RPGamer 2020 Awards – Best Action RPG

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Best Action RPG


First Place

Second Place

Third Place

A good action RPG requires a fine balance between the amount of skill required and how much is dependent on stats. This balance is even more important in a rogue-lite because repeated runs are more likely to bring out major balance issues. Hades manages all of this nearly flawlessly. The basis of the combat are simple main and secondary attacks for each weapon, with a handy dodge to quickly escape tricky situations. These basics are improved by a wealth of stat and special effect buffs that players can choose during each run. Finding which of these buffs and special effects pair perfectly with each of the many weapons is addicting and rewarding. There’s nothing like finding out an enhanced chance at critical damage works for every individual arrow in your flurry of shots, for example.

Of course no good action RPG system would be complete without fun and challenging enemies to fight, and thankfully Hades is full of them. Basic battles are often chaotic, with many enemies repeatedly spawning and projectiles flying fast and furious. New wrinkles, such as additional status ailments and other tricks, keep the action fresh. The four bosses in the game offer the biggest challenges, requiring precise dodging, pattern recognition, and, if all else fails, enough stat boons to make up for your mistakes. Hades’ action is incredibly engaging and addicting, and is likely to keep players coming back for more even after they roll credits.



A great RPG usually includes an excellent battle system, and Final Fantasy VII Remake is no exception. Though the transition to the PS4 avoided too many wholesale changes, the battle system was a notable alteration. The real-time action battle system allows players to destroy enemies by hitting them, but filling up the ATB gauge enables players to freeze time to select an action, keeping the turn-based essence intact. Though this new system is fast-paced, it is based on good strategies while encouraging players to switch characters during battles. Meanwhile, a friendly classic turn-based mode ensures none need be left behind by the changes. These changes, along with the narrative additions, made re-exploring Midgard a whole new experience. The 1997 turn-based classic turned into a must-play action RPG that preserves the essence of the original while feeling like a new game.

An international release of Seiken Densetsu 3 seemed like a pipe dream in 1995. So imagine the surprise RPGamers received in 2019 when they not only got an announcement for a localization of the original game in the Collection of Mana, but they were also getting a ground-up remake to boot. While Trials of Mana’s release was somewhat overshadowed by one of Square Enix’s other ground-up remakes, the game still found its way into the hands of eager Mana fans. Lots of love was poured into this remake, giving it the charm of the original title while upgrading the graphics and core gameplay to make it feel fresh. LIke its 16-bit counterpart, the game boasts a colorful art style and catchy tunes. In addition to the original story, the game also offers an epilogue chapter after the ending, giving original fans of the game a reason to revisit Trials of Mana even if they have played the 16-bit version to death. The combat also feels like a breath of fresh air, offering satisfying combos, screen-clearing spells, and massive bosses that are a blast to fight. Whether you’re an old-school Mana fan from the ’90s or a new RPGamer looking for a fun action RPG, Trials of Mana is a must-play.


by Mike Apps, Luis Mauricio, and Kelley Ryan