It’s been two months since I started blogging, but I’ve yet to write about one of my biggest hobbies; gaming! I’ve been a console gamer since the age of 4 when I received my very own PSOne, and, as you can imagine, I have played a whole lot of video games, so it’s high-time I introduced gaming as a category on my blog. To start off my oncoming series of posts, this list is a fun countdown of all the RPGs that have stuck with me as firm favourites to this day… so, without further ado, here’s my Top 10!
10. Life Is Strange
I know this game is fairly new and hasn’t been around for too long, but it’s already set to become a classic. The Life Is Strange story is shaped by the decisions of the player as you take on the role of Max Caulfield, a shy photography student who discovers a phenomenal ability to rewind time when she incidentally saves her former best friend Chloe Price from being fatally shot. I love the gorgeous art direction of this game and the portrayal of Max and Chloe’s closely-tied relationship throughout the course of the episodes. The best thing about a great player-decision driven RPGs is the urge to replay it all over again once finished… I cannot wait to give Life Is Strange a second play-through sometime!
9. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
I’m not normally one for complicated puzzle RPGs, but Virtue’s Last Reward is so much more than just that. It’s thrilling twists and turns keep you playing more and more chapters as you progress the 9 trapped characters through a sickening game of life and death in the Nonary Game. Apart from detective-style “escape-the-room” gameplay it’s also got a heavily choice driven plot, which can branch out and become one of 24 different endings! I loved the deeply-engrossing story, the three-dimensional characters who each have an air of mystery about them, and the gameplay wholly challenges your brain with teasing problem-solving. For a PSVita/Nintendo DS game, it sure has stuck with me as one of the best narratives ever for a game of it’s kind.
8. The Sims 2
How could I possibly make this list of all-time favourites without including at least one The Sims game?! In one sentence: The Sims was my childhood. Every day after school, I’d come home, turn on the PS2 and play at life-simulation for the good majority of the evening. The Sims was most likely the reason I never done my homework, but for 10 year old me it was so worth it. My personal favourite entry of the series is The Sims 2. It was the one entry where you could directly control and run around the maps as your Sim, the art and characterisation had a unique quirkiness to it only seen in this installment, and it had the best career storyline in my opinion. Also… The cheats were the best. I still miss creating my dream house The Sims 2-style, thanks to all the codes I found in PlayStation magazine…
7. Heavy Rain
Quantic Dream do an phenomenal job of making beautiful story focused, player decision-driven games. Beyond: Two Souls (released after Heavy Rain) is also a favourite of mine, but where Beyond: Two Souls failed (muddled plot, unrealistic elements etc), it’s predecessor Heavy Rain suceeds.
Heavy Rain tells the story of troubled father Ethan Mars and his desperation to find his son, who has been abducted by The Origami Killer, a serial killer who places young boys underground during a heavy rainfall period and gives their fathers less than 3 days to find them before they drown with nothing more than an origami figure left in their hand. Apart from Ethan, you also take control of three supporting characters who are also investigating the murders; a detective, an FBI agent and a photojournalist.
Each playable character has their unique personal demons that they battle throughout the story, making them more humanised and giving them room to strengthen and grow. There is a brilliant suspense atmosphere throughout, and I highly recommend that this be the first Quantic Dream installation you play if you haven’t already!
6. Silent Hill 2
I love horror; I have played quite a few frightening RPGs in my time (my most recent favourite being the slasher movie-style Until Dawn), but nothing has ever come close to the sheer amazing experience that is Silent Hill 2.
While Silent Hill and Silent Hill 3 are both incredible, Silent Hill 2 is unique in the fact it’s story is not connected to Harry, Cheryl, Alyssa, or any of the other characters from 1 and 3. Instead, the story follows grief-ridden James Sunderland who has journeyed to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his late wife Mary to meet him there. Along the way, he discovers Silent Hill is not just the sleepy town he believed it to be; instead, it’s inhabited by freakish monsters that stand as metaphors of James’ tormented mind, and along the way he uncovers more mysteries than he initially came to sought out in hopes of somehow finding his dead wife alive again.
I found Silent Hill 2 to be the most deeply emotional, moral-questioning entry to the franchise of the Silent Hill games I’ve played, as well as one of the more frightening in tone and atmosphere.
5. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend
Lara Croft has been the poster girl for video gaming ever since I can remember, and I’ve almost lost track of how many different Tomb Raider instalments I’ve played, but if I were to pick one favourite from them all, I’d have to choose Legend. In my opinion, Legend was the last great Lara Croft Tomb Raider game that echoed the sheer brilliance of the classics.
Each level takes place in a different part of the globe and presents new challenges to the fully fledged action-packed archaeologist as she searches for a mystical famous artefact from Arthurian legend. There’s battles, puzzles, and Lara’s good old fashioned British charm and daring optimism. The sequel, Underworld, unfortunately just didn’t live up to how great Legend was, and although I think the reboot is amazing, it just felt like a glimmer of what’s to come; as though Lara, despite being thrown into the centre of peril, still needs time to grow into the ultimate survivor she was portrayed as in Legend.
