Playing a table top role-playing game is much different than a video game role-playing game due to the fact that there is not real role-playinging in video games, but instead, they have grinding. Grinding (or leveling up) has been a love it or hate it aspect in video games where leveling up makes the player more powerful when stats are upgraded. However, there are instances where level-grinding feels so damn tedious that it gets tiring, repetitive, and very time consuming. Sometimes, we just want our progression to be smooth but we can’t go any further because the enemies are more powerful than your characters due to the fact that you didn’t get enough experience points or match up to the required level to face these enemies. Game series like Pokemon, Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, etc. are notorious for level grinding, however not all video game RPG’s do this stuff. Instead, they follow the formula of table-top RPG’s that nearly does succeed in the role-playing aspect that never had grinding involved. It’s the reason why other non-RPG’s like Call of Duty features the level grinding in multiplayer. These are the recommendations to all the skeptics or RPG’s haters to know that not all RPG’s have level grinding. Keep in mind that there are NO Legend of Zelda games on the list because they are action-adventure games; they do not role-play in any certain way nor do they allow the player to have a different decision seen from RPGs. These are all RPG’s that only have upgrading powers and abilities to keep our cool and not once have to worry about our stats to progress through the game.
Number 5. – System Shock
PC gamers to this day still talks about this game because of all the innovations that it has brought a year after the phenomenon known as Doom. Who knew that you can have all of these powers and abilities and it all requires the player to have Dermal patch to upgrade character’s abilities. This is still a mind-blowing concept that I thought was absolutely unique. The pointing and clicking gameplay got me very hooked as it was so simplistic when attacking someone or something. I do admit that the controls are very obsolete that it takes time to get used to, but when I got used to it, it does feel like a splendid experience. Also it doesn’t really help at the fact that I got lost so many times that wondering around got me tired after trying to figure out how to get out of the level that I’m in. Though boss fights are left to be desired, however the exploration, hacking, collecting, and action is something that got me wanting to finish the game. Looking at this game in a retrospective view point, I wonder how did they manage to release a game like this. The freedom of degree with your character and letting the player decide how to play System Shock and upgrade characters is something that I’m always interested in playing. Plus, this was everything I imagined a haunted spaceship would be, so it is a must get on Dosbox.
Number 4. – Fable: The Lost Chapters
I maybe the only person that actually likes the remake (with more quests, weapons, and choices) than the original Fable. I hate to say that this is the ONLY Fable game that I like, since Peter Molyneux loves to hype shit up and turn us all down. Everything in Fable 1 and The Lost Chapters really is a coming of age story where you have so many moral decisions to make in becoming the ultimate good or bad. This game made it to the list because of all the experience points you collect and buy them off to get more powers and abilities from the Heroes’s Guild. This made everything less complicated and more direct on what character you want to build. Though, disappointingly, towards the end you’re the only one aging fast while everyone remains the same. I love Fable for many reasons outside of the abandoning the level grinding; I love the gothic, haunting atmosphere, I love the enemy variety, I love the design, I love the decisions you can make that benefit yourself or others around you, I love the sense of humor, I love the powers and abilities, and so much more. Yet I put it only at number 4 because every decision you make is always about morals and not an alternative. Nevertheless, I never once had to focus on stats to progress wherever and whenever I want to do.
Number 3. – Deus Ex
This game is many genres into one; role-playing, first-person shooter, stealth-action, etc. No PC gamer has ever stopped praising such an ambitious title for it brought a game changing experience to the industry as a whole. Deus Ex also gives players multiple ways to traverse obstacles, from lock-picking to armed combat. Of course you have to unlock those abilities in order to do any of that. Whatever you do in this game, whatever you did in your last play through and change the experience up in order to notice the role-playing elements to come alive; which is called open-ended gameplay. Though everyone would put this as the best RPG without grinding whatsoever, I still hold it back for the stupid A.I. and cheesy voice acting. Nevertheless, this is a revolutionary title that peaked my interested in PC gaming. If only the sequels of Deus Ex didn’t feature level grinding, they would make it on the list here.
Number 2. – System Shock 2
For an ambitious game that has a lot of cool variety of gameplay, character growth, and scares, System Shock 2 was without a doubt an awesome experience. It had the coolest atmosphere and the most outstanding soundtrack I’ve ever heard from a game that it makes it worth coming back to. Now it is really troublesome to actually try all these cool things without upgrades because the cyber molecules that allows you to upgrade are hard to find. Not to mention that there are so many aspects in upgrades that are so complex that it’s hard to figure out how to get that upgrade. But at the same time you would want to be rewarded for that sort of thing so that this game won’t be too easy. It was indeed a scary game where unearthly nightmares came to life like never seen before. The progression of the game was really insane where the game gets so imaginative that it was more than what I was expecting. It was definitely a challenging game where I had to learn so much in order to get what I was expecting, but by the end of the game it feels rewarding. Though you might become so powerful that it makes the final boss with Shodan to be so easy and quick, I certainly liked that it was an improvement over the original which I said that it was my cyberpunk space adventure come to a video game. Though I do blame all the flaws upon Irrational Games where they had no experience with developing System Shock 2, it is, indeed, an intelligent, intense gem that should not go unnoticed.
Number 1. – Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
No doubt in my mind is this going to be number 1. This is the closest we’re ever going to have video game RPG’s to be similar to the table top Role-playing games. Of course this is based on the table-top RPG with the same name, but never have I felt that a game needs as many replay values to get the full experience. Right from the get-go you have multiple species of vampires that all have their powers and abilities and pros and cons, so many quests and side-quests that have decisions that really changes the experience, and unbelievable experience that no other video game since could ever match up to this game’s quality. You can really tell that the developers had their heart into it and if only Activision didn’t rush all those who worked on this game to be released on the same date that Half-Life 2 was released, it would have been a much better game and it would have had more copies sold. I love the fact that not once did I have to worry about how many enemies I have to kill, but how many objectives I need to succeed in order to gain an upgrade for a power and ability. These are some of the reasons I wished RPG’s today could follow and it took the right steps into role-playing in a video game.