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2013 RPG Game of the Year

/ Jan 22nd, 2014 No Comments

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

It was an interesting year for role-playing games in 2013. For the first time in a while, the field has not been dominated by juggernaut Western RPGs like Skyrim or a Mass Effect. 2013 saw a resurgence for Japanese RPGs with many exemplary RPGs from Japan hitting the U.S. While the console side saw a good string of solid RPGs this year, RPGs found solid footing on handhelds. The choice for the best RPG of 2013 was tough, with a field full of worthy contenders.

The Nominees

Dragon’s Crown – Atlus released an impressive amount of great RPGs this year but the Vanillaware developed Dragon’s Crown was among the best. Dragon’s Crown has a fun, quick-paced fighting system that combines the best parts of a side-scrolling beat ’em up with smart role-playing elements and adds in a great co-op experience that makes replaying the game’s dungeons a blast. Dragon’s Crown is an addicting dungeon crawler that saw many players replaying through each dungeons in order to gain the mythical Dragon’s Crown, playing through each character’s storyline, and maxing out1 levels on the Fight, the Amazon, the Sorceress, the Wizard, the Dwarf and the Elf.

Dragon's Crown

Dragon’s Crown

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Ni no Kuni paired Level-5’s video game development prowess with the sublime beauty of Studio Ghibli’s animation. The collaboration resulted in a gorgeously animated RPG with a compelling and moving story. Oliver’s journey with Drippy and friends to find his mother’s soulmate in the other world and save it from the evil plans of Shadar is full of exciting and wondrous locations, memorable characters and terrific monsters. The battle system combined the best parts of turn-based combat with an addicting pocket monster-esque creature capture and evolution system resulted in a 93% review score and Editor’s Choice Award.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Beware the witch’s wrath and her council.

Fire Emblem: Awakening – Fire Emblem: Awakening was one of the best handheld games to come out in 2013. Awakening took the formula of the Fire Emblem series and added interesting changes in the relationship system. The system helped make characters more effective in battle when placed next to each other on the battlefield. Good relationships allowed for powerful combo attacks when good allies were near each other. The relationship system went deeper than that by allowing for marriages (when a relationship was high enough) that resulted in offspring that added to a player’s army. Awakening also made good use of the system to develop deeper character interactions and to play a huge part in the story it was telling. Not only did Fire Emblem: Awakening receive a 91% review score, it was engrossing game with a clever new strategic mechanic.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

I just want to do hoodrat stuff with my friends.

The Winner – Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni no Kuni is a magnificent RPG that has a great combat system, an emotionally touching story, a breathtaking score and graphics boasting amazing art. It combines all the wonder of a Studio Ghibli film with the deep RPG mechanics Level-5 is known for. While Level-5 has made some memorable games in the past, Ni no Kuni stands out as their best.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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