Promo art for Dark Souls Remastered

The Twenty Best RPGs of All Time, Ranked—According To Some Neckbeard at the Renaissance Faire

*As you stroll through the Renaissance Faire, minding your own business, you are approached by a neckbearded man wearing a fedora. He doffs it to you. “Oh god,” you think, “here it goes again.”*

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Third tyme is the charm, m’lady.

While our last encounter did not go as pleasantly as I might have wished, I am pleased to encounter thine personage again thricely today. Forsoothingly, I have heard it saythed that thou wisheth to know the Greatest and Most Legendary of Role Playing Games that were ever created. This sorte of knowledge falleth directly within my purview, for indeed, I am noted as a scholaer of all games that are fantastical and weirde. Verily, no game compareth to the One True Greatest RPG, for that honor falleth upon Dungeons and Dragons alone. However, the rules of that game are highly mathematical, (if one wishes to play according to the rules of the ancient First Edition made by the Archwizard Gary Gygax) and are not suited for the delicate minds of noblewomen such as thyself. Indeed, thou wilt grow weary and require nourishment in the form of dates, bonbons, and other sweetmeats to regain thine strength. Therefore, allow me to furnish you with a list of fantastic role playing games that are more appropriate for the tender brain of a beginner.

20. Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II

A laser sword weilding space explorer fights an alien in "Phantasy Star Online"
(Sega)

Ah, to take to the stars! To grind away the hours fighting monsters on a faraway planet! To find the sweetest of weapons, swing it around, grow weary of it, and then charge back into the fore to find more! Phantasy Star Online was a classic RPG for the Nintendo Gamecube. Just imagine! You and three of your closest compatriots battling space beasties and collecting star loot! It was one of the only couch co-op roleplaying games ever made, and a joy to play with one’s friends! So I am told. I was … less than popular at that tender age. I have nary the faintest of ideas why.

19. Dark Chronicle

Two young adventurers smile in cover art for "Dark Chronicle" aka Dark Cloud 2
(Sony Computer Entertainment)

The Dark Cloud franchise ne’er ascended to the titanic heights of Final Fantasy and Fire Emblem for reasons that escape even my sharpest of wits. Perhaps, like my plans to bring historically accurate sharp swords into the Renaissance Faire, it was simply too ambitious and subsequently thwarted by authorities! ‘Tis a pity, for Dark Chronicle (also known as Dark Cloud 2) is a sprawling and complicated game. The story concerns a time traveling pair of teens who must fight evil in the past in order to escape a dark future, all the while building a train system and plotting out new small towns! Yes, Dark Cloud 2 is half RPG and half city-building simulator! Only a mad genius could come up with such a simultaneously thrilling and cozy sort of story!

18. Disco Elysium

Kim Kitsuragi and Harry Du Bois in the Disco Elysium header art
(ZA/UM)

M’lady, just as I am not your average man, Disco Elysium is not your average RPG. The two of us are cut from a different sort of textile. We have both been blessed with the gift of the gab, so to speak. Dialogue! We excel at dialogue! Just as I possess a various and sundry vocabulary, Disco Elysium hath a revolutionary dialogue system that won it the title of Game of the Year. The story concerns an amnesiac detective attempting to solve a murder mystery, who unwittingly discovers key moments in his checkered past! Indeed, Disco Elysium was revolutionary due to its lack of combat, replaced by skill checks and branches upon branches of dialogue trees making for a whole Dialogue Enchanted Forest!

17. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Three Jedi warriors stand wielding lightsabers in "Knights of the Old Republic"
(LucasArts)

Praytell, who does not fancy a Star War? And Knights of Ye Olde Republic is perhaps one of the finest Star Wars tales told over digital hill and dale! The tale concerneth a certain Galaxy Far Far Away over four millennia before the events of the first of the Star Wars films. The nefarious Sith, led by the puissant Darth Malak, have let slip the dogs of war across the galaxy. Your role is to return those dogs to the kennel, so to speak! But how, I hearst thou ask? Through the potent magic of Dungeons and Dragons style roleplaying! The game borroweth mechanics from Jedi Lord Gary Gygax’s magnum opus, and players are able to infinitely customize their characters and their adventuring party whilst engaging in thrilling turn based combat! FOR THE REPUBLIC!

16. Horizon Zero Dawn

(Sony)

Horizon Zero Dawn boasts one of the cleverest designs for its setting and environs! The game takes place after self-replicating robots destroyed the world, and humanity returned to a prehistoric sort of existence. Except now the world is populated by robotic machine animal dinosaur things! The young warrior Aloy must journey out of her tribal homeland in order to learn the mysteries of past technology in order to secure a future for her people! And fight mechanical sauropods with bow and sling! How thrilling!

15. Stardew Valley

A view of the Riverside Farm in Stardew Valley.
(ConcernedApe)

Verily, Stardew Valley is certain to appeal to thine gentle and domestic tendencies! The player taketh control of an office worker to—after the passing of their grandfather—sally forth into the countryside to claim an ancestral farm! Near the farm is a charming little town full of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes with whom one may settle down and breed children with! O rustic felicity! O rural tranquility! The besteth part? One mayest play this game ad infinitum! There is no shortage of crops to grow! Resources to mine! Townsfolk to woo! Hooray!

