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These are your 25 favourite RPGs of all time

As voted for by the RPS readership

Artwork from Disco Elysium, Skyrim and The Witcher 3, behind the RPS Bestest Best Reader Edition logo
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

If 2023 is remembered for one thing, it's that it was a 100% critical success year for the RPG. Role-players across the land have been feasting exceedingly well these past few months, what with the stonking success of Baldur's Gate 3 (and to lesser extents, Starfield and Diablo 4), so we thought it was about time to celebrate your favourite RPGs of all time. Your votes have been counted, your comments have been sorted, and the cream of the RPG crop has been assembled. But which of the many excellent RPGs have risen above all others? Come and find out below as we count down your top 25 favourite RPGs of all time.

Now that Baldur's Gate 3 has left early access, vid bud Liam reckons it was worth the wait.Watch on YouTube

I must admit, I was quite intrigued to see what you'd pick for this Bestest Best: Reader Edition, and just how much crossover there would be with this year's reader-voted RPS 100 ranking. RPGs made up almost a third of that list, if I recall, so in some respects, there probably aren't that many surprises here as there have been on your favourite strategy games, space games and survival game lists. It's also not wildly different to our own collection of best RPGs either, but hey, at least we can all agree that everyone has pretty great taste in that respect.

That said, there is one quite big surprise on here that I won't spoil, and all I'll say is that it's great to see it get the recognition, love and praise it so rightly deserves. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about Final Fant- No, it's not a Final Fantasy game, I promise you that. In fact, we only have one of those on this list, and it's right there below at no.25. So enough suspense. Here are your favourite RPGs of all time, as voted for by you, the RPS readership.

25. Final Fantasy VI

A party of warriors fight three airborne Grasswyrms in Final Fantasy 6
Image credit: Square Enix

Kalreborn: Featuring a vast array of interesting and varied companions with their own story beats and unique abilities, and a story with so much character in its own right, Final Fantasy VI is the classic RPG that everyone needs to experience.

Joel the magnificent: I think what is great about Final Fantasy VI is the fact that the main vilain actually achieves his goal in the first half of the game. An RPG has to have a good story and I think that the story of FFVI really delivers. When you think you're about to go finish the game and beat the final boss, he actually wins and your barely halfway through.

Historybluff: I value kinesthetically satisfying gameplay more than anything else. Western developers have largely failed to figure out how to do this in RPGs. I would sacrifice any western RPG to the darkness to experience playing my favorite JRPG with kinesthetically pleasing turn-based combat and a relatively light-hearted story. Final Fantasy is still my favorite RPG of all time for its ability to mix an operatic story, level design that economically conveys its setting and kinesthetic gameplay that makes supplexing an octopus satisfying.

LosMonstruos: The first true epic in video games, with a story arc that few games have matched since, and mechanics that still work today. Your effort to save the world backfires and results in an apocalypse, and you then have to pick up the pieces and reunite your crew in a scattered world. Heck, at one point, if you play it wrong, your character gets so alone and despondent they consider suicide - imagine coming across that when the deepest narrative to date was, like, A Link To The Past.

24. Pathfinder: Wrath Of The Righteous

Warriors battle a giant pig monster in Pathfinder: Wrath Of The Righteous
Image credit: Owlcat Games/META Publishling

Paul Spurgeon: Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is an amazing story, combined with a wide range of choices, along with the Mythic Paths, making for an incredible RPG.

David Strong: WOTR had a good story and lots of really unique companions. Including the Mythic Powers, it also had one of the most complex character creators out there mechanically. It also had a lot of replayability. The best D&D based game out there.

23. Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire

Several warriors do battle in a crypt in Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire
Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment/Versus Evil

Momo: One of the first CRPGs to give me the feeling that I was playing a digital D&D game. I loved everything about this game, visually impressive, the options and choices to make, and I loved the ship gameplay.

ilitarist: Pillars of Eternity II answers the question: "What if all those widely beloved Infinity Engine games and their successors weren't bad?" All these Baldur's Gate and Planescape and even recent Pathfinder games might blow people's minds with stories and possibilities, but tabletop rules adapted for real-time combat never plays well and it's bizarre that the genre is defined by decisions made for BG in late 90s, when people thought that turn-based games were dead and everything has to be multiplayer from now on. Pillars Of Eternity II looks like those other games, but actually features deep and engaging gameplay full of interesting choices. There is no padding in this game, there are no trash fights, there are no boring rewards as every piece of equipment can be upgraded and adapted to a unique character build. The story and the world are also fascinating and unique. The first game might have looked too much like a washed-out generic fantasy world, but the second game brings a lot of its own flavour, finally standing on its own. Get into this game, understand how deep it goes and it will probably ruin other similar RPGs for you.

Bill Door: The pinnacle of real-time-with-pause RPGs, this takes everything that was great in Pillars I and refines it, while adding orders of magnitude more interesting builds with the addition of multiclassing and subclasses. The real accomplishment is managing to balance most of these class combinations, leaving plenty of scope of optimisation and min-maxing while making sure that any character you create, even as a new player or someone creating an eccentric character for roleplaying reasons, won't make the game too difficult. The story casts you as a powerful character, yet still a pawn to greater forces still, and introduces a setting that's unusual in the genre with an interesting set of political tensions and factions that explores the abuses of colonial power.

Hawke #7394: The variety of choices, the player's agency, the story and companions, being able to avoid combat or massacre a city if you wanted to and the game reacting to it.

Rin: Baldur's Gate II, but even more perfect?

22. Arcanum: Of Steelworks And Magick Obscura

Warriors gather around a well in Arcanum
Image credit: Activision

Slapdash: Aside from the excellent world and lore, it's one of the most mechanically ambitious games I've ever played, with so many brilliant unique ideas tha could only exist in a video game RPG (anyone fancy GMing a game system with XP on hit?). Check out Tim Cains' fascinating YouTube channel for insights into the development if games design is your jam.

Camerooni: I enjoyed this game more than Baldur's Gate.

Feirund: It's a blend of so many things that are unique or were unique for the genre at the time. Classical music, refined speech, best execution of magic vs technology debate I've seen, gorillas as enemies.

Scruffy: Unpolished gem, fantastic system and world.

21. Fallout 2

A farm scene in Fallout 2
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

RDG72: Great story and word, customization, deep skill system and fun combat.

20. Baldur's Gate

Warriors get zapped by lightning on a mountaintop ritual in Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition
Image credit: Black Isle Studios, Interplay Entetainment, Beamdog

mz1: A timeless classic, a titanic RPG achievement still towering over almost all the RPGs made ever since. I love the characters and the masterfully intertwining storylines of the regional iron shortage and the Bhaalspawn. Opening the story right away with the life-and-death stakes of the assassination attempts at your life while you're still a lowly character just hardly able to cast one spell a day or hit a rat really kickstarts Baldur's Gate with the sense of urgency that forces you to engage with all of its RPG concepts through the narrative. You're immediately told that you are very much not a powerful person, but that you have to quickly become one if you even want to survive while you figure out what's happening. So better gather your party, baby, and go out there and level-up! I love Baldur's Gate's complete visual, literal, musical, and audio aesthetics. I love the contrast of the quiet paths through a forest with the large city, both realised with the same attention to detail. I love how Baldur's Gate seamlessly weaves in so much so naturally. A true gem, standing proudly tall through the test of time, especially in its original form.

