BEST 5 SUCCESSFUL RPG MAKER GAMES
It’s not easy to take your first steps in a gamedev industry. It’s a ruthless territory where only the biggest and most innovative ideas have a chance to see the light of release. But what if you’re a mere indie producer driven by high hopes to make your dreams come true?
To emerge successful on the gamedev market as an indie developer, first you have to come to terms with clear facts: you are working on a limited budget, you don’t have enough people to compete with triple-A games, and you don’t have enough money to fund advanced licences. Despite your enthusiasm, it may take a lot of patience and self-abnegation to understand your position and possibilities, and the easiest way to do that is through trial and error.
Being a budding game developer it’s good to test yourself before taking a big leap into the swirling and often merciless gamedev industry. It may be a good idea to get acquainted first with RPG Maker engine to simply get the drift of the world and avoid getting swallowed by tons of possibilities (See our RPG Maker video game course here).
Regardless their pixelated looks, many indie games created through RPG Maker cross restrictions imposed by the simplistic engine and prove that your only limitation is your very imagination.
Best of all you don’t need to know programming or be an artist to use the RPG Maker game egine. You can simply download RPG Maker plugins that do most of the heavy coding work for you and you can download beautiful and customizable RPG Maker game art to give your RPG Maker game the exact look and feel you want.
In this article you will learn of 5 most successful independent RPGs created through RPG Maker. Better fasten your seatbelts because you will be astonished of what some skilled indie game developers throughout the world are capable of!
5. AMBER THRONE
Amber Throne by Joshua Missile studios is a JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) made through RPG Maker that just screams “art”. Released in July 2015 it gained mixed reviews due to certain drawbacks regarding the gameplay, however, it still managed to gather a reasonably high audience of players and devoted fans all over the world.
In the game you step into the shoes of a mysterious girl on her quest of reaching the titular amber throne. Having more questions than answers you depart on a perilous adventure on the path of which you will meet both villains and friends. The game plays very much like Journey by Thatgamecompany. The scenery and graphics are minimalistic but they speak more than a thousand words proving that “less” means “more”. The music in Amber Throne is a definitive asset of the game. It blends perfectly into the magical, unknown realm of fantasy and dreams, and greatly enhances your experience of discovery.
Despite that it was created in RPG Maker, through artistic landscapes, atmospheric, charming music and a number of fun combat features, Amber Thrones successfully managed to bring back the spirit of Final Fantasy. It isn’t completely devoid of bugs, since people report now and then instances in which the music in the game suddenly disappears, combat tends to glitch and there are some weird occurrences regarding the sprites, however, the game proudly takes one of the top positions amongst the best games of the genre.
4. DOOM & DESTINY
If you’re looking for a traditional, turn-based JRPG with plenty of swords, magic, monsters and a well-thought narrative, Doom & Destiny should be your paramount choice. Developed and released by Heartbit Interactive studios in August 2011, Doom & Destiny begins as a typical story of 4 modern day geeks who get trapped inside of a game and trying to find a way out of it by completing a number of challenges.
Since the release, the game gained a reasonably good recognition amongst the players and its user rating on Metacritic oscillates around 8/10 points, making it a solid JRPG that is definitely worth a try by any fans and the regular gamers alike. The game is easily accessible by any player, since it was released on nearly any platform, including PC, Android and consoles. Considering limited means of game development provided by RPG Maker system, the main focus of Doom & Destiny is put on the story. The narrative is filled with plenty of inside jokes, easter eggs and humorous references to books, movies, memes and clichés that everyone or at least a vast majority of players should get one way or another.
The feel of cult-classic pen & paper RPGs, including Dungeons & Dragons, is pretty much a groundwork of the game. With many crossover characters hailing from different genres that our heroes meet during their journey, and their self-awareness of being trapped inside of a game they once used to play, the game is hilariously funny and innovative. If at the very least you have a fraction of a geek slumbering inside of you, or if you’re familiar with the good old RPGs, including D&D and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Doom & Destiny will surely bring you a lot of enjoyment.
Skyborn by Dancing Dragon Games opens the gates to the fairly loveable mixture of fantasy and steampunk genres, and fills them with a gripping plot heavily based on the visual novel-focused aspects and charismatic characters. True, these are surely immersive and super attractive, but there is way more to that. The game wouldn’t be the same without its soothing soundtrack as well as beautifully sculpted landscapes of a steampunk classic town with that modern feel.
