Final Fantasy IX is a masterpiece. This is a statement not up for discussion, as the ninth entry in the Final Fantasy franchise is rich with spectacular features and attention to what makes the series great that goes beyond even its modern giants. Final Fantasy IX is a game overflowing with old-school design, infectious charisma, and everything you could want out of an RPG. It is a celebration not just of the Final Fantasy games that preceded it, but of the genre as a whole.

In Fullbright’s brilliant game Tacoma, you investigate a space station of the same name that is missing its most important component: its crew. Through a series of virtual vignettes, it becomes obvious that whatever happened on board the Tacoma devastated everyone, affecting the role and lives of each person. The makeup of the Tacoma is reflective of our daily lives, the people aboard the ship from different walks of life. Despite their various pedigrees, these are normal people. Tacoma shows us a glimpse into birthdays, diary entries, and every day worries. …

In the year 1999, when I was eleven years old, my parents decided take us on a good old-fashioned road trip to visit extended family in the rural expanses of Idaho. This was the year I would receive my first Game Boy Color. It was the year of Columbine and Spongebob Squarepants. While we were still more than a year away from the devastating global implications of September 11, the world was undoubtedly changing around me. As my parents drove us toward my grandparents’ house for New Years Eve, they were unwittingly transporting us into a frightening future.

It was…

Twenty-one years ago, players stepped foot into the cloistered and depraved streets of Leá Monde for the first time. Vagrant Story has enjoyed two decades as a cult classic, one of the PlayStation’s final entries and a monumental achievement in role-playing game design. As Ashley Riot stalked through the halls of the crumbling city in search of the cult leader Sydney Losstarot and his nefarious dark magics, players enjoyed the unique and varied combat and the impressive feat of playing through an entire RPG that took place entirely in one city.

Rolling the Dice

Nine years ago, Crimson Shroud released on the Nintendo…

I can remember the first time I played Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island with picturesque clarity. I was young — barely ten years old if that — and sitting on the couch as my step-sister finished a godlike run of Donkey Kong Country. Video games were new to me; I understood them only as brightly colored, animated diversions that angered my parents and increased the number of times I was ushered outside to “go play.”

999 is about trauma, inevitability, revenge, and salvation. It is a game that is about, at its core, people. It’s about an unchanging past and an unstoppable future. It’s about tackling the impossibilities of the unknown self.

A visual novel, 999 begins within dire circumstances. Waking up in an unfamiliar room, the protagonist Junpei must escape as water floods in through a broken window. As he looks around the room for a way out he realizes that it’s not as simple as stepping out the door — he must solve a series of obscure and unrelated puzzles scattered throughout the…

Mere seconds in the demo for Unsighted, I wished I was playing the full game. This new action RPG from Studio Pixel Punk (led by Tiani Pixel and Fernanda Dias) is an absolute feast for fans of games like Hades or Hyper Light Drifter. Set in a ruined, overgrown far future metropolis, you awaken as Alma, who must band together with friends to take down baddies and save the world for the few remaining robots.

From the powerhouse indie team of Melos Han-Tani and Marina Ayano (who make up Analgesic Productions) comes Sephonie, a charming platformer shaping up to be both fun and mesmerizing. I was thoroughly impressed with Anodyne 2, a genre-bending indie masterwork that somehow seamlessly combined New Weird aesthetic and old school feel. Sephonie in many ways feels like the fresh sibling of Anodyne, a game that is sure to continue Analgesic’s philosophies of both creative design and unique storytelling.

Memories linger across time, deep under Sephonie Island. Explore a massive cave network, link with unidentified species, and unravel scientific and spiritual…

We are living through a new point-and-click renaissance. Video games such as Kentucky Route Zero and Disco Elysium give credence to an aspect of gaming that far too often goes overlooked by the masses: legitimate, well-crafted stories whose artistic merit equal their social commentary.

When you think back fondly on the best RPG machines, a few consoles immediately come up in the conversation: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Super Nintendo, even the PlayStation 4. When we talk about role-playing games, the discourse is almost always skewed in the direction of our popular mainstays, such as Final Fantasy and Persona. Although RPGs run the gamut of style and substance across every single console, there are still so many genre entries out there that somehow get overlooked by the populace at large. Some of those RPGs are lucky enough to be re-released or remastered, which affords them a…

Brandon R. Chinn

Author of the Kognition Cycle. Works featured in Moonchild Magazine, Twist in Time, Selene Quarterly, and other anthologies.

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