The best JRPGs of 2017

With some long-awaited titles and unlikely localizations mixed in with pure surprises, there were a lot of JRPGs in 2017 and the batch wasn’t lacking in quality. But there are only so many hours in the day! So if you only play three of the year’s role-playing games, it should be these. (But also you can play more than three and we wouldn’t exactly be mad at you.)

The best JRPG of 2017: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5

Persona 5 has been a long time coming; this latest installment builds on the idea of teenagers being the ones to face supernatural circumstances and set things right. It is rather timely too, as our group of heroes is fighting against corruption in this latest game. They stylishly steal hearts as the Phantom Thieves, forcing sinful adults to confess their crimes, accept their punishment and hopefully make the world a better place. It looks good, it sounds good and it plays rather well! – Jenni

People who love RPGs generally love Persona, and that’s not just because of its sheer quality. It leans into the elements that genre fans love, like getting to spend tons of time with characters and appreciating the downtime as much as the climactic battles. It’s not a short, convenient game, but it never even tries to be, and that lets it be the most full-throated ambassador JRPGs could have. – Graham

Runner-up: Monster Hunter Stories

The Monster Hunter series’ monsters are not exactly… friendly. Or cuddly either, for that matter. Yet somehow, the idea of befriending these creatures and working alongside them in a turn-based RPG with a rock-paper-scissor sort of battle system is all kinds of appealing. The harvesting of materials, crafting of armor and hunting of various threats all remain, coupled with the ability to fight other Riders and explore the world with the help of monsters’ unique abilities. It is humorous and lighthearted in a way the main games could never be, and I appreciate that. – Jenni

Runner-up: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

The strategy-RPG franchise moved more toward RPG than strategy in its latest release, an enhanced remake of the experimental (and Japan-only) Fire Emblem Gaiden. It feels more like an RPG, too, with instanced battles, dungeons and a focus on grinding and exploration. It’s an interesting, peculiar package, but there’s definitely some Fire Emblem shining through in there. – Graham

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