As per usual, this list isn't anything objective, just my personal favorites of the year. That said, if I were to rename this list 'Best RPG's of the Decade'.... there would be very little I would need to change. Depending on how strictly you label your RPG's, maybe only three games would have to come off.
A few guidelines, I will not have multiple games from the same franchise appear on the list. For example, there can only be one Final Fantasy Game, and I am including Spin-offs. And by a few, I mean one, because that's the only real rule I put in place for myself when making this list.
I'll point out a few honorable mentions before the list gets going proper.
Persona 5: Great game, but there was another SMT title this year I liked more, though to be honest, I don't know if this would cut regardless.
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns: Possibly the best pure Farming/Life Simulator out there.
Code Vein: Best game of 2019, meaning you will see no games released in 2019 on this list.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep: Best game of the Franchise.
Infamous Series: I just love how it had that Comic Book Feel in the first couple of games even though it wasn't based on a Comic.
No More Heroes: It kind of hurt me that No More Heroes isn't on this list, because it's a unique and fascinating franchise that I adore.
Crosscode/Hollow Knight: A couple of the decades best indie hits.
Xenoblade Chronicles: I feel like this one would get some head-scratches if it wasn't mentioned, considering my love of RPG's. It is fantastic, and it was close to making the list.
Fallout New Vegas: By far the best game released by Bethesda. Another one I didn't want to cut, but it had to go. ;_;
That out of the way, my Top 10 of the Decade.
10.) Octopath Traveler
2018 was, overall, my least favorite year in gaming all decade. I scrapped the idea of ranking the decades in favor of just doing a 'Best of' list, but that year was indisputably the worst for me. But two games were these shining lights, Crosscode as one of the best indie releases of the year, and Octopath Traveler.
Tokyo RPG factory had a rocky start with 'I Am Setsuna'. It was a game that had all the right elements but just missed the mark at every possible point. The talent and passion were clear, but it wasn't until Octopath came along that they felt like they could reach their potential. The game has a great old-school feel and look, but with some high-quality graphics and modern sprite work. The whole game has a retro feel without feeling like a ripoff, but more a game that would fit nicely in era's past.
I was so happy to see Square back in the game of JRPG's, and I do hope to see more fantastic work from Tokyo RPG factory in the future. Games like this have a way of warming my cold, near dead heart.
9.) Atelier Ayesha
This decade saw the release of many Atelier titles, and of the entire decade, Ayesha was the best of them. It has some of the best combat of the entire series, expanding to a degree on Mana Khemia's Support Attack and Defense options. Not only do your characters have unique abilities for supporting other characters, their 'Location' matters. It's not a full-on SRPG map, so you only have about three possible locations, but all the same, it added a lot.
It's also the last Atelier to keep the time restrictions, which is something I sorely miss about the series. It's something that game it a bit of unique flare the current games lack, despite Ryza still being good. I loved that you had to carefully think about and plan all your actions, which not only makes the game more challenging but is a great use of in-game mechanics making the rush to save your sister, the driving force of the plot, all the tenser.
Throw in possibly the best crafting system of the series, a fantastic cast of characters, and everything mentioned about you have a case for the best game in the series. (For the record I still think that title goes to Mana Khemia, but that was released 2007).
8.) Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds
Yep, my entry for Zelda this year is not Breath of the Wild. I like Breath of the Wild, it's a really solid game, but I feel like it's more a blueprint for what could be the best Zelda game. We also had Majora's Mask 3D released this decade, but I removed it from consideration since there wasn't anything notably different from its original release, at least not enough to make it feel like a game from this decade.
That aside, Link Between Worlds is just a damn fine Zelda game. It takes the original Link to the Past and expands a lot on that game. More fun tools, a great new mechanic of turning yourself into a picture that moves along walls, and a ton of fun fights making use of said mechanic. It is everything you would ever want out of Zelda.
7.) Legend of Heroes: Trails of the Cold Steel
Due to my issues with Sony and their Censorship policies, I've yet to play Cold Steel III, so I'll miss out on that until it comes out on Switch (Since It seems NISA gave the game a good localization and didn't bog it down with usual NISA things). That said, the first to games were fantastic, though with how they are the same system, you carry over stats from game to game, and it's one solid story, you can't split them up, so it gets one entry.
The game came out at a time when I felt JRPG's were kind of struggling for me. Still a lot of good ones, but none that lept out as fantastic, so this game was a breath of fresh air for me. It has its issues, but there are some great characters and a lot of solid mechanics, backed up with a decent challenge.
I'm a bit annoyed that it's going to be a four-game series because that is a long time to finish up your story, but at the same time, it manages to keep you invested all the same. So long as you don't mind a series that drags itself out a bit (And considering I love Xenosaga, I can't hold that against a game too much), this series has been pretty fantastic so far.
6.) Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
On one hand, hardly anything core to the game was changed, which was my reason for leaving Majora's Mask 3D, but on the other hand, what was changed made all the difference. Final Fantasy Tactics had a bit of a reputation for an utterly abysmal translation, including my favorite line 'Rebels plotting rebellion', but the story and characters shine so much more in this game because of it.
That said, this ranks up there with the best Final Fantasy Games, despite this being a bit of a poor decade for the Franchise. The combat has an incredible amount of options, the story is some of the best political focused storytelling in a video game I've seen, and the cast of characters is fantastic.
