I have a list of US released CRPGs compiled from Wikipedia, MobyGames, and RPGamer. Looking it over I discovered something. There is a lot of confusion about what a CRPG is and how to define one. A simple definition eludes me along with every other site I've looked to, most requiring a list of attritbutes a CRPG could contain. If a majority of those qualities exists, then we can call it a CRPG. Everyone expects and takes something different from the genre, so there will never be a simple definition. Some will like the story, while others enjoy the combat, the treasure, the exploration, or the characters to varying degrees.
|With all the talk of computer RPGs, I feel like I'm missing out sticking to console games.|
Based on the roles above and CRPG Addict's definition, GIMLET (his rating system), and evaluation method here's my list of characteristics that make up a CRPG in order of importance:
1) Character advancement based on repeated (practiced) action. This is accomplished most often through experience points or stat increases based on use. This is to separate stat and level increase solely based on the collection of items.
2) Combat based on character stats. The other end of the spectrum is combat based completely on equipment and player skill. Relatedly, turn-based combat will outweigh real-time combat.
3) Exploring an open environment. By open I mean previous areas aren't cut off by arbitrary invisible barriers. Also, if the game allows open exploration forward that's even better.
4) Engaging narrative and NPCs. A fleshed out world with interactive elements and activities aside from the main quest all contribute to this. In opposition to this is a story that only exists in the beginning and end of the game.
5) Spoils of war. Weapons, armor, potions, random useless trinkets, trophies, and anything else discovered from treasure chests, quests, or loot from fallen enemies. The more the better, and places to store it if character/party inventory is limited.
6) Quests, riddles, and puzzles. In addition to a main quest, side quests exist to enhance immersion in the game world. Obstacles and challenges exist outside combat, and use the game world as a reference instead of the real world.
There are of course other aspects that enhance the experience, but this list should allow me to focus on games the majority would not dispute as a CRPG. This is in order of importance, so if a game is missing #1 it'll be hard pressed to make my play list. The weight of each can vary, but an approximation for max score is 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2 respectively. At a guess, I'd say a score of 10 should mean it's a CRPG. We'll see how this holds up over the first few games.
|OK, ready to judge!|
Later this week I'll make a post to address the few I've already ruled out, including Deadly Towers (released before Phantasy Star). These posts will cover yearly groups of games.