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Alpha Protocol


Alpha Protocol

Sure, Alpha Protocol may not stand up gameplay-wise to many other shooting-based games but that doesn't stop it being fondly remembered by a number of RPGamer staff members. A common theme amongst Obsidian Entertainment's titles, there's a bit of conflict between the excellent writing and player character interaction, and the developer's reputation for bugginess and lack of polish. However, to many the former certainly makes up for the latter.

The ability of players to shape both the personality of protagonist Michael Thornton and drastically alter how events and characters end up by the end of the game is easily Alpha Protocol's biggest draw. There are so many ways that playthroughs can go off in different directions and many fun conversations have been had just comparing notes on what happened with others' games. Plus, dahling, how could you not love a game that includes SIE? - Alex Fuller


Arc Rise Fantasia


Arc Rise Fantasia

At this point, I have probably said everything that can be said about Arc Rise Fantasia. Yet that won't stop me from singing this game's praises and lamenting its localization and lack of exposure. Arc Rise Fantasia was an ambitious project for developer Imageepoch, being its first console RPG and a new intellectual property (though it does have enough references to the Luminous Arc series to be half-jokingly part of the same multiverse). Nearly everything about this game from its combat system and music to the people involved in the its creation made it a wish come true for me, though I don't recall ever wishing for a combination of Luminous Arc and the Tales of series. My heart was crushed by the news that XSEED lost the publishing rights of Arc Rise Fantasia to Ignition Entertainment. I even held out hope that Ignition would put effort into ARF's localization, but my worst fears were realized when the first footage for the English version was revealed. ARF, sadly, became far better known for its horrendous voice acting than any other aspect.

This is not to say that the game is without faults except for the voice acting, and by lesser extent, its dry localized script. Certain areas, like the city of Diamant, are so vast that the graphics are pixelated. The characters don't feel as fleshed out as they could be, party chats spend more time banally commenting on current in-game events instead of providing additional characterization or amusement, and there are surprise extra bosses disguised as regular enemies in dungeons, possibly leading to game overs. Even so, Arc Rise Fantasia is a very good game, with its battle system and soundtrack being its best features. It is a shame ARF got overlooked, especially since it's on a system with few traditional turn-based RPGs. - Cassandra Ramos


Arcanum


Arcanum

I was a PC kid for a long time and there are some titles I feel like a genuinely missed out on because of that. Final Fantasy VI stopped being one of them after this title was released. It put the magic vs industry at the forefront and made everything about the plot spin on the player character. The setting was gloriously realized and was a wonderful place to roam about. Steampunk actually means something to the game as opposed to being window dressing, an excuse for anachronism, or giving gnomes a niche. The plot lets the player run the show in a way that is often varied and unexpected. I am genuinely surprised when I hear about the outcomes of other people's playthroughs. The characters are richly realized and expressed (if only in text). Were it not for some bugs, this would be as well remembered as Fallout. Do you think Activision will let me Kickstart a sequel? - Scott Wachter


Bastion


Bastion

Bastion is a gorgeous, well-designed title that made all of us rethink our quality expectations for indie games. Its hand-drawn backgrounds and lovely musical score delight players, while the action combat is versatile and controls well. There are even a multitude of ways to customize the game, making it ridiculously difficult should the player so desire. Of course, Bastion's fantastic narrator, who reacts to the actions of the player character, is its standout feature. I'd love to see Logan Cunningham get more voice work — he's so talented!

It's not Bastion's technical achievents that stick with me so many years later, though. It's the way that everything about the game tied together to create an experience that asks as many questions as it answers. Even after making my choice at the end of the game, I wondered just how reliable our stalwart narrator's information really was. What was the real story behind The Calamity that destroyed the world, and was my character more culpable in it than he appeared? We'll never know, and that's okay. Sometimes it's good to have a little lingering mystery. - Becky Cunningham



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