Games of the Year 2014

Caitlin Argyros' Awards
5) Bravely Default (3DS)
I first fell in love with Bravely Default's gorgeous art style and job-based battle system. Then I fell in love with the absolutely flawless soundtrack, which quickly shot REVO up the list of my favorite video game composers. The final product is perhaps not quite the Final Fantasy savior I was hoping for, but it gets pretty close to capturing that feeling of magic Square Enix's flagship series used to have.

4) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
Rhythm games are not usually my thing, but Theatrhythm is an exception that I'm happy to make. Tons of awesome and classic tunes, a huge roster of characters made only slightly less awesome by the one glaring omission (Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca), quest modes, collectible cards, and many other little tweaks make this Theatrhythm such a better game than its predecessor. It is basically a love letter to Final Fantasy music fans, and with the announcement of Theatrhythm Dragon Quest, I think it's safe to say that the love isn't in danger of running out any time soon.

3) Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
Like any good Persona fan, I'm torn between Persona 3 and Persona 4. I love both games and both casts, though I'm generally a little more partial to the Yasogami youths than the Gekkoukan group. So a game that brings both casts together and lets me put together my dream team of Chie, Akihiko, Yukiko, Yosuke, and Mitsuru (I call it "Team We Are So Totally Married Unless the Protagonist Decides to Romance One of Us") is a must have in my book. I'm not a fan of the Etrian Odyssey games, so some of the elements from that series — such as map drawing — grate on my nerves a little. But a return to the halls of Yasogami High and a little more time with my favorite shadow-busting teens is well worth it.

2) Tales of Xillia 2 (PS3)
The first Tales of Xillia received a lot of criticism for feeling rushed and unfinished. The sequel attempts to fix that in various ways, and though it occasionally feels like it takes two steps forward and one step back, there's a lot to love about this entry in the Tales series. The returning cast of characters is excellent, and I warmed to the new kids on the block, Ludger and Elle, a lot more than I thought I would. It also helps that the mascot this time around is the most adorable fat cat I've ever seen in an RPG. The battle system is still fast and fun, the music is on par or even better than the first game, and the story is surprisingly dark at times. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it pushed a lot of the right buttons for me.

1) Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS3)
It would be an understatement to say that I had high expectations for the latest entry in the series after the disappointment that was Dragon Age II. And yet, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Dragon Age: Inquisition has exceeded practically every one of those expectations. The story is intriguing, the characters are varied and interesting, the combat is a good blend of the previous two games, the environments are expansive and gorgeous, there are almost too many quests to complete, and... well, you get the idea. I've put over 80 hours into the game, and I still haven't seen everything it has to offer, which I would say is a very good thing. Oh, and the dragon fights are fantastic, just in case you were wondering.

Favorite RPG I Finally Beat This Year
Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
Yes, it took me almost two years to beat this game. Yes, it was the main reason I got a Vita and, despite my incredible procrastination, it 100% justified that purchase. Yes, I dated Chie, because Chie is awesome.

Favorite Non-RPG
Alien: Isolation
This game crept up and surprised me in a really good way. I didn't expect much when the title was announced, but the end product is a benchmark against which future games based on movie franchises should be judged. That may seem like a bold statement, but I am truly hard-pressed to come up with another game that so accurately and lovingly captures the look and feel of its silver screen source material.

Category Awards
Traditional RPG Action RPG Graphic Adventure Strategy RPG Indie RPG Best Hybrid RPG Port or Re-Release Best Combat Best Visuals Best Sound Best Story Best Protagonist Best Supporting Character Best Ensemble Cast
And the winner is...
Best RPG of 2014
Editors' Picks
Caitlin Argyros Andrew Barker Neal Chandran Josh Curry Derek Heemsbergen Sean Hutton Stephen Meyerink Kyle Miller Mike Salbato Robert Steinman John Tucker Dave Yeager
Readers' Choice
Readers' Choice Best RPG of 2014

Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, July 29
Persona 3 [CYOA] • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Star Ocean: Second Evolution • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Final Fantasy IX • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (Speedrun) • 6pm PDT/9pm EDT

Octopath Traveler • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

Retro Encounter Wants Your Emails!

Retro Encounter Mailbag Special

Corpse Party: Haunting Melodies Review

Corpse Party: Haunting Melodies

Retro Encounter 145

Retro Encounter 145

Shining Resonance Refrain Review

Shining Resonance Refrain

Detroit: Become Human Review

Detroit: Become Human