D20: Here’s the best Role-Playing Games of 2012

D20: Best RPGs of 2012

By on December 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

The year (or world, perhaps) that is just about to end has been a fairly good one for the old RPG – there have been some stand-out AAA titles, some excellent indies and a few great sleeper hits as well. The following, in no particular order are my picks of the 2012 releases.

Best Narrative RPG

There is really only one possible choice for best narrative RPG this year, and it’s a choice that is all but guaranteed to get someone’s knickers in a twist. Mass Effect 3 was always going to be a contentious game. As the last in a trilogy, any small flaw could and would be blown out of all proportion, and any narrative misstep, either real or imaginary would be the metaphorical “slap in the face” that people on gaming forums are so often the victims of.

Some people hated the ending, and more power to them if they did. Everyone has the right to their opinion, even if that opinion is wrong.

The way I see it, the entirety of Mass Effect 3 was the ending of the series. It was essentially a series of goodbyes, a series of encounters with individuals important to Shepard, giving the player the chance to spend a little more time with their favourites and say farewell to each of them individually.

The climax may have been a little muddled, but as a culmination of the multi-year mission to save the galaxy from an alien intelligence bent on wiping out advanced civilisation, I thought it worked a treat.

Best Action RPG

2012 has been a busy year for action RPGs, with Diablo III, Torchlight II, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb monopolising a hell of a lot of my time. No matter how good they are, none of these games are my pick for action RPG of 2012.

I’m going to cheat here and mention two games that exist within the same kind of game space but are polar opposites. Borderlands 2 and Dark Souls: Prepare to Die are both excellent action RPGs but have entirely different approaches. Borderlands 2 is all about fast paced action, loot, questing and levelling, whereas Dark Souls is about a measured approach, careful, timed combat, learning from mistakes and the careful hoarding and spending of the eponymous currency/experience system, souls.

Best Indie RPG

It has been a good year for indies, with Spiderweb Software releasing their best Avernum to date, FTL turning the Roguelike on its head by placing the player in the dual roles of captain and ship instead of adventurer, Torchlight II effortlessly showing up the far higher budgeted Diablo III and Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy both parodied and paid tribute to old fashioned JRPGs in 30 second chunks.

Despite all the competition my favourite indie RPG of the year, and one of my favourite games of the year is Legend of Grimrock, the painfully difficult, relentlessly old-school first person dungeon crawler that had me reminiscing about Bard’s Tale, Wizardry,  and Eye of the Beholder within minutes of booting it up.

Biggest Surprise

I have a friend who worked for Funcom as a mission designer and dialogue writer, so I had a fairly constant drip feed of information about The Secret World and how muddled the project was looking. I’d been looking forward to the game since it was first announced, so having some fairly negative insider information kind of flattened any enthusiasm I may have had. Said enthusiasm was further flattened when Funcom laid of half its staff part way through development, then laid off more again just before release. The final nail in the coffin came when I spent some time in the horribly unpolished, buggy and unstable beta.

When I was called upon to actually review the final game my dread knew no bounds — but somehow, miraculously, the final product turned out to be really quite excellent, featuring a great skill system, some truly fantastic quests and a bunch of really enjoyable dungeons. The Secret World has just gone free to play, so if you’re looking for something pleasantly different in the RPG/MMO space, you really have no excuse not to check it out.

What are your picks for the year? Let us know in the comments.

19 comments (Leave your own)

No Dragon’s Dogma? Such a shame my GOTY gets overlooked at every turn :(


Dragons Dogma or Dark Souls on PC for RPG of the year.

As for MMORPG of the year…
TSW was a very enjoyable mmo romp that suffered from far too little content and crappy pvp, but I really enjoyed that, the only other mmo I played this year was GW2 and I really can’t pick between the 2 tbh.


Even ignoring the ending, Mass Effect 3 had a poor storyline, it was inconsistent with the rest of the series what with it dropping stories from the previous games and what it did do it was extremely heavy handed. Just look at how ME1/2 was full of storylines for ignoring or moving past the Genophage, then ME3 took the cheap way out and had you just go cure it out of the blue, wtf? What was the point of Grunt then?

So yeah, don’t know what there is to talk about as ME3 had a poor story (for Mass Effect standards at least) from beginning to end, that insane ending was just the icing on the cake and it doesn’t make your opinion correct over others just because you try to twist what the ending was for you.

Also we need to figure out a proper and official definition for free to play is because to me as long as you still need to buy the game in stores The Secret World is NOT free to play and i’m getting sick of people saying X is free to play when it damn well isn’t.


Wholeheartedly agree exe3, the whole game was just pure trash from beginning to end (well honestly from late Mars onwards).

Also, how about we call a game f2p when the majority of it is accessible without paying? As it stands, the only true ‘f2p’ games are the ones that offer all content for free but allow you to pay to receive it quicker or for cosmetic items (LoL, SWTOR to an extent, most certainly not WoW even though their marketing PR are trying to get the title, DotA 2, Planetside 2).


