Turn-based Computer RPG Ranking

Warning: This list contains adult games. Adult games are marked with [Adult]. However, some games (like Disco Elysium and Fallout) contain mature content, but don't have graphic nudity. I don't flag them as adult.

This document contains all the turn-based CRPGs I've played ranked from worst-to-best. This list is my personal opinion, and you may have a different opinion. For each game, I'm including a subgenre, the best platform I played it on, an indication if it's an adult game, and a short blurb describing what is good and bad about the game. As time passes, the games on this list will move around a bit.

I'm not including non-RPGs that have roleplaying elements. I'm also not including action games (Eye of the Beholder, Zelda), idle games, or real-time games. I am including turn-based role-playing games that have action sequences.

These are the genres and subgenres I'm including:

FPD: First person dungeon crawl. Keep in mind that games still must be turn-based to be on this list.
Interactive Fiction: These are interactive stories. To be included in this list, the game must also have roleplaying elements. When it comes to gamebooks, Fighting Fantasy would be an RPG, but Choose Your Own Adventure would not. I'm specifically ignoring ChoiceScript games even though some of them meet the definition. I don't want to deal with trying to rank them.
  • Visual Novel: These are interactive fiction games with a lot of graphics.
Life Sim: Life simulators involve training to gain skills that can be used to perform in-game tasks. I've chosen to count some of these as RPGs.
Linear Crawl: These games involve doing a series of encounters in a relatively linear order. These games don't necessarily involve dungeons.
  • One Axis Tactics: These are linear crawl games with tactical combat. In combat, party members and enemies have a position in one axis (usually the x-axis). They can move around within that axis, and their position affects who they can attack.
Puzzle RPG: These games involve solving puzzles either to win battles or navigate dungeons. RPGs with Match-3 combat are included here.
  • Optimization RPG: These games typically involve gathering items to increase your statistics or open doors. Combat contains no randomness, so you can usually see how much damage an enemy will do to you. The point of the genre is to optimize the order in which you pick up statistic boosts and fight enemies.
RPG Maker Style: These games look like RPG Maker games, but they weren't necessarily made with RPG Maker. The main criteria are moving around a tile-based map outside of combat and fighting in a secondary screen (without being able to place guys on a map in combat). The character art tends to be a little bit short in these games.
Tactics RPG: These games involve having characters move around a map during combat.
  • Rogue-like: The player moves around in a turn-based fashion, and the monsters move attack in between the player's movements. But the monsters will stand still and wait if the player just stops. They typically also have procedural generation.
  • Rogue-lite: A rogue-lite is like a rogue-like but doesn't match the definition as well. The most common difference in a rogue-lite is that repeated plays of the game provide some sort of advantage in future plays.
  • Strategy RPG: These games involve fighting a large scale war, rather than small scale skirmishes.

These mechanics are so important that I treat them as separate subgenres. They typically are also in another subgenre as well. Here they are:

There's also some secondary genres. These aren't RPG subgenres, but it's common for games to include multiple genres. Deckbuilders and Hidden Object games both occur on this list.

Honorable Mentions

These games should be placed on this list somewhere. However, I either don't remember them well or haven't played them enough to judge them fairly. I intend to return to most of them at some point.

    Trash Tier: Unplayable

    These games are so bad no one should play them. A couple don't even work on modern computers. It's hard to place the trash tier games in any kind of order, but rest assured that they're all garbage.

    In my opinion, no one should play any of these games for any reason.

    1980's Era Discussion: The 1980's were a decade of bad games. At the time, many of these games were amazing because they were all we had. Today, most of them are stranded in the lowest tiers of this list.

    Games this old usually had the following problems: grinding, complex mechanics, horrible graphics, lack of automap, limited user interfaces, little customization, minimal or poorly translated stories, no quest/journal tracking, no voice acting, rolling ability scores, and slow pacing. It was common for them to require a manual, clue book, code wheel, or other paperwork to play the games.

    I'm not going to keep mentioning the problems common in older games. Just be aware that older games will have these problems. Many of them may be difficult to play on modern devices.

  1. Temple of Apshai Trilogy (Commodore 64) [Rogue-like] - One redeeming quality was the descriptions for each room, but those descriptions were hidden in the manual. Play Instead: Any other Rogue-like
  2. Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun (Sega Genesis) [Tactics RPG, Action] - This game combines tactical combat on the overworld with real-time combat in the dungeons, much like Eye of the Beholder. It's just bad.
  3. Icewind Dale (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Real Time w/Pause] - Baldur's Gate without roleplaying. Play Instead: Planescape: Torment
  4. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - Baldur's Gate without roleplaying. At least, this one had the decency to use turn-based combat instead of real-time with pause combat. Play Instead: Planescape: Torment
  5. Knights of Pen & Paper + 1 (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - In this game, you make up an encounter and then fight the battle. You might as well just use your imagination.
  6. Void's Calling ep.1 (Windows) [Visual Novel] [Adult] - The visual novel portion is mediocre, and the RPG portion is a pointless grind. Play Instead: Loren the Amazon Princess and sequels
  7. Boobs Vs. Zombies (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] [Adult] - This is the perfect example of a bad RPG Maker game. Play Instead: Rance series
  8. Monster Girl Quest (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] [Adult] - The point of the game seems to be to lose battles to see adult content. Play Instead: Rance series
  9. Gerard's Abaddon: Fallen Angel (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - This game may be unplayable on modern computers. If it were playable, this game would be tier D or E. It was a grind, but it's fun to play as a villain protagonist. The main character's goal was to become immortal. I remember this game fondly, but it wasn't exceptional. Note that games ranked worse than this are ranked worse than a game that doesn't work.
  10. Rabbits (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is a terrible game I made years ago. It's like an unfinished fan game of Gythol Granditti. The level up system was intended to be the high point of the game, but I never figured out what to do with it. This game doesn't work properly on high resolution displays. Still, it's roughly equivalent to the garbage in this tier. Play Instead: Gythol Granditti
  11. Joe Dever's Lone Wolf HD Remastered (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - While the book series is enjoyable, this video game's combat system is terrible. Any interactive fiction that is less fun than the book it's based on is trash tier. Play Instead: Sorcery Parts I and II
  12. Wizardry 1 (Amiga 500) [FPD] - This hasn't aged well, but I hear there's a remake coming. Play Instead: Bard's Tale trilogy or Might & Magic I
  13. Age of Adventure (Commodore 64) [Rogue-like] - This is a pack of 2 games that came before Adventure Construction Set. It had one really cool feature: characters could be spread out over many screens. Play Instead: Final Fantasy 6 (which strictly dominates this game)
  14. Adventure Construction Set (Commodore 64) [Rogue-like] - The appeal of this game was that you could make your own games with premade assets. The graphics were decent for the time, and the gameplay is similar to that of rogue-likes. This was 1984's version of RPG Maker. Play Instead: RPG Maker
  15. The Magic Candle (Commodore 64) [Tactics RPG] - This game ruined a decent combat system by including in a cryptic and generally bad game. Play Instead: Inindo, Pathfinder: Kingmaker
  16. Vambrace Cold Soul (Windows) [One Axis Tactics] - I had high hopes for this game, but the interface is confusing and hides information that should be visible. The story part of game involves wandering aimlessly and talking to NPCs with nothing to say. Play Instead: Darkest Dungeon
  17. Warrior Dragon (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - This fan game is a spoof of Dragon Warrior. It could be worse. Play Instead: Dark Ages I
  18. Soda Dungeon (Windows/Android) [RPG Maker Style] - This game is RPG Maker style, but you can enable auto combat and treat it like an idle game. It's fun to play once.
  19. The 7th Saga (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game was graphically superior at the time, but it's a pointless grind. Play Instead: Septerra Core
  20. Dark Ages II: Engel (DOS) [RPG Maker Style] - While there were improvements since the first game, it wasn't fun to play. Play Instead: Dark Ages I
  21. Lulu & Ennoi Sacred Suit Girls (Windows) [Tactics RPG] [Adult] - A low quality tactical RPG with some adult content.
  22. Badass (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] [Adult] - If there's any doubt, this is a mediocre game that promises adult content but barely delivers. Despite this, I enjoyed it enough to play this game much longer than similar games. Play Instead: Rance series
  23. PuzzleQuest: Challenge of the Warlords (Windows) [Puzzle RPG] - This RPG uses a match 3 game as combat. This game is old enough that it has problems on Windows 10 and 11. Play Instead: Any non-RPG match 3 game

    Tier E: Seriously Flawed

    These games aren't competitive with other games, but they weren't all bad games. Some were good games that haven't stood up to the test of time. In some cases, I would like to see something similar but designed from the ground up for more modern sensibilities. There may even be remakes, but I only rank games I've actually played.

