines of dialogue. No other RPG has ever drawn me in like this and there is none I remember more fondly.

    Well, you’ll see some well known series missing in my list. I’ve started gaming in 1996, so a lot of the classics released before that went by me, including Ultima, I only played Ultima 9 and didn’t think it was that great. Nowadays I can’t really get into the older ones.
    FF, I don’t like them. story is mostly nonsensical, character development poorly implemented, aesthethics turn me off as well. Same with Chrono trigger, story makes no sense, you have no control over your characters development in any way.

  • Fumarole said,

    In no particular order (except for the first):

    If you’ve played it, you know why it is number one on my list: any RPG which enables the player to complete the story while killing nothing, everything or any number in between knows what it is all about.

    Baldur’s Gate
    Because of the characters mostly. “Buttkicking for Goodness!”

    Ultima IV
    The only one of the series I’ve played, it gave a young version of myself quite the world to explore.

    The Temple of Elemental Evil
    No other game has captured the tactical side of D&D combat as well as this title.

    Neverwinter Nights
    The toolset provided many happy hours of LAN gaming for me and two friends.

    Knights of the Old Republic
    A great adaptation of 3.5 edition D&D to the Star Wars universe. Plus it has HK-47, meatbag.

    Three Kingdoms
    A MUD from back in the early 90s that showed me that I am never to play an MMO else I’ll lose myself to it. Also the medium through which I met the girl who was to be my first, no doubt seriously coloring my opinion of it.

    Dungeon Master
    Playing this on a friend’s Atari way back in the day was my earliest real-time RPG memories.

    No doubt there are titles I am forgetting and many I have yet to play which would likely be on this list.

  • Silent said,

    I’m a bit surprised by how seldom “Arx Fatalis” gets mentionned, even though I seem to remember a blog entry about it. I always wonder if it’s because people don’t appreciate it as much as I do, or because few people had played it.

    “Temple of Elemental Evil” has, in my opinion, the best interface. I wish a whole series of gemes had been done on that model. I liked it better than “Neverwinter Nights” or “Baldur’s Gate” for that. Unfortunately, I don’t like dungeon crawling much, so I lost interest a bit after the adventure went underground (the temple itself). The outdoor and urban parts were fantastic.

    I didn’t like “Baldur’s Gate” at all. And possibly for very bad reasons. It took itself too seriously for me (the ridiculously badass character portraits embarassed me) and, as often, only the french version was available here. The french voices were unbearable. This was before the crazy connections and internet piracy networks we have today, so at that time I couldn’t download an english pirated copy and copy the sound files over the original ones (which is now my modus operandi whenever I realise I bought a non-multilanguage localised version). So, I couldn’t immerse myself in it. Today, the interface puts me off.

    Apart from that, I tend to agree about the classics : “Fallout I, II and (also) III”, “Morrowind”, “Planescape”, “Ultima IV”, “Wastelands”, “Arcanum”, and, surprisingly maybe, “Vampires: Bloodlines” (I didn’t care as much for the linear hacking and slashing of “Redemption”). I had been bitterly disappointed by “Kotor”, but now I appreciate “Mass Effect” without really treating it as a roleplaying game, or asking it to be one. I would probably have liked “Kotor” better if it hadn’t been marketed as a roleplaying game, or if I had been more familiar with its loosest definitions.

    Speaking of definitions, though, I dare to mention “Stalker” as one of my favorite role-playing games, which may traumatise those who found “Fallout 3” too action oriented. For me, it was sufficently open, and sufficiently humane (in the sense that it felt like an exploration more than like a perpetual combat ร  la “Far Cry”), and even if the interactions are limitated, you’re still impersonnating some version of yourself in an autonomous universe. I felt I was roleplaying in it much much more than in any “Kotor” or “Mass Effect”. It’s a fact, even though it would take time to try to determine why – and why it’s the opposite for other people.

    Lastly, I had been very nicely surprised with “Gothic 2”. I don’t like the interface much (compared to “Morrowind” for instance), but the gameplay, universe, options, and adventures themselves exceeded my expectations. Sorry to hear that the next “Gothic” games didn’t evolve in the best direction.

    And I’m now perplexed about this “Alpha Protocol”. I didn’t try it, thinking it would just be some basic linear sneak action game with a few dialogues as a roleplaying excuse, and I wonder if I was wrong. I think we’re in the short-ish period where the game can still be found for pretty cheap before vanishing forever, so I guess I’ll have to take a decision about it soon…

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,


    Alpha Protocol is very similar to Mass Effect – but being made by Obsidian, it is to Mass Effect what New Vegas was to Fallout 3. You know, better and more refined.

