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The 5 Best Real-World RPGs You May Have Never Heard Of

5 of the best RPGs with modern-day settings.

RPGs are known for their fantastical elements, whether through medieval settings like Skyrim, science fiction worlds like that of Mass Effect, or the recent flood of post-apocalyptic environments like those in the Fallout series. Games set in our modern-day world, however, are much less common. Here are 5 of the best real-world RPGs to date.

Earthbound

The 1994 JRPG for the SNES initially performed poorly in the United States compared to its relative popularity and critical acclaim in Japan. Though the premise of the game involves a journey to stop the destructive forces of the alien force, Giygas, it was unique at the time for its primarily real world setting.

Protagonist Ness must travel the world, across resorts and deserts and boarding schools, to find a way to stop Giygas. Designed to be a satirical portrayal of Western culture, the game eventually gained something of a cult following and was reissued for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013.

The Secret World

This horror folklore-themed MMORPG, developed by Funcom, was released in 2012 to fairly positive reviews. Throughout the game you must fight creatures like werewolves, vampires, and ghosts -- but the setting is ultimately contemporary.

A New England fishing village hides zombies, and Transylvania is home to vampires and werewolves. Despite critical appreciation for the game’s storytelling and atmosphere, it has remained largely under the radar and sold far fewer copies than Funcom expected.

The World Ends With You

Square Enix and Jupiter’s urban fantasy for the Nintendo DS is set in the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, and follows Neku Sakuraba and friends as they participate in a high stakes game.

The World Ends With You’s missions and gameplay borrow from Japanese youth culture to lend the game a unique and realistic feel. Critics largely praised the game for its graphics, setting, and soundtrack. However, the planned spinoff ended up cancelled because of a lack of interest.

Costume Quest

This 2010 Halloween RPG follows a child trick-or-treating when their sibling is kidnapped by a monster. For the rest of the game, you must wander the neighborhood in search of tools to help fight the monster, with an emphasis on the child’s costume as a means of battle.

It is available on multiple platforms: Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. A sequel was released in 2014, and both received positive reviews.

Parasite Eve

Square Enix’s first M-rated game was Parasite Eve, a horror survival RPG based on a novel available for the PlayStation. It tells the story of Aya Brea, a New York City police officer fighting to stop a monster bent on destroying humanity.

The game was praised for its graphics and gameplay and went on to spark two sequels and a manga adaptation. Special attention was paid to the soundtrack that accompanied the game, and it was well-received enough that two album releases came of it.

What are your favorite real-world RPGs? Let me know down in the comments!

Published Jul. 1st 2016

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