    Others had serious design flaws that make the games somehow terrible.

    Several of these games contain interesting gimmicks. Game designers might have some interest in playing some of these games to get ideas for how to make better games.

    Adult Games Discussion: A lot of adult games have low rankings. They tend to sacrifice gameplay to focus on adult pictures and crude humor. However, I included them on this list anyway because some of them have unusual gameplay features. They aren't bound by typical genre conventions.

    The details of the adult content are not discussed in this article beyond saying that it was good or bad. The list itself should be suitable for work unless people expect you to be working.

  24. Alter Ego (Dos) [Life Sim, Interactive Fiction] - An early attempt to make a life sim. It's fun to play once, but it's nothing special. Play Instead: Kudos 2
  25. Cobra Mission (DOS) [RPG Maker Style] [Adult] - I enjoyed the art style, and it has a detective theme. However, it has mediocre adult content and humor. The combat is pretty much just picking a spot on a picture. Play Instead: Disco Elysium, Tex Murphy series (not RPGs)
  26. Wazhack (Windows) [Rogue-like] - This is a rogue-like dungeon crawl, but it's a sidescroller. Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't add anything new. Play Instead: Red Rogue
  27. Isekai Quest (Windows) [Puzzle RPG] [Adult] - This RPG uses a standard match 3 game for combat. The rogue-lite elements turn this game into a grind by requiring players to play the beginning of the game repeatedly. Play Instead: Any non-RPG match 3 game
  28. Academagia The Making of Mages (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - This game is like a collection of interconnected interactive fiction segments in a Harry Potter-style school of wizardry. The utilitarian interface and lack of direction make an interesting premise feel like a spreadsheet. Play Instead: Hero U Rogue to Redemption
  29. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (Windows) [Rogue-like] - This isn't a bad game per se, but it feels like it was made by committee. It includes everything that was popular in rogue-likes at the time without having any identity of its own. Play Instead: Castle of the Winds
  30. Pokemon (Gameboy) [RPG Maker Style] - I'm not sure which Pokemon games I played on Gameboy, but they're all similar. These games have a monster-catching mechanic, but they're ultimately mediocre games. Maybe the newer Pokemon games are better. Play Instead: Dragon Quest 5 or Geneforge series
  31. Karmasutra (Windows) [Visual Novel] [Adult] - This game is a mediocre visual novel that incorporates RPG Maker Style combat. Combat is a pointless grind with one high point: the ability to talk to enemies in combat. The occasional interactive fiction segments are somewhat entertaining, which is why this game isn't ranked even lower. Play Instead: An Adventurer's Tale
  32. Destiny of an Emperor (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game is standard except that your hit points are supposed to be soldiers. Play Instead: Braveland or Inindo Way of the Ninja
  33. LLabyrinth (Windows) [FPD] [Adult] - The level up system has more interesting point allocation choices than other games in this tier. Unfortunately, the battles are a grind, and wandering mazes is pointless. Play Instead: Rance series
  34. Baldur's Gate (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Real Time w/Pause] - This game was the first Infinity Engine game and the successor to the SSI Gold Box series. It's also overhyped. The battles were real time with pause, which was done better elsewhere. I've been attacked by an entire town because I recruited a couple evil allies who refused to leave my party. Play Instead: Planescape: Torment
  35. Knights of Xentar (DOS) [RPG Maker Style, Real Time w/Pause] [Adult] - This game's persistent fourth wall breaks ruin it's humor and interrupt its adult content. As a positive, this game has a decent (if utilitarian) real time w/pause implementation. Don't play this game, but do watch an excerpt from Let's Play to see what the combat is like in the late game. There must be a more modern alternative that's better, but I don't what it is. Play Instead: Rance series (similar content)
  36. Headspun (Windows) [Visual Novel] - Headspun is a game about people who live inside someone's brain and control his body. It's more of a simulation than an RPG, but I think it meets the criteria. You have to hire people to run the brain and do minigames to restore the brain to working order and regain memories. The premise is amazing, but the game is bug ridden.
  37. Pool of Radiance and the entire Gold Box Series (Commodore 64) [Tactics RPG] - I have fond memories of Pool of Radiance and some of the other SSI Gold Box games. The extensive text passages in the journal were a high point, but a modern game would include them in the game itself. The best feature is that players could fight whole hordes of enemies in tactical combat. These games should be remade to meet modern standards. Play Instead: Castle of the Winds
  38. Birthright The Gorgon's Alliance (Windows) [Strategy, Tactics RPG] - The rpg part of this game is a dumpster fire (featuring real-time with pause combat). The only reason to play this game is to explore the strategy features of the Birthright game setting. Play Instead: Pathfinder Kingmaker or an actual strategy game
  39. Legacy of the Ancients (Commodore 64) [RPG Maker Style, FPD, Action] - This game's overworld is like Dragon Warrior, and the dungeons are like Ultima. The outdated interface and pointless mini-games make the game unplayable. On the other hand, the story and setting are extremely well done for the time. The central museum was well-designed and thematic. This is a game that should be remade.
  40. Bard's Tale 1-3 (Commodore 64) [FPD] - These games are borderline unplayable without the cluebook, but have some interesting features. Spellcasters changing classes to learn new spells was handled really well in this game. There's no nonsense; you just change classes, learn the spells, and then change to another class. I also like that you can fight small armies of enemies, even though the display is just text. Play Instead: Try the remakes (which I haven't played)
  41. Gates of Integrity (Windows) [FPD] - This is a more modern Bard's Tale clone. It fixes some but not all of the usability problems in the older games. I bailed out on it early only because of the lack of mouse controls. I'm not sure whether this game should be ranked higher or lower than Bard's Tale, but I am sure that there are better games. Play Instead: Try the remakes of Bard's Tale (which I haven't played)
  42. Might & Magic I (Commodore 64) [FPD] - I played this game more than many other bad games on here. I liked that there was an entire list of enemies that you could attack in a combat, and I can't find anything else quite like it. It's still burdened by the same problems old games have.
  43. The Magic of Scheherazade (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style, Action] - The zelda-like action part of this game is what keeps it from being fun. The RPG Maker Style part is a little ahead of its time. It includes formation attacks and hiring soldiers who help during combat. Magic of Scheherazade handles time travel in a competent fashion, but not as well as Chrono Trigger. Even with its faults, this game still has it's own niche. (Bypass the archaic password system with an emulator.)
  44. Dominion of Darkness (Online) [Interactive Fiction] - This game is a text strategy game, but the strategy is roughly equivalent to an rpg. You play as a Sauron-like dark lord, and the goal of the game is to conquer the world. It's a great premise, but there's only so much to do in this game. Play this game once or twice.
  45. Final Fantasy 2 (Gameboy Advance) [RPG Maker Style] - Despite its low ranking, this game has the best story of any of the Final Fantasy games I've played. It features an actual human conflict instead of crystal collecting nonsense. However, this game also included an extremely poor implementation of improving skills by using them. The keyword system is reminiscent of Tex Murphy games. Play Instead: Final Fantasy Legend 1 or 2
  46. Ashmedai: Queen of Lust (Windows) [Visual Novel] {Adult] - This is the perfect example of a NSFW visual novel that is like an RPG Maker game. There's a game here, but it's not worth the time. Play Instead: Loren the Amazon Princess and sequels
  47. Inindo Way of the Ninja (Super Nintendo) [Tactics RPG, Strategy] - This is a tactical RPG with an entire separate section set up like a wargame. I want to like it, but it's too much of a hassle. I didn't know what was expected from me. It resembles an RPG Maker Style game enough that it has some of the same defects. Play Instead: Braveland, Nobunaga's Ambition (not an RPG)
  48. The Forest of Doom (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - The version I played is a fairly accurate remake of the original Fighting Fantasy book. It's neither better nor worse than the book. I want to rank this lower, but the only flaw is that it's the same as a pretty good book. Play Instead: Sorcery Parts I and II
  49. Spirited Heart (Windows) [Life Sim, Visual Novel] - This is a time management simulation where you grind by training to build statistics. The training is more pointless than normal because each statistic only has limited usage. There's multiple romance routes, but I don't like them. The game is clearly designed for young women, and they may enjoy it more. Play Instead: Amber's Magic Shop
  50. Dead But Alive! Southern England (Windows) [Visual Novel, Worker Placement] - This is a visual novel where you fight zombies. It's also like a worker placement game where you can send survivors to perform tasks. The main complaint people have about this game is that it suddenly ends halfway through. I also don't like that the starvation mechanic is all-or-nothing. Play Instead: Dead in Bermuda

