7. Illusion of Time (Illusion of Gaia)
This RPG has quite a unique narrative style, and occasionally feels as if it was scripted by an aspiring fantasy novelist. Theres an engaging story here, charming and frequently humorous, and while youll encounter many RPG clichés in your travels, the storybook presentation keeps everything fresh (theres a great repeated animation in which moving around the world map is represented by characters walking over a beautiful drawn paper scroll). The game is also notable for its use of real life cultures for inspiration youll visit the Incan Ruins, Nazca Lines, Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, and the Egyptian pyramids. Setting out from the idyllic coastal town of South Cape, protagonist Will will eventually solve the mystery of his fathers disappearance at the fabled Tower of Babel. Yes, the story may be hackneyed, but its also well presented, and the challenging real-time combat keeps you on your toes. During your travels youll also get to transform between telekinetic hero Will and his two alter-egos, Freedan the Knight and Shadow the Assassin. The telekinesis allows for some excellent puzzle solving, and each of the three characters has a fairly unique playing style. Seeing how many of the 50 red jewels hidden throughout the gameworld you can collect offers an additional challenge (total completion is almost impossible without help, but fortunately a guide was included in the original codebook, and of course nowadays its easy to find on the internet). Theres plenty to recommend here; the soundtrack is another highlight (the use of tunes as magic was, as far as I know, innovative here long before Ocarina of Time made it famous) and everything combines into one superb RPG. Theres very little grinding to be done, too, due to the unconventional level-up system.