CRPGs are a genre that is so old, it stands for "computer role-playing game." As ancient as they are, CRPGs are still alive and well today, and are still worth exploring. Whether players want to solve a grand murder mystery, ask questions about life and death, or go on an epic fantasy adventure, there is a CRPG that is right for them.
These epic stories, packed with amazing writing, are waiting to be explored. Why not jump into one of these games and start forging a destiny?
Updated on July 2, 2021 by Ritwik Mitra: When one talks about the CRPG genre, a wide array of modern and classic titles come to mind. These story-driven experiences are truly one of a kind and feature everything from intense tactical combat to a selection of memorable characters who end up becoming the beating heart of the games they're featured in. For players who want to get into an excellent CRPG that deserves all their time and more, here are some of the best CRPGs of all time.
15 Lionheart: Legacy Of The Crusader
When talking about the best CRPGs ever made, not many people tend to bring up Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader. This is understandable since the latter half of the game takes a massive dip in quality and ultimately ends up bogging down the entire experience.
However, there's no denying the fact that Lionheart has one of the strongest starts to any video game ever. Roaming around the lively city of Barcelona and finding the wealth of secrets that lie within is nothing short of a magical experience, and the other areas of the game also end up being vastly memorable... although the same can't be said for the cities and dungeons in the game's second half.
14 Wasteland 3
Players who wanted a CRPG sequel to the original Fallout duology might find this dream to be a hopeless one. However, for what it's worth, the Wasteland series ends up feeling like a successor to the original glory of Fallout in the best way possible.
Wasteland 3 is especially notable in this regard, establishing itself as one of the best CRPGs in modern times. The gameplay is refined to a T, the plot keeps players at the edge of their seats, and the combat will ensure that gamers can't waste a single action against foes in a savage post-apocalyptic world.
13 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
While the release of Pathfinder: Kingmaker might've been a rocky start to the game's legacy, patches and fixes have ensured that this game ended up gaining the deserving reputation of being one of the more competent CRPG games around.
The world is beautiful, the lore is vast, and the combat is excellent. With these three pillars, Pathfinder: Kingmaker ends up serving up a delicious CRPG that fans will relish for hundreds of hours.
12 Disco Elysium
As CRPGs go, there is no better one to begin with than Disco Elysium. It's a game that's equally approachable for CRPG veterans and newbies alike. So, what makes it worth playing? The game's plot deals with political strife and moral issues at a level that has never been seen before in gaming.
Couple this story with the incredible skills system, where each one has its own voice in the player character's internal monologue, as well as the innovative thought cabinet system, and you've got a game that takes RPGs to a whole new level.
What's more, the upcoming Final Cut version will pack in even more content. It's a great day for disco.
11 Planescape Torment
Before Disco Elysium came along, the high watermark of CRPG gaming was Planescape Torment. This game dared to explore the question "what can change the nature of a man?"
From the very start, players take on the role of The Nameless One, an undead immortal with a shady past. Planescape's writing is almost peerless and explores heady questions in a bold and interesting setting. While it may look a little long in the tooth now, the Enhanced Edition solves many of these issues.
Tyranny is a game that is about evil. There's no one evil person corrupting the world: evil is aided through bureaucracy. You are a single cog in the gears of an utterly evil machine, and it's up to you to judge people.
The game's bronze age setting is the perfect place for exploring timeless questions of evil, good, and guilt. How good can you be in a world where evil has won?
9 Neverwinter Nights
A BioWare game through and through, Neverwinter Nights explored some complex themes, tasking the player with stopping a plague that was ravaging the city of Neverwinter.
Yet, the most interesting part of the game is its community and modding scene. Going back to it now, there is an almost incomprehensible number of mods and modules for players to enjoy.
8 Baldur's Gate
Before games like Skyrim, there was Baldur's Gate. This is a game where choice matters, and you are given a massive amount of freedom to be the kind of character you want to be. While there have been a fair few Baldur's Gate games over the years, the original is still what players should start with. The game's story is epic and offers around 40-60 hours of gameplay.
Length isn't the only thing that these games have going for them. The art is beautiful, the writing is incredible, and Baldur's Gate gives players freedom similar to a tabletop RPG. It's an essential game for any fans of RPGs.
7 Baldur's Gate II: Shadow Of Amn
If fans were pleased by the quality of the original Baldur's Gate, then the sequel completely knocked their socks off. Pretty much each and every aspect of the game was improved upon and seasoned with a heap of content that could easily keep players occupied for hours upon hours.
There's a reason why so many people consider Baldur's Gate II to be one of the greatest CRPGs of all time — the game's writing, story, characters, and setting are in a class of its own. Shadow of Amn was a perfect sequel, and its brilliant expansion packs helped cement the title's legacy of being the best CRPG around.
6 Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura
Arcanum is quite unlike most other games in the CRPG genre for one key reason: setting. The game's steampunk backdrop is a breath of fresh air, and Arcanum absolutely nails it.
The game begins with your player character aboard a luxury airship before it is attacked and downed by biplane-flying ogre bandits. From there, the story only gets better and better, an element enhanced by Arcanum's gameplay and world.
The original Fallout is easily one of the most influential games ever made. It throws players into an irradiated post-apocalypse and asks them to survive, yet you know that already.
What makes it worth playing today is that Fallout is incredibly well written and has a sense of place that is unlike anything else. It's also worth playing to catch the countless references the modern Fallout games make to it.
The graphics look bad today, in contrast to Fallout 4, where modders keep making them better and better. That being said, for players who can put up with this, the original game needs to be experienced.
4 Fallout 2
Fallout 2 was a sequel that cranked everything up from the original title to the very max. The game heaped oodles of satire into its supposedly serious plot — this combination worked so well that this penchant for not taking itself seriously is why most people consider Fallout 2 to be infinitely better than its predecessor.
Sure, the game itself has made major improvements over the first title. However, it was the game's unique approach to storytelling — coupled with Fallout's sprawling narrative for each and every questline — that made it one of the best CRPGs of all time.
3 Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2's status takes CRPGs and mushes their hallmarks together with those of ARPGs. Original Sin 2 is a game where the combat doesn't play second fiddle to the story, in fact, it's an integral part of the game, and uses a great XCOM-esque tactics engine.
On top of that, the story really is excellent, and there is a lot of it. The game is packed with so much content, players will need at least a few playthroughs to see everything. An essential modern CRPG, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is something special.
2 Shadowrun: Hong Kong
Cue that synth music, it's time for a cyberpunk CRPG. Shadowrun: Hong Kong is a mishmash of futuristic elements with traditional fantasy, so players will see gnomes and elves alongside plenty of neon and computers, pregnant with potential files waiting to be hacked.
1 Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity helped usher in the CRPG renaissance, and it's still one of the best examples of the genre. Players step into the shoes of a person aligned with magic, who can explore past memories of locations and see into time itself.
If that doesn't tickle your fancy, then there's more. For a start, the game features fun and interesting combat, as well as a story and setting that is epic in both size and scope. Its sequel may have come out since, yet the original is still well worth your time.
The acquisition still has to be approved, and the CWA urges the workers not to be forgotten in the decision making.