    Tier D: Flawed but Playable

    This is a weird tier. It's reasonable to enjoy playing these games, but there are better games. If you're thinking about playing one of these, you should watch a let's play first to see if it's worth it. Also, this is the tier where mediocre RPG Maker Style games have been abandoned to die.

    The Question: First person dungeon crawls and RPG Maker Style games are basically the same genre, just with a different perspective. They have the same problems. Many people have criticized these games for their excessive grinding or repetitive gameplay. These people are not wrong, but they're missing the main problem.

    Why are wandering around mazes? I don't get it. What's the point? Why can't I just go from A to B instead of walking around in a square? A lot of this could be fixed just by having better level design.

    I think the best a first person dungeon crawl can do is put a map of the dungeon on the screen as you navigate the world. Some, like Swords & Serpents, do so. I feel like this an adequate solution. RPG Maker style games can get work around this by adding a minimap and/or letting people click to move to a location.

    There are other games who streamline it further by having you select the loctation you want to go to without even navigating a map. Unfortunately, the maze style is prevalent in fan made games, especially those made with RPG Maker. I just wish we could move on from this.

  51. Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - I want to like this game, but it's bug-ridden and poorly designed. The system of magic vs. science forces players to choose between magic and science when a combination of both would be more interesting. Both systems are inferior to increasing basic combat abilities. The idea had a lot of potential, and I wish I could find something else that occupies the same niche.
  52. Paladin's Quest (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - The setting is weird for the sake of being weird, but it has some innovative features. Hit points are used to cast spells, and healing potions are stored in refillable bottles. However, there are some other interesting bits. Some of the allies are cool (e.g. 2 brothers who only join together, a robot that can never heal). The town that was gradually sinking in lava was particularly well done for a SNES era game. Play Instead: Desktop Dungeons Rewind (try a vampire character)
  53. Uncharted Waters (Nintendo) [Tactics RPG] - The player controls a fleet of ships, and fights occur in a tactical style. What makes it stand out is that you can transport cargo from port to port to make a profit. This game is rather dated, and it may be worth trying one of the sequels instead.
  54. Final Fantasy 7 (Windows) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - This game is overhyped. The story is mediocre, and the graphics are distracting. The summon animations are so slow that the game is unplayable. The materia system has a lot of promise in that it allows interesting combinations. Play Instead: Final Fantasy 5 or 6
  55. Dragon Warrior 1 (Gameboy Color) [RPG Maker Style] - This game was the first RPG Maker Style game on Nintendo. Despite this game's contributions to the genre, it won't receive special treatment. This game's grinding is pleasant up to a point, but there's only about 20 minutes of story vs 5 hours of grind. The Gameboy Color version is a little more modernized and has less grinding. This game has environmental hazards, which is a plus. Play Instead: Dark Ages I, The Enchanted Cave 2
  56. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style, Timed Attacks, Platformer] - This is a Mario-themed RPG Maker game with a platformer segments. Many consider this game to be a beloved classic, but the timed button presses for attacks and defenses are frustrating for me. Play Instead: Earthbound, South Park: The Stick of Truth
  57. Laxius Power 1 & 2 (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - I enjoyed these games when I played them. The character design is better than normal, and the world is a little more creative than normal. These games benefit from being made by an RPG fan, rather than being made by some big corporation. Unfortunately, these games have an extraordinarily high encounter rate. Play Instead: Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
  58. Angband (Windows) [Rogue-like, PCG] - Angband is a good example of a free text-based rogue-like, and it's the one I played the most. I've played the default version (with or without a tileset), the "skills" version (Sangband), and a couple of others. You're basically an "@" symbol exploring a dungeon. This game is too hard to understand and too long. This game is mostly good for inspiration at this point, but it's too good to be in that tier. Play Instead: Castle of the Winds
  59. Cyberhive (Windows) [Visual Novel] - This is more of a light strategy game than an RPG, but its choose-your-own-adventure structure makes it RPG-ish enough. The characters are all female bees running a spaceship. You have a degree of choice in this game, but the strategy gameplay is boring.
  60. Leap of Love (Windows) [Visual Novel, Life Sim, Rogue-lite] [Adult] - This is a bad life sim. It's too repetitive, and this may be the only game on the list in which the adult content is better than the game. It's fine to play once, but it's necessary to play it many times to experience all the content. This is worse than grinding. The game would be fine if you could skip the life sim portion. The developers tried to fix this by preserving your statistics when you restart the game. The problem is that you're still stuck repeating content while waiting for the end of the game.
  61. Dungeons of Dredmor (Windows) [Rogue-like] - This seems like a fairly standard rogue-like. On paper this game should be ranked higher, but I never really got into it. I remember ignoring piles of useless junk in this game.
  62. Final Fantasy 4 (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - The main selling point of this game is its story, which I feel is mediocre. It was as much of a grind as the rest of the Final Fantasy games, and it slows down at the end. This is the only game in which wacky dungeon locations were a minus for me. I just don't like the moon people. I've chosen to rank this game lower than a number of Nintendo-era games that should are technically worse but have more heart. Play Instead: Most other Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior games
  63. Most Unrealized Potential An Adventurer's Tale (Windows) [RPG Maker Style, Fast Travel Map] [Adult] - The mechanic where you forage for items and turn them in to unlock a skill is innovative. Each area has several visual novel segments, most of which are high quality. This game is the opposite of a normal game: exploration is interesting and combat is boring. The adult content is also boring. The story mode is bug ridden, but you have to play through to unlock freeplay mode and play through the rest of the events. It's not worth it. It hurts to imagine this game's potential and then look at how poorly it was implemented. Play Instead: Dragon Court Revived or Fallen London
  64. Science Girls (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - It's a science fiction dungeon crawl intended for girls. The point allocation system at level up is decent, and the graphics are great. The combat is standard RPG Maker fare. Wandering the school at the beginning of the game is tolerable because it has story content. The rest of the game seems to be an outdoor megadungeon with less interesting content. Play Instead: Black Closet or Long Live the Queen might appeal more to the same audience.
  65. Cardinal Quest (Windows) [Rogue-like] This is a quality dungeon crawler, but the scope of the game is limited. It occupies the same niche as Sword of Fargoal, but is a bit better. This game's main flaw is that it's too short. Play Instead: Hoplite
