RPGamer’s RPGs of the Decade: 25-11
Welcome to RPGamer’s extravaganza of celebrating the games from the previous ten years. We have a week’s worth of posts to excite you all in what it is probably our biggest combined feature to date. More details and access to all of the other parts of the feature can be found on our introduction post.
This particular post is part two of the results for the site-wide selection of our favourite games of the decade. To start this off, we undertook an initial nomination periods, which was determined by the winner of our awards from those past years, with that group supplemented by a number of wildcards that may have been missed out for any reason. As for our regular awards, ports, enhanced remasters, and the like were not included in the eligible list of games. This gave us a still impressively list of a little over 100 titles to decide between in staff-wide vote. The results have been tallied and placed into three groups: those falling in a group ranked 50 to 26, another group for 25 to 11, and our top ten. Due to the fine, almost arbitrary margins between games outside of the top ten, we have elected to list them alphabetically rather than fully ranked.
Without further ado, let’s get to the games!
Bastion is one of those games that came out of left field for many RPGamers, as it offered a unique way to tell a story about crumbling worlds and isolation, while also offering an amazing and robust combat system. Boasting both stunning graphics and a gorgeous soundtrack, Bastion is an unforgettable experience that has put Supergiant Games on the map as a game developer worth watching with each new title. — Sam Wachter
This game showed the gaming world one important thing: turn-based combat can be fast and engaging. With its Brave and Default systems, you could take a few extra turns before the enemy’s turn. The game was a huge success and made Square Enix realize that us RPGamers are still craving for more turn-based action. This paved the way for games like I Am Setsuna and Octopath Traveler. Even though the story and character development are not the high points, Bravely Default is one of our favorite overall games of the decade. — Erik van Asselt
Bravely Second keeps or improves upon what the first game did so well and fixes its shortcomings. The combat and other gameplay systems are as strong as ever and the story, particularly its pacing, is a marked improvement. I also have to commend it for making Yew Geneolgia such a lovable and adorkable lead character and making Tiz not boring anymore! — Cassandra Ramos
There are plenty of games from this decade that will be remembered fondly for years to come, but Disco Elysium will hopefully be remembered as a watershed moment for not only writing and role-playing in RPGs but in video games as a whole. Combining narrative-driven play with deep customization and a weighty, lengthy story, there has never been anything quite like Disco Elysium. — Zack Webster
Dragon’s Dogma: the most overlooked role-playing game on this list. More people should have played it because it does something amazing. Beside the creation of your own character, you are tasked with creating your Pawn, who can be sent to the game of other players and learn from its adventures with them. I have seen some strange Pawns in my game and it really brought a smile to my face when my Pawn returned with some additional knowledge. — Erik van Asselt
Obsidian Entertainment created something which Bethesda Game Studios was unable to do: a new entry in the Fallout series that felt more like the older games. Don’t get me wrong, Fallout 3 was good, but Fallout: New Vegas improved the formula in every way it could. I will always remember when I was exploring the wasteland with a big iron on my hip. — Erik van Asselt
While Fire Emblem: Awakening revived the series on 3DS, Fire Emblem: Three Houses ensured that it remained healthy going onto a new platform and generation. Despite clearly working with certain elements from predecessors Awakening and Fates, Three Houses successfully establishes its own identity with an extra level of presentation. The options available ensure it has the challenge for veterans and the approachability for newcomers, making sure the series is as strong as it’s ever been. — Alex Fuller
Monster Hunter: World roared onto the worldwide scene in 2018 and captured it in a way the series had never managed to before. Bringing it to modern consoles and PCs made for a complete audiovisual overhaul along with a bevy of quality-of-life improvements that made it easier than ever to get to the good part: hunting monsters. — Zack Webster
NieR exemplifies Yoko Taro at his best. It’s a bizarre creation based off one of Drakengard’s endings that swiftly became a cult-classic. Recently announced to be receiving a remastered facelift, it hopefully gives more people deserve to experience this game with its magical story and captivating score. — Ryan Radcliff
NieR: Automata brings an extra layer of polish to what was started in NieR. PlatinumGames lends its action expertise to the gameplay, while Yoko Taro does what he does best: using the narrative and themes to play with the player and their expectations. These are underlined by a magnificent soundtrack, and result in one of the most memorable RPGs of the decade. — Alex Fuller
Octopath Traveler is a highly enjoyable modern take on traditional turn-based games of yesteryear with a collection of short-story, rather than novel-length, narratives. The graphics represent the pinnacle of pixel art and the score is amazing. The eight protagonists are worth spending a few hours each with and getting to know their motivations and stories. With a battle system on par with the best turn-based ones around, it’s highly deserving of its place near the top RPGs of the decade. — Matt Masem
Stoic Studio’s Banner Saga trilogy will emotionally wreck you. There’s no nice way of putting it. You will get attached to characters, you will be forced into death marches where food and lives are at stake, and you will have to make horrific choices. With its gorgeous backdrops, phenomenal music, and uncomfortable storytelling — as well as for making me sob uncontrollably into my shirt, leaving me emotionally scarred for life — Banner Saga is worthy of a place on this list. — Sam Wachter
Trails in the Sky Second Chapter is an interesting game that simultaneously wraps up a great deal of plot that the First Chapter left hanging while continuing to be an introduction to the wider Legend of Heroes’ continent-encompassing series. With an engaging battle system, excellent score, and well-written characters galore that each get their fair share of screen time, it was worth the decade-long wait to get this released in the west. — Matt Masem
The most recent title in the series to head west sees Nihon Falcom at its very best. Though it makes for a decent jumping on point for new players, Trails of Cold Steel III builds upon everything that had gone before. Nihon Falcom’s world-building is unmatched here with a continent filled with history, highly developed locations, and magnificently engaging characters, while the combat and controls are polished and given new strengths. — Alex Fuller
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 did not disappoint, neither as a follow-up to the beloved Xenoblade Chronicles, nor as one of the first proper RPGs for the Nintendo Switch. It even spawned a sequel that expanded the world’s lore, making it that much more memorable. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features large worlds which are a joy to explore and secrets to discover, while the magical soundtrack adds to the grand splendor of each location. Monolith Soft has created a gem with this series, and will have fans screaming “Don’t forget me!”, even if recent patches removed it from the game. — Ryan Radcliff