We may not be getting as many role-playings games these days as compared to previous years, but fans of the genre still had some fantastic options in 2011. The sprawling open worlds, punishing boss fights, and compelling storytelling in this year’s RPGs demonstrated that developers are from exhausting the exciting possibilities in this long-standing and much-loved category. Below you’ll find our picks for the best of what role-playing games offered in 2011.

Warning: Entries may contain spoilers.

Best Narrative: The Witcher 2

How many times have you been the chosen hero destined to save the world? The Witcher 2 goes in a different direction with its story, resembling George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice And Fire novels more than Final Fantasy. The narrative is steeped in political intrigue, has multiple branching paths (including one major game-changer), and makes you feel like an instrumental part of the action without relying on the whole “the fate of the whole world rests on your shoulders” crutch. If you want sophisticated storytelling, The Witcher 2 is for you.

Best Gameplay Options: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

RPGs have been integrating various degrees of player choice for years, but Deus Ex makes huge strides in letting players create the kind of experience they want. Accomplishing your goals isn't just a question of choosing stealth or gunplay; Adam Jensen's array of upgrades and abilities creates a web of possibilities. Deus Ex is built to accommodate a variety of possible character builds, and finding a path that plays to your strengths is part of the fun. All you need to do is invest in things that sound cool to you, and you'll find a way to conquer most challenges Deus Ex throws at you.

Best Protagonist: Geralt (The Witcher 2)

Geralt is character with multiple nuances and subtleties. He isn't reduced to a single common archetype, and the game doesn’t rely on the player’s own power fantasy to give him a personality. He's not a full-blown antihero, but he isn't necessarily a do-gooder, either. Just like the player, he gets annoyed when he gets stupid tasks, and has no problem telling people off. His skills make him a highly sought warrior, but his victory isn't assured; he can get seriously hurt and even lose important fights. In short, Geralt feels human.