  66. Adventure Quest (online game) [RPG Maker Style, Fast Travel Map] - This is the sort of game where you putz around, fighting enemies and collecting stuff. There's a game here, but it's pretty basic. The battles are garbage, the story is ok, and the interface is inconsistent. This must sound pretty bad, but I would rather play this than a lot of RPG Maker style games because of the ease of use.
  67. Rebuild 2 (Windows) [Strategy RPG] - This is a worse version of Rebuild 3. There's only 1 map in the game. Play Instead: Rebuild 3
  68. Magic Scroll Tactics (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, but it's a side-scrolling game. The class change system is the best I've seen, and each class is useful in its own way. Each class has its own skill tree. The problem with the game is that only the smallest and least rewarding levels are replayable. Hence, when the player gets stuck due to the wild swings in difficulty, the player must grind on some tiny level for ages.
  69. Final Fantasy 9 (Android) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - This game is known for its story. In truth, the main four characters have an excellent dynamic, but the rest of the story is mediocre. This game shares FF7's defect of the graphics obfuscating the game. Using equipment in battle upgrades the characters; it's like materia is permanently fused to equipment. Materia has more potential, but the equipment in this game is better organized than FF7's materia. As always, the mini-games are forgettable. Play Instead: Septerra Core
  70. Dragon Warrior 4 (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game disappointed me when it came out. It's split up into multiple chapters. The beginning part of the game is innovative in that different characters have different gameplay (e.g. a merchant selling goods), but it's what screwed up the game. The beginning is too long, the ending is too short, and the innovative elements in the early part of the game don't carry on into the end of the game. The remake might be better. Play Instead: Dragon Warrior 2, 3, or 5
  71. Planet Stronghold (Windows) [Visual Novel] - This is a science fiction visual novel featuring a conflict between humans and aliens on another planet. A lot of the structure of a good game is here, but the combat is a real grind. One nice aspect is that the aggro levels for each character are plainly visible in the UI, but chipping away at the enemies' health forever is a waste of my time. Play Instead: Loren the Amazon Princess and sequels
  72. Dragon Warrior 2 (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - It's better than Dragon Warrior 1 in most respects, but the larger party and enemy groups make the grinding more tedious. The remakes probably alleviate the grinding, but I haven't played them.
  73. Breath of Fire 2 (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game's design is worse than Breath of Fire 1's. Characters have special non-combat abilities like in the first game, but the character design isn't as good. The wildest adventure in this game is a cave that's actually a whale, which is a far cry from the first game. The story is about fighting a corrupt church, but it isn't enough to save the game. Play Instead: Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
  74. Who Needs a Hero? (Windows) [Linear Crawl, PCG] - In this game, you move from left to right and select yes or no in various encounters. The combat system is minimal. This game is appealing, but it's extremely repetitive. It's hard to rank this game higher when it's almost a skinner box. Looking back, I played the game for 3 hours, and that's enough. It's still a good value because it's so cheap.
  75. Earthbound (SNES) [RPG Maker Style] - This game is often ranked pretty high on these sorts of lists, but it's a fairly generic SNES-era RPG. I think people like it because of its silliness. I enjoyed it when I played it, but it's not worth replaying. Its main innovation is that hit points counting down to 0 to kill your characters. Another nice feature is that many combats can be avoided. Play Instead: Chrono Trigger
  76. Kudos 2 (Windows) [Life Sim] - The content of the game is fairly generic: go to work, take classes, and meet with friends. It's fun up to a point, but the lack of a real goal makes the game less fun. The system of meeting people, gaining kudos, and making new friends is pretty original. Play Instead: Kudos Rock Legend (or play both)
  77. Tactical Nexus (Windows) [Optimization RPG] - This game makes everything in Tower of the Sorcerer bigger without making it better. The rooms are so full of monsters that it's like walking through a maze of furries instead of a maze of walls. The game's main innovations were unlimited undo and an insane pricing scheme to pay for a huge number of levels. It contains a stupid rogue-lite feature that lets you replay towers with advantages, which sidesteps the entire point of the genre. Play Instead: Deep Rune, Enchanted Cave 2
  78. Breath of Death VII (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - This is a tribute to old RPG Maker Style games. It has 2 really cool features: you pick between 2 bonuses at each level up, and you can build up "combo" points to do special moves. There's a lot of humor in this game, but there's also a lot of wandering around in mazes. If this game were in any subgenre other than RPG Maker Style, it would be ranked much higher. Play Instead: Cthulhu Saves the World
  79. Magirune (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Puzzle RPG, Rogue-lite] - This game botched the formula from Tower of the Sorcerer. Instead of finding power up gems, you kamikaze yourself into enemies and get resurrected until you have enough experience to proceed. This is rogue-lite grinding. The potions in the game are pointless because dying and being resurrected is the main way to regain health. There's no PCG, so you repeatedly backtrack through the same enemies, gaining less experience than before. Why isn't this trash tier? Because the sokoban and other puzzle portions are fine except that they're in a maze. The puzzles are very Zelda-like. The sequel may be better. Play Instead: The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls or any Zelda game
  80. Rance 01 The Quest for Hikari (Remake) (Windows) [RPG Maker Style, Fast Travel Map] [Adult] - This game lets you click where you want to go instead of wandering a map, which set the original ahead of most games available at the time. This should be the standard for RPG Maker Style games, but it's barely used even today. Unfortunately, this game is so offensive that the Tier A gameplay and Tier F political correctness cancel eachother out. This game would be better off without the adult content, but there wouldn't be a lot left in the game. About the combat... this game pains me. The remake has a really innovative combat system with attacks that have cooldowns. You can choose to use all your attacks at once or dole them out a couple at a time. This is a really cool idea, but the game doesn't give good indications for how many attacks are necessary, which ruins the more combat-oriented parts of the game.

    Tier C: Decent Games

    These games are fine. This is the point at which you should consider playing the games. The lower rated games in this tier may only be worth one playthrough.

    1990's Era Discussion: The 1990's were a decade of excellent games that have not managed to compete with more modern games. This was the era of good RPG Maker Style games. Graphics were better. Games were longer. Improved user interfaces and tutorials made games playable.

    The 90's started as an era of experimentation with new ideas that wouldn't have been possible with older hardware. By the time it had ended, large companies had discovered winning templates for games that could be mass produced. When this happened, games became a bit stale.

    On the other hand, new tools allowed fans to make their games, often without having much programming knowledge. Some of these games were innovative, but most of them were just the same thing over and over. This was the start of a flood of fan-made games. I've played many of these, but I can't remember them well enough to differentiate between them.

