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Previous Winners
2018: Dragon Quest XI
2019: Death End re;Quest

As a site that covers the more niche games out there, best RPG is arguably one of our most important award categories. There are so many awesome RPGs releasing every year, both turn-based as well as action-RPGs. 2021 was no different. And with that, let’s take a look at our nominees for 2021’s best RPG.

Bravely Default II

Bravely Default 2 | Halcyonia

NA Release Date: February 26th, 2021 (Switch) September 2nd, 2021 (PC)
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC

Lately Square has been putting out, not just flashy modern RPGs, but also more fun and exciting traditional games. Bravely Default II follows the latest four heroes of light, out looking for the stolen crystals. The game is full of a bunch of fun job classes; all with their own outfits and skills, strategic turn-based combat and even a card game to enjoy. If you’re looking for some old school Final Fantasy to get into, but you want something new, these traditional RPG releases Square Enix has been putting out in recent years, mainly on the Nintendo Switch, are definitely where it’s at.

Shin Megami Tensei V

Shin Megami Tensei V | Lahmu

NA Release Date: November 12th, 2021
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Shin Megami Tensei V is a game that was announced back in 2017, when the Nintendo Switch was shown off for the very first time. It took quite a few years to finally come out, but the wait was definitely worth it. SMT V is, in my opinion, a lot more like Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, than Shin Megami Tensei IV. While I personally am partial to SMT IV, all of us at oprainfall who played SMT V had a great time. It’s got an exciting large world to explore in post apocalyptic Tokyo, there’s a fantastic soundtrack as is expected of any Atlus game, and there’s a brand new story and cool characters to get to know. It is for these reasons that we’ve nominated Shin Megami Tensei V for best RPG.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon | Ichiban and Friends

NA Release Date: March 2nd, 2021 (PS5)
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

Originally Yakuza: Like a Dragon came out in 2020, the one year we weren’t able to do our yearly awards. Nonetheless, it also happened to release on PS5 in 2021. Yakuza: Like a Dragon aka Yakuza 7, was a big change for the series. Rather than the usual action filled game where you’re free to beat up thugs and stomp on bikes you’ve smashed over their head, Like a Dragon ended up being a turn-based affair. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as past Yakuza games. Still, it definitely turned out to be a quality RPG in its own right. Yakuza: Like a Dragon gives you a party of characters to use in turn-based combat, a job system containing various jobs more suited for the Yakuza universe than your typical RPG and a bunch of the usual Yakuza side content and minigames; both old and new.

Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise | Alphen and Shionne

NA Release Date: September 10th, 2021
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

Tales of Arise, much like the latest Yakuza entry, is a very different game than past Tales Of titles. BANDAI NAMCO stuck with the action-RPG formula they usually go for in this series. However, the formula was significantly altered in many ways including, switching from the prior focus on guarding to evasion instead and getting rid of the post-battle character poses and interactions. Despite all the changes, Tales of Arise remained an amazing game which rivals the greatness of past Tales entries.

And the winner is….

Bravely Default II | Water Crystal

Bravely Default II!

Bravely Default II is our pick for 2021’s best RPG. It might seem preposterous to some, for us to pick this over both a Yakuza game and the new Shin Megami Tensei, but I think us RPG fans at oprainfall are suckers for that old school traditional formula Square Enix is so great at. There’s nothing better than traversing a fantasy world, collecting various jobs with cool and/or cute outfits and collecting cards to play a good old-fashioned card minigame, much like Final Fantasy games of the past.

Jenae R
Jenae is an RPG enthusiast who also enjoys cats, humidity-free warm weather, Dean Koontz books, Riichi Mahjong and a select handful of non RPG series and games. Two of her all-time favorite games are the original Shadow Hearts and Final Fantasy IX. She loves to ramble on about her numerous gaming opinions and is fortunate enough to be able to do it here at oprainfall.