It can get a bit grindy at times, and I don't like how long it takes to get access to all the unique characters, but these all work out to be pretty small gripes in the grand scheme of things. The game is fantastic, and one of the best SRPG's out there.
5.) Nier: Automata
This game just blew me away, and I was not expecting that at all. I was never a fan of Drakkenguard, and while I do like Platinum Games I was never as behind them as their core fan-base was, so at most I figured this game was going to be fun and unique experience, but nothing that would stand the test of time.
What we got was an all-time classic, and I don't think a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one. It was a huge success both commercially and critically, a few years after it's release it is still incredibly popular, and I've seen a lot of talk of this being the game of the Decade. I disagree, but there is a damn good case to be made for it. At the very least, it was my favorite game of 2017 by a good margin.
4.) Rune Factory 3
Some of you may be scratching your heads right now, wondering what kind of joke this is that Rune Factory 3 get's a higher spot on my list than Nier. Others have no idea what this game even is. To the uninitiated, this game mixes the farming and social simulation aspects of Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons with action RPG combat. Considering the nature of the series you are also forging your weapons to fight with.
The mix of elements works very well, and there are some really interesting elements to it. You can raise your combat stats not only by leveling up and upgrading your gear, but you can level up your farming aspects as well. Raising those also slowly raises your hip points, RP (Rune Power, used for spells in combat), and various other stats that affect your combat.
The characters are also all fantastic, once you get into how utterly bizarre and silly the whole thing is. Your character acts as kind of the straight man reacting to the insane world he's been dropped into, though the further you get in your relationships with other people the more he begins to adapt to the insanity. It's not sudden but happens slowly as you see more. It's just fantastic writing in that regard and helps everything feel believable despite the weirdness.
Rune Factory 3 is easily the best Farming/Social Simulator ever made. I wish I could say a sentence like this and not immediately think the first response is going to be 'That's like being the worlds tallest midget'.
3.) Dark Souls
The Souls Series may be one of the most influential series of this entire decade, starting with Demon Soul's in 2009 (I may be off on the year). It is a series that got way more attention than anyone predicted. I remember an interview back in Game Informer where it was revealed the president of Sony USA decided against publishing it because he didn't believe gamers would want a game that hard, so Atlus picked up the rights to publish in the states instead (I believe it was with the release of this and 3D Dot Game Hero they started picking up steam as a US publisher, but that's a story for a different day), and it was a huge success.
Followed up with Dark Souls, the number of games borrowing elements or trying to copy the formula to some degree have been staggering. That said, while there have been some great games, the originator of the 'Souls-Like' genre of games has yet to be topped. To be honest, I was a bit torn on whether to include this or Bloodborne on the list, I ended up settling for Dark Souls. It's just a damn fine game.
It's one of those games that rewards you the more invested in it you become. Learning all the lore not through being told, but visuals and item descriptions, was unlike anything else coming out at the time. You didn't even see it done that well in older games that made use of similar things. Another one that, arguably, could be considered the game of the decade.
2.) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2
The moment I decided there was only going to be one entry per franchise, I knew Persona 5 wasn't going to be considered (Though to be honest I don't think it would have made my top 10 regardless). This game, and the remake which both came out this decade, is my favorite SRPG of all time. It's not much of a competition for me.
To start all the Shin Megami Tensei games are challenging, pretty much the most challenging RPG's your going to find these days, and this game is no exception. I lost quite a few fights in this game, not because of some random nonsense, but because I fell into the game trap and wasn't paying enough attention to the map. I still remember getting completely trounced in a movie theater when my characters were caught between seats and fired off from out of my range. The game can be ruthless when you're caught with your pants down.
And like other SMT games, the number of demons you can summon gives you an incredible amount of options for building your team. And it's not like there are only a few good options, there are several things you can do. Few games have this volume of options where so many of them are valid choices.
Throw in some of the best characters and stories of the entire franchise, and it's no doubt that a weeby RPG fan like me is going to love this game so much.
1.) Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
This is the definitive version of a game that I would consider one of my favorite games of all time and is bordering on being one of the closest things to a perfect game I have ever played. Very few flaws, and so much that is just amazing.
The atmosphere is incredibly oppressive at times, which works because this is an apocalypse style story. At the core of the game exists a prophecy that the world is going to come to an end, and no game I have ever played does such a great job at really making you feel like everything is coming to an end. Those final boss fights were some of the greatest gaming has ever produced.
And if I were only judging by visual design, Odin Sphere wouldn't just be my favorite game of the decade, but of all time. Even before the HD remake I'm talking about here, it is a shining example of a games art design and direction mattering more than the graphical power of a game, because I can't think of a game that looks better than the PS2 version even in the modern era.
Fantastic characters, amazing story, and atmosphere, wonderful gameplay, the game does have everything. If you ever get the chance, give the game a try.
And there it is, my favorite games of the decade. It was fun looking back, and kind of interesting to see what was going to make my list. Some cuts were sad but had to be done. Thanks for sticking around and reading my stuff all this time too, it's been a pretty productive year on Steem for me, even with having to take a few breaks from posting due to real life.
Also, don't forget I am running a Fan Art contest with 15 Steem in prizes, the theme being Fan Art of any games that made my Top Ten of the Year. Assuming I get entries, I plan to do one focused on my Games of the Decade as well, but that won't be for some time. So if you are a Steem Artist, feel free to check out the contest and submit an entry! I'll include a link for both the Steemit and Steempeak pages depending on which front end you prefer.
With all that out of the way, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.