  81. Dark Ages I: The Lost Continents (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - This game is lower in technical and artistic quality than actual RPG Maker games. However, it's a lot like Dragon Warrior I (with a bit of Final Fantasy 1's story) and has a lot of charm. The outdoor encounters get stronger as you gain levels. You'll have to download a dll to get the game to work, but it's doable.
  82. Swords and Serpents (Nintendo) [FPD] - I like that the map is plainly visible with your party represented by an arrow moving around the maze. It's like Bard's Tale with less text. This game doesn't quite fix Bard's Tale and lacks its interesting class system. I have fond memories of it even though it's not competetive with modern games.
  83. Gythol Granditti: The Crypt of Darkness (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is a freeware game that handles combat in the same way as games like Final Fantasy Tactics. Its comedy is a bit too silly. The puzzles in the game tend to be either confusing or boring. The combat is fun, but there's too much backtracking. Play Instead: Braveland
  84. Final Fantasy 3 (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game was the origin of the Final Fantasy jobs system, but it was implemented poorly. This is like a rough draft of Final Fantasy 5. I know for a fact that the remakes are better, but I haven't played them. Play Instead: Final Fantasy 5
  85. Planescape: Torment (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Real Time w/Pause] - Planescape: Torment uses real time with pause combat like Baldur's Gate. D&D drags this game down, but it's redeemed by its amazing story. The story has a particularly philosophical bent, with the main question being: "What can change the nature of a man?" I suspect the remake has fewer bugs and probably would be ranked higher. However, I only rate games I've played.
  86. Dragon Warrior 3 (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This is the most epic of the first 4 Dragon Warrior games, but I'm not sure it's worth the time it would take to replay it. The class system is okay, but changing classes midgame is a disappointment. Ultimately, many other games are similar but better. Play Instead: Final Fantasy 1
  87. Cthulhu Saves the World (Windows) [RPG Maker Style] - This is similar to Breath of Death VII but with a Cthulhu theme. This is the better of the two games and has simpler mazes. This game is worth playing for inspiration.
  88. Long Live the Queen (Windows) [Life Sim, Visual Novel] - Building up your statistics in this game is fine, but there's no way to tell what skills you're going to need when. You either have to replay the game or use a guide. Replaying the game isn't worthwhile because it's the same story every time.
  89. Red Rogue (Windows) [Rogue-like] - This is a mostly black-and-white rogue-like that looks like a sidescroller. This game occupies a similar niche to Wazhack, but it's more fun. I haven't gotten far in it, but I anticipate future playtime in this game.
  90. Fidel Dungeon Rescue (Windows) [Puzzle RPG] - This game calls itself a rogue-lite, but it doesn't fit any of the criteria. This game is a puzzle game that involves moving a dog on a vine around a dungeon to get to lower levels. I want to like this game, but I don't really get it. Once you reach a level you can't beat, the game is basically over unless you use a guide. Play Instead: Maze Lord
  91. Hero Generations (Windows) [Rogue-lite] - This game is the purest example of a rogue-lite I've ever seen. Your character ages and dies during the game, and you continue with their child. Playing the game is a pain because there's too much to maintain in the game. For instance, the buildings deteriorate over time. There's a way around it, but I've never gotten that far into the game. I want to like this game, but playing it is too much like work.
  92. Final Fantasy 1 (Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - Final Fantasy 1 is ancient by the standards of the RPG Maker Style genre. It's an amazing game, limited by its platform. The transformations impressed me, and the story was ok except that it was about crystals. It's sad that the genre has moved away from this more in favor of Final Fantasy 4's style. Not only does this game have inspirational content, but the different classes grant this game more replayability than normal.
  93. Kudos Rock Legend (Windows) [Life Sim] - This is a life sim about making a band. It's an "RPG" in the sense that your band and band members have statistics. Managing the band is pretty similar to Kudos 2, but the game lacks the innovative Kudos system. It does, however, have a simple rhythm-based mini-game. It's fine at first, but it gets repetitive quickly.
  94. Best 1980's Game Sword of Fargoal (Windows) [Rogue-like, PCG, ATB] - This game is almost a turn-based RPG. It's a fairly basic rogue-like dungeon crawl, but the monsters keep moving/attacking really slowly even when you hold still. The game only has so many options, and the game only takes around 5 hours to play. Its limited scope is a feature, not a bug. This game was originally made for the Vic 20, but various Windows remakes allow saving mid game.
  95. Dark Scavenger (Windows) [Interactive Fiction, RPG Maker Style, Fast Travel Map] - In this game, you trade in items to get new items. Then you have to decide which ridiculous item to use in each ridiculous situation. Each weapon, item, or ally can only be used a specific number of times before breaking, but they replenish upon completing a chapter. This game has a lot of good qualities, but it isn't as fun as it could be.
  96. Grim Quest (Android) [RPG Maker Style, Fast Travel Map] - This game streamlines the RPG Maker formula as much as possible. The town is just a list of stores, the dungeon is just a rectangle, the overworld just lets you select dungeons, and the graphics are pretty much just icons. There are interactive fiction segments, but they are pretty minimal. This is the sort of game that you play a dungeon level or two during lunch and then go about the rest of your day. I got stuck at a certain point, and it's ultimately not worth grinding past it when there's no story to speak of.
  97. Fallout Tactics (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is a more tactical version of Fallout, but it lacks most of the RPG part of the game. The game has better combat and an entire party to build up, but it just isn't fun. Play Instead: Wasteland 2
  98. Final Fantasy Legend 1 (Gameboy) [RPG Maker Style] - Although limited by its platform, this game tried several different innovations. There's 3 different character types: human, mutant, and monster. Humans get stronger by using items that permanently increase their statistics. Mutants randomly get stronger at the end of the combat (like Final Fantasy 2) and can randomly gain special abilities. Monsters transform by eating the meat of defeated enemies, but it's annoying in practice. The other innovative feature is that weapons can only be used a certain a number of times before breaking (like Dark Scavenger). The story is minimal, but at the end you kill the creator. :)
  99. Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game's graphics and cutscenes are better than Final Fantasy 7's, though it hasn't aged well. The attack animations are the right length but happen too often. This game feels like Dragon Ball Z and sticks closely to the plot of the show. There's a card system in combat, but it's not terribly significant. I want to rank this game higher, but its amazing presentation is masking a mediocre game. There's lots of cool stuff in it, but it's only findable if you use a walkthrough.
  100. South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360) [RPG Maker Style, Timed Attack] [Adult] - I want to enjoy this game, but it's an RPG Maker style game. This is a more modern RPG Maker Style, but it's not fundamentally different. The game is side-scrolling and has some collectibles. The South Park universe is a great game setting. The reason I stopped playing this game is because it has timed attacks where you have to hit a button at the right time when you attack or defend. It's more fun to watch a let's play than it is to play the game.
  101. My Life Story (Windows) [Life Sim] - Like Kudos 2, this is barely an RPG. It feels weird to rank it this high, but I would rather play this simplistic game than many more complicated ones. All you do in this game is do jobs or other activities to manipulate your stats and make money. It's like a worker placement game with just 1 worker.
  102. Dragon Court Revived (online game) [RPG Maker Style, Fast Travel Map] - Dragon Court 2 was a free online game that streamlined rpg gameplay almost to the point of an idle game. This game is better than most RPG Maker Style games simply because it has a fast travel map. Aside from that, it's not especially innovative.

    Tier B: Good Games

    What distinguishes "good" games from "decent" games? Decent games typically have some drawback that prevents them from really being good. Good games have either overcome the limitations of similar games, are among the best examples of their subgenre, or have done something really revolutionary that catapults them out of the decent tier.

    Relatively few FPD and RPG Maker Style games have made it to this tier or higher. If a game in this tier has a rotten gameplay loop, it has some special feature that makes it worth playing anyway.

    Modern Era Discussion: A lot of big corporations are making a bunch of shovelware these days, but those sort of games don't even count as games. Technology has moved forward alot, and older games aren't able to compete with more modern games. I attribute the retro game craze largely to the inability of consumers to find the real games in the pile of garbage.

    Technology has become much more accessible, and game designers have learned much from the previous eras. Independent game developers have made a variety of innovative games with every different set of mechanics imaginable. The lower barriers of entry do have a downside: some of these fan-made games are bad.