Sarah: Baldur's Gate is to computer role playing games what Tolkien is to fantasy. There is debate to be had about what came before and its quality compared to modern examples, there is also debate to be made as to the quality of the titan itself, but every single thing that came after is unavoidably influenced by it and to be directly compared to it. There will never be another Baldur's Gate, since everything is just something that came before or after Baldur's Gate.

Magus42: I likely have more hours sunk into this game than any other game I've ever bought. Most of that just rolling new characters and finding different ways to play through the first couple chapters. A solid story if you want to engage with it. A ridiculous amount of freedom if you don't. Better games have followed but none I love more.

Jarno Virtanen: The king of RPGs. The slow start snowballs into deciding the fate of the reals. The dark atmospheric woods and dungeons make you feel like you are braving into the unknown. The companions inject colour and variety into replaying the game over and over again, and while it is showing its age, it is still one of the best RPGs out there.

19. Chrono Trigger

Battling in a Chrono Trigger screenshot.
Image credit: Square Enix

RabidLime: The complexity of the storytelling, emotion, music, and gameplay was (and still is) pitch perfect. What they were able to do with 16-bit sprites and limited animation is still incredible. It may seem pedestrian by today's standards, but in a sea of multiple currencies and a paralysing amount of seemingly infinite options between builds/load-outs/power-ups/birth signs/whateverthefuckelse, its simplicity is incredibly refreshing and still holds up; sometimes it's more rewarding to just get a better sword and not have to choose from endless stat sheets. There's simply no topping it.

Joel the magnificent: The music soundtrack of Chrono Trigger is so perfectly made. It fits all situations and the theme of the game, while also packing a lot of emotions. Coupled with a story of epic proportions that can be done in less than 40 hours. Sure, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of modern RPGs, such as those made by Larian, but it has enough to be an amazingly good game.

Guy Montag: This is a near perfect game, and a near irreproducible one. If you somehow haven't played it, try it. It's good. It's got time travel, and spells, and robots, and lizard people. And the music by Yasunori Mitsuda is beautiful.

18. Dark Souls

A character in Dark Souls in grey armour next to a grey tree looking towards a grey cliff with a grey castle on it
Image credit: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment

JohnnyJustice91: More Demons Souls than Dark Souls for me, but Dark Souls carries the torch a little better than other games in this series. For its simplified aesthetic, Demons Souls gives you the sense that it's less about the game being difficult and punishing you, and more about it not giving a shit about your comfort, and using that to create dramatic tension. Dark Souls becomes a bit more of a rolling simulator with the heat-seeking boss attacks, but maintains the large distance between checkpoints and lack of fast travel (for most of the game) to create tension.

Dirvid: Oh, the first time I figured out that I needed to go right from the first bonfire instead of left made me realize the game was going to be different than anything I played before (I didn't have a PlayStation, so Demon Souls was not an option).

StrafeMcgee: Still probably the greatest gaming experience I've ever had. The combination of the difficulty, the map design, the oppressive atmosphere and sense of discovery has never been better for me than it was in this game. A masterpiece.

Charles: The best world design in any game, tons of builds to experiment with and absolutely stellar combat that keeps you on the edge of your seat even years down the line when you think you know all the tricks.

17. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

The Illusive Man in a Mass Effect Legendary Edition screenshot.
Image credit: EA

Purist: Let me tell you a story. At the end of 2010, I found Mass Effect 2 in a discount bin in EB Games, bought it and promptly played it through the next week. I was hooked. Got 1, loved it even more, and fell in love with its story. Looking back, Mass Effect 2 and 3 are definitely inferior. 2 cuts back much of the RPG elements and restricts you into a main plot that doesn't much make sense, in my opinion. 3 was better in balance, but still too focused on action for my tastes, and the ending left much to be desired. Still, one of the best RPG series in the new millennium.

Smudge: Sprawling and epic story with lots to do.

JTDenton: The Legendary Edition really puts into perspective what an extraordinary achievement it is to follow these characters across a full trilogy. I really don't think there's been another series like it (and since its style of episodic storytelling inexplicably failed to catch on, for the most part, there may never be).

Khanorama: The magnum opus of Bioware and the modern RPG trilogy trifecta. The world building, the lore, the character arcs, The Illusive Man, the mechanics, and just the main story itself. This is to sci-fi RPGs what LOTR was to fantasy cinema. Epic beyond imagination!

Loyd Case: This compilation and remaster of the Mass Effect series has some of the best writing of any RPG - and the action is pretty great, too. Decisions in the game (mostly) have significant ramifications.

16. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

A woman holds a sword in a samurai pose while a solider floats in a magic chokehold behind her in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Image credit: Activision

Mol: How many modern RPGs have we had and of this quality too? Yes, it was a buggy mess on launch but the core of what the game is and the quality of the writing propelled it. I hate modern fantasy, but Vampire The Masquerade works very well without feeling intrusive to our everyday. An RPG set in the era of skyscrapers and computers with a VERY moody 90s type of feeling. The entire thing just oozes atmosphere.

I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze: I'm a vampire! I'm a vampire! I'm a vampire!

Darth Gangrel: It's got a bit of everything: great voice acting and dialogue choices, characters you love/hate/love to hate, atmospheric music, interesting plot and plot twists, viable combat/non-combat solutions to quests, melee/ranged weaponry and vampire powers. In short, you got a whole lot of options to play around with and also seven different clans to play as. Then there are the mods, which add a lot even after you've played through the game several times.

15. Elden Ring

Liurnia Of The Lakes in Elden Ring
Image credit: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco Entertainment

Polyhop: As a self-described sci-fi head, Elden Ring was the game that made me seriously consider playing more fantasy games (not that I really have, but at least I don't write them off.) The atmosphere was simultaneously bleak and wonderous. Nothing felt forced as exploration of the world and lore is completely the onus of the player. I love a game that throws me in the deep end, and Elden Ring did just that, in a most satisfying way.

Victor Toba-Ogunleye: It's not just open world Dark Souls. It's a meticulously crafted open environment with a fantastic sense of discovery, challenge and the ensuing satisfaction that comes with FromSoftware games.

Sentegraphs: The culmination of 13+ years inventing and perfecting the Soulslike genre. Massive, fun, drop dead gorgeous, and endlessly enchanting.

Emman: Best there is.

Midava: What can I say other than after almost 300 hours of continuous awe from every aspect of this game I feel that there is no game that will ever top the feeling this game gave me. I feel privileged to have experienced this masterpiece. An unforgettable experience and groundbreaking achievement from FromSoftware.

14. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

A Jedi strikes several enemies with lightning in Star Wars: The Knights Of The Old Republic II
Image credit: LucasArts

Carrandas: Ah, KOTOR, the first real RPG I ever played. And I loved its characters, world and lightsaber fights. Is it the best RPG ever made? I dunno, but it's the one that got me to love RPGs, Bioware and Star Wars. And, after replaying it a few years ago, it holds up well!

Joel: I love the real-time/turn-based combat and the engaging story and characters that were ahead of their time. This was a formative game for me, showing what was possible with a game's story.

DigitalOrigami: I played mostly sports and sim games before this and picked it up because it was Star Wars. It opened my eyes to a whole new experience. I can still hear Bastila telling me about her father and how he doted on her, with fondness and love in her voice. It was the first time I'd ever been moved by a computer game and it blew my mind.

jacknic: In my opinion, this is the best Star Wars game, and also my favorite RPG ever. Setting the game way before the events of the movie franchise grants a great amount of freedom, and the result is a riveting story, with brilliant voice acting, and an awesome twist. And of course light sabres. There are numerous flaws, but this game holds a very special place in my heart. And without KOTOR there would be no Mass Effect.

Lawton: KOTOR really made me believe in the world it built. There was this magical moment when I realized I had the freedom to take my spaceship to whichever planet I wanted! The world felt so free and open.

syllopsium: RPGs for the most part stick to quasi-historic mythological settings, so it's such a shock to find the genre adapts naturally to the relentlessly sci-fi setting of Star Wars. Whilst the game benefits from the wider universe, it needs no assistance offering real role-playing options and properly thought out Light and Dark paths. The turn-based combat creates interesting tactical situations, does not require twitch reflexes, but most importantly a fantastic camera enabling your battle skills to be admired from every angle. A decent plot, varied alien races with their own motivations, a dash of humour, and sabers that light up the day. What's not to like?

Bepidef: The story and HK-47.

Darth Gangrel: Yeah, people are saying that the sequel The Sith Lords is better, but I guess I'm a bigger Star Wars fan than RPG fan, because I love that this game has a very old-fashioned adventure movie feel, just like the one the original Star Wars trilogy evokes. You've got haughty, smug Jedi (I love messing with Bastila via dialogue options) and evil Sith who just revel in being evil (I love Darth Malak's villainous laughter). It's simply a good vs evil setting and it does it really well. Like VTM: Bloodlines, my no.1 pick, it gives you lots of options to play with and has several of the same qualities regarding voice acting, dialogue choices, characters, plot and other stuff.

13. Fallout

A Vault dweller fights monsters in a cave in the original Fallout
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

JohnnyJustice91: I have never played a role-playing game in which I feel more encouraged to legitimately play a role, which also meshes with an aesthetic and script I can handle. BG3 is cool, but god damn, I don't care about squid people or the last 15 years of Forgotten Realms gibberish. Fallout 1 is novel, it's funny, it's smart, and I've always felt a unique ability to project myself onto my character and its world. Part of it could be its age too - in its simplicity, my brain asks far less scrutinizing questions about the nature of my emergent interactions with the world.

Wormerine: I probably should have picked Fallout 2 or Arcanum, but it's "my favourite" not "best" so here we go. In many ways, it is a benchmark of RPG design. Robust character creator, allowing players to craft a variety of characters. A superb quest design, with very organic systemic reactivity - you have an objective, you have your tools, you have the level. In my many years of replaying Fallout, never did I think "I really should have been able to do that". If I can think of something, the game will allow it. All of that to support a memorable take on post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and a well-crafted world. A consistency in tone is what puts it above the sequel, in my ranking, as Fallout 2 went a bit too goofy and fourth wall-breaking for my taste.

Herzog: Everybody loves dwarves and elves, but what about the mutants? Nobody thinks about the mutants...

Lyndon: It's a short, sharp, all killer no-filter classic systems-driven RPG with a bundle of interesting ideas in its world and themes, and still the gold standard for Choices and Consequences in RPGs.

Luc: Played this for the first time more than a quarter of a century ago and it was a brilliant introduction to the post-apocalyptic genre. The atmosphere was perfect and of its jokes and pop culture references all landed.

Yedibbak Marminjan: Stands the test of time, as opposed to Baldur's Gate 2 for example, which is highly rated mostly due to its nostalgic value, let's be clear about it.

AlexV: The freedom. You can go about things however you like often, even get creative in ways that weren't programmed in. Also the sound, art and original Fallout world.

PolygonClassicist: There’s an argument to be made that 2 and New Vegas are superior (especially with 2’s interface improvements over 1). But I played 1 when it first came out, at a time when most of my experiences with CRPGs were dungeon crawlers. I played it before I eventually tried Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter, and Icewind Dale. And so it was Fallout that upended my entire understanding of what a game could be and realize the depth an RPG could have. Fallout set my world on fire and remains as a special flame in my heart.

12. Mass Effect 2

Miranda's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2, the squad are aiming their guns at a trecherous dude.
Image credit: EA

Playtech1: Replaying Mass Effect 2 as part of the Legendary Edition re-release reminded me just how tightly written it was - all gaming meat with no filler. A perennial RPG problem is failing to sustain a sense of urgency about the main plot line, but Mass Effect 2 walks the tightrope between player freedom and forcing plot progression almost perfectly (although I do wonder how many humans died while Shepard launched probes or helped random citizens on Citadel). Add in a stunning ending in the suicide mission and it cements its position as a classic, which made Mass Effect 3's failure to stick the landing all the more surprising.

StrafeMcgee: The best Mass Effect, with great characters and gameplay that was actually fun!

Ishkander: The perfect space opera improving on every feature of ME1, the height of Bioware's power.

11. Divinity: Original Sin 2

A group of players fight an ice dragon in a ruined plain in Divinity: Original Sin 2
Image credit: Larian Studios

Andrew Kellock: A perfect balance of gameplay, characters, lore, graphics and music. Utterly compelling combat mechanics.

Ilya Sh.: Great combat, perfect for couples, long game with many solutions to challenges.

Carrandas: I've been playing Larian Studios since they released Divine Divinity. But they really got me hooked with Divinity: Original Sin and the sequel is even better. The stand-out for this game is the insanely fun combat. Dump a few barrels of oil and put the whole map on fire (even better if you're fire resistant). Be a vampire and stand in blood so you can heal. Or let it rain and make steam or just electrocute everyone in the puddles. It never gets old.

RamblingMoose: Most RPGs do a few things well. DOS2 does everything very well. It has the best characters, the best turn-based combat, the best ability sandbox, and a mindblowing existential nightmare of an epic fantasy plot. Baldur's Gate 3 might look bright and shiny, but Divinity Original Sin 2 is totally, perfectly designed.

