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Most Original


Most Original
Second Place
Third Place


The RPGamer staff has seen the full gamut of unique tricks and spins that make one RPG's systems minimally different from the other. It takes a special package of new ideas for us to declare a game the most original release of the year. Coming from a developer that previously won this award with 2011's Bastion, Pyre made vague promises of an arena fight where losing didn't result in a game over, then delivered much more. Its protagonist finds himself exiled to a desolate underworld where a group of misfits recruit him to be their band's leader. In this world, exiles battle in Rites, ultimately winning back their freedom through victory in the final Rite.

The Rites themselves are three-on-three sports battles, like tiny arena soccer. The varying strengths and weaknesses of teammates and opponents, along with the frantic pace and short length, keep battles fresh. Most of the game's time is spent on the role-playing side, though. Party members slowly reveal their histories, secrets about the setting, and eventually the truths about the Rites. The game's lore is expertly doled out as the player progresses through the Rites, and it would be a shame to spoil that here, but suffice to say that difficult decisions need to be made about each endearing party member's salvation, and the design around the character interactions is possibly more original than even the battle system. The combat, characters, and lore are cohesive in a way games rarely pull off, and this stands as one of the best and most memorable games of the year due to how unique it all is.

Though sports games with RPG-like stuff like experience points have been done before, full hybrids are rather rare, enough that they make up the top two for Most Original. While a golf RPG has been done before in early iterations of Mario Golf, Golf Story provides plenty of originality in both how far it goes with the idea of using some form of golf to solve everything and in its writing. Tasks such as preventing moles from ruining the course by hitting tracking balls to them (and their eventual training as groundkeepers) and challenges like disc golf help ensure that there are plenty of neat things to do. Meanwhile, an entertaining light story involving plenty of amusing characters and events throughout helps makes Golf Story one of the most refreshing titles of the year.

I said it once, and I'll say it again: MURDERING ROBO DINOSAURS IS AMAZING. Seriously, Horizon Zero Dawn oozes in originality in terms of its world building and presentation. I found myself completely enamored by the idea of an apocalyptic world where robot dinosaurs roam, and humanity is back to using primitive hunter and gathering methods with no technology to help them. Aloy's world is amazing to explore, and uncovering how the world went wrong makes for a great mystery. Though open world games are nothing new, the ideas shown here are a creative twist on the norm.

by Glenn Wilson, Alex Fuller, Sam Wachter


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