Miscellaneous Awards Discuss

Game of the Year

Persona 5

Game of the Year
Second Place
Third Place


There's no question that 2017 was the strongest calendar year for excellent RPG releases in a long time. In a battle between a fresh take on Zelda, an outstanding new action RPG IP, and a few unvarying entries in our favorite JRPG series, Persona 5 only just came out on top. Though even if Persona 5 doesn't vary much from staff favorites Persona 3 and 4, it certainly improves upon them. Randomly generated dungeons are replaced with designed ones, while the story maintains a level of uncertainty in its events that more successfully handles suspense and plot twists. As a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off, it's willing to confront the player with uncomfortable scenarios and villains that exist in today's society, even more so than prior entries. Dungeons themselves reflect this, being warped dreamscapes that put dark spins on how evil people see the world.

While the biggest steps forward are in the execution of the new dungeons and setting, the series also sets the bar for stylish audiovisual presentations and engaging turn-based combat, and this entry does no wrongs there. The social sim mechanics are deeper with more options without necessarily more complexity. The most impressive feat is how all the systems tie in with the setting and story, resulting in an impressive, cohesive package that's fun to play. Since the protagonists are teenage Phantom Thieves, picaresque novel concepts intertwine with high school drama and SMT occult themes, and all these influences consistently permeate the game from start to finish. An outstanding endgame, both thematically and mechanically, caps off the experience, leaving Persona 5 as the best RPG of 2017.

For some, it was the enigmatic setting shown in pre-release footage that sealed the deal — a post-apocalyptic future with what appeared to be primitive humans hunting colossal robot dinosaurs that roam the beautiful, lush landscape. For others, the game's opening hours that established a world with a breathtakingly mysterious past, unknown even to its own inhabitants, marked the point of no return. Finally, for the few that resisted the game's siren calls, the many-faceted combat system that offered stealthy trap-setting and systematic disassembly of machines swooped in for the kill. No matter your poison, one thing's for certain: Horizon Zero Dawn quickly became a darling of 2017 for anyone who played it.

In such a great year, any one of five or six games stood a great chance of coming away with Game of the Year, but in the end Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has to settle for third. A fantastic follow-up, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 retains much of what made the first game so loved, but doesn't rest on its laurels, making plenty of improvements along the way to its overall gameplay and combat. Once again, Monolith Soft has built some incredible locations that are brilliant to explore, while Yasunori Mitsuda's direction over the music provides a stellar audio backing, and a fantastic cast and voice acting help bring to life a thoroughly engaging tale with an excellent conclusion. It's been a magnificent year, as shown by such a great game only managing third when it could easily have won in almost any other.

by Glenn Wilson, Pascal Tekaia, Alex Fuller


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