Latedave: Quirky, fun and with the ability to set an entire map on fire, what more do you want? Larian combined solid story telling with goofy humour to great effect.

diaugupul: The first game I played where talking to animals was a valid solution to multiple quests. The poor dogs in this game…

10. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Key art from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition showing a dunmer wearing armour and wielding a sword
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Andrew Kellock: A unique, strange and compelling world. A game that didn't hold you hand, no pointers to the next part of the quest, you had work for everything. Great music too.

Aaron Feinstein: A world I could (and did) live inside. And such a weird one... Between its openness, its alien character, and the ability to just kill someone and squat in their house collecting books (of which there are many, some containing genuinely memorable stories), Morrowind is absolutely unforgettable.

khalilravanna: I remember picking this up off an end cap at Target having no idea what it was. The back of the box captured my 11-year-old imagination and back then that’s all you needed to buy a new game. Booting it up, I was immediately in love. The exhilaration and wonder of exploring a totally unknown and seemingly endless new world is a feeling I've never been quite able to capture. Nonetheless in the next 20 years it's a game I've continuously come back to for its alien world and astoundingly cool lore, plot, and characters. Bethesda has moved on from the handcrafted formula found here, but even if you have to hunt for it in their newer games, there’s always a glowing ember of the glory that was Morrowind.

Gloomy: "What a fool you are. I'm a god, how can you kill a god? What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. No recall or intervention can work in this place. Come, lay down your weapons, it is not too late for my mercy."

Souroldlemon: Imagination and uniqueness made the world feel more convincingly real than prettier, blander RPGs.

CrustyGameShack: Incredible sense of freedom and progression unlike any other game, where just by existing in the game world and learning more about it, you start to feel more powerful.

Gabriele Svelto: Morrowind created a space which felt both truly alien and deeply immersive, a place that felt lived in and where you could live in. It dodged clichés and sometimes played on them, but it also treated serious topics such as racism, corruption in politics, religious fanaticism and more. Morrowind was also full of stuff, everywhere you would explore would reveal genuinely interesting things. You could literally follow rumors and legends only to find them to be true!

RDG72: Scale and scope, immersion, can make any type of character you want. Modding, modding, modding.

Momo: Unbridled choice, a world to explore, options and mysteries to solve. And it let the imagination run wild. Absolutely great expansion packs too!

Alex H: Wondrous is the word that comes to mind. Morrowind will always remain very special for powerfully and consistently filling me with wonder, in a way I don't think any game will ever match.

Terry: You can't just walk to that cave? Surely not. Oh, you can. You absolutely can.

9. Fallout: New Vegas

A screenshot of Fallout New Vegas showing the player taking aim at some enemies.
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Zorganist: One of my most-played games ever, with so much brilliance stuffed in here to shine through all the inevitable Gamebryo jank. The wild west frontier atmosphere of the Mojave will probably always be my favourite variation on the Fallout vibe, made even better for the being populated with some of the best characters and plotlines of any RPG. And that's not getting into the DLC, which are full of beautiful experiments in tone and design. Of course there's also all the mods to transform the experience however much you want to, but New Vegas never gets old to me even without them.

Zinzan: Branching/varied outcomes; great world and variety of play style. Especially modded it looks great and I mustn't play it anymore. (He has a family and weirdly they like him when he spends time with them)

Jonfon: Fallout done right. Plus four excellent expansions, all huge yet all completely thematically different. Trying to convince my son to dump Fallout 4 and try this instead but he's like "But it's less pretty". He'll learn.

DemonicReader: You've played Fallout 3 - now let's blend it with some D&D mechanics and make it way more fleshed out.

8. Dragon Age: Origins

The Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins fights a giant darkspawn ogre
Image credit: EA

Niccy Stew: BioWare at their CRPG peak. The "origins" approach of each race having its own unique prologue was superb, the world building incredible, and the choices meaningful.

AJ Rodgers: Helped me come out in high school!

Feirund: I feel like it's kind of a turning point for RPGs where they went from top down perspective and comparably bad graphics for the time to something that truly looked and felt like a spectacle.

NH3Maser: Some of the best companion characters out there, especially the romance options.

Paul Spurgeon: The sheer scope of Dragon Age: Origins, and the variety of the choices available to the player, is beyond what most other RPGs can bring to bear.

ThomasFoolery: The way DA:O handled its companion characters has influenced nearly every western RPG since it was released, but the thing that sets it apart from all the mainstream RPGs that followed is that, at its core, it's still a deep number-crunching game. Things like party composition, and equipment, and character builds matter a lot in DA:O. It's got great characters and a compelling story, but it's also a deeply engaging tactical game. In a lot of ways, until Larian's recent success, it felt like that last "real" RPG.

7. Deus Ex

JC Denton looks skyward in a cropped vintage Deus Ex wallpaper.
Image credit: Eidos Interactive

Aerothorn: Deus Ex had many forebears, but no game before, and few since, gave the player so many different ways to express their character and playstyle. It's also one of the last first-person games to really stick to having your capabilities influenced largely by your character's skills, rather than the player's; even its sequels dropped the "you can't aim for crap if you haven't trained in this weapon" feature. What a shame this won't be #1.

Pete Thorley: Feels a bit of a cheat, as Deus Ex could fit in any number of categories. But this was such an inspirational play at the time - others combined RPG and shooter elements before, but not in this slick a package - that it reset expectations for both genres from then on.

AlexV: It was unbelievable at the time, the first true RPG shooter, I think.

weregamer: Many meaningful choices for character ability progression, an emphasis on providing multiple styles of solution to each problem and no objection to coming up with wild ones of your own. Lots of hidden things and real rewards for exploring. Some meaningful questions about truth and morality. An amazing variety of conspiracy theories all are true. Eerily prescient of some more recent events. The only RPG that I end up installing again every time I replace my PC.

Dan: Probably the best game ever, and still a good RPG. Not just a dumb cyberpunk shooter, but a game where your character evolves mechanically (getting augmentations, skills...), but also narratively (the hero goes through a lot of changes during the story itself).

Luc: The cyberpunk dystopia that has it all, travelling the world and unraveling conspiracy theories right, left and centre. If Foucault’s Pendulum were made into a game, it would have a similar vibe. Also one of the first games that let you play it almost entirely without killing anyone.

Yedibbak Marminjan: This is definitely more an immersive sim and action game than an RPG... but still it allows for more role-playing than say The Witcher 3 (which is an action game almost completely stripped of any meaningful RPG mechanics).

Zorganist: To this day, the prison-break reveal, with its pitch-perfect score and the realisation that UNATCO were the baddies all along, is far and away my favourite gaming plot twist. Re-played recently and Deus Ex still holds up next to more modern immersive sims. An all-time classic.

6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Third person view of the hero from Skyrim walking through the town of Riverwood
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

JTDenton: Skyrim excels at verisimilitude like nothing else. If you see a character, you can always talk to them or fight them or pick their pockets. If you see a weapon, you can always pick it up and use it. If you see a fully laden dinner table, you can always eat the food and kick all the silverware onto the floor. No virtual world has ever felt more real to me. (And, of course, massive bonus points for offering the kind of mod support most games can only dream of.)