    In summary, the bulk of video game revenue in the modern comes from free-to-play games, which are typically shovelware without fun. There's also a lot of garbage games made by people who don't know how to make games. Despite this, the best games ever were made in recent memory.

  103. Final Fantasy 6 (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - The esper system is a downgrade of the job system. It allows the users to gain spells and possibly gain statistics (if the espers are equipped at level up). The nice thing about the espers is that the improvements are permanent. One really neat mechanic in this game is that there's a couple of areas where you split your party into groups, each of which has to navigate 1 part of a dungeon. This game has a decent story.
  104. Dragon Quest 5 (Kindle Fire) [RPG Maker Style] - This game allows the player to get married and have children, but this is just a choice between a few party members. The game's story seems to be better than the norm for RPG Maker-style games. There's also a monster catching system, but it's useless. Kindle Fire is not a good platform to play this sort of game.
  105. Chrono Trigger (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - This is a fairly standard game in the vein of Final Fantasy 4. However, this game actually has a good story, unlike many of the other "good story" games. It's one of the few games that can handle time travel properly. Each era is essentially a different world that can be changed by doing specific things in the earlier eras. On the other hand, the combat system is fairly mundane, and this game lacks character upgrade options.
  106. Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This is a generic but enhanced SNES-era RPG. If you want to play an old school NES/SNES RPG, this is the best one. This game is almost as tedious as other RPGs from the same era, but it's otherwise a polished experience. Selecting combat actions requires less button pressing. One extraordinary thing about this game is that it creates an illusion that the NPCs react to what you're doing. The reason this game isn't ranked higher is that it's an old school RPG Maker Style game. The first half hour of the game is a waste of time, and it takes too long to complete your party. Also, there's too much backtracking.
  107. Braveland (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This game is essentially a series of tactical combats. However, it's a good series of tactical combats. The game is relatively short, so there's no reason not to play it.
  108. Septerra Core (Windows) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - This game is inspired by Final Fantasy 7, but lacks materia. It's got a mediocre story, likeable characters, better graphics, better level design, and more variety in combat (courtesy of different actions requiring different amounts of time). This game uses mouse controls, which sets it apart from similar games. One interesting sidenote is that different characters require different amounts of XP to level up, but they're all kind of the same.
  109. Path of Adventure (Android) [Interactive Fiction, PCG] - This game randomly generates simple adventures. They're not as good as a more handcrafted experience, but these adventures have a sort of Fighting Fantasy feel. This is a good game to play during a lunch break.
  110. Final Fantasy Legend 2 (Gameboy) [RPG Maker Style] - This may be the high point of the Final Fantasy Legend trilogy. It adds robots, whose statistics are determined by their equipment. There's more of a plot, even though it's of the type where you collect 77 magi. I don't remember much about the story, but I remember the wacky hijinks. I know I had to shrink myself to go inside the body of a comatose ally, which may have been the high point of the game.
  111. Lufia 2 (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style, PCG] - This is Lufia plus puzzle elements. I disliked that this game was a prequel.
  112. Lifestream (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - This is a Storycentric Worlds game. Most of them are highly similar. All are interactive fiction, and the in-game maps are much appreciated. In general, these games require a walkthrough to play properly. I've ranked these games primarily by how much I enjoyed the story. Lifestream was less interesting to me, possibly because it featured priests.
  113. The Filmmaker (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - Another Storycentric Worlds game. This game felt like it didn't maintain the theme of the other games as well, but it was still fun.
  114. Shady Brook (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - Another Storycentric Worlds game. This was the first game, and it presents a town that's under the control of a cult. I would have greatly preferred that the other games stuck more closely to this theme. The rock-paper-scissors mini-game and related mini-games should have been minimized or replaced with different content.
  115. Soul Gambler (Windows) [Visual Novel] - In this game, you can trade parts of your soul to increase your statistics or accomplish tasks. Calling it an RPG is a bit of a stretch, but it's an awesome game. The soul trading system is a very innovative form of magic. This game would be ranked higher if it weren't so short.
  116. Stonewall Penitentiary (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - Another Storycentric Worlds game. This game involves escaping from a haunted prison. It has a battle royale feel, even though the story doesn't play out as a battle royale.
  117. Magic Tower (Android) [Optimization RPG] - This is a pretty bad interpretation of the Tower of the Sorcerer formula, but it's still fun to play while waiting in line or riding the bus. There's several games named this, and they're all kind of the same. The ones I played use numbers that are too high and make the game into a grind by assigning experience points for defeating enemies. It has the common problem that there's too much backtracking to get upgrades. Play Instead:Deep Rune, Enchanted Cave 2
  118. Odium (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is an excellent tactics RPG with a dark post-apocalyptic atmosphere. Combat is this game's high point. There's more status effects and resistances in this game than other games in the science fiction genre. There's lots of interesting weapons and some environmental hazards. Some of the enemies fight eachother. This game would be ranked higher if it had more content in addition to combat. As a sidenote, the inventory management is a bit of a pain.
  119. Summit of the Wolf (Windows) [Visual Novel] - Another Storycentric Worlds game. This game completely abandons the text-based style of the previous games. The setting is a bit jarring, but the game has a lot of depth if you get past the weirdness.
  120. Geneforge 2 (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Fast Travel Map] - This game is Geneforge but bigger. It's too much bigger. There's too much backtracking to pick up stuff that was unavailable before from previous locations. It's still worth playing, but I didn't finish it.
  121. Tower of the Sorcerer (Windows) [Optimization RPG] - This is the original Tower of the Sorcerer game. It's more of a puzzle game than an RPG. In this game, you optimize spending life points to defeat enemies by gathering more attack and defense power. A neat feature in this genre is that it's often better to leave an enemy to fight at a later time, but this does cause too much backtracking. This game ruins itself by incentivizing the player to mass murder leftover enemies to gain money at the end of the game. Also, the secret doors are annoying because you have to walk into walls to find them. Play Instead: Drod RPG, DungeonUp
  122. Crystalline (Windows) [Visual Novel] - The story has more depth because this game focuses heavily on the player's relationships with a small number of characters. You can affect your relationships with the characters in the game and thus their text, but your actions only choose between a small number of endings. It doesn't have much replayability because the game is too linear.
  123. Hoplite (Android) [Tactics RPG, Rogue-like, PCG] - This game is a lot like Sword of Fargoal, but it's entirely turn-based. There's a serious of random levels that you have to navigate until you recover a fleece on floor 16 that you have to bring back. This game is more streamlined. You have moves that you can do to fight enemies, and you can buy upgrades once per level.
  124. Sorcery Parts I and II (Windows) [Visual Novel] - This is a video game version of a couple gamebooks. I thoroughly enjoyed the first part because it allows the player to move around on a map. You only have so many options like in a book, but this game gives the illusion of more. I keep getting stuck in the same spot on the second part, but I feel like it's worth trying again.
  125. Neverwinter Nights (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Real Time w/Pause] - This is the ultimate evolution of Baldur's Gate and real-time with pause combat. It uses D&D 3e, has modern style multi-classing, and has much improved graphics over older games. The game has a level design problem where you have to play sets of 4 or so areas that are roughly the same in difficulty, making half the game too easy. The expansions and fanmade modules really sell this game. The enhanced edition is more playable on modern computers.
  126. Castle of the Winds (old Windows) [Rogue-like, PCG] - This game is a rogue-like that has scripted sections. It's more user friendly than other old rogue-likes, and the story is decent (if rather minimal). This game's deceptively good, and it's worth the effort to get it to work. This is the highest ranked game from the 1980's, but part 2 was actually released in the 1990's.
  127. Fallen London (online game) [Interactive Fiction] - This game is like a series of short choose your own adventures that you go through with the same character. There's unfortunately a lot of fetch quests, but it's still entertaining. It drags on as time passes, but you can create a new account to start over.
  128. Geneforge 3 (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Fast Travel Map] - This game cuts back the scope of Geneforge 2 by splitting the game into islands, but it still has the defect that the player has to go back later to collect the best loot. I did so, and this put me in a situation where I had a massive pile of items I couldn't carry stacked up on the ground somewhere. Some of them were key items that could be turned in at some later point in the game, and some of them were consumables that I didn't use fast enough. There were also pieces of equipment that I could switch to if I need some sort of stat bonuses or resistances. This may say more about me than it does about the game.
  129. Arcana Card Master (Super Nintendo) [FPD] - This game is more modern and much more playable than games like Wizardry. The lack of an overworld streamlines out some of the pointless wandering that would have happened in an RPG Maker Style game. The party consists of 1 permanent character, 4 elementals who swap in and out of 1 slot at will, and several allies who swap in and out of 2 slots as the story progresses. The different characters act as a substitute for the lack of character customization. Arcana is a fun ride even though it's rather linear.
  130. Rebuild 3 (Windows) [Strategy RPG] - Building up characters in this game is fun, but it's a bit of a grind. The level maps are too big, and the gameplay is too tedious. Zombies just don't pose that much of a threat except in ridiculous difficulty levels.

