I actually jumped the gun and had to revise this but here we go~
1. Shin Megami Tensei III - Nocturne
This is. My favorite game. Period. I can honestly talk for hours about it but the simple list is the atmosphere, style, sense of design and overall aesthetic are enthralling, the gameplay is quite challenging and very rewarding, it's full of soooo many mythological beings I love and in fact some of them I now like because of this game. I find myself wanting to make my games have the same effect this one's story sequences had, with how much care is taken into setting the mood with the angles, lighting, model poses that aren't used anywhere else in the game, music that shifts to different movements as the scene continues, and without a doubt I want such a fun and tactical battle system. I've yet to make even one complete, but I have hope!
2. Vagrant Story
Similar to Nocturne in that the stylistic choices and attention to detail and just overall *art* that went into this deeply affected me. I'm presently collaborating with a friend to make a game that is partly drawing inspiration from Vagrant Story with its closed setting, small cast of characters and dreary but beautiful atmosphere. The importance of understanding the defensive traits of your enemies in this game drove me to design my own monsters' defenses in a similar way, and I find myself giving them resistances for similar reasons (example, slimes are weak to piercing attacks because they slide through the jelly and hit the core).
3. SaGa 2
One of the very first RPGs on the Game Boy and one of my first as well, to this day its simple-yet-complicated stat system and the way everything felt organized and, for me at the time, big, just really affected the frame in which I view RPGs. This game in particular is one of the reasons that even if an RPG has the most enthralling story I've ever encountered, if I'm not enjoying the gameplay I'm going to get bored of it. I tend to favor story-light gameplay-focused RPGs as a result.
4. The World Ends With You
And then there's this one, which has both - a story I love with intricate goings-on behind what you see and very fun, addictive gameplay wrapped up in an unforgettable setting for me. This game is one of the reasons I have a fascination with the soul and the afterlife and my own stories tend to be built around those concepts. Not to mention how distinct and stylized the designs of the pins and Noise are, and as someone who values monsters in games that only added to my wanting to do the same. In addition, monsters lacking that stylization and seem to be thrown in "just because" tend to make me get tired of something quickly.