Honorable Mentions: Games that didn't quite make the "Top 15," but still rank as some of the absolute all-time best RPG games for the current generation.
Publisher Spiderweb Software works out of founder Jeff Vogel's basement (it's a three-person operation), focusing on games that embrace old-school RPGs. Avadon: The Black Fortress doesn't have HD visuals, glorious cutscenes, or fancy combat animations. It's a turn-based game with an isometric top-down viewpoint like Baldur's Gate or Diablo, but it has something many RPGs don't: a fantastic story, with plenty of choices for your character to make that actually have an effect on the tale. It may not be fancy, but if you enjoy old-fashioned RPG combat and a great story, it's worth your time.
Etrian Odyssey is so classic in its approach to the role-playing game genre that it's practically DIY by today's standards. Throughout the DS dungeon-crawler, not only can you create your own characters by customizing their class and abilities, you're also tasked with the old-school RPG technique of mapping out the dungeons yourself with the use of the DS stylus. Because Etrian Odyssey focuses so heavily on these classic RPG elements (dungeon crawling, mapping, and turn-based battles), the game has oft been pegged as a classic RPG game most suitable for veteran, hardcore fans of the genre.
Sure, FFXIII isn't anybody's favorite entry in the long-running Final Fantasy series, but Square Enix didn't earn their dominate place in the RPG genre for nothing. This is a standard RPG in some respects; you still battle by choosing commands and spells that play out for you on-screen. But this time, all of your companions act of their own volition. Unlike other modern RPGs, the story is straightforward and fairly linear, but as anyone who's played a previous Final Fantasy game knows, the heartfelt narrative is always one of the series' highlights. And we haven't even mentioned that this is one of the best looking games you'll play on any system.
Infinite Space brings the genre of RPGs into the infinitude of space and the tropes often found in the final frontier. Players design and control a space ship and explore the expansive in-game world that lies across two galaxies. All battles happen in real-time using the touchscreen, and there's even the potential for multiplayer battles using the Nintendo's DS's local Wi-Fi feature.
Are you a fan of Japanese culture and strategy-RPGs? Then there are few better choices to satiate that portable gaming urge than this chapter in the SMT series. Set in modern-day Japan, this revamped version of the 2009 DS release includes full voice acting throughout and a special eigth chapter that continues on where the original game ends. And anyone familiar with the popular Persona RPG series will be familiar with the demon-fusion mechanics and character-heavy non-linear narrative. Even if the 3DS weren't starved for other RPG choices, we'd still highly recommend checking Devil Survivor Overclocked.
This story, "The 15 Best RPGs " was originally published by GamePro.