Top 5 RPGs of 2013

There were some fantastic RPGs released in 2013. From stellar entries in long running series, to some fresh new experiences. The Nintendo 3DS had a great year and some of its best games are reflected in this list. Unfortunately there are a few quality RPGs I have yet to play so please leave some thoughts on your favourite RPGs of 2013 in comments.
1. – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds –
A true triumph of game design, A Link Between Worlds manages to rekindle memories of one of the greatest games of all time while also reinventing the classic Zelda franchise. Focusing on straightforward design lets the gameplay really shine as the combat is fast and fluid and the dungeon puzzles are creative, imaginative and rewarding. The fresh elements include the item rental system and Link’s ability to turn into a painting and merge into walls. These seemingly simple mechanics completely change the way you play the game as the world is yours to explore very early on and not only do you have to think about puzzles from the top down view, but sometimes the answers can only be achieved by looking at them from a completely different perspective. The 3D effect also adds to the gameplay in a meaningful way. This is Nintendo at the top of their game.
Zelda ALBW Battle
2. – Bravely Default –
While the start of a new series, this game feels like the direction the classic Final Fantasy series could have taken in recent years and what a game it is. Bravely Default features beautiful hand-drawn backgrounds, an exciting and strategic new take on tradition turn-based combat, a robust customisable job system, fully explorable world map, charming and interesting characters, brilliant soundtrack, memorable villains and a story centered around crystals and saving the world. It perfectly combines the spirit, freedom and customisation from the SNES era Final Fantasy instalments with the presentation, atmosphere and character development of the PS1 era titles. If this sounds like the things you look for in an RPG, you need to play this game.
Bravely Default Ship
3. – Fire Emblem: Awakening –   
While Fire Emblem is a long running series, not all of its entries have been released in English or really gained any mainstream success, that is until this brilliant title. An in-depth strategy RPG at its core, Awakening also features the ability to create your own character, manage interactions and relationships between the enormous amount of party members, superb presentation, substantial addition content and an engaging story with great dialogue and character development. The experience and difficulty is adjustable making it approachable to new players, while also keeping its hardcore gameplay the series is known for. A game that will keep you coming back for a long time.
Fire Emblem Awakening Battle
4. – Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix –
A high definition update to a PS2 classic. While the original Kingdom Hearts is the gem of this collection it also includes the PS2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories and cutscenes from the Nintendo DS spinoff Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. The first game in the series is still a fantastic action RPG expertly combining some of Disney’s greatest animated movies with popular Final Fantasy characters connecting it all with an entertaining original story, superb voice acting, fun real time combat system and a fantastic soundtrack. Whether you are playing this for the first time or reliving fond memories this is a great collection and will get you ready for 2.5 Remix coming in 2014.
Kingdom Hearts Sora Riku
5. – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch –  
A combination from acclaimed RPG maker Level 5 and famed anime company Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni features some of the best visuals you will ever see in a video game. The art direction and animation will draw you into the magical world, but you will stay to explore the imaginative locations, quirky characters, intriguing story and unique battle system that combines real-time action with menu commands and monster collecting. A whimsical adventure that is both charming and inviting.
Ni No Kuni Forest
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15 Comments

Filed under Bravely Default, Fire Emblem, Kingdom Hearts Series, Ni No Kuni, The Legend of Zelda Series, Top 5 Lists

15 responses to “Top 5 RPGs of 2013

  1. I wouldn’t consider Zelda and Fire Emblem as RPG (even if I loved them both), and I’d have put Ni No Kuni on top. I just started Bravely Default and so far I can see and appreciate what they wanted to do, but it seems too (and not necessarily) complicated, with dozens of menus for non-main game features (Norende, Ringabel diary, the friends summoning system etc.). Also, in 3 hours the game showed me way too much text, and if I think about what I did so far it comes down to a couple of dungeons only, while the X Button conversations happen too often.
    I hope the game gets more balanced in the next hour as it kinda bored me so far… And Agnes is soooo annoying!

    • Great comment and insights. Don’t worry about thinking too much if Zelda or Fire Emblem are “RPGs” or not, lets just agree they are both magnificent games! Ni No Kuni was great and I had lots of fun with it, but I just prefer turn-based battle systems I guess, so the combat wasn’t my favourite part of the game. I think with Bravely Default you have to enjoy that type of game, most classic RPGs have lots of text as well, but we used to read it faster while now the voice acting seems to make drag out longer. The other parts are optional, so you could just skip them for now if you wanted to. Agnes is a bit stiff isn’t she? Edea has much more character! Thanks!

