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7 RPGs You Might Have Overlooked
Many RPG fans are already calling 2014 the year of the RPG, as so many great titles are releasing this year, such as Bravely Default, Child of Light, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Before you get your new generation of consoles ready for this onslaught of promising RPGs, here are seven underrated RPGs from the last generation that you might have overlooked.
"The Kleenex Odyssey."
This Xbox 360-exclusive came at the time many haters yelled that the console didn't have any decent RPGs. Lost Odyssey brought a compelling story, an interesting twist to the typical turn-based JRPG combat format, and jaw dropping cut scenes that required four discs of content. But the game's best feature was a story-telling element that presented backstories told through short stories. These short stories forced me to keep a box of Kleenex within arm's reach for every play session. If the game was available on both platforms, it most likely would have sold far better than it did.
"A JRPG for JRPG skeptics."
I'd probably be lanced somewhere if I didn't include Valkyria Chronicles. This watercolor beauty featured tactics-based gameplay that could only be found in a few turn-based tactics game like Final Fantasy Tactic or Vandal Hearts. Yet, it had its own twist to effectively send troops into battle almost akin to a proper real-time strategy game. Many who swore they would never play a JRPG found themselves devoting hours to this one. The only disappointing facet about this game was its lack of a proper sequel.
"Not afraid to make fun of itself."
There are two camps when it comes to Nier: those who loathe it and those who love it. It's a shame there is no one in between, because this game deserves all the love it can get. The graphics were far from stellar, and the hack-n-slash was far from complex, and yes, the fishing mini-game was atrocious. (Thank God it wasn't mandatory.) BUT. Nier was a game that knew how to make fun of itself and multiple gaming genres. It made fun of doing fetch quests all while doling out said fetch quests. It made fun of the hack-n-slash genre it emulated. It made fun of The Legend of Zelda. It made fun of how one character, um, dressed (if you can call what she was wearing clothes) and how foul her mouth was. It even poked-fun at text-based games. If you played it multiple times to see all of the endings, the characters broke the fourth wall and asked why they were doing these things again. And then the game kicked you right in the gut with the storyline. If you never give Nier a try, you should at least give the soundtrack a listen. It's still one of my absolute favorites.
"Suits your style of play, no matter what you prefer."
Imagine a Skyrim with more colors than brown and gray, and you have Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I honestly don't know why Skyrim received more clout than this game, as it has just as much of a main plot that is easy to overlook, it has as many side quests if not more, and it has the faction quests element as well. Like Skyrim, you could pretty much do whatever you wanted and play however suited you best. But for whatever reason, it was quickly forgotten post release and was only remembered with the tragic fall of 38 Studios.
"NPCs shower you with advice."
Now here's an RPG that literally gives you absolutely no direction. A dragon attacks your character's town, gives your character a unique "blessing", and then what you do and where you go is pretty much up to you. The only direction you receive is from NPC pawns who magically appear and serve to do nothing but give you advice and listen to your every command. Players can even send custom pawns to their friends. I've recommended this one to those who wanted to like Skyrim but failed to do so.
"Promotes arguing with your friends."
When people saw Obsidian was behind the third installment of the popular past PC-only series, many blew it off due to the developer's unfortunate track record. It was really their loss, as Obsidian blended Gauntlet-style play with player story choices quite beautifully. Players chose to play as one of four characters that eventually group together, and each one really had their own unique part to play that could alter how the overall plot flowed. It also introduced a unique co-op element where up to four people could comprise the party, and they would have to vote on which dialogue the characters would say to the NPCs. The game even had Achievements/Trophies based on agreeing and disagreeing with your compadres.
"Play in a dying pianist's dreams."
Brightly colored Eternal Sonata appeared to be your typical turn-based JRPG, but with each turn, the player had a time limit to put in as many attacks, magic spells, or item doling as they could. The intriguing combination of action and turn-based JRPG kept gamers playing for hours in a world concocted by pianist Chopin's dying dreams. As it is Chopin's world, the attacks and regions are all based on musical terms, and most of the game music is Chopin's. It's a shame we don't see more turn-based RPGs incorporate the action element Eternal Sonata did.
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