    Alpha Protocol has different skills to train, and they heavily influence the game. It is also impossible to max out more than 1/3 of the skills in any given game. You also get to pick a starting background, which basically effects difficulty, but also comes up in conversation. Ironically, “Rookie” is the ‘hard’ starting position, as you get to pick no skills to start off with. For example, NPCs will be impressed if a rookie does an amazing job on certain missions, but expect the same result as a default level of job performance from a veteran agent.

    Dialogue is broken not into Good, Neutral, or Bad, but different “demeanors” or “stances”. You often go into situations knowing what you want to do, accomplish, or find out, then it is up to you to decide how. Do you act professional? Bored? Suave? Friendly? Insulting? Or do you just start shooting knee-caps?

    You have to learn about and read NPCs. Being threatening toward a civilian may be a great way to get info quick, but a military officer or a professional will shut down quick. Acting bored or being insulting can cause a prideful or egotistical person to blurt information to impress you that they would never have volunteered were you giving them the attention they craved.

    The game is linear in a fashion, but very branching, with multiple ways to solve a mission. Also, depending on which missions you do first and what countries you travel to first or last can have a tremendous impact on the storyline. NPCs also remember how you treated them, but also your REPUTATION. If you constantly threaten to shoot but never do, word will get around and a later NPC may call your bluff. If, on the other hand, you are well known for shooting first and asking questions later, a threat will be VERY effect against NPCs aware of your reputation.

    I was so pissed off at reviews for this game, because they almost caused me not to buy or play it, and it turned out to be my personal Game of the Year last year. The game was buggy at release (it is – sigh – an Obsidian game after all and they are known for that), but it is patched now, and was amazing regardless.
    (Not to mention that its final MetaCritic score is a respectable 72 a year later.)

    One of the best things about the game is that the story SEEMS very linear – until you replay it.

    I focused on Stealth, and completed all my missions in a city without being seen or killing anyone, and one of the NPCs I met afterward was downright nervous and shocked how efficiently I had been operating under his nose without him knowing it, gaining me a lot of respect from him. Another game I shot my way through and was mocked by the same NPC for announcing my presence immediately upon arrival, with him gloating how he had be able to follow my every move.

    Dialogue System Previewed here:

    Pick it up. It goes for cheap now and is great.

  • Silent said,

    All right. Thank you for your answer. I’ll get it tomorrow. Just crossing my fingers for it to be multilanguage, or at least have its sounds files in their own separate folder.

    Stealth is also my default approach (I love letting people alive, and few games permit it), which reminds me that I unforgivably forgot to mention the unforgettable “Deus Ex”. In my list of favorite roleplaying games. Is it one ? It felt like one. It’s certainly easier for me to call games such as “Deus Ex” or “Fallout 3” roleplaying games than games like “Diablo”. But I don’t believe in genres discontinuity anyway.

    Which probably allows me to mention Sierra-on-Line’s “Hero Quest : So you want to be a hero ?” (later renamed as “Quest for Glory”). In all the genres that surround roleplaying games, adventures games make the most interesting hybrids. Too bad it’s not a path that has been much exploited. I’m certain that you could have magnificent RPGs totally devoid of fights, and only made of practical or social puzzles, solvable through different ways. Many RPGs feature such sections, and they are often the most memorable bits, but I know no RPG that dares to actually focus on these.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    I didn’t think of it when I first wrote about Alpha Protocol, but the best way to describe it is a modern “Deus Ex” – the spy and intrigue setting (though contemporary instead of futuristic), the way skills and combat work, the choices, etc.

    Even the way you have non-lethal options in both games and NPCs comment on you taking a non-violent approach.

    So, yeah, we can’t forget Deus Ex. It definitely deserved a spot on my list as well.

  • devon said,

    Ultimate VII, Betrayal at Krondor, Quest for Glory I, Morrowind, Final Fantasy IV, Diablo II, Daggerfall, Eschalon Book I, Ultimate VI, The Worlds Finest Software Sword Quest

  • Mndrew said,

    I base mine on replayability. So any game I can enjoy every 2-3 years is on the list.
    M&M 3-8
    Wizardry 6 & 8
    Gold box (usually first and second in any series)
    Yendorian Tales trilogy.
    Bard’s Tale