    Tier A: Great Games

    I want to say that these games really stand out in the crowd, but they don't. The "great" games are a lot like the "good" games, but these ones are a bit better.

    Optimization RPG Discussion: Many of the games in this tier are optimization rpgs, a relatively unknown genre that is exploding in popularity. The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls originated this genre, but it's an action game and thus not on this list. Tower of the Sorcerer is the game that created the optimization rpg formula.

    In these games, it's usually best to avoid fighting as much as possible. The path to success is gathering items that increase your abilities. The better games tend to have a scoring mechanism, and it's intended that players replay the game repeatedly to get a better score. Unfortunately, this leads to excessive backtracking in almost all the games in this genre. Revisiting old areas typically provides better optimization opportunities.

    The appeal of these games is solving a puzzle. Some of these games make the mistake of encouraging combat by providing experience point rewards. In general, the more a game in this genre requires the player to kill enemies, the worse it is.

  131. Darkest Dungeon (Windows) [One Axis Tactics] -
  132. Banner Saga (Windows) [Linear Crawl, Tactics RPG] - The combat in this game is top notch. Armor works by blocking damage, and strength doubles as hit points. This means that losing hit points makes a character do less damage. When characters attack, they have a choice between damaging strength and damaging armor. This game's main selling point is the combat. The story is linear but engaging. The problem is that it's easy to randomly lose a character because the player guesses a wrong option during the choose your own adventure segments. Use a guide to bypass this.
  133. Loren the Amazon Princess (Windows) [Visual Novel, Fast Travel Map] [Adult] - Position in combat actually matters, and this game has more combat options than most RPG Maker Style games. The visual novel portion is entertaining, and the adult content is fine. It's possible to experience a lot of the different romance options by saving/reloading at the appropriate time. The character design in this game is great. The bad part of this game is that there's too much text to read for a game like this.
  134. Best Story The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante (Windows) [Interactive Fiction] - This story is particularly captivating. It simulates the life of a noble's son in a renaissance era fantasy world where magic is real. There's some potential for replayability, but it's a little weird to replay the same events to get different outcomes. This game is similar to a ChoiceScript game, but it has better presentation and lists the statistic and in-game changes for each choice.
  135. Fallout 2 (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - I used to love this game, but I've recognized its flaws. It's one of those sequels that's a bigger version of the previous game. It expanded the humor of the first game but abandoned the darker tone. Even so, there's a lot to do in this game, especially if you download mods. I would rather try out more modern games which seem to scratch a similar itch.
  136. One Way Heroics (Windows) [Rogue-lite, PCG] - This game involves fleeing from the destruction of the world. It's a fairly generic rogue-lite elements except that you can never go too far left. I like the game, but the controls are hard on my wrists. Graphically, it's similar to an RPG Maker game.
  137. Pathfinder: Kingmaker (Windows) [Strategy RPG, Tactics RPG, Fast Travel Map] - I bought this game for the kingdom building portion, which is mediocre. The main story is terrible nonsense about fighting fairies. There's hundreds of hours of fighting fairy-like creatures in this game. The side quests are better. The Pathfinder system is the high point of the game. This game is ranked relatively high because there's still a lot of fun to be had in this game even when you quit relatively early.
  138. Best Crafting System Amber's Magic Shop (Windows) [Visual Novel, Life Sim] [Adult] - The crafting system is what makes me go back to this game again and again. Different components have different quality levels, and this affects the quality of the items you craft. Your skill levels also affect the crafted items' qualities. The actual visual novel portion is mediocre. If this game's crafting system were incorporated into a better game, it would be epic.
  139. Omerta City of Gangsters (Windows) [Strategy, Tactics RPG] - This game is a mediocre booze distribution simulator, but the combat is clearly an upgrade of Fallout's. The simulation is more of a grind than a challenge, but it's fun in a way. This game has a bad reputation but is still fun.
  140. Dead in Bermuda (Windows) [Visual Novel, Worker Placement] - This game doesn't know it's a visual novel, but it is. Each character has rpg-style skills that can be used to survive on an island. The game has some replayability, but it's limited.
  141. A Firelit Room (Online Game) [Rogue-lite] - Combat is real-time, but the game is otherwise turn-based. The game has an idle game strategy portion that turns into a game that feels much like a rogue-like. Combat involves clicking as quickly as possible on attacks that have a cooldown. There doesn't appear to be procedural generation. There isn't permadeath, but losing a fight loses whatever you're carrying.
  142. Amplitude: A Visual Novel (Windows) [Visual Novel, Life Sim] - This game has a great premise. You are some sort of spy who merges with a teenager who committed suicide. Then you have to live their life as a merged person. I believe this includes finding your own killer and also trying to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. One strange thing is that the Jon and Katy rates are vastly different, with the Katy route being much harder.
  143. Best Humor Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon (Windows) [FPD] - This is the kind of game that tries too hard to be funny, but it actually works out. The character upgrade system has slightly more character options than normal, which is appreciated. The drama star system rewards you for long play sessions by granting you special boons. The game ends with a whimper, but it's great until the very end. The comedy is the main selling point of the game. I feel a bit sad that this game isn't ranked higher, but it's too generic aside from the comedy.
  144. Wasteland 2 (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This game is a love letter to Wasteland 1, but its engine is a much improved version of Fallout 2's. The game feels gritty at first, but there's too much silly stuff. Individually, the fights are a challenge. This game requires a lot of character optimization to play, but there's no way to respec. (I had to use a guide.) The skills are interesting, but the game requires backtracking to access content blocked by skill checks. I put a lot of hours into it, but I can't bring myself to play through the silliness with the people who blow themselves up.
  145. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - This game is critically panned because it's an easier version of Final Fantasy. Despite this, it's an awesome game. The non-combat part of the game has puzzle elements. The player can swap weapons at any time to use to operate elements in the game world.
  146. The Enchanted Cave 2 (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Rogue-lite, PCG] - This game turns the optimization RPG formula into a grind. I want to hate it, but I can't. The grind is pleasant. This game lacks the puzzle elements in other optimization RPGs. There's a new game+ feature built into the game, but I feel like doing the grind again is a waste of time.
  147. DungeonUp (Windows) [Optimization RPG, PCG] - This is the Tower of the Sorcerer plus procedural generation. It includes a rogue-lite feature that lets you save up points to buy items in a special room. This isn't the best feature for this genre, but it compensates for the possibility that the RNG might generate an unsolvable dungeon.
  148. Best Combat System Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Visual Novel] [Adult] - This game features science fiction battles between mechs and spaceships. It has the most detailed combat of any game on this list. Each type of weapon has a different usage. Attacks damage armor, though not quite the same way as in Banner Saga. On the downside, the game requires heavy optimization, and stupidly dragging out battles to farm enemies nets you more money. The visual novel part of this game is exciting only on the first playthrough.
  149. Home Behind (Windows) [Linear Crawl, PCG] - In this game, you move from left to right to find your child. The combat system is too simple, but the crafting system is very robust.
  150. Best Hijinks Breath of Fire 1 (Super Nintendo) [RPG Maker Style] - Most party members have some sort of special ability (like punching broken walls) that typically allow the player to access new areas. Unfortunately, these abilities don't get enough usage for my taste. What sets this game apart from other RPG Maker Style games is that it's an exciting adventure. Breath of Fire 1 contains lots of wacky hijinks, like getting shrunk and fighting roaches, but it manages to avoid becoming a joke.
  151. Maze Lord (Windows) [Optimization RPG] - This game has small and self-contained levels, which limits the amount of optimization possible. It also solves the problem this genre has with backtracking. Maze Lord has more puzzle elements than normal, which makes the game entertaining despite its small scale.
  152. Deep Rune (Windows) [Optimization RPG] - I thought this game would be sideways Tower of the Sorcerer, but it's sideways Desktop Dungeons without procedural generation. It's a shorter game, but the handmade levels have a better design. This game has layers of complexity, with some areas being completely inaccessible or expensive to access early in the game. On the downside, there's definitely too much backtracking in this game. Insight is what determines your score, but increasing your insight makes the game harder. It sounds interesting, but the net result is that you get a higher score if you save enemies until the end of the game and then systematically kill them.
  153. Hero of the Kingdom 1 (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Hidden Object] - These games are optimization rpgs without optimization. The player has to collect items to defeat enemies, but there's no math to speak of. Grinding in these games involves repeating simple chores. It's aggravating that these games force you to search the map for hidden items. I enjoyed these games up to a point, but they've lost some of their charm.
  154. Hero of the Kingdom 2 (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Hidden Object] - See Hero of the Kingdom 1.
  155. Hero of the Kingdom Lost Tales 2 (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Hidden Object] - See Hero of the Kingdom 1.
  156. Hero of the Kingdom Lost Tales 1 (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Hidden Object] - This game fixed the core problem with the game: there's less pointless clicking in this game. The price of this is that the game is smaller.
  157. Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is the turn-based sequel to the Quest for Glory series. Even though the player can only play as a rogue, there's enough development options that you can feel like a fighter. Up to a point, the game is charming. After that, the training gets too repetitive. Even so, I want to go back to the game at some point and finish it.
  158. Best Character Upgrades, Best RPG Maker Style Game Final Fantasy 5 (GBA) [RPG Maker Style, ATB] - This is the game that fixed the job system from Final Fantasy 3. The story is standard Final Fantasy fare but has received criticism for its lighter tone. Some jobs give abilities that affect the game world, but not to the same degree as the weapons in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. This game has transcended its limitations as an RPG Maker Style game.

