2013 wasn't exactly a blockbuster year for role-playing games, but that doesn't mean it was dull. The year had long-established series keeping beat (Pokémon X & Y), classic franchises returning (Ys, Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei), and completely new games debuting (Ni No Kuni, Dragon's Crown). While console RPGs might not be coming in droves like they used to, handhelds have more than picked up the slack. So what ended up being the best in a year that had small victories? Read on to find out.

Best Narrative: Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin Megami Tensei's core games aren't known for their story elements, but rather their punishing difficulty. However, Shin Megami Tensei IV had significant story depth regarding two characters with opposing and compelling views trying to lure you their cause. Do you wish for a lawful world that promotes peace, or another where the strong dominate? SMT IV asks these questions then lets you see the outcome of the paths you've chosen; some decisions have downright twisted consequences. With plenty of shades of gray and interesting questions regarding religion, hierarchy, and humanity, SMT IV made players think in a way few games do. 

Best Combat System: Tales of Xillia

The combat in Tales just keeps getting better. Tales of Xillia improves on an already-solid quick action battle system by adding the link system, where you pair two characters together to flank opponents. A linked character will aid you and provide special bonuses and combo attacks. Finding the best characters to pair up depends on the situation; a character with magic guard helps against enemies with powerful spells. Xillia kept battles frantic, fast-paced, strategic, and fun, keeping up its reputation as the RPG battle system to top.

Best Setting: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch

Ni No Kuni took us to a world straight out of our childhood imagination. The vibrant, fantastical world that Oliver visits is beyond stunning, thanks primarily to famed Studio Ghibli visuals oozing with whimsy. This is a world without boundaries, where cats rule kingdoms, trees talk, and each area, like the Fairygrounds and Ivory Tower, teems with creativity. Ni No Kuni brought us all back to the days where our imaginations went wild and we believed places like this truly existed. Not many games locales can take you back to your childhood self.

Best Tactical RPG: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Fire Emblem came back this year and proved why Intelligent Systems is still one of the best studios at creating tactical RPGs. Whether you were fighting to keep all your combatants alive, facing off against the tension of permadeath, or finding the best characters to pair together for brutal attacks (or marriage), Fire Emblem: Awakening made you think about every move carefully. With maps constantly upping the stakes with more combatants and unforeseen exploits, players were constantly on their toes and adapting, showing grid-based strategy gameplay is keeping up with the times.

Click the next page to find out which RPGs we thought had the best cast and most innovative online along with the best remake and non-combat system...