One of the best forms of digital escape comes in the form of role-playing games. Starting from its humble tabletop origins, the genre has grown and evolved into one of the best storytelling mediums, offering hours of immersion as you explore, fight, and guide your protagonist through a world of adventures. Each entry comes with innovative mechanics that push the genre forward through a level of freedom and diversity that inspires many.
No matter what your preference is, there is always something to unpack in these games – be it the rich story, characters, or world elements. And so, here’s a list of some of the best RPGs to play during a cold, rainy day.
A love letter to classic tabletop games, Disco Elysium is an RPG that’s not aimed at the average gamer crowd. Those of you who enjoy reading or rich, dialogue-heavy narratives will find this to be a perfect choice. You play as an alcoholic, amnesiac detective with a unique skill system at your disposal that develops over time.
Helen Hindpere’s writing presents several loose hanging threads in the story that can be explored by interrogating characters, solving cases, and even accepting bribes in an attempt to find yourself. The choice-based dialogue system here relies on dice rolls that determine your next moves or condition, while the consumable drugs strengthen your resolve. Also, the latest update has added individual voice lines for each character, so you don’t have to read the text.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
There is no chance we were going to keep the 2015 Game of the Year winner out of this list. Regardless of what you may think of CD Projekt Red now, the studio deserves credits for its magnum opus, which is the dark fantasy tale of Witcher 3. The story revolves around Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster hunter, who is on the search for his missing adopted daughter on the run.
As part of the journey, players will step into a vast fantastical open-world, rich with merchant cities, caves, pirate islands, dense forests, and mythical creatures. The game features a robust skill tree system, that relies on genetic mutations and elemental powers, adding some variety to the humdrum sword fights. You also have a pet horse named Roach, who appears at the first sounding of a whistle.
Hidetaka Miyazaki’s punishing Souls games saw a major difference in style when he introduced a vast open world into Elden Ring. The game is a bit easier this time, as you get to control the pace and explore the far reaches of the Lands Between to upgrade and develop your character into the ideal warrior.
As a descendent of the Tarnished, your job is to seek the broken shards of the titular Elden Ring, restore it, and ultimately become the Elden Lord. The game does not feature any quest logs or special icons on the map either, making for a grounded approach, and a spectrum of lore to unfold through dialogues and hidden letters. Developer From Software has also added a dedicated jump button this time and summonable spirits to aid you in battle.
The pinnacle of looter-shooters, Borderlands 2 is an insanely fun game that can be played solo or with friends via co-op. Set on the exotic planet of Pandora, you pick from a group of four Vault Hunters and embark on a treacherous, intergalactic journey to defeat the tyrannical Handsome Jack.
Finishing objectives or clearing mission areas earn loot boxes, which contain procedurally generated firearms, upgrades, and other gear, that are ensured to create mayhem. Traversal is made easier through spawnable vehicles, while the fear of death at the hands of a screeching Psycho is reduced, thanks to its goofy comic book art style. It also features split-screen multiplayer for the occasional couch co-op sessions.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
There was a time when Assassin’s Creed was known for its clinical stealth and examination of the Templars, through connected lore. By 2015, Ubisoft swapped those ideas for an open-world system that mimicked traditional RPGs. A result of that change, AC: Odyssey pits us in ancient Greece – an account of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.
You play as Alexios or Kassandra, and explore the sprawling open-world to clear out fortresses and camps, explore tombs and shipwrecks, and collect hidden treasures. Combat is highly primitive, with gold-clad shields and axes, and even provides opportunities to fight against Greek legends such as Medusa, The Minotaur, and The Sphinx.
Set in a post-apocalyptic version of Washington DC, after a nuclear fallout has caused massive devastation. You play as a resident of Vault 101, one of the several underground shelters created before the explosion, and venture into the wastelands to find your missing father. Players have the option of switching between a first and third-person perspective at any time, which help with combat in sticky situations.
Lockpicking doors or pickpocketing affects a special mechanic called Karma, which has a direct effect on the ending and the world’s impression. Exploration is quite strong as well, letting you search for endless weapons and special gear, at the cost of radiation poisoning. The game is marked unavailable on Steam India, though a quick search on the GMG website will let you snag it for Rs 565.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Bloodlines plunges you into the dark and gritty underbelly of modern-day LA as a creature of the night, to uncover the truth behind a relic that heralds the end of all vampires. By selecting a clan and configuring points into different attributes, players must venture into the darkness, where demons, werewolves, and other creatures reside.
You have the option to be a bloodthirsty killer or take the empath route, by seducing and charming your way through the ranks. For special abilities, the game relies on Blood, which can be acquired by preying on the innocents, or by completing quests, adding to that high-risk high reward playstyle. It even penalises you for using vampiric abilities in front of humans.