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I am looking for a game to play over the holidays. My requirements are as follows:

Content

  • It should be an RPG or very similar, i.e., the focus should on developing your character (or ensemble of characters) and experiencing a story, and the main challenge should be on choosing the skills to use and not dexterity with the input devices (like in a shooter). Some skill may be required though, e.g., real-time is okay.

  • It should have a complex, interactive story, i.e., it should be more than just slashing monsters and there should be some relevant decisions to be made.

  • It should be atmospheric and feature well-designed environments.

  • Playtime should be approximately between twenty and forty hours.

  • There should not be any multiplayer option (that is actually used) that could tempt me. When the game is over, it should be over.

  • It should not be too old. Everything from this millennium should be fine

Tech Specifications

The game should run on a five-year old machine that was good for gaming then. It should run on Linux (Wine is fine). So, many newer games probably won’t work.

What already worked (fully or partially)

  • Knights of the Old Republic fulfilled all criteria, but I want something different (so not the second part).

  • I liked the atmosphere and environments of Dungeon Siege. It utterly fails my criteria in the story department though.

  • I liked Deus Ex very much. It is borderline on the RPG criterion though.

  • I would recommend Divinity: Original Sin to you. Actually playing it and it is really well-made. :-) I'm a long-time D&D and RPG fan. – Trollwut Feb 13 '17 at 8:41
  • I think, there are actually not so many games that fullfill the criteria, I think I listed most of them. But I will probably remember 1-2 more games. – Baskakov_Dmitriy Feb 13 '17 at 23:05
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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004) seems to fullfill all of the criteria. You will especially like it if you like the tabletop RPG Vampire: The Masquerade, and other RPGs by White Wolf, and vice versa. If you do decide to try it, don't forget to install the last version of Unofficial Patch Plus, or the game will be hardly playable due to bugs, and not as interesting due to a lot of cut content.

There is another game set in this world which is a borderline of fitting your criteria, specifically in that it has multiplayer, while you will find hard time in finding players for such an old game (2000) unless your friends play it. But if you like Bloodlines, you should also definitely try this game. It's called Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption. If you try it, you should try Age of Redemption mod, rebalancing things (the balance is broken in vanilla, just broken) and fixing bugs.

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  • You nailed it. I actually chose and played VTMB after not getting an answer here. I just forgot to write a self-answer. The only downside with respect to my criteria that I would like to mention is that it has a considerable replay value. – Wrzlprmft Feb 13 '17 at 8:23
  • @Wrzlprmft Ye, if you like it, definitely try the mods. But if you are done with a couple of clans and all of the mods... You are kinda done. – Baskakov_Dmitriy Feb 13 '17 at 8:50
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Overlord is another fit.

  1. You develop your character by crafring equipment of 3 tiers and infusing it with the souls of your minions. There are many, many possible builds... You also improve your minons by getting better things for them to use in battle, and choose which minions to send forward. Most of the game is solved by micromanaging the (right) minions rather than slashing everyone yourself, for many reasons.
  2. The story is awesome. Not that interactive by the means that you are limited to either make an "evil" choice or a "good" choice, with, as I remember, just two endings.
  3. Just. Watch. The. Screenshots. It's 10 years old, still awesome.
  4. Again, don't remember, depends.
  5. Never managed to play multiplayer, don't even remember if it actually existed.
  6. 10 years old, again.
  7. Runs perfectly on old machines.
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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat seems to be kinda good for you.

  1. You do develop your character -- more by getting better equipment than by, say, learning skills/spells etc, but it's still development. Skill requirements depend on difficulty, and choosing the right weapon/mod set to use it more important than just pure skill -- IMO.
  2. The story is awesome, and at some point you start to influence it. There are many, many sidequests with many of them having several different endings, each having an impact on the final video.
  3. The atmosphere is the thing that made the game.
  4. Playtime I don't remember... It depends.
  5. As far as I believe, noone should play multiplayer nowadays. I am not sure, though. But it was never a focus.
  6. More or less new.
  7. Runs perfectly on old PCs.
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The See Dogs series made by russian studio Akella: See Dogs, it's sequel Pirates of the Caribbean and Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales

  1. Heavy focus on developing characters' skills and getting new good equipment
  2. Story is awesome. But I don't remember anything about the plot being linear or not... Anyway, it's awesome.
  3. Enviroments are... perfect. Especially for such an old game.
  4. Playtime depends, has some strong sandbox elements.
  5. No multiplayer, as I remember.
  6. Belongs to that millenium
  7. System specs are hilarious now.
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Gothic series. That's it, ok? :) Just perfect fit.

It is widely believed that only Gothic and Gothic II were good, but I would anyway suggest you to try Gothic III too. If you like it, try Risen, it was developed by the same guys and is similar, but under a different name.

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Elder Scrolls. Again, I don't think that I have to explain more... Just Elder Scrolls series. I would suggest to play Oblivion, and if you want the plot of Morrowind, play MorrOblivion, because the systems used in Morrowind are kinda too old-school for nowadays. Like, would you like to have your character miss when shooting a mountain-large ogre even though your arrow has hit him, just because you failed the check? Or spells having a good chance to be miscast, etc.

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