RPGs are among the most popular genres when it comes to video games. Video game developers have gone all crazy with their creativity when it comes to RPGs, and we have gotten titles that put us 1000 years in the future, and some that set us right in ancient Greece. Anyone who participated in gaming this year, it is quite comprehensible that 2021 was an awesome year for RPGs. Games like Monster Hunter Rise and Mass Effect: Legendary Edition dominated the RPG gaming industry this year, and alongside them, we got several other releases that are worth your time. This article lists the top 10 RPGs that were released in 2021.
10. NieR Replicant ver 1.22474487139…
At first glance, that stupendous title might blow any potential customer of the game away. While that became a thing because the original Nier Replicant received a large number of updates since its initial release, the NieR Replicant ver 1.22474487139… is an enhanced version of the original game which was Japan-only and exclusive to the PlayStation 3. This release was dubbed as a “version upgrade” by the developers Square Enix and Toylogic Inc.
The enhanced release is largely based on the original NieR Replicant from 2010. It was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in April 2021, and is a sci-fi RPG based in Japan. The enhanced releases see graphical overhaul alongside improved and remade combat and movement. The game also features small changes, new side missions, new achievements, and reworked audio.
NieR Replicant ver 1.22474487139… is the first global release in the NieR Replicant series, and an outstanding story coupled with good combat makes it worth your time. On top of that, the new visuals and other improvements are appreciated.
9. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy might not be a perfect entry for this series as it is not a full-blown RPG. But, it has several RPG elements in it. For instance, it has a basic skill tree. But, this game feels like a mix-up of gameplay elements from several series. Parts of it will feel like a Telltale game, and some other parts may feel like an Uncharted game. There is an overall Mass Effect influence in this title, and no one can deny that. While everything in this game might make it more deserving of the number 10 spot, the NieR Replicant only made it there because it is a remake of a decade-old game.
Marvel’s Avengers from 2020 was an absolute disaster. And that game came from the same developer, Eidos Montreal, and was published by the same people, Square Enix. But, Guardians of the Galaxy is one on the opposite pole as that of Marvel’s Avengers. It is a good game. Some parts do not feel original and seem as if Nathan Drake from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was put into Final Fantasy VII Remake, but some parts feel unique. Overall, it is an enjoyable experience, although not perfect.
8. Darkest Dungeon 2
Darkest Dungeon 2 is a game that revamps the original formula pretty significantly. For one, your runs are way shorter in this game. These aren’t hundred-hour runs. But this is for a reason. Between the smaller amount of time players spend with them and the overall smaller team of four characters, players are learning much more about these characters. They are fleshed out and that surely is a positive trade-off.
Darkest Dungeon 2 is still in Early Access, and things will probably still be changing until the developers, Red Hook Studios, finalize that. With that said, the different structure of playing a rogue-like in a stagecoach traveling across different biomes and still making the same kind of very difficult choices, still trying to keep a torch alight, still managing stress which affects team relationships in this sequel, some players have poorly reviewed this title for departing too far from the original game which we can’t disagree upon. There is no reason for having a sequel that feels and plays just like the original title. The developers got to try something new.
The experience of Darkest Dungeon 2 is unique enough to justify this sequel. The game does not feel as different as many people are making it out to be, but the fact that it is still in Early Access means that it still has some room to improve. And over one month, it has just gotten better and better. It is an enjoyable experience, and we think it is a good game and worthwhile addition to the series.
Eastward seems like a combination of several things. The most prominent among them is “Legend of Zelda”. You can see influences from nearly every 90s role-playing and action role-playing experience along with some heavy Studio Ghibli influence, especially in the art and some of the progression of the narrative itself.
The game uses a very quirky storytelling device. The naming of the game is pretty unconventional. It is directly linked to the gameplay where you are on a linear train ride eastward. Players start in a mining town in a post-apocalyptic world where a disease has sent a lot of people underground. The main character fears the outside world, but he also wants to see it. With a rather wooden protagonist whose lack of appropriate body language makes the game way more confusing, Eastward is not a briskly paced game, but it is an artfully created one. It does what it sets out to do.
