Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is always going to hold a special place in my heart, as it was my first experience with a traditional Dragon Quest game as well as the first "high profile" RPG that I got to review for the site. With my play time clocking in at over 70 hours, DQ VII provided me with a lengthy adventure that was segmented into nice, memorable vignettes, and it completely wooed me with its addictive class system. While I'm not sure if I'm ever going to go back and replay such a lengthy title, it's impossible for me to think about the time I spent with the game without grinning from ear to ear.
On paper, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE seems tailor-made for someone like me. Mixing the social themes explored in the Persona series with Fire Emblem characters? Count me in! Unfortunately, the one thing the game couldn't sell me on was its unadulterated celebration of Japan, simply because it's a culture that I know very little about personally — how much stuff would fly over my head with me being so unfamiliar with the country? Thankfully, my enjoyment with the game hinged on its likable cast, wonderful pop soundtrack, and killer combat instead of in-jokes about Japanese pop culture.
I gave my first Editor's Choice Award to The Banner Saga 2, a sequel to a game I had never played, for one simple reason: it's the most enthralled I've ever been with a story in quite some time. While the gorgeous hand drawn visuals hark back to Disney's animated movies of the 50's (namely Sleeping Beauty), and its Nordic soundtrack could give Skyrim a run for its money, it's the characters and player choices that draw you into the game the most. Very rarely have I regretted my actions in a game before, and there's one particular choice I made in this tactical RPG that I'm still not confident about.
My first true exposure to the RPG genre was with Pokémon Ruby way back in 2003. Since then, I've been an avid fan of the franchise, though I've grown increasingly bored with it throughout the years for being more of the same. After the disappointing sixth generation of Pokémon games, I was ready to throw in the towel altogether and admit that it was no longer for me. Thank goodness Sun and Moon kicked off the newest generation with such a bang! With new concepts, a better graphics system, and the charismatic region of Alola, the series feels fresher than ever. These latest titles remind me of why I fell in love with the genre itself in the first place.
In my review for the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy XV, I said that it, "excels at its goal of being a title for both fans and newcomers alike," and I stand by this. Final Fantasy XV most certainly has some flaws, but it also has offered me some of the most fun I've had with an RPG in quite some time. Its action-oriented combat system provides a ton of thrills, and while the plot isn't particularly well executed, the writing of its four main leads and their characterization by a wonderful group of voice actors makes up for it. It's been over a decade since I've enjoyed a Final Fantasy title so much. And for the record, yes, I still get misty eyed thinking about the post-credits scene.
It's rare when a game comes out and completely takes over your life, but that's what Overwatch has done for me. I was initially skeptical about a game that I perceived as essentially Blizzard's take on Valve's Team Fortress 2, but after playing the game's beta, I realized that Overwatch had an identity of its own and wasn't just a copycat. Each character has a distinct "feel" and plays differently, which is something that truly makes the game unique since it currently has a cast of 23 characters. I've spent dozens upon dozens of hours playing this game with my friends, often to the wee hours of the morning, and it's provided me with memories that I wouldn't trade for anything.