RPG Maker gets a real bashing on the internet… And so do the games made with it, especially if they are “commercial” games that you have to buy. People have a preconception that anything made with the game engine will immediately be poor quality because it is easy to get and quick to learn.
But you know what? Unity Engine is even easier to get hold of, and just as easy to learn. Yet games made in Unity don’t get ridiculed like those made with RPG Maker?
Why? Because people assume that everyone using RPG Maker is a 13-year-old with no interest in mastering the engine. But that just isn’t the case! There are some absolutely amazing games out there, both paid and free, that were made in RPG Maker.
So today, I’m going to show you my top 7 RPG Maker games, and explain why you should be playing them.
To The Moon
Starting with the most famous example of a commercial RPG Maker game, To The Moon is available on Steam and doesn’t try to hide the engine it was built in. Using the 16-bit pixel graphics that RPG Maker XP is known for, it tells an incredibly emotional story through puzzle-solving gameplay.
For the most part, you are exploring the memories of Johnny and trying to interpret the events of his life. From here, you need to manipulate the memories in order to make Johnny believe that he had visited the moon. It’s a wonderful example of thinking and creating outside of the preconceived limitations of the game engine.
One Night Series
Now, as you have probably guessed if you’ve read my older gaming posts, I’m a big fan of Survival Horror! So, when Dark Gaia Studios (who is actually a single man) released not one, but four games in the genre, built in RPG Maker, I had to try them out! With obvious inspiration from the kings of the genre; Resident Evil and Silent Hill, each of the One Night games were creepy and managed to unnerve you.
These games do away with the typical RPG basis that the game engine is known (and designed) for, instead choosing to create their own version of combat. The graphics actually work really well, with the developer making use of the limitations to add to the tension, similar to what Konami did with the first Silent Hill game! Oh, and did I mention that they are free to play?
I love a good bit of Steampunk, but I also acknowledge that good Steampunk games are few and far between… Or maybe I’m just too picky… Either way, when I came across Skyborn, I had to play it and see how it faired. I was pleasantly surprised. The whole Steampunk aspect feels like it is part of the actual setting and not just an afterthought. The combat is simple and easy to get your head around, so it doesn’t detract from the storyline.
Visually, the game is stunning! Especially for those of us who still adore pixel art in all of its glory! Oh, and with 304 reviews on Steam being mostly positive, you know that the game is made well. I would definitely check out Skyborn today!
Making the absolute most of 16-bit pixel beauty, Ara Fell is a stunning game to look at, truly recapturing the feeling and style of the old SNES and MegaDrive (Genesis) days. With smooth animation that would suit one of the earlier Final Fantasy games, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a port of a high-profile game from the early 90s.
For those of you who enjoyed the likes of Final Fantasy 4/5/6, Lunar or Dragon Quest, this is definitely a game you should be checking out! It’s available on Steam, with overall “very positive” reviews, so why not give it a go?
Helen’s Mysterious Castle
Yes, ok, the name is pretty bad… It certainly sounds like one of those poor quality RPG Maker games that people love to focus on… But Helen’s Mysterious Castle really isn’t! Reaching a total gameplay time of around 10 hours, it has more meat on the bones than most AAA games coming out these days. On top of that, the quirkiness of the characters makes the whole journey very entertaining.
This is one of the games that would be perfect for you if you just want a good game that is a lot of fun! Oh, and did I mention it costs just £1.50 from Steam? At that price, why not just get it and try it out for yourself? It’s less than half the price of a Tesco meal deal…
I don’t even know where to start with explaining what LiEat is… If you enjoy the weird and wonderful in gaming, then you’re going to eat this up (pardon the pun). Basically, it follows a pair of travelers searching the world, trying to learn the truth about things. Oh, and did I mention that one of them was a lie-eating dragon? Yeah…
Incredibly unique and very entertaining, LiEat will have you falling in love and then not being able to explain what it is that you are in love with! And with a graphic style more akin to the late NES or very early SNES games, it looks amazing. As with most of the games on this list, it is available from Steam for a stupidly great price of £2…
The Amber Throne
With its incredibly unique visuals, The Amber Throne is to RPG Maker games what Journey was to gaming in general. A stunning example of what pixel art graphics can really do for a game, it puts many big name games to shame with its clever use of the graphical limitations, creating a true work of art!
In an industry where graphics have become such a huge part of people’s buying cycle, the animation and visual style of The Amber Throne is amazing. You wouldn’t even be able to tell that it was made in RPG Maker if you weren’t told! The battles are exciting. The story is engrossing. This really is a work of art, and totally worth the £11 price tag – in fact, that’s a steal of a price!
And That’s All Folks
Those are my top 7 RPG Maker games that you should definitely play, whether you’re a big gamer, or haven’t played games before. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy them! As you can see, they may not have the big budget graphics of games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, but they don’t need to.
Instead, they get their success from the uniqueness of the gameplay or art style. Add to this the incredibly low price point, and they’re all amazing deals that you don’t want to miss!
Have you ever played an RPG Maker game before? Do you like the old style graphics? Let me know in the comments below.