Video Games
25 Top RPGs of the Last Five Years

The Escapist Staff | 1 Aug 2014 17:00
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9. Bastion

Developed by Supergiant Games. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Released on July 20, 2011. Available on PC, OS X, Linux, XB360, iOS, Chrome and Onlive.

bastion cover

Justin says: Bastion is a prime example of a game that really straddles the fence on RPG. There's a pretty strong argument that it's more action-adventure, similar to the game like Zelda, but we ultimately felt that it was more at home as an RPG. Regardless, what was never in question was that Bastion was one or our favorite games released recently.

At the time what made Bastion truly special for me was how unexpected it was. Being in and around the industry it's pretty easy to be inundated with press releases, previews and trailers to the point of feeling like there are no surprises. Bastion managed to fly under the radar a bit though. While Bastion certainly got some points for its decently tight gameplay, it was really the overall aesthetics that made it something amazing. A narrator that actually dynamically responded to the actions on screen, a gorgeous design and a deeply memorably soundtrack. If you missed Bastion the first time around you owe it to yourself to check it out.

8. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Developed by Intelligent Systems. Published by Nintendo. Released on February 4, 2013. Available on 3DS.

fire emblem awakening cover

Justin says: Fire Emblem has a special place in my heart. It's a game I played the crap out of on the GBA. I'd been holding off for the longest time on getting a 3DS, I still maintain that the DS-Lite is nearly unmatched in design, but a new Fire Emblem was going to be a system seller. It doesn't hurt that the game is awesome, and is in part contributing to a resurgence of RPGs on Nintendo's handheld.

If you've never played a Fire Emblem game, they are tactical RPGs with a twist that most players are likely not used to, perma-death. If one of your party members falls in battle, they are gone for good. Granted, you can disable this feature in Fire Emblem: Awakening so that they only fall unconscious, but it really does make you play in a unique way. The game really digs the knife in too by having a stable of entertaining and likable characters and developing the relationship between the characters is an important part of the game as well.

7. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Developed by Eidos Montreal. Published by Square Enix. Released on August 23, 2011. Available on PC, OS X, PS3, Wii U and XB360.

deus ex cover

Justin says: It's always going to be hard following up a well-regarded or loathed game. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was in the unfortunate place of being stuck between both. The original Deus Ex is a classic among classics, breaking ground on much of the multi-path open gameplay we know and love, but Deus Ex: Invisible War was well, not as good.

Even under this pressure, the developers at Eidos Montreal were able to still make a really solid entry into the series. Players had a ton of options for how to develop their Adam Jensen, the main character, between all the augmentations and character options during the story. And the same freedom in approaching any problem from a number of paths was still present throughout the game. This even included the option to play an entirely non-lethal "Pacifist" playthrough.

The only downer are some less than stellar boss fights, outsourced to another developer, that pull the player away from the freedom they normally get, but the rest of the game is completely engrossing.

6. Pokemon X / Y

Developed by Game Freak. Published by Nintendo. Released on October 12, 2013. Available on 3DS.

pokemon x cover

Jon says: Pokemon games are quite similar, and they're all different, but X and Y took the series to a new level of fun. Returning much of the series' accessibility to its early stages and explaining mechanics that weren't properly explained before were huge benefits, bringing fun to not just the casual young players, but to the hardcore gamers who've always enjoyed Pokemon but haven't been able to easily explain the series' hidden depths. We haven't even mentioned, then, the series' upgrade to 3D environments and battle animations, making everything look lovely and upgrading the series' hundreds of critters into new forms. Pouring hundreds of hours into the game not just "beating" it, but then moving on to the extensive content available - the dungeons, battle mansions, and exclusive clubs - is a blast. Catching them all? Still fantastically fun. That hasn't changed, and Pokemon X & Y are the best the series has ever offered by leaps and bounds.

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