The game does feel a bit warm in tone. If you are someone who enjoys Studio Ghibli movies that keep bouncing from genre to genre, then this game is for you. Its Zelda-like gameplay is kind of challenging, but it is way more linear than any Zelda game.
6. Bravely Default 2
Bravely Default 2 is an awesome JRPG for Nintendo Switch. The game is a sequel to the original Bravely Default from 2012 which launched on the Nintendo 3DS, and not a story continuation like Bravely Second: End Layer. Bravely Default 2 is set in the same world as its predecessor, but it is in a completely different continent so you don’t have to relive the original game to get the story of this title.
Much like previous titles, Bravely Default 2 features role-playing aspects combined with turn-based battles. Several smaller updates and improved mechanics make Bravely Default 2 a more enjoyable experience as compared to its predecessors. If you like traditional JRPGs, Bravely Default 2 is the way to go. It is a big epic story in a new world, and it is fantastic.
5. Shin Megami Tensei V
If you are familiar with Shin Megami Tensei, you might know that is a sister series to Persona, and this is the game where they decided to do everything to modernize and talk about more recent issues. It is an interesting title. It retains all the stuff people enjoy about the Persona series, while also doing a lot of experimenting. Interesting plot developments and incorporation of some more modern game elements, like a fast travel system, makes the game significantly better to deal with in terms of the mundane elements that exist in every JRPG.
This game, despite being a more experimental title, knows what is doing. It truly shows what the developers, Atlas are capable of outside of the already-proven Persona formula.
4. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Much like the very first mention of this list, NieR Replicant ver 1.22474487139…, mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a remade version of the entire Mass Effect trilogy which includes three titles, Mass Effect (2007), Mass Effect 2 (2010), and Mass Effect Effect 3 (2012). It comes along with the quality of life type improvements, technical stuff, visual enhancements, and remastering. Being the oldest game in the series, the original Mass Effect from 2007 is the game that benefits the most, but all across the board, it’s a very good version of these games and is highly recommended.
The Legendary Edition also is a good value-for-money package since you get three great games at the cost of one. Rumor has it that this title might come to Xbox Game Pass, so keep an eye out for that too.
3. Scarlet Nexus
Scarlet Nexus is a mix-up of several aspects from various series that the gaming industry has seen to date. It is more of an anime cyberpunk Devil may Cry / Platinum Games style romp. That does not fully describe it, but if you’re on board for that description, the game’s not going to disappoint. Several unique aspects make Scarlet Nexus special. These include some psychic power stuff, a lot of what you might qualify as magic in another game.
Scarlet Nexus has a very interesting story, but a lot of it depends on the execution and where it goes. Because, for the base explanation, there are people with superpowers, and then there are evil mutants that they fight. That is not the end, and the game has a lot more to it. The game starts with a lot of exposition, and as it goes, it gets better.
If you are looking for something to play after having gotten through the NieR games and want something along those lines, but maybe not quite the same thing, Scarlet Nexus is where to go. This game is great for that, and it is an enjoyable bunch.
2. Monster Hunter: Rise
Monster Hunter: Rise is the Nintendo Switch iteration of Monster Hunter. It is built very much on the principles and aspects of the original Monster Hunter: World. This game was built on the Resident Evil engine and for a Switch game, Monster Hunter: Rise is extremely visually impressive.
But, what shines is the gameplay of this title. The developers have added a vertical element with a grappling hook and obviously, the name of the game indicates this. ‘rise’. So, simply put together, Monster Hunter: Rise is Monster Hunter: World with a few elements a little bit simplified, and added in that verticality.
If you loved the original Monster Hunter: World, and want something on the Nintendo Switch, which may improve the Monster Hunter formula, or because you just prefer the platform, this game is it. It will take up hours and hours of your time, and you will enjoy every second you put into it.
1. Tales of Arise
Tales of Arise is the latest entry in the long-running Tales series, and it is a great entry into this series. The story itself is interesting because it pits two different worlds against each other in an interesting way, although not straightforwardly. There is a technologically advanced world and a medieval world. The two primary characters come from either of these worlds. The game features great updates, but it does not overhaul the already great battle system of Tales games. And, along with that, the story does make good usage of its characters.
Tales of Arise is a beautiful and very fun entry to this long-running and fantastic series.