Jason M.: Boring, I know, but I just love to spend time in that world. I am currently working my 23rd(?) character, and envision myself playing for many years into the future, always wanting to see what's over the next mountain.

Zinzan: Huge but still interesting world, some great minor stories, the character customisation (skills etc) makes every playthrough different.

HoboDragon: I loved the whole Norse-mythology based approach, the approach to combat. And it was tremendously awesome time with my two sons who started to get into video gaming at time of release (I think it must have been Xbox 360).

David: I put well over 17,000 hours into the game. I have never had a game hold my attention for so long, and thrilled everything in me as I continued my quest for the Dragonborn. Plus there's Lydia, the best companion a boy (or girl) could have.

Victor Toba-Ogunleye: It's Skyrim!!!!! It was one of the first games I actually got lost in. I remember being 42 hrs in and realising I still hadn't done the a fraction of the main quests and wondering what I was doing all the while.

icanfathom: No other RPG is quite as zen as Skyrim. I get lost in this world and don't want to come back. Isn't that the best thing that can be said about a role-playing game?

Quentin Vespero: One of the games I've played the most, and which still today in 2023 have no exact equivalent to me. I love it for the freedom, in all aspects of the game. Freedom in fighting, in exploration, in choosing the type of character you are, in quests; the fact that I can be who I want to be; the immersion; the skill system, and variety of skills possible, and the feeling of progression, like this feel you can have at an advanced point, which make you feel like you are so powerful. I love being able to do whatever I want to do, the rewarding feeling of exploration, the fact that there is always something to do, and the fact that there is not a beginning and an end, so you don't feel like being in a corridor, but instead in a huge playground.

Dracorogue: Skyrim is my go-to game when I need an escape. To live another life. It is a unique game that none other to date has replicated.

ilitarist: Skyrim is often described as a shallow and lite experience that might have ruined the RPG genre by making everyone switch to open world games. This might be true, but the important point is no one ever made anything similar to Skyrim except for later Bethesda games. This or that game might feature a game map 10 times bigger than Skyrim, but with all its mechanical shallowness Skyrim is literally deep, full of huge well-crafted dungeons, each having something unique and interesting. You rarely have the reason to go into people's houses between all the heroics, but if you see a character you can follow them, see where they sleep and what do they have in their house, and every other game ignores the details like that and goes GTA route by making the world consist of cardboard boxes. Skyrim goes one step further to convince you its a real world.

Vic502: The freedom to be the Dragonborn, go anywhere and do (almost) anything. Together with great visuals (for the time), you could really immerse yourself in this world. I also loved the get-skilled-in-what-you-use system.

RabidLime: The game was great, albeit hilariously flawed, but I'd argue the modding behind it is what makes Skyrim an all-timer. The fact that so many people are still as dedicated 12 years after the release is... almost worrying, but in the funny way. You admire the dedication, and I'm one of them. Bethesda may have made the game, but Skyrim belongs to us now, and a mammoth group of whiz kids that open up the opportunity for everyone to make the game into exactly what they want it, be it realistic survival mechanics and Soulslike combat... or martial arts waifus zipping across the screen escaping Macho Man dragons.

5. Baldur's Gate II

Warriors fight a large green dragon in Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition
Image credit: Beamdog

fortuntek: What other RPG has the staying power to keep me coming back year over year for over 20 years? Nuff said.

Kevin: An absolute epic, and the pinnacle of Infinity Engine games. It's not as strong narratively as Planescape, no, but it's blissfully free of the late-90s jank that plagues its wackier, more daring cousin. Whatever small blemishes it may have (late-game power-scaling and some weaker characters), it more than makes up for in sheer scope, the handcrafted beauty of its environments, and the pure unmarkable feeling of being transported into another world that many contemporary games cannot recreate. Maybe it's rose-tinted glasses, but I still hold this one above all others.

Zephro: Baldur's Gate 3 may end up competing with it. But I've not finished it and nothing much can touch the story of the Bhaalspawn. All the companions are seared into my memory (or even into D&D supplements these days) and nothing has ever really touched the tragic doom of the villain Jon Irenicus, played by the late David Warner. The voice is just a classic like SHODAN.

MarcusG: BG2 took everything that was good from the already pretty swell BG1 and made it better - at times considerably so! An ambitious story, deftly balancing drama and lighthearted moments, great characters - particularly its absolutely despicable, yet also tragic and bewilderingly cool main villain - fantastic locations, awesome set pieces and an expertly crafted combat system. It's the (almost) perfect RPG. (Disclaimer: I haven't played BG3 yet).

Everything just fits in Baldur's Gate II. The story, the characters, the art style, the setting. I love it to bits.

Shahin Ghazinouri: Epic in scope and depth as well as featuring a strong cast of characters and excellent combat design.

Rin: Everything just fits in Baldur's Gate II. The story, the characters, the art style, the setting. I love it to bits.

Lawton: I loved everything fantasy as a kid. I mostly spent my evenings getting lost in the latest Forgotten Realms book. So to have the chance to get lost in realm of Baldur's Gate was kinda surreal. I was only like 10 or 11 when I first played it and I got stuck in the Underdark fighting Umberhulks. But that didn't stop me imagining all the adventures my character could go on. Even my nightly reading was replaced with the 100+ page manual!

Andy Tickner: Jon Irenicus is probably the greatest antagonist in an RPG. Excellent voice acting from David Warner - his line “For years I clung to the memory of it, then to the memory of the memory” sticks with me after all these years.

Wormerine: It's the game that started it all for me. A seemingly unending world, with a story to find behind every corner. A likeable band of companions, a mustache-twirling villain, a wide range of classes to choose and spells to cast. A great entry point into RPGs. Now, as years have passed, and I have played many, many more RPGs I do have some criticisms. The game doesn't really allow real role-playing. In typical Bioware-style, it presents extreme and black and white options - and on top of that it heavily rewards do-gooders and punishes evil-doers. The reputation system is very broad. Its story is mostly told through uninteractive cutscenes, its combat system is too basic, and oddly its only saving grace was how obtuse it was to understand. A lot of "magic" has evaporated, since I realised how lacking the system is - both in tactcal depth of combat enocunters, and actual choice in building the character. Still, I will be damned, it is fun to play, even today. Oddly enough, the game that reminded me most of playing BG2 for the first time - was The Witcher 3. A similar focus on finely-crafted stories, spread over an enormous believable world, with a well done illusion of choice.

Jonfon: The game that brought me back to RPGs after a mostly misspent 90s. Amazing voice work, a huge game with a city that really felt alive. The best thing Bioware / Obsidian ever did.

Mol: This is mostly because of my impressions at the time of playing it. Companions talking to your character, even talking among themselves, dialogue choices, romance, David Warner's stellar performance as Irenicus, I'd never experienced anything like it and I'm not sure anything's come close.

