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The top 5 role-playing games of all time

The Role Playing Game (RPG) genre has seen countless wonderful games that have consumed players into their magnificent worlds for over 20 years. RPG’s promote character infusion and self-expression on a deeply personal level, which leads to an immersive gaming experience unlike what we find in other genres.

"The best games are those where you can lose yourself in another world - a place that so utterly captivates you that time has no meaning and where character immersion dominates your imagination. RPG’s tap into the psyche of the player and forms a dance of feedback and response between the player and the story. " Han Cilliers.

Here are five exceptional RPG's which directed the player to extended him or herself along emotional, visual and intellectual pathways that are mostly absent in other genres.

1. Planescape: Torment

Planescape: Torment is a video game masterpiece that is second to none. It is a turn-based RPG that is difficult, rewarding and extremely addictive.  It turned many RPG conventions at the time on their heads to create a world that is stunning, beautiful and most importantly, unique.  

The game offers the most memorable party characters, the best video game story ever told and a haunting soundtrack, all working in tandem to deliver a game that was way ahead of its time.

Planescape: Torment is more than a game; it is truly a work of art that tells a tale of a man whose search for immortality led him to find pain, regret and torment. Party members develop their stories with the player's character while leveling up and progressing throughout the main quest rewards the player with unique progression options.

Even to this day, 15 years since the release of Planescape: Torment I have yet to find a game that comes close to this work of art.

Developer: Black Isle Studios
Release date:
10 December 1999
Buy at GoG.com now for $9,99

2. Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 puts the player into the space-weary boots of arguably the most iconic video game character of all time, Commander Shepard. The game is a third-person, action RPG that blew the world away with the amount of character interaction, personal story development and intense gameplay, all set in a massive game world.

The Mass Effect trilogy is a science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life forms and mysterious uncharted planets. In this dark second chapter, Saren’s evil army of Geth soldiers has just been defeated, and humans, who are still struggling to make their mark on the galactic stage, are now faced with an even greater peril.

The game takes place within the Milky Way galaxy during the 22nd century, where humanity is threatened by a species known as the Collectors. Throughout the game, the player must gain the loyalty of his/her diverse team in order to defeat the enemy. BioWare managed to not only create an epic storyline, but delivered optional missions that had the same level of intensity and intrigue as the main missions.

Developer: BioWare
Release date: 26 January 2010
Buy the base game on Steam for $19,99 or opt for the highly recommended Digital Deluxe version for $29,99.

3. Divine Divinity

The game is a hack and slash RPG that puts the player in the role of “The Chosen One”, a powerful hero under the guidance of the wizard Zandalor. In a quest to unite the the seven races of Rivellon, so that the player can become the Divine One and stop the birth of the Lord of Chaos.

Divine Divinity is possibly the most addictive RPG ever made and features over 100 hours of gameplay, filled with tons of non-linear quests and an enormous world to explore. Freedom of choice in character development, how a player wants to explore the world and manipulate the environment all comes together perfectly to deliver a magnificent experience every gamer that loves RPGs just have to try out.

The daunting world can suck a player in after the first 30 minutes of gameplay. I still remember starting up this game in 2002 at 6pm to quickly check it out and subsequently going to bed at 8pm the next day.

Developer: Larian Studios
Release date: 17 September 2002
Buy on Steam now for $5,99 and check out the Steam launch trailer that echoes just how addictive this game is. You have been warned.

4. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Morrowind is an open-ended, first person RPG that ruined my early 20’s. After playing around 500 hours in both the base game and its two expansions, Tribunal and Bloodmoon, there is no doubt in my mind that Morrowind deserves a top 5 spot.

The game allows you to create and play any kind of character imaginable and basically do whatever you want. Player choice is a big part of Morrowind, where you can choose to follow the  main storyline and find the source of evil that plagues the land or set off on your own to explore every location possible, developing your character through their actions throughout the game.  

Developer: Bethesda
Release date: 29 April 2002
Buy The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition on Steam which includes Morrowind plus all of the content from the Bloodmoon and Tribunal expansions for $19,99.

5. Fallout 2

Fallout 2 is a turn-based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic America. The game has some of the most interesting choices in terms of character development I have ever seen, for example one can choose a perk to make enemy deaths by your hand more gruesome.

Fallout 2 is completely open ended. Through strategizing, players have managed to kill the final boss in 30 minutes of gameplay, yet that never happens the first time around. Fallout 2 offers such a large open world to explore and do any time of crazy stuff in one can imagine in a post-apocalyptic America. A player can decide to become a made-man from hard work or even a porn star, never having to follow the main questline.

The freedom and versatility to truly do whatever you want of Fallout 2 is so exceptional that most modern games that boast about choice and consequences can only dream about.

Developer: Black Isle Studios
Release date: 1 December 1998
Buy Fallout 2 on Steam for $9,99 or pick up the Fallout Classic Collection, which includes Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout: Tactics for $19,99.

Closing Thoughts

All these magnificent RPGs can be picked up for $76 - $86 total and offer countless hours of gameplay in vast worlds with exceptional stories, character development and much more. Honorable mentions that narrowly did not make the cut are Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Skyrim and the recently released Wastelands 2 that I am currently busy reviewing.

Which RPGs would you pick as the top 5 of all time? Do you agree with the picks in this article? Have you played any of these games and what did you think of them? Let us know in the comment section below.  

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd  

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