10. Endless Legend
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Publishers: Iceberg Interactive
One of the many games that I found to be captivating after a few sittings of play time was the beautiful Endless Legend. It’s a Civ style, fantasy themed, empire building game set on an alien planet. I was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous visuals of the environments and the many options for starting races and especially in the different ways in which they all played throughout each play through. The planet you inhabit also comes complete with a seasonal weather cycle that will impact your play strategy. The game offers a lot of layers of depth, from customization options to game play strategies that might be intimidating at first but it is all well worth the effort.
9. Shadowrun: Dragonfall
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publishers: Harebrained Schemes
I enjoy the Science Fiction genre more than the Fantasy genre, and I don’t think that I can ever get enough new science fiction themed games on console or PC, especially RPGs with isometric views and turn based gameplay. Dragonfall, an expansion to Shadowrun Returns, released at a time when I was really feeling like a return to a Sci-Fi themed game. I especially love the cyber hacker theme, sound design and atmosphere. The game also offers a party system with customizable load outs and upgrade options. In other words, an awesome Sci-Fi RPG!
8. Shovel Knight
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publishers: Yacht Club Games
Shovel Knight is a fun 2D action platforming game that could have been released for the NES in the 80s, alongside Mega Man and Super Mario. The game not only looks and sounds like an old cartridge game (Mega Man), it actually moves and feels like one (Mega Man). It’s almost as if someone dug it up out of the ground from a time capsule, blew off the dust on the cartridge pins and popped it into an NES system and powered its circuit board up.
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Hearthstone is a great card deck battling game with RPG elements which allows you to progress by leveling up different class types through a campaign mode which also unlocks more playing cards and decks without the need to spend real cash. I sometimes play it on iPad or on PC. I’m not particularly great at it, and I mostly approach it as a time waster when I’m bored, but it is very good! I don’t really play card games, but this one drew me in and I found it to be very enjoyable.
6. The Wolf Among Us
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: Android/PS4/PS3/PSVita/iOS/Xbox One/Xbox 360/Windows/Mac
The Wolf Among Us is a short, well-paced adventure game that revolves around a murder mystery that will keep you captivated and wanting to investigate as many characters and locations as possible. As story adventure games go, I prefer the more purely text heavy digital novels as opposed to the more cinematic action adventure games, but I really enjoyed The Wolf Among Us and its use of story and action to make the player feel as if their decisions impact the stories outcome. The game is inspired by the graphic novel called ‘Fables’ published by Vertigo comics and it’s about fairy tale characters living in the real world–New York City.
5. Divinity: Original Sin
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
In one scenario there were a couple of enemies standing in an oil slick so I cast a fire spell to set the oil and enemies on fire, thus avoiding combat. Later on, I picked up an extra mage for area of effect and healing spells as well as a warrior for tanking when I found my party composition to be lacking. Divinity: Original Sin is a CRPG done in an older traditional isometric visual style like Baludur’s Gate and Avernum with emphasis on narrative, exploration and detailed character customization and party system. You can interact with almost every NPC in the game which offer quests and clues about which direction to travel to next in order to advance the story, or you can just explore the massive world map freely.
4. Lightning Returns
Developers: tri-Ace, Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS3/Xbox 360/Windows
Square Enix and tri-Ace made one of the best Final Fantasy XIII games in the trilogy, and also one of the best JRPGs of the year with Lightning Returns. Looking back on each game, every sequel seemed to have remedied the problem of linearity and auto-pilot combat of the previous game as well as open up the world for more freedom and exploration. Lightning Returns does these things as well but also lets you customize the hell out of your gear and combat abilities giving the player much more control than in previous games. I loved the XIII series but I can’t defend the story of this particular game which seems more like an afterthought to an otherwise great game featuring great combat and customization options. It’s also one of the shortest of the three games which I really appreciate in RPGs nowadays.
3. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PS4/PS3/Xbox One/Xbox 360/Mac/Windows
Diablo 3 and its expansion Reaper of Souls added much needed story and content to its campaign. I played through the game when it first launched, back when the game required you to keep replaying through the main campaign in order to reach the level cap, so any new content was welcome. The new expansion adds the freedom to choose higher difficulty settings from the start and an adventure mode that gives you an alternative for level grinding as well. Despite the welcome changes, the game is still very grind heavy, but I don’t have a problem with that. The game is very fast paced and it gives you tons of loot for simply punching anything and it feels really good. Sometimes I like to relax and be instantly rewarded for barely trying and I do that with this game. At least in the easier levels anyway!
2. Dark Souls II
Developer: From Software
Platforms: PS4/PS3/Xbox 360/Xbox One/Windows
Dark Souls II is a great game, but as much as I appreciated the new direction the developers took to make Dark Souls II feel fresh and different, I have to admit that I felt a bit let down after finishing it. However, the DLC expansions for Dark Souls II did a lot to remedy that sentiment by adding new challenging puzzle-like level designs and tougher enemies that helped to elevate the reputation of this game a bit more for me and now I feel it can stand tall alongside its predecessors. You can tell how different DS2 would have turned out if it had just incorporated more of the creative DLC design elements into the main campaign. I’m looking forward to seeing the new changes and additions being planned for Scholar of the First Sin.
1. The Evil Within
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4/PS3/Xbox One/Xbox 360/Windows
The Evil Within returns to form with old school horror with gross and unsettling visuals, and creepy environments featuring an interactive fun house design filled with diabolical traps and psychological terror. It was a great way to add a new twist to an old formula. This game doesn’t really try to change much from the gameplay styles of the older games it seems to be emulating, but it does experiment by adding new gameplay mechanics like stealth and detection that are more commonly seen in modern survival games before abandoning them for the more familiar stop and shoot action of the more recent Resident Evil games. The game features very fun boss fights and a great spooky and dark atmosphere to experience.