Just like in the majority of the good old Japanese Role-Playing Games, in Skyborn we are meant to lead a group of heroes, immerse into the storyline, develop and level our characters and of course battle the enemies on our way. There is no doubt that a huge part of the game’s tremendous success comes from the characters themselves. They may be predictable, somewhat archetypal and at times generic, but at the same time they are incredibly distinctive and appealing.
Sure, the game may be not entirely devoid of flaws and glitches that we notice now and then. Some plot threads aren’t connected with each other and the game can be finished merely within 10 hours. Nevertheless, even the most generic characters and a seemingly predictable plot can be polished to the sky-high levels and Skyborn achieved that with a masterly accuracy. To this day, the game remains as one of the top-selling JRPGs created through RPG Maker and maintains a well-deserved user note of 8.1/10 points on Metacritic.
2. FINDING PARADISE
Who would have thought that a game so simple in its form can evoke so many philosophical questions regarding the nature of a human being? Playing Finding Paradise by Freebird Games, a sequel to a notable To The Moon, feels like peering straight into your very soul to solidify your beliefs of what it means to be a human and what else can you do to improve your life. This is merely a fraction of what this seemingly simplistic game can achieve on the audience.
One would make an obvious mistake to judge a game solely by its graphics, and when it comes to this game, the mistake would be terrible. Finding Paradise with its basic appearance may not be the prettiest visually, but it definitely carries a meaningful content. The game’s main focus is on a duo of doctors named Neil and Eva who are tasked with granting their dying patient a wish. Whereas a vast part of the game focuses on talking to NPCs to progress the story, there are clear improvements on the field of combat and solving various puzzles. There is also a beautiful, breath-taking music which greatly goes in pair with what we see on the screen, and without which experiencing the game wouldn’t be the same.
If you ever played the first game of the series, you will definitely enjoy trying your hand at this one. Finding Paradise is filled with a lot of humour and inside jokes that are deliberately weaved into well-written dialogues, which make the game maintain its integral atmosphere and lore. Kan Gao, the author of the game, once again proved that even the most simplistic game can be considered art, not only if the story is well-knit, but also if it has a soul poured into it.
1. TO THE MOON
When you think “RPG Maker” and if you are at least to a certain extent acquainted of what the genre is all about, then To The Moon should be your first example. Developed in 2010 by Freebird Games (as its first commercial production) and released on all PC platforms, including Windows, Linux and Mac, this simple in its appearance yet at the same time soothingly pleasing JRPG makes the best of its kind.
Don’t expect a lot from the gameplay, since just like the majority of RPG Maker games, To The Moon doesn’t provide you with an advanced and innovative gameplay. Instead, get ready to feel the game through and through in a well-sculpted 2D world, inspiring narrative and beautiful music. The story is centred on two doctors that are meant to grant their patient, a dying man named Johnny, a wish to go to the moon. In the game you will focus on two things: immersing and feeling, and perhaps reinforcing your view on what it takes to be a human being.
One year after its release in 2011, To The Moon began to gain a visible recognition on the market and won a series of awards, including Gamespot award for the game featuring the best story, RPG Fans Best Indie title, IndieDB Editor’s Choice and IGF Excellence in Audio prize. Due to the tremendous success, it was later released also on Android and iOS, and gathered around even a bigger audience.
Even though To The Moon gained a slight criticism for being focused way too much on the story itself and neglecting a little bit of other aspects of the game, such as gameplay and combat, its recognition did not shrink over time but proudly remains on the level 9 out of 10 user points on Metacritic. And rightfully so, since be my guest and point me a similar game on the market which so deeply delves into your soul, reminding you of all your hidden, unfulfilled wishes, and asking you simple questions: would you change your past if you had such a chance? Or perhaps would you realise that our paths are meant to be more or less the same, regardless the choices?
GREAT TESTING TOOL
RPG Maker is a great tool for amateurs and experienced game developers alike, which will surely help you test yourself before you will decide to depart on much more challenging waters of the gamedev industry. Despite your budget, whether you are a professional Triple-A game creator or an indie rookie, RPG Maker can inspire you in a number ways and show you that less truly means more. If you want to learn how to use RPG Maker consider enrolling in our online video game making course.