14. Bloodborne

The Moon Presence lurks in the moonlight in "Bloodborne"
(FromSoftware)

FromSoftware’s Bloodborne is perhaps the polar opposite of Stardew Valley – but if thou canst stomach it – just as rewarding! The game is set hundreds of years in the future during a mystical age known as the “Victorian Era”. The world is populated by horrid beasts, and the citizenry appeal to the wisdom of the church for guidance – who themselves appeal to the unknowable whims of dark eldritch gods! The player controls a hunter, tasked with finding a creature known as the Paleblood. What is the Paleblood? It matters not! It’s simply an excuse to hack apart hideous beasts with steampunk weaponry and glorious sprays of gore!

13. Nier Automata

2B faces off against a massive Engels robot in "Nier Automata"
(Square Enix)

Nier Automata may be considered a “thinking man’s” sort of game. It’s truly existential! It has me pondering the big questions, such as “what is the meaning of life?” “what does it mean to be alive?” “Why am I – a 35 year old man – still living in my car and trying to pick up women at the local Renaissance Faire?” Questions better left unanswered! 10,000 years in the future, the last remnants of were all but wiped out by a race of aliens who polluted the world with “machine lifeforms”. Now a group of scantily clad androids from a military organization called YorHa are attempting to rid the planet of machine lifeforms and return it to humankind! A nobler quest ne’er there was!

12. Monster Hunter World

(via Capcom)

Indeed! Monster Hunter World is as symple as role playing games getteth! This game requires you to accomplysh one taske and one taske only! Slay monsters! But fear not, dear lady. Thou does not have to dirty thy soft, unspoiled hands with the blood of beasts. Simply pick up a controller and an avatar of thine own design will do it for thee! The game hath a vertitable menagerie of monsters to engage with in combat, and after they are slain, thou mayst craft weapons from their bones at the smithy! Do what with, thou ask? Why, slay more monsters! Naturally!

11. Fallout: New Vegas

(via Bethesda Software)

This game be set in the distant future, one where dark wizards laid waste to the world using strange spells and magicks called “nuclear weapons”. Most of humanitie was slain by such evil magicks, but thou and a few others survive in the Kingdom of New Vegas! Thou must journey across the blasted heath of a country once known as “America” and discover the wonders and horrors hidden therein! Take care my lady, frightful beasts now haunt the once lush and verdant landscape, twisted by nuclear magick. And frightful humans to boot!

10. Undertale

Sans fight screen in Undertale.
(Toby Fox)

This game was created by one man, a great wizard indeed! He calleth himself Sir Toby Fox. He conceived an epic about humans and monsters attempting to live harmoniously! Pshaw! The stuff of fables! Monsters are simply to be slain to win the favor of ladies! It is known. Yet no one toldeth Sir Toby Fox! Poor man! I have heard that one is able to win the game by befriending all of the monsters, and not killing a single one! What a childish notion! Naturally, I destroyed them all on my play through! The ending mty decision earned me made me feel a bit… icky… but I locked away those emotions in the vault of my heart! As any man should!

9. Persona 5: Royal

(via Atlus, Sega, SEGA of America)

This game taketh place in a distant land in the Far East! A land known as “Japan”. Japan is a queer sort of metropolis, where children attend “high school” and conjure each other using “cellphones”. How quaint! The stuff of fantasy already! However, a certain group of high schoolers become privy to a secret universe (or “metaverse”) that existeth parallel to their own! They are able to enter this metauniverse and form strange contracts with the demons therin to assist them in combat against forces of darkness! The darkness that existeth in the heart of man! Oh a thrilling tale! But should they search for darkness in mine own heart, they shall find none. They shall instead see a vast, sunlit field populated with songbirds carrying bits of Byronic poetry in their beaks. For my heart is pure as fresh-fallen snow.

8. Kingdom Hearts

image credit: Square Enix

A young island boy’s world is devoured by a strange darkness from beyond the stars! Oh how Lovecraftian! But instead of going mad, he is given a mysterious power to summon a sword-sized key made of light with which he may beat back the darkness! And better yet, he does it all with the help of the characters of Sir Walter Disney! Oh it is a thrilling tale. One fights in the jungles with the beastly Tarzan. One slays the sea witch Ursula with the help of Princess Ariel! And one even encountereth characters from another notable role playing game on this list! I will not spoil it, but a bard would say his name rhymeth with “loud knife”!

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

(Bethesda)

Finally! An RPG world that is simple to understand! Elves! Men! Giants! Dragons! It is all so simple. So familiar. However, the game creatively turns the familiar world of fantasy all topsy turvey by allowing the player to access the awesome power of the dragons by speaking their draconic language! Oh how thrilling! One says “good ‘morrow!” in the draken tongue and a pillar of fire shooteth out of the mouth! A man wonders what sort of heat would be summoned when he sayeth “I love thee” to a faire lady in the language of the Great Wyrms. Perhaps we shall playeth the game together and findeth out.