      • Indeed, I guess Fire Emblem is my personal GotY: conquering each battle was so rewarding! And the amount of time per spent euros is amazing.
        A Link Between Worlds was great as well, but I must admit it was a bit short in my opinion and way too easy, almost as if they wanted to make a more child-friendly chapter of the saga with enough fan service to make every aficionado of the series happy.
        I know what you mean speaking of Ni No Kuni’s combat system. I didn’t love it either, but the biggest flaw of the game in my opinion is the pokemon-like monster collecting/developing system. Hate it so much!

        Back to BD: I’ve now played 9 hours and things are getting way better.
        I’m not scared by text, as I’ve always been a JRPG lover, but the prologue of the game is overwhelming in terms of tutorials et similia.
        Now I know everything I need to know Chapter 1 is running smooth enough with both side and main quest being interesting and fun

        • I haven’t played a lot of Strategy RPGs, but the ones I have (Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre etc.) I have a lot of fun with them and Fire Emblem is no different, great game.
          A Link Between Worlds was the perfect length for me. It felt tight and focused and free of the filler that other Zelda games have had that stopped me from finishing them. Some of my favourite games like Chrono Trigger, Sonic 2, Mega Man X are short games but I have replayed them so many times it more than makes up for it. I usually only had about one hour to play and I could finish a dungeon or two and it felt really rewarding. They could have made Hero Mode available from the start to let people choose a higher difficulty.
          Yeah I’m pretty much on the same page as you with Ni No Kuni and that’s why I placed it number 5. That game would have been amazing for me with a turn-based party system.
          I glad you are getting into Bravely Default now that the tutorials and slow start are done, hope you have a great time with it and look forward to the sequel already in development. Thanks!

          • WhiteKnight597

            I love what you said about game lengths. There are so many great games to play that I don’t want to be stuck (at 28 years old with a full time job plus other responsibilities) playing all of these modern games that seem to be 50 hours minimum. I can play Chrono Trigger every couple of years or so, beat it in a week or two, and enjoy the hell out of it. Same with A Link to the Past and I bet I do the same with ALBW.

  2. Some very cool titles in here, though I know a lot of people don’t really consider Fire Emblem or Zelda titles as RPG’s – but that being said FE was one of my favorite games of this year. Ni no Kuni was absolutely amazing too. The Guided Fate Paradox was an interesting RPG/strategy roguelike title that took me by surprise. Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS and the two Etrian Odyssey games were a lot of fun.

    • Thanks for stopping by! Again, I don’t think we need to worry too much if Zelda fits perfectly into the action-RPG category or if Fire Emblem is only a strategy/ tactical RPG, because at the end of the day I think we can all agree they are fantastic games and any fan of the RPG genre will love them. I’m definitely interested in Shin Megami Tensei IV when I finish the other games I have waiting, but I have never played any of the Etrian Odyssey games. Thanks for adding some extra games!

  3. Awesome post. I’ve been able to enjoy some of these, and I’m really looking forward to enjoying your top two in the near future!

    • Thanks for reading! I started playing Bravely Default for a while and thought it was awesome and then decided I would just check out Zelda, but was immediately hooked and blazed through it before returning to Bravely Default. Both fantastic games. Let me know how you go with them and if you enjoy them as much as I did. Thanks!

  4. It was so fun playing the Final Mix version of “Kingdom Hearts”. It was just so great playing a game I already love, while also getting to look forward to extras I’ve never seen before. I really look forward to the new version of “Kingdom Hearts 2”, as well, plus it’s supposed to have a console version of “Birth By Sleep” I heard.

    And “Ni No Kuni” is one game I’ve considered, but I knew too little about it, so I never got it. Based off of what I read, it sounds interesting. I may have to get it, after all.

    • Kingdom Hearts is still a great game and the extras in the Final Mix version as well as the graphical upgrade were more than enough reason to revisit this classic.
      Ni No Kuni is definitely an RPG you should experience, if you are considering it, it is pretty cheap now anyway. Thanks!

  5. A really nice list. Also long time no see!

  6. WhiteKnight597

    I keep hearing great things about Bravely Default but don’t know if I can get over the kiddy look. Was anyone else originally put off by it and got over it as the game progressed?

    • The character designer Akihiko Yoshida is one of my favourite artists and he has worked on Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre and Vagrant Story, so I was actually drawn in by his style. It feels like an ode to the sprites of the SNES games so it didn’t seem kiddy to me. I definitely recommend it if you love old-school RPGs.

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