4. Baldur's Gate III

Karlach, Jaheira and Gale stand next to each other near the docks in Baldur's Gate 3, asking a fisherman about a body he found in the water
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Larian Studios

Caff: I know it's new, but this is the dungeon crawler epic I've always wanted. It's sublime. Every encounter is dirty, messy, physical and magical. You can approach every situation in a different and novel way (so long as you quicksave before). Larian have absolutely nailed everything I want from a fantasy RPG, giving you the freedom to try new things.

Purist: I technically only just started this game, and it can be very challenging at times, but already it is the best RPG I have ever played. The reactivity... The flexibility... God DAMN! So GOOD!

Val Jones: I'm 70 hours in and it is simply sublime. Phenomenal writing, beautiful design and very satisfying combat.

Smudge: Game is big and bug free right out of the box. Love the atmosphere.

nodulo: Hard to choose between #1 and #2; BG3 has taken everything great, engaging, fun and special about tabletop D&D and made the best rendition yet of all of these things in one complete, dense, both serious and quirky grand adventure. Professoinalism and passion of Larian to be commended.

BENTHEARCHITECT: I'm only 50 or so hours in (including early access) and so far this game has been absolutely amazing. I need at least another 50 to 100 hours before I will be ready to review this game comprehensively, but the storyline in Act 1 alone has more depth than Fallout 4 in its entirety. This game is the most true example of anything capturing the very soul of a D&D campaign (although Disco Elysium came close). The story is great and I love all of the complex characters. Combat is FUN, but you don't have to focus on fighting if you want to play a charismatic bard or similar character. This game is so good that it's hard to understand just how good it is. In time this will certainly be celebrated as one of the best RPGs ever made of all time.

No, I haven’t completed it yet, and yes, it’s already my favorite RPG of all time.

Nick FD: It's an expertly made high budget labour of love trying to realise the original promise of RPGs. What more could I possibly ask for?

Adam: Just phenomenal. Realises the promise made by BG1 and 2 for a new era.

Sentegraphs: Look, this is about recent as recency bias can get, but I was unreasonably excited for the full release of Baldur's Gate 3, and I wasn't let down. In games, I always feel like there's a "right" way to do things, and will often load old saves to make sure I get it "right". BG3 encourages me to just roll with the punches by making failure fun. And sure, I might change my mind as I get further into the game (I've played about 60 hours so far), but this survey is now; and right now, I'm having more fun in Baldur's Gate 3 than I've had in any genre in quite some time.

Emman: More polished than AAA games.

Alfy: No, I haven’t completed it yet, and yes, it’s already my favorite RPG of all time. In fact, it’s the RPG I’ve been waiting for for 20 years, the true heir of BG2, generating the same sense of wonder and marvel.

icarussc: This, finally, is genuine Dungeons & Dragons come to life on your screen, with all its variety, reactivity, drama, hilarity, and stupidity. I cannot get enough.

fortuntek: Up until last week my fave RPG of all time was Baldur's Gate 2. If measured in sheer fun (and let's face it, obsession) then I have absolutely no qualms saying already that BG3 is my new #1 for a new modern age of CRPGs. Like it's predecessor, I will be playing this for the next 20 years.

Latedave: Yes it’s early on but like everyone else I’ve played the heck out of it. Larian have learnt from their previous games and toned down their humour with interesting character story arcs, a fun take on D&D combat and a wealth of branching possibilities.

3. Planescape: Torment

A top-down view of a chamber with several raised tables in Planescape Torment
Image credit: Beamdog

David Strong: A classic RPG that had easily one of the best stories and writing out there. It also had very memorable characters and a unique setting. Some of the dialogue got tears out of me it was so good.

Robert Hansford: A close tie at no.1 for me, perhaps influenced a little by rose-tinted glasses but P:T is still such a good RPG with a balance between social/combat, surprising stories, engaging characters and intelligent writing. Yes it creaks a bit with age now, but still leads the way for me in overall design.

Shahin Ghazinouri: A masterclass in narrative depth, choices and consequences that transcends the genre and is unmatched by any other game following it.

Dan: An excellent story in an excellent game. It's a weird setting, filled with fun and memorable characters, and surprises that lurk in every corner. Lots of text to read that give a lot of personality to the world. It's also a fun RPG, with mechanics that are all a bit different than what we're used to. All that makes Planescape a game like no other!

Planescape has them all beat. In knowing that this game existed, I have become stronger.

Scruffy: Best story and writing in any video game, great characters.

Alan Smith: Combining the best features of a New Weird-style setting and characters, a deeply personal quest with some serious philosophical undertones and a lot of extremely solid writing makes Planescape: Torment the best RPG I've ever played. While I'll be the first to admit the gameplay is, by today's standards, a bit dated, I do not play RPGs for their combat systems and when it comes to sheer atmosphere, the joy of exploring an alien setting and the many ways you can approach it through role-playing options, memorable quotes, and the fantastic soundtrack that's built entirely out of a single melody, Planescape has them all beat. In knowing that this game existed, I have become stronger.

elsparko: I have to quote it once again: "What can change the nature of a man?" What can change the nature of an RPG? This game is arguably not even a true RPG but rather a playable novel. A novel with replayablility, even. Party composition and even interactions and choices with party members can change how the story unfolds. Also this is one of the few games which has a workable in-game explanation for loading, saving and restarting a game.

Nathaniel: I primarily came here because I noticed a severe lack of fawning over Planescape: Torment and I needed to set the record straight! Yes, the combat and core game-play is nothing special, but you don't put dozens of hours into an RPG to click buttons. You do it for the setting, story and ability to impact a fantasy world and very few games have ever matched Planescape: Torment, especially the writing (of which there is admittedly quite a bit, but it is without exception a joy to read).

Warriors stand in front of a large statue in Planescape Torment
Image credit: Beamdog

Dezmiatu: It perfectly captured the bizarre, often contradictory city of Sigil, where all beliefs and denizens of astral and ethereal planes intersect. Where compassionate conversations with companions is more powerful than swords or spells.

EthicsGradient: It's boring to keep talking about a game this old. But it's always the first one that comes to mind even if I haven't played it for more than a decade. There's just so much going on in the game, and you know your character is central to it, but it's really hard to find out why until close to the endgame.

Gabriele Svelto: It's hard for me not to put Torment in the first spot, but I just liked Morrowind more. Torment shares a lot of the things that made the latter good: a truly alien world of non-Tolkien-inspired fantasy and an interesting one at that! A role to play, where your actions had nuance and meaning, a cast of memorable characters and plenty of ways to talk yourself out of a fight. But also fun fights.

Zephro: It's legendary and contains a street giving birth. Everything to be said has been said.

Basically, a masterpiece.

Godwhacker: One of the first games I've played that remembered the role-playing bit of RPGs. You can be a horrible bastard or complete saint, and the game responds. Baldur's Gate had you tell it how nice you were by letting you pick an alignment; Planescape: Torment looked at your choices and then told you. Chaotic Good actually means something when you've been nice-but-crazy on purpose. Properly weird, brilliantly written, and everything an RPG should be.

