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Why Gothic Was One of the Best RPGs of All Time

Updated on January 15, 2010

Before I had ever even heard of Gothic or Piranha Bytes, I had played most of the major games that were released to any fanfare in America. I had done a fair bit of game reviews for a local publication and, by then, thought myself a bit of an expert on PC gaming. I picked up Gothic in the sale bin at Best Buy, where the $19 or less games exist. The pictures and graphics on the box were kinda cheesy, to be completely honest. But, I was looking for a fun RPG, and twenty bucks wasn't a big issue. The game claimed that it had an open world, and that you could change the nature of the game through your decisions. I had no idea of what I left Best Buy with that day!

Gothic starts with a video of the human and orc war going bad for the humans. The humans are overpowered, but with magic ore based weapons they have a chance. (Sounds really lame, I agree. This is where it gets better.) The human king decides to enslave all people that he can to mine the magic ore. Anyone thought to be a criminal is cast into the mining camp. Things go bad, and the criminals take over the mining camp. Their demands are simple, women, booze, and money need to be given to them by the king and they will keep providing the magic ore. Oppression of the people by the king leads to oppression of the people by the criminals. (Oppression of the people is a common theme for Piranha Bytes games, I guess it gets us all motivated!) Now you, the unnamed hero (or villain) gets into it. You are tossed into the prison camp with an order from a mage to deliver a message to the mages locked inside. It seems important to you so you go along with it. Once inside you meet a variety of thugs and friends who help you become the agent of change. You discover a variety of plots to escape the prison and a nasty god want-a-be that needs to be destroyed. The world of Gothic is now upon you and you must decide whom to align with.

Once you have figured out the controls of Gothic, you can begin your mission. The controls of your character are quite different from most games. You select to perform an action, and must follow up with the action you need. Targeting an opponent is only part of the battle. You control the side that you attack from or the angle that you pickpocket from. You can rob every NPC that you meet and that will actually help you in the long run. But you don't have to. You can be the hero of the people, you can focus your energy on helping everyone and stopping all of the bad people. You can become the biggest hero or villain that you want.  

Of course Gothic contains hundreds of simple quests, like most RPGs. You have to find someone, kill something, retrieve an item, etc. But, the interaction between you and the NPCs is great. The character of Diego is a classic example. He is your first and best friend in the game and I found myself not wanting to let him down. (Diego returns in Gothic 2 and 3, but they changed his voice actor, he's still a great character, but something was missing) Other characters are obviously not so friendly and will try their best to stop you.

Gothic was the first game that I ever replayed after beating it. Because of the completely different goals of the three separate sects that you can align with, I just had to see what was different. I started by joining the warrior criminal leader of the prison camp, but also had to play again by joining the swampweed smoking, magic loving, swamp-camp nut-jobs. Of course the ending was the same, but the game did change dramatically. 

By comparison to the graphics and detail in modern RPGs, Gothic shows its age. But when you compare the enjoyment of playing the game, the story telling that was so masterfully done by Piranha Bytes, and the character development that went so far beyond the dry stats of modern RPGs, Gothic is still fantastic. I have compared every game that I have played since to it. Most have not held a candle to it...till Gothic 2.

You can always tell when you have found a truly remarkable game when the fans release their own modifications and addons. These can be found through a number of Gothic web sites such as The World of Gothic. Check out what others have though of Gothic.


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      cesskar 5 years ago

      You're right in all you say man!! For me, gothic 2 is the best game ever

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      WrittenByNobody 6 years ago

      Hay,this is amazing!And you´re so right! The first two Gothic games are uncomparable, but I think since Piranha Bytes left,gothic lost all of it´s awesome. Now it´s just a game like all the others.Sad story :(