[Top 10] Best Old School RPGs for PC

best old school rpgs
That look a fighter gets right before he starts breaking things.

[Top 10] Best Old School RPGs for PC

The technology available to game developers today is really incredible.

The games coming out now immerse players by providing beautifully rendered environments, complete with changing weather, day and night cycles, and realistic ambient noises, that the player can really appreciate as they go through the game.  When you factor in the revolutionary potential  of virtual reality, the possibilities for making a player feel like they are “really there” seem to be almost limitless.

That said, most of my favorite games are still older titles, some dating back as far as the 80s and 90s.  These games did not have the benefit of the high quality graphics and audio available today, but what these games lack in glamor, they more than make up for in their quality and depth. 

So, the question now is what are some great older games you should go check out?  I’m so glad that you asked!  

Here are the Top 10 Best Old School RPGs for PC!

 

#10) Dungeon Hack (PC)

Let's Play Dungeon Hack #01: Introduction

True to its name, Dungeon Hack is unique because it doesn’t rely on a storyline to keep players engaged; in fact it has practically no plot at all.  You’re an adventurer, hired by an unnamed sorceress, to retrieve a magical orb from a dungeon full of traps and monsters… that’s all there is to it.  Instead of a deep story, the game leans on its random dungeon generator to provide players with a different experience each time they start a game, including a different style and layout for the dungeon, different traps and monsters, and a random boss at the end of each game.  Brilliant in its simplicity, and with a clean user interface that’s easy to use, Dungeon Hack is a great option for a quick and satisfying game with little commitment.

A goblin bites off more than it can chew on this dungeon’s first floor.

 

#9) Pool of Radiance (PC)

Pool of Radiance (PC) (1988) Gameplay

The first computer game to be based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules, Pool of Radiance is the foundation upon which many later RPGs were built.  The player creates a party of up to six characters from various races and classes and starts the adventure in the city of New Phlan on the coast of the Moonsea in the D&D Forgotten Realms setting.  The interface takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it is surprisingly easy to use and the game is more than worth the trouble.

The party comes across Ohlo in the slums of New Phlan and is offered a job.  Sorry for kicking your door in, Ohlo, we thought this place was abandoned….

 

#8) Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny (PC)

Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny (DOS) - Demo

Realms of Arkania actually shares a lot in common with games like Pool of Radiance, having similar gameplay and requiring the player to build a party of up to six characters from different races and classes.  Realms of Arkania is based on a German pen and paper system called The Dark Eye, and offers some different choices for races, classes, and abilities.  One of the most intriguing differences is the use of negative attributes in character creation, such as various phobias, greed, or a bad temper, that balance the positive attributes and have real effects on gameplay.

Our heroes find the thieves they are hunting in the passages under the city.  Note the surprisingly clean combat interface.

 

#7) The Magic Candle (PC)

The Magic Candle: Volume I (MS-DOS) Intro und Gameplay

There’s no way around it, playing The Magic Candle can be very frustrating. But the same things that make it so aggravating are also what make this game so rewarding.  You are Lukas, a ranger who’s been chosen to lead an expedition to discover what’s happened to the guardians of the eponymous Magic Candle before it melts and releases a powerful demon back into the world.  To succeed you’ll need to manage your time and resources, plan for anything, and keep your cool when things go terribly wrong.  Buy a rope as soon as you can.  You never know when you’ll be a half-continent away from the nearest city and need one… trust me.  

Lukas’s party encounters a group of wolfinga in the wilderness.  Though not particularly dangerous, they are obnoxiously hard to hit.

 

#6) Icewind Dale (PC / macOS)

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition trailer

Icewind Dale takes place in the harsh frozen lands in the northern part of Faerûn of the Forgotten Realms setting.  Built with the Infinity Engine used to make Baldur’s Gate (see below), the game shares the same interface and game mechanics, but where the player builds a single character in BG and recruits companions as they go, in Icewind Dale the player designs the whole party from the start.  The game features a gloomy, cold, stark feel that is perfect for the setting and a plot that gets really good, especially as the game progresses.

A party fights a group of trolls on an icy slope.

 

#5) Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (PC)

Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura TRAILER OFICIAL

In Arcanum, the player is thrown head-first into a world where magic and technology clash, each causing the other to fail, sometimes with catastrophic results.  Are you a mage?  You’re not allowed on the train, your magical attunement could cause the engine to explode.  Are you a genius inventor?  Don’t bother drinking that healing potion, it might as well be water.  As the lone survivor of an airship crash, and begged by a dying passenger to deliver a message, you must rely on magic, or technology, or a happy balance of both to survive.

A common sight in Arcanum: a person in full-plate standing behind someone in a trenchcoat who is trying to purchase a ticket for a train. 

 

#4) Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (PC / macOS)

Fallout 1 - Trailer

The original epic tale of the “Vault Dweller,” who ventures forth from Vault 13, alone and unafraid, into a radioactive hell-hole in search of the elusive “water-chip.”  Its high points are its excellent turn-based combat system (one of the best), a massive post-apocalyptic wasteland to explore, and a simple but effective bartering system that allows you to trade with literally anyone who’s not trying to kill you.  Word to the wise, don’t stand between your allies and the enemy… their aim’s not the best and they love to go full-auto.

Three brave wastelanders bring brass-knuckles to a deathclaw fight.

 

#3) Baldur’s Gate (PC / macOS)

Baldur's Gate Opening Cinematic

One of the most famous, highly-praised, and continuously played games ever made, Baldur's Gate’s reputation as a masterpiece is well-deserved.  With an epic main storyline, numerous well-rounded companions to choose from, a badass main villain, tons of side-quests, and seemingly infinite replay value, Baldur’s Gate is worth hundreds of hours of gameplay.  

The heroes board a ship at the harbor in Baldur’s Gate.

 

#2) Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn & Throne of Bhaal (PC / macOS / Linux)

Baldur's Gate 2 : Shadows of Amn Intro movie

How do you improve on something as perfect as Baldur’s Gate?  You keep all the great stuff that works, then you add more classes and subclasses, powerful new items and spells, new companions, a fresh new setting, titanic monsters that mere mortals have no business fighting, and a main bad guy that’s great at getting on your bad side. 

One of the titanic monsters I mentioned in the description.  This may actually be one of the weaker ones.

 

#1) Planescape: Torment (PC / macOS / Linux / iOS / Android / Switch / PS4 / Xbox One)

Planescape: Torment - Trailer

My very favorite, the story of the amnesiac “Nameless One” for whom dying is just a minor setback.  Set in the D&D Planescape setting, the game features a fascinating setting, powerful competing factions, unique and interesting characters, and the best and most original plot of any game ever (in my not-so-humble opinion).  The game is a little dialogue heavy, but it uses this to draw the player in and give them real influence over their companions and the game.  Don’t worry about dying, it won’t slow you down much.  

The Nameless One and his team fight the Harmonium as the citizens of Sigil continue about their day.  Note: This image is from the Enhanced Edition of the game.

 

These games won’t be winning any awards for their looks (at least not anymore), but they still have a lot to offer if you’re looking for a great game with an epic story to tell.  I encourage you to check these out, and to look past their outdated graphics and sometimes clunky interfaces; it's worth the trouble.

 

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Writing to you from beautiful Oklahoma. If you’re here for my two cents, don’t worry... I’ll give you a whole dollar.
Gamer Since: 1992
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Call of Cthulu: Shadow of the Comet
Top 3 Favorite Games:Baldur's Gate, The Witcher, Dishonored
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