Andy Tickner: Simply one of the best tales told in RPG history. Every playthrough revealed more secrets about The Nameless One and the characters he came across.

Magus42: The best setting ever presented in a video game. Period. A compelling mystery story. Strong replayability. Basically, a masterpiece.

Brent Goren: The freedom to explore and the possibilities are almost limitless. The amnesia aspect of the game is phenomenal!

Adam: The story is one of the best out there and would genuinely work today.

Cinnamon: What can you say about it? Many people have played it and read a lot of text. Despite now being one of the older CRPGs that new people still manage to discover and love, it manages to appear cynical and knowing when it comes to the genre. It deliberately does everything in the genre wrong and says, "So what?" It is a game which looks at our fellows here who voted for Mass Effect 2 and says, "Of course, you would like that, wouldn’t you." It is about being trapped in a maze of masks, names and words. It is a game about updating your journal.

Gutock: "What can change the nature of man?" is the best question a game has ever posed.

2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Geralt and Ciri pose back-to-back in The Witcher 3 artwork.
Image credit: CD Projekt Red

Germansuplex: At this point, RPS poll participants have written whole books about the greatness of The Witcher The Third, but here's a thought: while watching the most recent season of the Netflix show, I thought to myself: "Man, these politics and prophecies are such a slog, I wish this was just about Geralt riding from town to town and doing witchery things!" Then I rememberd this game exists, which made me smile happily.

AngelAtTheTomb: It's a paradox that the greatest role-playing game of all time doesn't really let you choose a role. You're Geralt, and Geralt is. But what Geralt is, is a brilliantly-written, soulful, bafflingly human character, not a tragic hero, but just a mostly-decent man in a world full of hate and beauty. And what a world - they started not with the lore books or the encyclopedia entries, but with the way the water runs in the folds of the land, and how the trees grow where the water is. You can tell; every copse is real, and while Geralt's adventure is thrilling and surprisingly sombre, it's the hanging tree that stays with you, or the hidden, questless valley, flush with heather - or the wind rattling the ashes along the creek, and somewhere out there, a monster lowing at the sunset. Better get the silver oiled. Work to do before morning.

While Geralt's adventure is thrilling and surprisingly sombre, it's the hanging tree that stays with you, or the hidden, questless valley, flush with heather.

EthicsGradient: Also a boring choice, and some of the game is just a Ubisoft slog. But some of the vignettes and subplots are just fantastic. It also had the two delightful expansions - Hearts of Stone had lovely style if a very naff plot, while Blood And Wine was just gorgeous to play through even with a lot of it being more of the same! (Given the qualified hedging I just did, the good bits were clearly really great!). I've also realised what makes games great for me - I want to replay them when I think about them.

Vic502: CD Projekt Red's magnum opus and my top RPG since I started playing in the 80s. Very close to a perfect 10, with great visuals, awesome soundtrack, mature storytelling and interesting quests.

Brent Goren: Geralt is an amazing character and the Witcher world is incredible! Can't say enough praise for this game.

nodulo: Hard to choose between #1 and #2; The Witcher 3 has taken everything great, engaging, fun and special about the books and made the best rendition yet of all of these things in one complete, dense, both serious and quirky grand adventure. Professoinalism and passion of CDPR to be commended.

Geralt fights a ghoul in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, with ray tracing enabled via the Next Gen update.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/CD Projekt Red

dogwaddle: I got absolutely sucked into its world building/immersion. I also loved that it had mature and great story-building. I don't think I've quite got sucked into a video game world as much. The gameplay was solid (not amazing), but that didn't matter because I cared more about the story.

Tigris: I love the sidequests! Many games have a good story, but no game has sidequests which come close to the ones of the Witcher. They feel like real short stories (which they are), and this made the game for me such a great experience. There are great stories everywhere, not only along the path.

Alfy: I thought the release of The Witcher 3 would open the door to numerous quality, narrative-based third-person RPGs. Instead, all we got were the Assassin Creeds. The Witcher 3 stands alone, the undisputed king of this genre.

Nojmi: It was the climax of the series, very strong with all aspects with a significant mark of effort and experience of many years from the developers to achieve this ultimate RPG and hold an intresting story in the Sapkowski universe (which was always a rough world known to be so diferent from the one you live in). I will always recommend it to everyone, when they ask that they want to try playing a video game.

Rarely has a game offered such diverse playgrounds to RPG in.

Zlorwf: Just a massive journey with captivating missions that make you actually care.

Acantgetno: Rarely has a game offered such diverse playgrounds to RPG in. One moment you're knee-deep in muddy, turd-filled swamps filled with hideous monsters that make Terry Gilliam's drawings look like fashion show depictions, the next you're surrounded by fascist fanatics in a bustling and otherwise quite civilised city. Add to that a very pleasant ensemble cast of characters and it makes for a believable and grounded world that feels like it exists outsides of the player camera's frame.

Alex H: The Witcher 3 presented a world you believed in. Its characters, world, and quests were so luxuriously rich (and clearly loved by their writers). The computer game equivalent of being royally spoiled. And yet, never forget what a big heart this game has - it's delightfully funny, and the writers clearly love their characters. A generational diamond of a release.

jacknic: The Witcher 3 was my introduction to Geralt of Rivia, and what a ride it was. It took me a while to dive into the world of the White Wolf as the scope of this immense game is rather daunting. The huge open world is, however, filled to the brim with great characters, challenging quests and all of the monsters. The story is great and every choice seems like it has a real impact on the world. Even though the world of The Witcher is truly both grim and dark, the developers have managed to bring the dark humor from the source material into the game as well.

Playtech1: The Witcher 3 was not fundamentally different to similar games that went before, but in nearly every area improved upon its predecessors to produce an immensely satisfying and elevated experience. The particular highlights are the cast of characters, voice acting, the multi-layered plot and atmospheric setting. Oh, and Gwent. So much Gwent. The relatively weak combat didn't much matter when you were so engrossed in the story.

Morte66: I care what happens.

1. Disco Elysium

A man attempts to sing karaoke in a bar in Disco Elysium
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/ZA/UM

mz1: Disco Elysium is not just one of the best games ever made; I feel like it is a breakthrough game for the medium as a whole, lighting a way for something else that games can become and that I hope they will indeed. It's artistically meaningful to me and resonating with such emotional nuance as no other game before or since. I've been waiting for such a long time for this game, without knowing how exactly it will look like when it happens. A creative triumph, for which I am forever grateful to everyone who created it.

Ilya Sh: Beautiful writing, like reading a good book. Deep characters, ambiguous choices, many paths.

