Once upon a time, people only knew tabletop RPG entertainment like Dungeons & Dragons. But it was such a great game that soon, the genre conquered the entire world.

That may come as a surprise, but the history of role-playing dates back to the ancient Chinese Han dynasty, which probably used similar entertainment purely for fun. Today, the genre bursts with successful blockbusters like Baldur’s Gate 3, Final Fantasy 16, and Starfield.

But before RPGs became so huge, there was this strange moment in history when they were verifying their capabilities. That moment was the 90s, and you can find the best and most revolutionary role-playing games of that decade on this list.

Top 90s RPG Classics
GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall 1996-11-20 RPG Bethesda Softworks
Fallout A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game 1997-11-01 RPG Black Isle Studios
Chrono Trigger 2018-02-27 RPG Square
Fallout 2 1998-12-01 Adventure Black Isle Studios
Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition 2013-01-16 RPG Overhaul Games
Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition 2013-11-15 RPG Overhaul Games

The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall

Release date:1996-11-20
Genre:RPG
Developer:Bethesda Softworks

Daggerfall set the direction in which the genre began to evolve, proving the player can be entirely responsible for how the adventure unfolds

The second installation in Bethesda’s epic series offers 161,600 square kilometers of map, including 15,000 locations to discover. But not only a world of such an impressive scale made it so special. The game features six alternative endings, but for dozens of hours of fun, you can go wherever and do whatever you want (full completion requires approximately 292 hours).

Key features
  • See the most massive world in the RPG genre
  • Create a hero and live your adventure however you desire
  • Enjoy an immersive storyline
  • Play the game that inspired Bethesda’s later creations

Chrono Trigger

Release date:1995-03-11
Genre:jRPG
Developer:Square

Originally released on the SNES console, Chrono Trigger represents the Japanese RPG genre, distinguishing itself with atmospheric storylines and turn-based combat.

This beautiful video game conquered the world with its surprisingly non-linear gameplay nature. That, enriched with realistic character design, multiple endings, combined attacks, and the lack of random battles, created a world for up to 32 hours of immersive fun. Chrono Trigger showed that every part of a digital adventure can delight!

Key features
  • Discover the story about a boy traveling through time
  • Make decisions to see one of multiple endings
  • Fight in revolutionary turn-based combat enhanced with combo attacks
  • Enjoy cute pixel-art graphics

Fallout

Release date:1997-11-01
Genre:RPG
Developer:Black Isle Studios

Another recommendation takes its players to an alternative vision of the world to develop as the most iconic post-apocalyptic video game series.

The classic and first Fallout could have been better than its successors, but its world definitely captivates with uniqueness. This computer game doesn’t hold players’ hands, throwing them straight into an unforgiving wasteland inspired by the 1950s Atomic Age aesthetics. Using the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, you can decide on your character’s build and shape the adventure by making everpresent decisions. This game is brutal, sarcastic, dirty, and incredibly fun.

Key features
  • Design a hero and discover the post-apocalyptic future
  • Meet all kinds of characters and make challenging choices
  • Use S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system to decide on your build
  • Lose yourself in the atmosphere of hysterical hopelessness

Baldur’s Gate

Release date:2013-01-16
Genre:RPG
Developer:Overhaul Games

There wouldn’t be the phenomenal Baldur’s Gate 3 without the first installation, greatly influenced by the classic D&D tabletop experience.

Surviving a brutal attack, you are all alone, with no place to go, and this is where your adventure begins. Baldur’s Gate uses this narrative opportunity to encourage exploration of a world filled with NPCs, iconic places to visit, and decisions to make. The complexity of choice-making made this game such a memorable 90s gem that many consider it the best in the genre.

Key features
  • Create a hero and gather a team
  • Embark on an adventure to confront the ultimate evil
  • Make choices and pick preferred quests
  • Play solo or in multiplayer

Harvest Moon

Release date:1996-08-09
Genre:jRPG
Developer:Amccus

As the first-ever farming RPG, Harvest Moon became a massive inspiration for future bestsellers like Stardew Valley, My Time At Portia, and Animal Crossing.

Play as a man tasked with renovating an old farm inherited from his grandfather. Sounds familiar? Like many other farming RPGs, Harvest Moon wants you to take care of animals, harvest crops, and enjoy free time as a part of the local community. The game is fun and lighthearted, providing a relaxing gaming experience since 1996!

Key features
  • Renovate an inherited farm
  • Meet charming townsfolk and fall in love
  • Take care of animals and crops
  • Enjoy a real retro farming adventure

RPG games have many faces, from a post-apocalyptic wasteland to a relaxing farming adventure. These games shaped the titles we play today! People still cherish these classics out of nostalgia, a desire for something simpler, or a need to compare the past with the present. And many of them discover none of these reasons ultimately matter because these games are timelessly enjoyable.