So I had a PM conversation with macksting about our lists, and I thought I might share my reasons for some of those games I mentioned with y'all.
Vagrant Story is a pure atmosphere heaven!
It felt like I was right in medieval France, with all it's wonderful buildings, alleys etc. The sound design was awesome, and additionaly the story made the overall feel super mysterious.
So for me as a teenager interested in history as well as the supernatural it felt just like my dreamland: they captured the whole middle ages + mysterious magic thing perfectly, which makes it the most atmospheric game I've ever played.
Also I'm usually not too fond of high difficulty, but in this case it was a real challenge to compete against the bosses: it was really hard, and I needed many tries to succeed, but it was always possible and therefore not frustrating. You just had to concentrate and focus, then it would work.
Gothic is also an atmospheric giant.
Never in my life have I played a game where the disctinction between REALLY feeling safe and REALLY being scared (with an everlasting eerie melancholy being present all the time) was as imminent than this.
Walking through the wilderness in this gray, brutal world, feeling completely lonely, before seeing the Old Camp at the end of the road; - that's a journey from fear to hope. As soon as I've met the guards and entered the gates my whole body relaxed, and I could finally breathe again.
In this kind of world exploring made finally real sense beyond just finding new gear or shit. Rather it is about finding safe spots in a hostile environment, and testing the limits of your own courage.
Also the setting is extremely interesting, taking place inside the magic wall where only prisoners live and split up to build the three very distinct camps, led by Fire-, Water- and Swamp-mages respectively.
The "theology" of the three Gods works absolutely perfect too, as it is very simple but very deep.
The german voice acting was great too, but I have no idea how the english one is.
Invisible War was not as complex, long, original and gritty as the first Deus Ex (which undisputably is a masterpiece), but it had one huge bonus in my book: some of the choices youi make have immediate impact! So I've been faced with a choice, pick one option, and just a couple of minutes after that I can see or hear how my choice affected the world.
I can't remember for sure if IW really made it that much better than the first Deus Ex, but it definitely felt like an extraordinary experience in this regard.
Also I liked the characters a lot (especially the main antagonist), even though understandably many consider them to be cliché.
The Witcher II also had the choice&consequence thing going for them, much more than The Witcher I or III (which I both like, but not nearly as much as the 2nd part).
Hell, they even close off an entire area depending on your choice at a certain point.
The story was superb with all it's politics and intrigue, and Geralt and the other characters were made very believeable, which may have had to do with brilliant directing too.
A great combination of atmosphere, setting and choice&consequences is presented by Vampire - The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
The Goth-Punk vibe fits the Vampire thing absofuckinglutely perfect, LA at night seems to be a good fit for that, and it really makes a difference which clan you chose, whom you help etc.etc.