6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

(CD Projekt)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt featureth a protagonist that maketh me feel totally secure in my masculinity. Utterly. Completely, say I. In no way doth the striking figure of Geralt of Rivia conjure up any feelings of inadequacy in me. None whatsoever. I care not that he is able to hunt and slay great monsters. I am able to do that every Tuesday night my weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons with the lads. I care not that he is handsome and stylish, for the clothes my mother buys me from Ye Olde Navy are equally handsome and stylish. I care not that he has known the touch of a woman, for someday I too shall know – I mean – I presently know the touch of woman. I swear. Many. Throngs of them. I can hardly take a stroll without – let us changeth the subject.

5. Mass Effect 2

Jack and her tattoos in Mass Effect
(Bioware)

Oh what a thrilling tale! Full of dangerous enemies! Merry friendships! Thrilling romantic encounters! All set in the vacuous abysses between the stars! Indeed, my lady, this game taketh place in space. Thou art the commander of a ship filled with the very finest warriors in the galaxy, and thou must traverse through many strange planets in order to foil the machinations of old and terrible sentient war machines! These war machines are like mighty mechanical trebuchets, if trebuchets did not fire silly rocks but rather streams of molten metal that traveleth at a fraction of the speed of light. Oh my lady thy foes shall be fierce in this game! But thou art able to romance many a strong, strapping alien to help thee face off against thy foes!

4. Baldur’s Gate 3

Minthara Baldur's Gate 3 via Larian
(Larian Studios)

Baldur’s Gate 3 was a revolution. Indeed, it is perhaps the closest experience one can have to a bonafide Dungeons and Dragons game without crowding around a candlelit table in a shag carpeted basement with a group of academes and outcasts in 1974! Create a character and journey out into a wide open world populated by all manner of fantastical kingdoms and creatures! Some of whom are extremely sexy. The player character’s hot comrades certainly know how to put the “party” in “adventuring party.” An erudite vampire? A gothic half-elf? A muscle-mother barbarian being from the hottest pits of hell? What about a man who can turn into a bear for your sexual gratification? Baldur’s Gate 3 hath it all.

2. Elden Ring

Elden Ring
(FromSoftware)

A keen eye mayhaps notice that I neglected to include masterful FromSoftware games such as Bloodborne and Dark Souls on this list. In the words of Gimli, son of Gloin “that was deliberate!”. While I beleiveth that these games are indeedly works of arte, I find that Elden Ring sits at the pinnacle of FromSoftware’s creations. After all, this game was dreamed up with the help of the glorious bard Sir George R.R. Martin, singer of the Song of Ice and Fire. As such, the lore of the game is as deep and expansive as the combat is glorious! The monsters are fearsome, but the weapons one may acquire to defeat them are more fearsome still! This game is a treasure for the ages! Huzzah! Huzzah!

2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Link looking dangerously hot in official artwork for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
(Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda series did not begin as a role playing game, but dare I say it matured into one with the passage of the years. The sequel to Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom, allows its hero Link to rise to new heights (and sink to new lows) across the vast world of Hyrule! An endless weapon and equipment customization system awaits! And who needs experience points when there are dungeons to solve and Spirit Orbs to collect? Pair that with the ability to create fabulous technologies out of a simple system of ancient artifacts and one has the making for an adventure experience hand tailored for their particular game-playing proclivities!

1. Final Fantasy VII

(Square Enix)

Indeed, this be the greatest Role Playing Game of All Thyme. (And I do not mean the kitchen spice!) Forsoothedly, this game be what one mayest call a “cultural touchstone” in the world of RPGs. The mark it left upon the world cannot be understated! And I shall duel any man to the death who sayeth otherwise! For a generation of younglings, it was the first role playing game that they had ever played, and it inspireth perhaps every other game on this vaunted lyst! The game concerns a hero who defies the machinations of a sinister corporation as nobly as his hair nobly defies the laws of Newtonian gravitation! (A rhyme! I shall compose it in a song!) The combat is an intellectually thrilling affair, as the game requires the player to think of many a clever stratagem in order to defeat one’s foes! And one is rewarded for one’s efforts, and one gains “experience points” and acquires many a skill to pay many a hefty bill! The game also feautereth a grand story, a most sinister villain named Sephiroth, who skewers a fine and noble lady on his blade! It is a heartbreaking affair. But fear not lady, I would never allow thee to be skewered on any blade! Unless of course thou wisheth to see mine own – pray, lady, what art thou spraying me with? Be that a can of bug spray to keepeth the Renaissance Faire mosquitoes away? I am now pesky gnat lady! Surely you jest! Take care lady! Bug spray is flammable! Should I encountereth a dragon I may be in for a world of –

What art thou doing with that lighter…?

(Featured image: FromSoftware)


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Image of Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.