The big day is here! Day Two of our deliberations covers the biggest categories of our awards! Best Indie. Best Small Screen RPG. Best Big Screen RPG. And then, we pull it all together and decide on Best Overall RPG. Emotions ran high while we were discussing the winners, so I implore you to check out our (entertaining) recording to find out how we came to our choices.
You can listen to all of our deliberations in the embedded Youtube video above, or you can download it directly here. You can also check us out on iTunes. In case you missed it, you can take a look at what we decided on Day One. Enough of the chit chat, though. Let's get to the winners!
Best Indie: Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity is a game that brings many of the best elements of computer role-playing games of the 90’s and provides what may very well be the most functionally complete and polished RPG of 2014. The game provides a huge immersive playground of a world, clever and often hilarious writing, an incredible deep and satisfying combat system, as well as a wealth of dialogue options and meaningful choices that provide an incredibly sophisticated role playing experience. It also helps that Divinity looks and sounds absolutely beautiful with a stunning overall presentation.
And if that weren’t all enough to justify our decision, the game can also be enjoyed in glorious co-op and stands as one of the best multiplayer RPG experiences in some time. In short, Divinity Original Sin is a must play title, especially for anyone with a fondness of Baldur’s Gate or other classic cRPGs (Computer RPGs).
Runner Up: Transistor, Legend of Grimrock 2
Best Small Screen: Bravely Default
Much can be said about the exemplary feats that Bravely Default accomplishes, however, a great many of that has to do with its roots both in the genre and the treks that Final Fantasy makes. Bravely Default is a spiritual successor to the Final Fantasy franchise but more importantly, it follows the groundbreaking job system that Final Fantasy V was widely renowned for. The gameplay follows a simple turn-based combat system but adds new twists and turns to keep it fresh and interesting.
Managing your resources using Brave and Default gives players more control over how they actually use each present or future turns. The plethora of job options available for each character and how you combine them with each other allows numerous playthroughs. More importantly, all of the gameplay element synergize well on all levels and the design of the game feels expertly crafted.
The story isn’t complicated by any means but that isn’t necessarily bad. Simple clear and cut a young and merry band of misfits get together to stop an empire that is looking to take over the world. Of course, this is all appearances and you’ll meet twists along the way. However, the real charm of the narrative are the characters and how they are deviously personified. Clever banter and amusing characteristics go a long way. In this respect, Bravely Default excels.
Big things do come in small packages and if you’re looking for a whirlwind adventure on the go then Bravely Default will give you more than enough to satiate that big RPG appetite, and more.
Runner Up: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Terra Battle
Best Big Screen: Divinity: Original Sin
There are plenty of elements found in Divinity: Original Sin that helps make it stand above the rest when it comes to providing an incredible experience on the big screen. The sheer scope found here is applause-worthy despite it being a budget title.
One of the more likeable features is its focus on cooperative gameplay. Players are able to experience the entirety of the game by taking control of one of the two respective main characters. Their choices during NPC conversations or quest markers has an effect on character stats, allowing both players to feel involved and be rewarded (or penalized) for their actions. The game also provides many of the same trappings as its pioneering brethren with its familiar User Interface.
Divinity: Original Sin’s engine also scales well, from older computers on the low-end all the way to high-end rigs looking to make the game appear as pretty as possible (and it does look very pretty). All of this adds up to a great PC gaming experience that fans of the genre will really appreciate.
Runner Up: Dragon Age: Inquisition, South Park: The Stick of Truth
Best Overall: Divinity: Original Sin
The past couple of years have brought upon a bit of a renaissance when it came to the cRPG genre thanks in large part to the crowd-funding platform, Kickstarter. The likes of Wasteland, Shadowrun, and Torment have all seen very successful campaigns thanks to help of a very hungry player base whose needs have not been met in the better part of a decade that coalesced around the timing of Black Isle Studios’ original closing.
What Divinity offers up more than many games of the genre in recent memory is player choice in the truest sense of the word, promoting the practice of role-playing especially during conversation. You can decide whether to work with your party or against your party while talking to NPCs, and their feelings towards you will change as a result and affect the rest of the game. The developers also seem to encourage bending the rules, whether that means attacking enemies before a proper encounter or wiping out entire towns to satiate your bloodlust.
The turn-based combat is incredible. There are so many ways to manipulate the environment to work against the enemy to create some fascinating combination attacks. There is also a fun dynamic where one can mix and match the different base elements to do things such as create traps in order to capitalize. It’s easily the best part of the experience and provided plenty of incredibly tense moments with a nice sense of accomplishment.
By pulling the best parts from the classic titles in its genre to build its own modern interpretation while also paving its own path sure to help the series grow into something fun and exciting that’s accessible to both veterans and newcomers, Divinity: Original Sin is an easy choice for our Overall Game of the Year award of 2014. Plus, there’s a full-scale editor (the same one the devs used) and the Steam Workshop waiting for you once the game is over.
Runner Up: South Park: The Stick of Truth, Bravely Default