RPG of the Year Awards 2021 thumbnail

RPG of the Year Awards 2021

Celebrate a year of phenomenal role-playing games

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for GOTY Awards on 🏆

2021 was bursting at the seams with incredible RPGs from every facet of the genre so here are the very best in 11 distinct categories.

│ Remember to support your favourite streamers and content creators for all the entertainment that they provide. 🎬

This year, we're awarding the overall best RPG of the year for the very first time and hope to continue doing so every year from now on. v1d30chumz 18-232-56-9

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... Action RPG of the Year

As a mere upgrade of an 11 year old game, it's incredible how NieR has held up over the years. Its deeply immersive setting, dire story, and jaw-dropping twists make it an astounding narrative-driven journey and on top of that, its gameplay is super-fun, too, with action-packed combat and enjoyable side content. Throw in a mesmerizing soundtrack, quirky characters with splashes of humour, and a pitch-perfect somber atmosphere and you're left with a stand-out formula. I loved it back in 2010 and in 2021, it's still one of my favourites.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... Review Award image →
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... screenshot
It shouldn't be a miracle that this action RPG great won an award

Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition Turn-based SRPG of the Year

Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition is an SRPG that I ended up absolutely loving as it grew on me. With a premise that immediately ties into current events such as global warming and a pandemic, it can be quite an uncomfortable game to play yet that notion actually makes it even more engaging. Guiding your team across the globe in the hopes of minimizing the effects of a mutant strain that turns humans into monsters will constantly compel you to make the right decisions for the betterment of mankind. Oh, and the combat is excellent!

Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition Review Award image →
Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition screenshot
You don't often see this much verticality in SRPGs

The Riftbreaker Real-time SRPG of the Year

The Riftbreaker is a genre-blender that incorporates many genres and mechanics into one action-packed formula that'll have you frantically strategizing on the fly. The fact that its difficulty is cranked up to 11 as alien forces can wipe out your entire base in mere minutes if you're not careful makes it an incredibly intense real-time SRPG that was hard for me to put down. Of course, its satisfying twin-stick shooting and exploration mechanics are superb as well. Overall, The Riftbreaker makes colonizing a hostile alien world a blast.

The Riftbreaker Review Award image →
The Riftbreaker screenshot
No time to accept an award; must make base stronger...

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Modern JRPG of the Year

As a sequel to a 3DS game from a few years back, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin isn't quite what mainline Monster Hunter players would expect as it throws the action RPG formula out of the window in favour of a turn-based battle system with plenty of rewarding mechanics that place a heavy emphasis on strategy and planning ahead. With beautiful anime visuals and a top-notch sense of humour, you'll absolutely delight in watching the story unfold as you collect and raise monsties and take on your next big challenge.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review Award image →
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin screenshot
Good thing Leia's wearing a helmet

Bravely Default II Traditional JRPG of the Year

Speaking of sequels to 3DS games, Bravely Default II continues the formula that was set by the original in a faithful way albeit with some fresh ideas of its own. The series does a superb job of emulating what made many classic JRPGs special while offering its own spin on turn-based battles with its Brave / Default commands that allow you to save up turns and unleash them all in one go. This sequel makes the classic combat really shine and its gorgeous visuals, rewarding new jobs, and nifty card game are the icing on the cake.

Bravely Default II Review Award image →
Bravely Default II screenshot
Bravely Default has always nailed the PS1-era feel

UNSIGHTED Retro-inspired RPG of the Year

As another great genre-blender, UNSIGHTED incorporates elements of The Legend of Zelda series and Metroidvanias into one satisfying action RPG campaign where you can explore a post-apocalyptic world at your own pace. However, you shouldn't dilly-dally because you must retrieve items that help extend your android friends' lives and they will unfortunately perish if you don't succeed before their time is up. This dire situation combines beautifully with the retro aesthetic to make for one beautiful game that'll keep you coming back.

UNSIGHTED Review Award image →
UNSIGHTED screenshot
Alma fights hard to save her friends

Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi Dungeon Crawler of the Year

As a huge fan of classic first-person dungeon crawlers starting with Moraff's World back in the early '90s, I love when games in the genre present an old-school level of challenge. Thankfully, Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi does so while offering a disturbing game world that's set within distinct dungeons which each have their own objectives that you'll gradually uncover as you juggle between them. It's super-satisfying to unlock shortcuts, appease then slay devious monsters, and enhance your party to become an unstoppable force.

Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi Review Award image →
Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi screenshot
No one said that being an undernaut was going to be easy!

Saviors of Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City Revisited Portable RPG of the Year

Out of all the RPG awards this year, this category was the toughest to choose a winner for seeing as there have been many outstanding RPGs for Switch in 2021. However, the one that stood out most as something that's perfectly suited for portable play is Saviors of Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City Revisited as it features 2 very different and awesome dungeon crawler RPGs that you can play for minutes or hours at a time. Whether you decide to chip away at a dungeon, set up your party with new gear and upgrades, or take on a challenging boss, this pack is perfect for on-the-go gameplay that you can easily pick-up-and-play without getting lost.

Saviors of Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City Revisited Review Award image →
Saviors of Sapphire Wings / Stranger of Sword City Revisited screenshot
Don't you love being able to name your party members?

Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack RPG Collection of the Year

Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack combines Sophie, Firis, and Lydie & Suelle's journeys into one comprehensive package that features a solid amount of upgrades and extras. As if the 3 original games aren't awesome enough on their own, you also get access to all of the DLC as well as additional cauldrons and costumes for Sophie, vehicles and quests for Firis, and a new area for Lydie & Suelle that ties in with Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists. Oh, and who could resist the lovely Digital Art Books that are included, too? 😊

Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack Review Award image →
Atelier Mysterious Trilogy Deluxe Pack screenshot
It's lovely to see folks working together for the greater good

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Casual RPG of the Year

After taking the #1 spot on our Top 10 Cozy Video Games list earlier this year, there's no doubt that Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is the very best casual RPG of 2021. Series fans fell in love with Ryza in 2019 and she's back and this time, she finds herself in the big city as she makes new friends as well as a name for herself. It's a lovely tale through-and-through and the familiar Atelier gameplay is on full display with an ever-growing list of tasks to take on at any given time. Atelier Ryza 2 is lighthearted RPG fun at its best.

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Review Award image →
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy screenshot
What's more of a surprise; our award or that little cutie?

Tales of Arise RPG of the Year

Admit it; you saw this coming, right? Tales of Arise is not only the best RPG of 2021, it's also the greatest Tales game ever made which says a lot because the iconic action RPG franchise has been going strong ever since its debut back in 1995. From its stunning visuals to its combat that incorporates more strategy than ever, it's obvious why series fans were blown away when they got their hands on it. To top it off, you get enjoyable new traversal abilities and its larger-than-life story will keep you compelled as you watch the incredibly memorable cast of characters fight and evolve to overcome all odds. If there's one RPG you play from 2021, make sure it's Tales of Arise. 🏆

Tales of Arise Review Award image →
Tales of Arise screenshot
Now, this is one award-worthy team!
Gameplay video playlist for RPG of the Year Awards 2021 thumbnail
Gameplay video playlist for RPG of the Year Awards 2021
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