It’s award season here at Twinfinite! Let’s look back at the best RPGs from 2017. Voted on by our editors, these games, in particular, stood out as among the most engrossing and enjoyable RPG experiences from this year. Let’s start our top vote-getting honorable mentions, runner-ups, and finally, of course, our overall winner!
Honorable Mention: Nioh
Without a doubt, Nioh is the best action RPG we’ve seen in all of 2017. Despite taking many cues from the Souls series, Nioh’s combat system is wonderfully deep with so many intricacies and complex techniques to learn. From the Ki pulse mechanic to the various moves you can pull off with the three different stances, Nioh literally lets you play the game however you like. Even though the weapon type selection is somewhat limited, the move set variety for each type ensures that you’ll still be learning new moves and mastering techniques even after a hundred hours into the game.
Not to mention, Nioh also prides itself on giving players all the customization freedom they could possibly want in an RPG. Sure, you can’t create a custom character, but you can certainly forge your own unique weapons with various abilities, and even customize the appearance of your armor however you like. However, while Nioh absolutely nails it on the gameplay front, its systems can start to feel a little bloated once you’ve sunk enough time into the game. The storytelling also feels woefully lacking, and your enjoyment of Nioh will depend on how much you love the game’s action combat.
Honorable Mention: NieR: Automata
On the flip side, NieR: Automata feels like the complete opposite of Nioh. Developed by Platinum Games, the action combat is Automata is certainly serviceable, and can even be quite fun when you’re playing on the default difficulty. 2B is able to equip two different weapon types, and this allows you to build various different combos with versatile move sets. However, there’s little reason to experiment with all these move sets when you’ve got a Pod that you can use to shoot at enemies from afar with no repercussions or consequences. On higher difficulties, NieR: Automata starts to feel unbalanced as enemies only a level or two higher than you can decimate you in one hit, and it isn’t worth the effort to try to attack them with your swords when you can just shoot them with the Pod.
So maybe NieR isn’t really the best action RPG we’ve ever played, but it more than makes up for that by providing us with one of the best stories we’ve ever experienced in video games. NieR is utterly innovative in the way it lets its story unfold, and it’s certainly not one you’ll soon forget.
Second Runner-Up: South Park: The Fractured But Whole
We’ve been through the shock of “Wow South Park is actually a good RPG” before, but somehow, it still amazes us. The Fractured but Whole picks up where The Stick of Truth leaves off narratively, but takes a lot of brave chances with its gameplay. Not content with not messing with what worked in the first game, Ubisoft and South Park Studios switched the genre to a tactical-RPG style and it worked wonders. South Park: The Fractured but Whole is one of the most refreshing, face-paced, and fun TRPGs we’ve played in years. It is very simple to pick up and play for those just playing for the story, but has a lot of depth and strategy there too for those that want to master the game.
And, of course, there’s the obvious point of it just being hysterical assuming you’re into the series’ over-the-top, nothing off limits, offensive humor. The game amounts to a 15-20 hour long South Park episode. The Fractured but Whole is a perfect length, and bows out just before it starts to wear out its welcome.
First Runner-Up: Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 isn’t an easy game, and even if you choose to play on the lowest difficulty setting, you’ll certainly still run into quite a bit of trouble during certain combat encounters. However, Divinity also gives you the freedom in choosing how you want to deal with your encounters in the game. The turn-based tactical combat system is deep and satisfying, and planning ahead of your battles is paramount to success. Ranged attackers deal more damage from higher ground, poison puddles can be struck with a spark to create a devastating fire, and if you’ve got the necessary tools, you can teleport your enemies into a fire pit over and over again.
Or, if you’ve progressed far enough in a certain quest, you might even avoid combat altogether and talk your way out of a nasty situation. The possibilities in Divinity: Original Sin 2 feel endless, and the game absolutely rewards you for trying something different and going off the beaten path. The Origin characters themselves are properly fleshed out with intriguing backstories, and for once, Divinity actually makes the idea of playing a preset character more appealing than a user-created one.
The only gripe we had with Divinity: Original Sin 2 was the next-to-useless quest journal that the game provided, which offered no useful information or hints about how to progress through a quest if you weren’t paying full attention to NPC dialogue, and a story that starts to get tangled up in itself towards its latter half. Even so, Divinity is still the most immersive RPG we’ve played all year, and we can’t recommend it enough.