Also, a fun fact for you: Legend was the last Tomb Raider game to feature Lara’s mansion, Croft Manor, as a playable training level. RIP Lara’s mansion. Lara’s mansion was SO MUCH FUN. Everyone needs Lara’s mansion in their life.
4. The Last Of Us
The Last Of Us is sometimes spoken of by critics as the last great game of the PS3 era, and boy are they right. The action-adventure horror centres on survivor Joel who is tasked with escorting young Ellie make across an majorly infected post-apocalyptic United States. Asides from innovative gameplay and art design, the real charm of the game is Joel and Ellie’s ever-growing friendship and dependence on each other as they battle highly dangerous cannibalistic zombie-like creatures, people who have been infected by a deadly mutating virus that is spread through blood contact with their saliva.
Although there is only one ending, what a spectacular ending it is, leaving you entirely in bittersweet suspense. If I was to pick only one zombie-genre RPG to play on repeat, I would pick The Last Of Us without a shadow of a doubt. By far the best PS exclusive game I’ve ever played, hands down.
3. Fallout 4
I started playing Fallout 4 after being constantly recommended it, and without having played any of the previous instalments in the franchise, I wasn’t entirely sure it would be for me. HOW WRONG WAS I.
Fallout 4 is as much fun as you can imagine an fictional post-nuclear war devastated US commonwealth to be; very, very fun. There’s fighting radiation-ridden mutants, sour opposing group views and beliefs on society, heavy plot choices to be made, and even sandbox elements as you help shape your settlements and improve the endangered world you’re to become accustomed to living in.
You can entirely customise your playable character, a loving husband/housewife who has had their son kidnapped from them by a creepy new-age organisation while they were put into a cryogenic sleep inside Vault 111. Once awoken 200 years later, your character goes on an epic quest to find their child… AND complete lots of perilous, thrilling, sometimes explosive side-missions in the meantime, because why the hell not.
I could write a whole article on all of the awesome things about Fallout 4, but I’ll save that for another time. Also, if you don’t agree that Dogmeat is the cutest canine video game sidekick companion EVER then I’m sorry we cannot be friends.
2. Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy is a series where everyone has different opinions on their favourite of the franchise, but I personally feel that Final Fantasy X is the best of each and every installation to date. Final Fantasy X, simply put, is beautiful. The art design and scenery is breathtaking, and you feel truly emerged and invested in the magical world of Spira. Even though turn-based combat isn’t for everyone, I really enjoyed the battle system.
Final Fantasy X tells the story of a young Blitzball player named Tidus (who you play throughout the game). After his home of Zanarkand is destroyed by a huge, monstrous entity known as Sin, Tidus finds himself warped into the mainland of Spira, where he meets summoner Yuna who has a great burden on her shoulders – she must go on a perilous pilgrimage along with her guardian friends; visiting temples, summoning Aeon creatures and embark on a final battle against Sin, a battle no summoner has yet to win as no one has ever destroyed Sin, just subdued his reign of terror for a few years of peace, a peace that no summoner has survived to see.
Both Tidus and Yuna’s story is one of star-crossed love, as despite their devoted connection throughout their journey, neither can ultimately live in each other’s world due to their destined fate – a fate they wish to change. Final Fantasy X has some of the most memorable scenes from all 14 main games in the franchise to date, and is one of the two video games to make me full on cry. And yes, even though the sequel takes on a more light-hearted, free-spirited tone, I did also enjoy X-2… But you just can’t beat the original: the very game that made me fall in love with the Final Fantasy universe!
1. Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts has everything; great story, great characters, great gameplay, great soundtrack, and great DISNEY. If my friends were to describe me in one video game, I’m 99.9% Kingdom Hearts would be the answer. If you regularly read my blog, you’ll know just how much of a DisNerd I am, and if I’m completely honest, I believe Kingdom Hearts is partly to thank for my Disney obsession. On paper, KH shouldn’t technically work: a Disney-Final Fantasy crossover by Square Enix? Who came up with that idea? It’s entirely crazy, but I very much want to thank them because Kingdom Hearts doesn’t only work, it’s a true RPG classic. Even though Disney characters/worlds are part of the main attraction, Kingdom Hearts excels in its one centric moral: it’s the ultimate story of the value of friendship.
Main character Sora embarks on a quest extending the worlds beyond in search of his friends Riku and Kairi after their island home is ripped apart by dark forces known as the Heartless. Some folks might be forgivingly mistaken in thinking that Kingdom Hearts is a “kid’s game” – I can fully assure you, it’s not. Kingdom Hearts has some of the toughest boss battles in video game history. I’ve known of some pretty hardcore gamers (you know, the sort that play through and complete every Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Call Of Duty etc on expert mode as and when they are released) who regard Kingdom Hearts as a genuine challenge, and a fun, unforgettable one at that.
The portrayal of the famous Disney worlds are so faithful to the movies they are created from. When I played it for the first time, it was almost felt like the same magic as being at Disneyland. It’s also got some incredibly emotional scenes- KH is the second game that’s ever made me full on cry, and the first to made me cry at multiple points in the story! Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, if you love a fantastical RPG you need to play this game with an open mind at least once – I can guarantee you WON’T be disappointed.