I entirely disagree with anyone who slags off all of Mass Effect 3, I find that a staggeringly stupid opinion to hold. <aybe it wasn't a game you enjoyed, that doesn't mean it's a bad game (Like just because someone likes something, doesn't mean it's good). If you think ME3 was a bad game, you've really managed to avoid the truly bad games that exist.

Also important to note before people get angry, out of the possible choices for best narrative RPG, (Not best RPG overall) I think the only one that would maybe be an alternative choice would be Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, but I don't know if that really counts as a new game for the purposes of the best RPG's from 2012.



If someone says that a game is crap, then it’s always going to be they’re opinion. Games cannot be classified as good or bad, since that’s always relative to the player. Games I enjoy are often considered crap by my mates, and vice versa.

In other words, someone saying Mass Effect 3 is always going to be an opinion – they’re not required to qualify this. If this irritates you then learn to not give a crap.



I disagree, games can be objectively judged, without bringing a personal opinion into it. For a game to be objectively bad, it would need to have major flaws, such as unresponsive controls, 3rd person camera that doesn’t show you your character, level design that renders parts of the game inaccessible, the list can go on.

I think if someone thinks the entirety of mass effect 3 is bad, then they have a skewed perception of what makes a properly bad video game.



It’s still their opinion though. There are some people (poor souls, IN MY OPINION) that think the Call of Duty games are the greatest things since sliced bread. Can’t agree, but evidently enough people buy them such that they must have some redeeming feature.

Your definition of a bad game seems to factor in on technical issues. If a game is good in gameplay, story and in other areas, it can still shine even if the coding is rubbish (Vampire: Bloodlines comes to mind). Now I’ve never played ME3, but it sounds like the game is pretty decent right up to the ending. But since endings are the last thing you experience in a game, they tend to affect your perception of it. So if it makes the whole game bad in the minds of some, that’s their view. But it seems wrong to say that their opinion is wrong just because you use a different way to rate games.



It’s about perspective. Compared to other games it most certainly is very good, but compared to ME1/2 which is what I was comparing it to it most certainly is trash. It’s a shadow of what the first two games were about and a disappointing game overall given the accomplishments of the first two but again still a very good game and narrative if you’re comparing it to anything else (even the ending isn’t bad if you were to compare it to other games). To quote Obi-wan, “A certain point of view.”



I think for a game to be bad, that has to come into it, if it’s a game you don’t enjoy, to use your example CoD, many people who hate on it can’t express why it’s bad, aside from not liking it.

It’s fine to not like games, but I don’t think it’s entirely intelligent to slag of a game as bad, because you don’t like it. (I’ve said the same thing in a number of CoD hate circle jerks). If you want to argue that CoD is bad as it’s stagnating game development, technical limitations (No dedicated servers for Modern Warfare 2, limited FoV, dated graphics), or gameplay (repetitive, too reliant on large set pieces), then I’m all for that sort of conversation.

Your other example, Vampire: bloodlines, has a lot of positive things going for it, such as story and writing, that offsets the negatives to make it a good game, which I’d very much argue, so does Mass Effect 3.

I don’t think we inherently disagree, perhaps I chose my words poorly, but I don’t think you can put many games in a “This game is awful” pile like many will do, because you didn’t like something, or a couple of things about it.


I think you’re taking things a bit literally. People inherently exaggerate when they speak of things particularly if the have a strong opinion one way or another over it. When I say ME3 is bad i’m not saying it’s on par with *insert 10/100 average scoring game from metacritic here* but I do feel that it had many problems and wasn’t a fraction as good as it very much should have been.


So then it’s a game you didn’t like for A, B and C reasons, not a bad game. Just because people normally exaggerate that, doesn’t mean I have to agree with that stance.


No but I thought your issue here stemmed from the strong opinions of people saying it was bad.


It is, I strongly disagree with anyone who calls all of Mass Effect 3 a bad game, for the various reasons outlined above.

If you’re still going to sit there calling it a bad game, then as I said above, I find that a staggeringly stupid opinion to hold.


Thing is, when people say if a game is good or bad, they generally mean the whole game anyway. And even if it’s just the ending which sucks, if it’s a truly bad ending (which ME3′s was for a lot of people, apparently), then it can cloud one’s impression of the whole game. How a game ends is fairly important particularly if it’s the end of an epic trilogy.

It’s an interesting discussion though, about what makes a game good or bad.


No Dishonored? Hm.


No Dishonored? Hm.

I really wouldn’t class Dishonored as an RPG, but then the definition of ‘RPG’ is always super-nebulous.

Dishonored is definitely my GOTY though.


I think Borderlands 2 is one of the best RPGs to come out this year but I dont think its my GOTY. My GOTY is Max Payne 3 which definately isnt an RPG. I quite enjoyed Legends of Grimrock as an RPG similiar to how I imagined Zork looking.


dark souls or Legends of grimrock, both excellent, both brought to the altar of pc gaming by the devs for gamers… hard to choose.

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