­It has always…

­It has always been my opinion that a great role playing game (RPG) needs more than just good game play, it also needs to tell a good story.  All of my favorite RPGs have succeeded in doing just this.  Just like any book, the story can unfold from any number of perspectives and can be told in any number of ways.  One of my personal favorite games, Final Fantasy Tactics, does this in a very unique way.  There are a variety of ways for a game to begin.  Some games just throw you right into the action and you immediately control the main character from there, some give backstory from an omniscient presence, and so on.  Final Fantasy Tactics begins with a historian asking you (the game player) if you have ever heard of the Lion War and proceeds to tell a brief backstory to it.  He describes it as a two party war for power of the throne.  He proceeds to tell of a hero who came out of the war and became king, but then counters this by saying “… we also know that what we see with our eyes alone… isn’t necessarily the truth.”  Despite the fact that this was a poorly translated game, as many of the early playstation games were, this line comes through in full strength.  It pulls the player into the game, inviting you to see the true story.

The story follows this by introducing the main character, and saying that there was no record of him playing any part of the war, but that he was the true hero, which the church covered up for their own reasons.  They claim him to be a “blasphemer and anarchist” as well as “the root of all evil”.  The intro ends with the historian questioning whether this is the truth and invites you to join him in a journey to discover the truth.  I feel as if this brief intro (only takes about two minutes to read through) really pulls the player into the game, while also introducing the main character in a mysterious way.  It leaves you unsure of whether he is a true hero, or is in fact the root of all evil.  From the standpoint of the story, I feel the intro truly draws the player into the game.  Without spoiling anything, the game has a brilliant story of death, murder, betrayal, and everything in between. 

Allan

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2 comments
  1. khausoul said:

    I fully agree with your emphasis on story telling in games. It is easy for something like Angry Birds to attract people due to its simplicity, but for something like an RPG where there is more gameplay, a good story is key. With the modern gaming systems of today, it becomes increasingly difficult to get away with not having a good story. Just as a book must capture the audience with something interesting, so must a game. I am not familiar with Final Fantasy Tactics, but it sounds like it very successfully entrenches the player into the game. Just as books like to build mystery and intrigue, it looks like Final Fantasy has done the same. I think storytelling is one of the most important aspects of creating a game. As mentioned prior, there is not much storytelling required to play a game like Pong or Frogger, but in the modern day, games are complex, involved, and deep. Storytelling is seemingly just as important in games as it is in movies or books.

  2. talchild said:

    Though the translation for the original release was ofttimes inadequate (though not horrible and sometimes stellar), and the translation for the re-release overwrought, Final Fantasy Tactics has, in my eyes, one of the best stories told in video games. And I agree with your reading of the introduction. The way it entered you into the story through the eyes of a historian, looking back on ages past, piecing together the true history that was forgotten by time due to politics. However, as important as story is, I always feel that storytelling, the execution of the story, is more important, and though RPGs (particularly JRPGs) often times have strong stories, they often fall behind other genres in terms of story telling, particular in modern times, as games start to getter better at telling stories through the actual game mechanics (instead of through un-interactive dialogue sequences and cut scenes). Still though, they do tell fantastic tales, and I think Final Fantasy is one of the best examples of that.

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