Many of the games you'll see nominated across multiple categories incorporate some RPG elements, but only a select few stand tall as the best that the genre has to offer. There were some great games released this year. Classic-style cRPGs, JRPGS, and more, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 led the pack. Larian Studios created an RPG that can be bent and broken while, somehow, remaining entirely whole and takes the award for Shacknews Best RPG of 2017.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 increases the potential of its combat system by nearly doubling the number of elements that can be manipulated by players, but also doubles the number of co-op players from two to four. You and three friends can tackle the story of Divinity: Original Sin 2 in an almost infinite amount of ways: Advance the story together or you can all just grief each other and advance independently while sending ripples across the massive world.
On top of the improvements to gameplay, Larian Studios improved their storytelling. The first Original Sin had an arguably better main plot, but the individual characters that joined had largely insignificant tales to tell. This time around, the devs created a handful of characters whose individual stories could stand on their own in their own game. You can choose to play as one of them, or create your own unique character, recruit the other characters, and help them along their way as you tackled the overarching plot involving divine beings. Throw in the Undead race, flipping entire established rules in the game on their head, and you have another way to bend this game into whatever you want it to be.
These things alone make for quite the RPG of the Year contender right? Fully voiced characters, an improved inventory system, wonderful graphics and effects, and more supply many cherries on top...but there's still another massive addition that sets Original Sin 2 apart from the pack: Dungeon Master Mode. With all the freedom the campaign offers, Dungeon Master Mode blows the doors open and gives you a tool inspired by classic Dungeons & Dragons. This takes an already incredible and extends its life infinitely, giving you a platform to express your own ideas and explore the twisted imaginations of others on the polished foundation Larian Studios has established.
2017 has been stuffed to the brim with great games and Persona V was one that arrived earlier in the year and established the pace. I personally am only just getting to play it, but others on the Shacknews staff have a lot to say about it. On paper, the modern Persona games sound like a complete clusterf**k. Before you know it, though, you'll be 80+ hours deep and wondering if you socialized with enough NPCs.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Torment will not be everyone's cup of tea due to the incredible amounts of reading, but this game has some of the best writing that the gaming industry has seen in years. It even rivals Divinity: Original Sin in its malleability, allowing you to manipulate your way through the majority of the game without throwing a single blow in combat.
Be sure to keep up with the rest of The Shacknews Awards as we celebrate the Year of the Games: 2017.