Caff: Beautiful, tragic and poetic. It speaks to all aspects of your mind, and isn't afraid to go into dark places and suffering that we can all relate to. I hope we'll see many more games like this, that are unafraid of the human psyche.

godfatherbrak: Disco Elysium is the game that felt most like playing a TTRPG. I cared about the characters and the situation - getting Kim's approval and doing karaoke were emotional highlights in a genre where it's normally about saving the world. Disco Elysium gave me many moments that hit an emotion other than adrenaline, which is the most common one in CRPGs. Hearing other people have such a massively different experience than I did in that same few blocks was incredible.

aoanla: Disco Elysium is the game that finally did what Planescape:Torment promised but failed to do all those years ago - present a mystery, a setting and a system that were all about dealing with people, ideas and yourself, with almost no combat (and certainly no systems specifically dedicated to it). The writing is brilliant - managing to be funny, devastatingly sad, full of wonder and full of farce, all in one story. Plus, what other RPG lets your skills literally give you their opinions (and argue with each other about them)?

A screenshot of Disco Elysium using the new dyslexia-friendly font.
Harry Du Bois from Disco Elysium The Final Cut lifting weights
Image credit: ZA/UM

Alan Smith: Disco Elysium is the purest and truest RPG I've ever played, in that it does everything - everything - within a role-playing context. In every other RPG, you can essentially separate the core 'gameplay loop' from the 'role-playing' parts and still have a functional (if very barebones) system underneath: The RPG elements contextualize the events leading up to the next core gameplay section, but you could strip the RPG elements out of Deus Ex and still have an FPS, or the RPG elements out of Baldur's Gate and have a squad-based RTS. Disco Elysium, meanwhile, cannot do that. It is not an XP progression system added to an FPS, or an X-COM-style tactics game with feats and dialogue trees. You cannot meaningfully separate Disco Elysium's core gameplay loop from the role-playing and dialogue, because it all fits into the same skill-based, 2D6-rolling box. It is a pure role-playing gameplay experience, and I will always love it for that, on top of how I love it for having all the good parts of Planescape: memorable setting, fantastic writing and eminently quotable protagonist and characters, updated and re-made enough to be meaningfully distinct. Disco Elysium is my best game of the 2010s and has a permanent exhibition in the Wompty-Dompty Dom Centre in my mind.

Disco Elysium is my best game of the 2010s and has a permanent exhibition in the Wompty-Dompty Dom Centre in my mind.

Aerothorn: Disco Elysium puts the RP in RPG; this is a game in which you have to establish and inhabit a character and learn the world he inhabits, in all its ugly beauty. This is basically Warren Spector's "one city block" RPG in isometric form, and has all the density that would imply. Also hands-down the funniest RPG ever made, and the soundtrack is killer.

RamblingMoose: Disco Elysium was the best book I played in 2019. It has a novelistic quality, in the writing especially but also in its austere presentation. A lot of video games aim for some notion of "maturity." Disco Elysium tells a compelling alternate world tale of a failed communist revolution! In a fantasy world that feels truly complex. And scary to navigate. I need an adult.

A screenshot of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut.
Image credit: ZA/UM

syllopsium: First rate choice and consequence, innovative new abilities, a small but detailed setting, adult story-telling, and as many steps as its possible to take away from classic sword and sorcery easily places Disco Elysium in first place. Disco manages all this by being Authentically Disco. It's possible to embrace a hedonistic and life-threatening path through the game, but even if you're unwise enough to attempt the most straitlaced solution, strangeness will find and embrace you. Don't resist, Listen To The Tie.

CrustyGameShack: Great writing.

Polyhop: I first played Disco Elysium in 2019 shortly after its release. I loved the writing but have to say I didn't play it completion, loosing steam at the 20 hour mark. I recently replayed it and was hooked even deeper than before. With the Final Cut flawlessly fleshing out the voice acting for all characters, the game was fully cemented in my all time favorites. Damn it's good.

Gloomy: "I would often go there / To the tiny church there / The smallest church in Saint-Saëns / Though it once was larger..."

Even if you're unwise enough to attempt the most straitlaced solution, strangeness will find and embrace you. Don't resist, Listen To The Tie.

Nathaniel: If any game could challenge Planescape: Torment on its strengths, it's this one, which I think is the best and most innovative RPG in years. Hopefully it will receive many sequels and will be emulated and imitated by many other games. Sadly like with Planescape: Torment it'll probably be a one-off and at best we'll get some pale imitation trying to cash on its success :( Both games are about the only ones I went through twice back-to-back just to try out the alternative choices.

Abutbul: In the inland ocean of the drug induced, cynic, self-inflicted apocalypse, Disco's compassion kept me afloat and made me cry.

Lyndon: It absolutely nails a consistent tone and voice that seeps into your skin like the smog and dirt of its city, but is still ultimately hopeful about humanity and redemption.

Coreaxe: Its been years since I've run into a game which pushes the genre forward so much, and executes it so elegantly.

A screenshot of Disco Elysium using the new dyslexia-friendly font.
A detective and his companion talk with gang members in a diner in Disco Elysium
Image credit: ZA/UM

Robert Hansford: Just, just, beat out for no.1 by Planescape: Torment in my list, and on a different day I might have swapped them. Non-fantasy, non-traditional, a completely different world to experience for most players and yet nothing seemed too unfamiliar. Just strange enough to keep the exploring up. Also the game that proves that "combat" is really not necessary for an RPG to be good.

Zal: Many modern RPGs hand you the character you'll be playing. Disco Elysium did this, but left more room for internal exploration and development than you'd get from a Geralt (Witcher), Shepard (Mass Effect), and De Sardet (Greedfall) put together.

Johannes: The game with the best companion ever: Kim Kitsuragi! I love the dark humour, the melancholic soundtrack and its deep story. A masterpiece.

Sure, you may want to be persuasive in conversation and have your shit together, but that's not your choice to make.

LosMonstruos: The only game I've played that captures the chaos of TTRPG dice rolls and, well, actual life. Sure, you may want to be persuasive in conversation and have your shit together, but that's not your choice to make.

Zlorwf: There are some pieces of work, that redefine the medium that they are in. Disco Elysium is one of these games. It redefines how the narrative and the player choices should affect your gameplay. But the most important part is, the game industry always seems to have a ceiling when it comes to writing quality. The best ones are usually on par with a random summer novel or like a nice Netflix movie script. The writing in Disco Elysium is justs heads above the rest of the sector. It shows that proper writing is not wasted on video games and it can actually benefit the genre.

SanguineAngel: Where Pathfinder and Pillars Of Eternity sought to revive the old isometric party-based RPGs of yore, Disco Elysium truly took them to the next step - a place I honestly thought we'd have been by the end of the 90s at the time. A detailed, local, personal story: directly and immediately relevant to your character - no cliched world-ending crisis this time. It has atmosphere, it has style. But most importantly, it is thorough and detailed enough to allow you to approach solving the investigation almost however you please. It feels as close to the responsiveness of a tabletop RPG as I can imagine. I really felt like I was making meaningful decisions for Harry throughout the game, and I know those affected the story my game told.