At least 20 years has passed since the classical computer role-playing games left its peak. While being undeniably influential, the genre has been considered niche and unfriendly toward a more casual audience the industry has created for the last decade or so. But instead of fading into obscurity, the scene is proving otherwise, making a glorious comeback to the gaming scene with hits after hits like Pillars Of Eternity 1 and 2, Tyranny, Divinity: Original Sin 1 and 2, or being heavily adapted like Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tale. So what is reason behind this new surge of CRPG, maybe because it is just nostalgia, or something else.
Contrary to popular belief, CRPG is not simply a derived from the classic pen and paper model, it is a system of related mechanics and predetermined story with multiple odds and ends, which suggests or even requires a methodical and systematic approach from players. Questlines and story missions only unfold if the players use their keen eyes on the world, to make assumptions and decision themselves, and meaningful ones, combined with a combat system that also encourages methodical approach and a comprehensive understanding of all mechanics surround the players and the enemies, it is easy to understand why the genre is fondly remembered by both gamemakers and gameplayers alike. They are fundamentally solid, with everything else supports it, to create a sense of polish and investment to the world of the game, to make sure the players feel impactful by the most authentic way possible. It is everything the industry wanted their products to be, free and flexible, and many developers have been adopting it philosophy in their game. A prime example would be the Witcher series, with its pinnacle being The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The game is something I always adore for being complex and deep enough, but also very engaging with the more casual audience. A game that pleases both audience nowadays is very rare, and how The Witcher 3 pulls it off is magnificent. But the return of raw, unfiltered (mostly) Classical Role-Playing game in the mainstream is just coming out of nowhere, with the first Divinity: Original Sin and Wasteland 2 released in 2014, followed by Pillars Of Eternity and its second entry Deadfire from the prolific Fallout's developer Obsidian; Tyranny, which is also from Obsidian, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, etc. 2019 is yet to come, but people are already promised a brand new RPG from Obsidian with the anticipation of being the next New Vegas and the release of Wasteland 3. With more than ever critical acclaims and fondness from fans, these are easily the glorious days of what I call the CRPG Renaissance, and the maturity of a new generation of gamers.
Think of it, what is considered hard to get into now being cherished by a whole new wave of gamers, with astoundingly support and love from the both classic pen and paper and videogames community alike. The Classical genre is solid by its own term and require serious investment from the players, what more and more mature gamer finds it easier to do, but not too clingy to your time and other activities, it gives you something to think about and consider, but not too much to cloud your thoughts. It is a perfect balance between heavily competitive multiplayer games and casual singleplayer game, the most popular genres right now, it is what people grow into, and its reflexive nature and high agency gives more than take , but also provides a significant and impactful experience to the player.
The genre itself is a great representation of mature gaming culture, with the mix of nostalgia and modern, solid game design. With authentic flextivity, deep mechanical design and systematic narrative, the genre is what the industry wants to provide, wants to achieve as an artistic medium