    Tier S: The Top 10

    The games that made it this high are clearly excellent games. The exact ordering is up for debate, but everyone should play all of these games. A few of them are dated or have obvious flaws, but they're the best RPGs I've played.

    What if your favorite game isn't on the list? Well, this is my list, and I only include games that I've played long enough that I feel comfortable placing them on the list. Also, I've taken great pleasure into giving low rankings to a few critical darlings (like Baldur's Gate).

    Anyways, here's the top 10:

  159. Best Casual Game Hero of the Kingdom 3 (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Hidden Object] - This game adds a camping screen, a crafting system, leveling up skills, and rudimentary cutscenes. This game was a response to player requests from the previous games. It has a lot of good ideas, but it didn't fix the core problem with the game. It gets repetitive, but it only gets boring when it's time to fight the boss anyway.
  160. Tales of Aaravorn (Windows) [Visual Novel, Fast Travel Map] [Adult] - This is a sequel to Loren the Amazon Princess, but most people consider it to be a misstep. I disagree. The bad parts about this game are that the character design is worse, and there's less adult content. Most people dislike that the RPG elements are expanded in this game, but I think that's a definite plus. I would also say that the game is a little too long, and the DLC is pointless.
  161. Skyhill (Windows) [Rogue-lite, PCG] - This game is supposedly a rogue-like, but it's more like it's own subgenre. It's a dungeon crawler where you climb down a tower in a zombie apocalypse. It has little connection to Rogue except that it contains procedural generation. This is a survival type game and features a strong crafting system.
  162. Best Worker Placement Black Closet (Windows) [Visual Novel, Worker Placement] - This is a mystery game of sorts. The player has to solve miniature mysteries by deploying student council members. There's an overarching mystery that's harder to solve as well as a traitor to deal with. With practice, the game isn't that difficult even on hard, but it does take some time to figure out. Doing challenge runs to get the more difficult achievements adds to the replayability.
  163. Best Dungeons Desktop Dungeons Rewind (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Rogue-lite, PCG] - Desktop Dungeons Rewind is the remake of Desktop Dungeons. You should play the remake rather than the original. This game is another Optimization RPG with procedural generation, but it's a bit different from DungeonUp. The player can take different actions during each turn of combat. This means there's an actual fight rather than just spending hit points, so this game is really a dungeon crawl, not a puzzle. This game solves the backtracking problem by not saving the levels when you complete them, but forces you to replay levels.
  164. Best Detective Game, Best Dialogue Disco Elysium (Windows) - This game deserves every iota of the hype it has received. The amnesiac detective in this game is a better washed up detective than Tex Murphy, and the dialogue is what would happen if a malkavian were trapped in the Fallout universe. The "combat" system is only a skill check, but a proper combat system would distract from the work of art that is Disco Elysium. I have one specific gripe with this game: it's so story-focused that I don't want to play it again.
  165. Best 1990's Game, Best Atmosphere Fallout (Windows) [Tactics RPG] - This is a classic. The combat system was the best in any CRPG when it was released. This game is famous for allowing multiple different solutions to problems in the game. Players can use a variety of play styles, ranging from kill-everything-that-moves to be-as-diplomatic-as-possible. This game is dark. The atmosphere of this game makes it a must play, though the original version has minor problems on newer computers.
  166. Best Negotiation Griftlands (Windows) [Rogue-lite, Deckbuilder, PCG] - This game is unique in that negotiation is as fleshed out as combat. It's not as amazing as it sounds. Negotiation is just a deckbuilder fight the same way that combat is just a deckbuilder fight. It has a lot of replayability because you can get different cards or do daily challenges. This game has rogue-lite elements because repeated plays unlock additional cards and game modes.
  167. Best Summoning Geneforge (Windows) [Tactics RPG, Fast Travel Map] - This game is a lot like a fantasy version of Fallout, but the characters are much shorter. You can magically make allies to help you in battle. Mechanically, it's similar to summoning in other games, but it's much different thematically. This is a dark fantasy world with fascinating decisions. This is the hidden gem in the massive list of Spiderweb Software games.
  168. Best Puzzles, Most Replayable Drod RPG (Windows) [Optimization RPG, Puzzle RPG] - This game adds puzzles to Tower of the Sorcerer style gameplay. This is the right combination of features for a game. It does have a flaw; the main hold encourages backtracking by making it optimal to return to fight certain enemies after already moving to another floor of the dungeon. This game is the opposite of Maze Lord: Maze Lord's rooms are too self-contained, while Drod RPG's rooms are too interconnected. The ability to make custom made holds is a plus, but the custom holds available vary greatly in quality.