Top 20 RPGs of All Time

By far one of the hardest lists I had to make. At one point there were nearly 50 titles listed. But eliminating number 21 was the hardest choice I had. It was Ys 1 & 2 Chronicles but that series still got decent representation below. The top 5 were all in consideration for the top spot. They're all amazing works.
  1. 1.
    Persona 4: Golden
    The ultimate form of the JRPG. Persona 4 takes traditional RPG systems and marries them with social simulation to create a series of character driven short stories that play out alongside a larger mystery involving supernatural murders that plays out over an entire year. It's the type of game that makes me wish I was a teenager again and that's the first time any game has ever made me feel that way. This is the apotheosis of the genre and what all games should be judged against.
  2. 2.
    Dark Souls
    I think it's safe to say my formative years ended before I got to Dark Souls. Honestly I didn't think my adult life would include what I would consider a formative moment, but then Dark Souls happened. Playing Dark Souls is equal parts joy, frustration and self-discovery. I learned more about myself braving through Lordran than I have playing almost any other game. This will be remembered as the game that helped change the industry in one of the most positive ways imaginable. Praise the sun!
  3. 3.
    Chrono Trigger
    If I had to pick one 2D RPG to recommend to anyone the answer will always be the same: Chrono Trigger. It's a dream game crafted by a dream team, dealing with time travel, a stellar cast and fun battles. There are honestly so many stellar pieces and books on this game I don't even know how I could add to it other than saying it's an essential and a game everyone should play at some point in their lives.
  4. 4.
    Mass Effect trilogy (3 is my favorite)
    Mass Effect is interesting. I mean that in the most positive way possible. From the opening moment of the first game to the finale of the third game, the entire series remains interesting. It captivates me like no other WRPG ever has, enough so to play through it all 3 times. Mass Effect is one of the high water marks of the last generation and it came within a paper thin margin of topping this list.
  5. 5.
    The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
    I haven't gotten to The Witcher 3 yet. I need to replace my psu in my PC. But I do know I played through this stellar second entry 3 times in a row without touching any other games while I did it. The characters, the world and politics and the meaningful and powerful decisions make this a truly memorable experience. I'm pumped to see how it all ends.
  6. 6.
    Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
    The Thousand Year Door is the high point of the series. It's hilarious, charming, adorable and full of heart. They literally do not make them like this anymore. Which is a shame because there's no one else quite like the "Great Gonzales"
  7. 7.
    Valkyria Chronicles
    The strategy representative on the list, Valkyria Chronicles reimagines World War 2, gives you one of the greatest casts in gaming, ties it together with deep RPG elements and challenging strategic battles. And through all that manages to sow themes of loving and respecting people because they're, well, people.
  8. 8.
    Ys: Origin
    My favorite Ys game. Three characters with their own stories, 8 hour run time for each, intense gameplay and literally no padding or fat. This game also represents the middle ground between classic action Ys and contemporary party based Ys as each character here represents the gameplay template later followed.
  9. 9.
    Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
    I wrote Lord of Destruction over the original game because LoD helped make Diablo II a classic. Two new classes, a whole new area with new enemies, bosses and loot. Combine that with the existing level of excellence in the four areas and five classes and you have an addicting clickfest.
  10. 10.
    Xenoblade Chronicles
    I didn't expect to fall in love with Xenoblade. It's a massive, 100 hour undertaking that tells the story of humans battling machines as they live on the bodies of two titans locked in battle. The scale is not only epic, but even more impressive since it's running on the Wii.
  11. 11.
    Fallout: New Vegas
    New Vegas is Fallout done right. Post apocalyptic desert and twisted Las Vegas are perfect locations and the multiple quest paths and story options make this the most interesting take on Bethesda's formula. It's developed by Obsidian and that much is apparent in the high quality dialogue and quest design.
  12. 12.
    Ys: The Oath in Felghana
    The fan favorite entry. Oath follows main Ys hero Adol as he journeys to his best friend Dogi's home town and discovers trouble. It may not have multiple characters or different styles of play but it's hard, the bosses are huge and your timing needs to be perfect to overcome the game's hardest part: bosses.
  13. 13.
    Tales of Vesperia
    A traditional RPG in every way, but it's charming characters, cool villains, fun rivalries and complex protagonist really kept me hooked.
  14. 14.
    The Last Story
    The Last Story is a tale of rags to riches. Of mercenaries moving up in life to become respectable knights. It's a love story of a young man who gives his all to a girl far above his station in life. And it's a story of two best friends who may have more to hide from one another than they realize. And it's all set in one kingdom. With a goofy, British cast, and a ridiculous, nearly over the top battle system. This game is wonderful.
  15. 15.
    Persona 3: Portable
    P3P is a portable remake of Persona 3 so it has a visual novel look when navigating the world and traditional in game for dungeons. This is one of the most important games ever since it started the mold Persona 4 would later perfect. The dungeons aren't as interesting but the stakes are higher, the villains are more prominent and your party is even bigger.
  16. 16.
    Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut
    Shadowrun Returns was a great reboot but Dragonfall took things to a new level, with a party to constantly keep an eye on, beautiful writing, and a far more interesting and high stakes scenario. The tactical gameplay may not quite be XCOM, but it may have even more options to the heavier RPG emphasis.
  17. 17.
    Pokémon Gold/Silver
    Pokémon was like drugs for kids. And I was hooked on crafting the coolest, most versatile team I could. I always chose fire and built around that. But the postgame content here was massive, surprising and perfect.
  18. 18.
    The World Ends With You
    Easily the most stylish game on the list, The World Ends With You might be Square-Enid's finest game. Set in modern Shibuya the game focuses often on coming to terms with yourself on who you are as a person. It's hip, stylish and emotionally involving.
  19. 19.
    The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
    While New Vegas might be my favorite take on open world RPGs, Morrowind represents my favorite take on Bethesda's flagship series: weird, mysterious, foreign and quirky. The most populace race are the Dark Elves, their world, laws and customs are intriguing and the crazy, technological ruins are even more so. Oblivion and Skyrim adopted more traditional Fantasy, but Morrowind took major creative risks and it was all the better for it.
  20. 20.
    Final Fantasy 4
    Most people go with 6 or 7. I almost picked XIII. But my reason for 4 was that it set the mold for the series that so many games have followed. I personally played this one twice and I loved it. It's Shakespearean and melodramatic and that's just what I love about it.