The end of the year holds so many awards, lists, and opinions. So many different titles begin winning Game of the Year awards. Tons of games fill up charts for genre defining “Best Of…” lists. Here at Leviathyn… we’re really no different in that regard. Who doesn’t love lists and “best of” mentions!?
I love the end of the year in gaming. Everyone thinks back and looks forward. It’s the perfect time to reflect on everything you did as a gamer and pick your chosen few to always remember.
My favorite genre, RPG, had a lot of great titles over the past 12 months. This was actually tough for me to get down to ten games. Fortunately, picking number one was easy for me. I had it chosen before even thought about making this article. Trust me, for list making and “best of” pieces, that’s really helpful.
So without further ado, here are the ten best RPGs that released in 2012, according to myself.
10. Diablo 3
This was a toss up for awhile between Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2. Ultimately what made me choose Blizzard’s game was the superior story, presentation, and just how hard Blizzard is working at making the game better. There’s obviously an argument saying that Torchlight 2 came out of the gate better off than Diablo 3, however, it wasn’t a complete tragedy off the bat and Blizzard is doing a lot to improve their product. There is still news coming around about Diablo 3 while Torchlight 2 has seemingly been quiet since launch.
I was very critical of Diablo 3 but when I step back and look at it as a whole, I did put in over 100 hours into that game. That’s got to count for something. I enjoyed the story, even if Act IV had some of the cheesiest writing. I’m very excited about where the Diablo series can go from here and I’ll be listening and ready to plop down another $60 or so. That alone makes Diablo 3 get onto my Top 10.
9. Final Fantasy Dimensions
Expensive for mobile devices? Hells yes. Every bit an old school Final Fantasy? Oh yeah. Worth playing? Absolutely. Dimensions looks, sounds, and feels like it was created by a hardcore fan for the fans of Final Fantasy. Being exclusive to mobile platforms does suck, though. I think this is a traditional experience that should be had by more people. At least put it on the 3DS and Vita!
Final Fantasy Dimensions will help scratch that itch you have to play an old school JRPG with all the works. I recently heard a prediction that 2013 will be huge for RPG Maker games and I think everyone who is going to use that program needs to look to Dimensions to see what a “modern” old school JRPG should be.
8. Darksiders 2
THQ may be hurting big time but this game was actually pretty awesome. Death is a great character and his personality made him a badass to play as. Not only that but the loot system was a great addition to this series that transformed it from just a dark Legend of Zelda wannabe to a big time action RPG. In fact, Nintendo, take a look-see here and notice how awesome the basic Zelda gameflow works with RPG mechanics. I want to raise up Link and equip him with badass gear and scythes! That’s right, be afraid Ganon.
Darksiders 2 did a great job at continuing a story, making it feel bigger, play better, introduce a number of great gameplay mechanics, and look and sound beautifully. Seriously, the soundtrack for this game is sweet.
7. The Last Story
This is what you get when Dragon’s Dogma and Final Fantasy have a baby. Sakaguchi’s legacy in RPG is well known and The Last Story shows his modern skills. He is still able to grasp the player with an emotional story and gripping characters. There’s just something about a Sakaguchi RPG that makes me feel like I’m back in the 90′s.
The Last Story was a fun game to play, also. The gameplay was tight and the interaction between party members and your attachment to them made it an even better experience. It may have been the last big release for the Wii but it sent Nintendo’s waggle-enhanced console off with a bang.
6. Pokemon Black & White 2
Every year is good when a new Pokemon game releases, especially a main story addition. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ranger and Mystery Dungeon but I’d take new Versions over them in a heartbeat. I can’t wait for Gen 6 but Black and White 2 was a good stepping stone.
What B&W2 did for Pokemon was allow Game Freak to perfect the new game engine and design that debuted with the first Black and White. Now they take what they learned, improve, and even expand. Black and White 2 was a fun addition to the Pokemon lore and is currently the bastion of light showing just how good a Pokemon game and story can be. However, it just makes me wish even more that we had a darker and more mature game for Pokemon with an adult trainer.
5. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Not the best Kingdom Hearts but certainly an amazing portable game and the best RPG out there for the 3DS right now. Kingdom Hearts desperately needs a 3rd game but if they keep pumping out high quality side stories like this and Birth by Sleep, I don’t think anyone is going to raise any pitch forks.
Dream Drop Distance controlled very well, looks amazing, and used the system’s 3D effect to great use. The story was interesting and contained tons of character progression. I dare say that it’s the stepping stone needed to finally announce and talk about Kingdom Hearts 3. If you own a 3DS, you need to play this game. ‘Nuff said.
4. Final Fantasy XIII-2
It’s a shame that a lot of people hate on this game because of the first XIII entry. XIII-2 gets rid of the linearity, keeps the main characters static, has a more interesting storyline, and well, makes more sense. Also, the gameplay is better and I don’t feel like I’m playing thruogh 2/3rds of the game just to get to the really great parts.
Some may hate on XIII but I find it to be intriguing and full of worthwhile characters. Noel, one of the main characters for XIII-2, is a great addition to the sub-series and it’s nice to see a male main character who is full of confidence and leadership. That might be one of the things I really like about XIII and its sequel. No one really gets emo on us. They know of their issues. They may talk about them a bit but overall they just pick up, move on, and get over it. The characters here spend more time worrying about the mission at hand then feeling sorry for themselves.
Oh, and monster hunting and raising is an awesome gameplay mechanic. Having Omega Weapon, Gilgamesh, and a Cactuar in my party is just too great.
3. Gravity Rush
Well, this certainly was a unique game. Stylized like a comic, Gravity Rush tells the story of an out-of-place heroine in a world where her powers are needed, sometimes unwanted, by the people around her. Sounds cliche but play the game yourself you’ll easily start seeing how Gravity Rush is very different.
For one, the storytelling and character advancement is done in such a high style way that it is almost impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Everything about this game just screams for attention and then gives you several reasons to make you want to give it up. Kat is a great main character and I can’t wait to see her release for PlayStation All-Stars.
2. Xenoblade Chronicles
Alongside The Last Story, this game was brought to America thanks to some dedicated fans who felt the Wii needed some more RPG love. To be quite honest with you, I really wish both of these games waited until the Wii U. However, that’s only because I think they would be even better with the GamePad instead of the Wiimote. Yet, even with that said, they still sit at number 7 and 2 on the top ten list for RPGs in 2012. Says something, huh?
Xenoblade is a beautiful game that gets you involved with the world and characters. Affinity and Heart-to-Heart are great features that made me care about the cast of characters greatly. The giant world that you could just run around in held so much to find and uncover. You could just tell that the developers poured their heart and soul into this game’s story and characters. It really is an enriching game to play and quite possibly the best Wii game ever released.
1. Persona 4 Golden
A remake of a 2008 game is the best RPG of 2012? You bet your bottom dollar. Even if you’ve played the original Persona 4 there are so many reasons to pick it back up and play Golden. They added a ton of things to this game to make it even more of one of the most acclaimed RPGs ever made.
To be honest the game took by complete surprise. I bought this because of the high reviews and praise I had seen and heard. It was a risky purchase but I never regretted it for a second. Persona 4 Golden is one of my top 5 games of all time now and for damn good reason. All the nice things I said about Xenoblade and its characters and story is intensified by ten here. It is impossible to not care about this cast of characters and want to actually hang out with them. You’ll learn so much frmo this game’s true story and meaning that your head will spin for weeks trying to decipher, understand, and accept what you just experienced.
While the following three games didn’t make my top 10 list, I want to mention them because they were still amazing games. Honestly, 2012 was a great year for RPG games. Here’s to hoping 2013 is even better!
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning -The game that single-handed ruined a company despite actually being very good. Amalur was a great ride and its action RPG combat was a lot of fun. It really felt like Dante’s Inferno (the game) mixed with an offline MMO.
Tales of Graces f – What a beautiful game. It’s a shame this sort of flew under the radar. If you’re a fan of the Tales combat or storyflow, Graces f is a worthy addition to a storied franchise.
Torchlight 2 – This is the sequel to Diablo 2 you always wanted. While I feel Path of Exile is the “spiritual successor” to Diablo 2, Torchlight 2 takes that formula and perfects it.