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The Best RPG Games Of 2021

Fans don't always agree about what defines an RPG, or Role Playing Game. Some describe RPGs as a recreation of tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, which grew in pop culture cachet over the past few years with popular "let's play" series like Critical Role and Fantasy High cropped up online. Gamers might think of storied franchises like Final Fantasy, or other entries that embrace Japanese RPG aesthetics when they ponder the definition of RPGs, but classification is pretty simple.

Ultimately, RPGs ask players to control a specific character or characters through an (often) immense story. Sometimes, these stories feature in depth character development, which could account for so many fans remembering the plots of their favorite games even years later.

RPGs come in all manner of flavors, like action-adventure or tactics, and the genre's fanbase remains strong. 2021 looks like a great year for RPGs, and several games have moved to the forefront. If you're the type of RPG player that tries to hide specific quirks that set you apart from the rest of the gaming world, or if you're always on the hunt for obscure RPG gems, this list of the top RPGs of 2021 most likely has something for you.

Loop Hero keeps RPG fans coming back

Loop Hero attempted to reinvent RPGs, and it succeeded. Released on February 3, 2021, Loop Hero takes players to a world where an evil Lich has cursed the world to move through the same repetitive loop over and over again. The premise sounds simple, but the gameplay is unlike most RPGs.

Available only on PC at its time of release, Loop Hero uses repetitiveness to its advantage. Players must plan out their dungeon trek before letting their hero loose to complete the loop. Though the premise sounds simple, there's a great deal of strategy involved while mapping out what each individual dungeon run will be like. Players must use strategy, as well as a little bit of luck, for things to happen just right.

Loop Hero earned an aggregate score of 84 on Metacritic, and critics adored the quirky new roguelike RPG. In general, critics noted that Loop Hero has the potential to eat up players' time with its addictive gameplay and extensive replayability, which matches what players usually want from an RPG. Even streamers got in on the fun after Loop Hero appeared, playing the game for their fans and getting swept up in the varying strategies available.

The Nioh Collection slashes through other RPGs

February 2021 saw a remaster of one of the most exciting action RPGs in recent history, Nioh. The Nioh Collection for PS5 provided a next-gen facelift for the franchise. Fans had the choice to purchase the games separately or together, as well as to receive a free upgrade from the PS4 to PS5 version if they chose.

Nioh followed William, a masterless samurai journeying between warring nations in a historic, yet fantastical Japan. Nioh 2 allowed players to create their own protagonist in an exhaustive character creator.It also served as a prequel to the first game, fleshing out the lore of the world. Both Nioh and Nioh 2 allowed players to enter a historical Japan flavored with very real Yokai, or demons, and fight their way through the harsh levels.

The Nioh Collection received high scores on Metacritic, and impressed critics with its beautiful graphics and challenging gameplay. Game Informer compared Nioh to similar games like the Dark Souls franchise, but ultimately noted that Nioh has a flavor all its own — one that rewards players for being repeatedly destroyed.

Even though Nioh is only a few years old, the graphical and quality of life improvements in the remastered edition make the game worth picking up all over again.

The Phantom Thieves return in Persona 5 Strikers

Also receiving strong reviews, Persona 5 Strikers marks the long awaited return of the Phantom Thieves. The game appeared almost a year earlier in Japan than in other territories, but after a quick name change, Persona 5 Strikers finally made its way to the rest of the world in 2021.

Persona 5 Strikers delivers in both story and gameplay, and even includes a familiar voice or two. Critics praised Persona 5 Strikers for its frantic gameplay and intriguing story. Mostly, fans just wanted a chance to see the Phantom Thieves in action again. The excellent character development from Persona 5 carried over into Persona 5 Strikers, delivering the plot and character interaction that fans craved.

Persona 5 Strikers is an action RPG of the best kind. It introduces new systems while also keeping elements that fans loved in Persona 5. Most importantly, it continues the story of the original Persona 5, which is all fans wanted in the first place.

Ocean's Heart takes RPG players back to the 1990s

Many fans consider the 1990s to be the golden age of RPGs, which brought about brilliant turn-based battling games like Chrono Trigger, as well as action RPGs like Zelda: A Link to the Past. Ocean's Heart attempts to bring some of those 1990s JRPG vibes to the present day, and it ultimately succeeds.

Earning a 79 on Metacritic, Ocean's Heart provides retro graphics and story beats, putting players in the shoes of the young Tilia. Tilia just wants to find her father and best friend, but she ends up having an adventure along the way. In this top-down action RPG, Tilia travels across a surprisingly detailed world in search of her lost loved ones.

Ocean's Heart focuses on exploration and discovery, and draws inspiration from Zelda. Ultimately, the game asserts a space for itself, taking elements from RPG classics and refiguring them into something special. One reviewer said, "The aesthetics of this game stand out as a delightful middle ground between Zelda, The Witcher, and Bloodborne." These creepy, cool, detailed designs translate into hours of adventure, exploration, and nostalgia for RPG fans everywhere.

Everhood brings back the beat

Despite its newness, Everhood has skyrocketed to the top of the Metacritic charts with an 81 from critics. Everhood bills itself as an "unconventional adventure RPG," and it certainly lives up to that title. Everhood's combat system is hard to describe, but could most closely be compared to Undertale, which uses a similarly unconventional battle system.

Everhood's combat relates to music, and players must hop, dodge, and maneuver around musical obstacles. The game's plot seems simple enough. Players take the roll of a wooden doll missing an arm. While pursuing the blue dwarf who stole the arm, players explore the strange landscape, filled with creatures and friends, all while engaging in musical battles. Made by a small team, Everhood's attention to detail and humor will impress even the most stoic RPG fan.

The fan community for Everhood is growing, too. The official Everhood Twitter account frequently posts fan-modded musical battles, like one that features a crossover with Among Us. Everhood's crossover potential, along with its musical combat system, make it worth watching in 2021.