This has been a long year, but at the same time, I can't believe we'll be rolling into 2018 in just a few days. Around this time, I like to look back on the year and reminisce about my fond RPG memories. I devote so much time to these games, so it only feels fitting to give them one last kudos before I embark on more RPG adventures in the new year.  Without further ado, these are the RPG moments that helped define 2017 for me.

Finally Playing Persona 5
To say we waited a long time for Persona 5 is an understatement. The last main entry launched in 2008, and while we had numerous spin-offs to keep us at bay in the meantime, Persona 5's numerous delays hit hard.  Needless to say, I was more than ready for a new cast and adventure when the game finally launched this past April. Persona 5 delivered with an intriguing story and fun combat alongside some memorable characters. I loved immersing myself in that world, living the life of a regular high school study by day and being a slick Phantom Thief killing baddies by night. Side note: Makoto is best girl, especially for how she grows during the journey. Come fight me. For more on Persona 5, you can find me singing its praises here.   

Kingdom Hearts III's Toy Story Reveal
If you've watched any podcasts and replays in regards to Kingdom Hearts, you know by now that it makes me feel like a giddy kid. I had been waiting for Pixar to finally make its way to the series, and nothing made me happier than seeing Sora and company walk out in their toy forms chatting it up with Buzz and Woody at the D23 Expo in Anaheim. A bonus was getting a release window for next year, which I hope with every fiber of my being it hits. It was such an adrenaline rush, especially getting to chat with the famed Tetsuya Nomura about it all

P.S. Really hoping that Monsters Inc. rumor is true!

Nier: Automata's Finale
I will be kind and avoid spoilers here, but if you haven't made it through all the main endings, do so now! Those of you who have know exactly what I'm talking about with this moment. Everything comes together wonderfully, culminating into a big decision about sacrifice. The ending is unique and satisfying, showing Yoko Taro's true strengths as a creator. This is something that can only be felt after having gone through the blood, sweat, and tears of finishing all the main arcs. Watching a YouTube video will not do it justice. 

Creating My Own Final Fantasy XV Character In Comrades
Look, I've been a diehard Final Fantasy fan for years, so being able to transport my own avatar into that world was just amazing. With the Comrades multiplayer expansion, I had more fun than I thought I would teaming up with friends and others from around the world to take down iconic Final Fantasy monsters. The expansion has its rough spots, but I took delight in documenting every portion of my journey and feeling a part of the Final Fantasy XV story. 

Taking Down My First Corrupter In Horizon Zero Dawn
This adrenaline-filled moment comes right after the emotionally charged Proving, where Aloy gets to see both triumph and tragedy. Now strong and with plenty to fight for, Aloy takes on her first Corruptor and shows her natural skill in battle. The fight may be challenging, but engaging this fearsome beast is also incredibly satisfying. Your reward is the ability to hack the robots that roam the land, introducing a new gameplay mechanic that helps to set up Aloy's journey. From here, the stakes get higher and the bosses are even crazier.

Velvet and Laphicet's Bond In Tales of Berseria
Berseria features one of the stronger casts the series has had in recent years. Part of what makes the experience such a delight is Velvet and Laphicet's bond. They have a sister/brother relationship that’s truly fun to watch. The pair both go through their trying moments and help each other come out in a better place. 

Growing My Base In Ys VIII
Outside of localization issues, Ys VIII was one of my favorite RPGs this year. I could pick one of the big boss battles for this moment, but that'd be too easy and predictable. What I actually loved the most was locating castaways and bringing them back to my base. Watching each person find their own special role in the village, from medic to blacksmith, was exciting. 

The Mythra Reveal  In Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Before the game's launch, Nintendo teased about Rex being able to swap between Pyra and the mysterious Mythra, but we didn't have any details as to why or how he does so. Seeing Mythra in action during the third chapter's climax was nothing short of thrilling, and the whole scene plays out like an action-packed anime episode. Mythra reveals the true power of the Aegis and why everyone is trying to get their hands on Pyra. It does a great job at giving answers and raising questions all at once.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole's Big Choice Between Your Parents 
The Fractured But Whole has no shortage of over-the-top moments, but one takes it pretty far when it comes to your parents. The moment has both parents vying for your attention to do as they wish, forcing you to make a choice right in front of them. In many ways, this is every kid’s worst nightmare. Do you really want to pick between two loved ones and show your favoritism? Either way, the dark humor takes things to a new level in a moment that’s hard to forget.   

Pyre's Sophie's Choice
I wrote in depth about this in a previous column, but Pyre captivated me in an interesting way by letting me pick which characters to free from a wasteland. It pits your affection for characters against your gameplay goals to great effect. Do you sacrifice your best party member because they deserve freedom, or selfishly keep them to make the battles easier? Even when you lose, your opponent gets their freedom, which may be just as deserved or intriguing for what they do with it. This sense of choice kept me engaged not just with the story, but with the cast as well. In a way, you’re almost playing God, deciding who gets another shot at a decent life or who will stay trudging along in this hellish locale. With great power comes great responsibility, so I agonized and really cared about every character I let go to a better place.

What are your favorite RPG moments of the year? I'd love to hear about yours in the comments below.