While the jury may still be out on our Game of the Year, we’ve already rolled the dice on the Best Role-Playing Games of 2009.
Why are we doing a best Role-Playing Game award and not a Best Shooter, Best Driving Game, etc? Because this is an Editor’s Choice category, ladies and gentlemen, and role-playing is my genre of choice. When my writing is done for the day and I’m in-between reviews, I spend my free time increasing stats, gaining experience points, and managing my skills in strange worlds where the fate of everything rests on my shoulders.
It wasn’t easy, narrowing down the RPGs I’ve played in 2009 down to three runners-up and one winner, mainly because I can squeeze a great deal of enjoyment out of the worst the genre has to offer. It’s like judging your own children. You know they have flaws but you overlook them, because flaws and all, they’re a part of you. Once I forced myself to look at them with a more critical eye, however, the overall best floated to the top rapidly.
Demon’s Souls (PS3)
And honestly, that’s why it’s only a runner-up. It’s fantastic experience, but a bit too tense.
Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica (PS2)
The game also excels at creating compelling characters, allowing the player to “Dive” into the minds of his Reyvateil companions, exploring their subconscious and crafting new song magic in the process.
It’s complex, entertaining, gorgeous, and just a bit racy. In short, it’s exactly what I look for in a 2D Japanese RPG.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (Nintendo DS)
Between its unique battle system and the sheer amount of gameplay packed into the tiny cartridge, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is a game no DS RPG fan should miss.
Winner: Dragon Age: Origins (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
The gameplay itself is excellent, with a multitude of options, skills, and equipment to bolster your party. Your companions are extraordinarily human, at least on the inside, with motivations and emotions that compel you to explore their stories further.
But in the end, it’s all about you. You create your character. You make decisions that change the face of the game world. Dragon Age: Origins is all about the role you play, and that makes the game truly worthy of being called the Best Role-Playing Game of 2009.
Games that came close to making the cut include Borderlands, which was a bit too much of a shooter for my taste; Nostalgia for the Nintendo DS, which was technically lovely but somewhat bland; and Rune Factory: Frontier for the Wii, which upon closer inspection was one giant crafting simulation, but a very pretty one.
If your favourite game didn’t make the cut, rest assured that I likely played and enjoyed it to some extent. Just not as large an extent as these other titles. Either way, I’m sure you’ll let me know what I “missed” in the comments section. Do try to stay in character.