There were many tears when it was announced that The Witcher 3 would be pushed back into 2015 (and subsequently delayed even further), but quite frankly, CD Projekt's postponement has been our gain allowing a slew of outstanding RPGs to enjoy the limelight instead this year. Probably the most difficult category to judge, in all honesty.If any of these turn up in the sales to come, do yourself a favour and snap them up.
Child of Light
What we said:Child of Light proves that cheap downloadable RPGs can be done right after all. Visually enchanting and featuring a clever twist on classic turn-based combat, this puts many full-sized RPGs to shame. Even with painful rhyming dialogue and generic story, you'll find yourself hooked to the end.
Dark Souls II
What we said: It won’t convert those who despise the Souls series, but the journey through the stunning lands of Drangleic is, for the most part, everything fans could have hoped for in a sequel. With fresh challenges, dastardly traps, and murderous invaders waiting at every corner, the sense of discovery and accomplishment is there for the taking… providing you’re patient and brave enough to overcome it. The Iron Price of gaming is back, and it demands that you die.
Divinity: Original Sin
What we said: An incredibly deep and engaging RPG, Larian have delivered one of the finest RPGs of the last decade in a paean to player choice and freedom, all presented with the knowing smile and cheeky wink we've come to expect from them. Divinity: Original Sin might prove a little overwhelming for some, but old-school RPG fans will absolutely adore this.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
What we said: Forget the disappointments of the previous instalment – BioWare are back on top form with Dragon Age: Inquisition. With huge expansive locations to explore, a rich and detailed world to be immersed in, and a branching narrative that has the player make tough choices, it is not only one of the best RPGs of the year, but a strong last-minute contender for game of the year.
What we said: Persona Q is the best of all possible worlds. Etrian Odyssey's masterful dungeon crawling goes hand-in-hand with the superb characters and great storytelling of the Persona series, resulting in a magnificent RPG that stands out on its own impressive merits. One of the best crossover titles in years is handily one of the best games of 2014. The Q might as well stand for 'Quality.'
South Park: The Stick of Truth
What we said: It is, without question, the best South Park video game out there. Part Obsidian, old-school RPG, part hilariously faithful South Park fan service, The Stick of Truth is rude, crude, and utterly brilliant.
What we said: It's not every day that a Hail Mary pass in the form of a Kickstarter project aiming to get a 20-year project off of the ground wins out, but for inXile Entertainment and Brian Fargo, it really did. In a big way. An almost defiantly nostalgic, old-school RPG that's brimming with depth and nuance, and will steal weeks of your life away as you play it over and over again doing things differently each time.
Winner | Divinity: Original Sin
Persona Q and the superlative Dragon Age: Inquisition would both have been worthy winners here too, but we're giving the nod to Divinity: Original Sin this year. A crowdfunded darling, an Early Access triumph and one of the very best RPGs of the decade let alone the year. Divinity: Original Sin is a masterpiece, it really is. It's an unashamedly nostalgic RPG that prizes player freedom over heavy-handed storytelling and leading people by the nose, and it goes about its business extremely well.
If you like your old-school, isometric RPGs, if you've lamented the increasing tendencies of modern games (especially purported role-playing games) towards handholding and streamlining and other simplifications, if what you crave from an RPG is freedom and customisation and a combat system that makes you pause and think, this is the game you've been waiting for. It's marks the very best of the old combined with new tricks, new freedoms, and new choices.
You should probably stop reading and go and buy it right now.