2014: The First Year of the CRPG Renaissance

While I'd argue that we've seen a handful of CRPG renaissances in the roughly 35 years that I've been installing them on one hard drive or another, I certainly can't despute PC Gamer's claim that 2014 will be looked back upon as "the first year of a CRPG renaissance" given the sheer number of impactful titles that were released throughout the past year. With the release of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Numenera, and other tabletop titltes, too, I'd call it an RPG renaissance altogether:

It feels unjust to cut off the more detailed look at individual games and developers at this point, but sadly time and space are limited. In any other year over the past decade, each of these games would have caused a splash in the RPG community, so relegating them to this part of the article is merely a concession to the massive quantity and quality of this year's releases. Each of them is absolutely worth checking out, and all of them have something unique to offer.

Blackguards' hex-based strategy and faithful adaption of the pen-and-paper Dark Eye ruleset are absolutely worth a closer look. And the same applies to the sublime blend of exploration, dungeon crawling, and puzzle solving which can be experienced in Legend of Grimrock 2.

Dead State presents a unique RPG experience and simulation of survivor behavior in a zombie apocalypse scenario, and Lords of Xulima combines isometric exploration with a first person battle system in an interesting reversal of the celebrated Realms of Arkania series.

An interesting note about this renaissance of the CRPG sub-genre is that, despite the huge number of games, it seems to have left other releases in the broader sphere of RPGs mostly unaffected. This might be at least partially explained by the fact that many of these games were made by new companies, or separate teams in established development houses.

Be that as it may, the point is that there have also been a great many action RPGs released in 2014, and some of them of surprisingly high quality. This of course includes games such as From Software's Dark Souls 2, a great sequel to one of the best action RPGs of all time, and solid new entries in established franchises like Risen 3. However, there were also some jewels created by smaller teams, such as the dialogue-heavy Consortium which explores the idea of an RPG taking place in a minimal environment.

And to top it all off, the new trend of Japanese ports exposed PC-only gamers to some true classics of the genre for the first time this year, with the obvious headliner being Valkyria Chronicles. Oh, and there was also a great new console-style RPG released on PC in the form of Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth.