Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of RPG (Role Playing Games) and the japanese video games of these genre. The first RPG that I played for many hours and felt sucked in its universe was Final Fantasy 8 and the FF franchise is one of my favorite game series.
However, for the past years I couldn’t help but notice that JRPGs are becoming “dated” and outnumbered. Before you throw an angry comment (or cast a Firaga) on me, humor me for a seconds and think about the couple of questions below:
Q1. Would you prefer to play a game that took place in a new world with “original” characters or have a unique gaming experience on a world you may already be familiar with? [Final Fantasy XIII vs Skyrim]
Q2. Do you prefer to be told a story as a spectator or be part of one as protagonist? [Final Fantasy Vs Skyrim / Dragon Age II]
Every new Final Fantasy game introduces a brand new world with beautifully (?) designed characters along with combat and level up mechanics featuring great gameplay. However, you don’t feel like playing the game after you beat it, if not to remember how awesome this or that moment was. As a player, you are told an amazing story, much similar as a book. The second time you play (or read) it, the story won’t be different.
On the other hand, most modern RPG (MMO included) incorporate the decisions and personality of the player resulting in a experience that may not be unique to all players, but is much more envolving and compelling than “classical JRPG story-telling“.
Dragon Age II and Skyrim changed my view of JRPGs
I never played Elder Scrolls nor Dragon Age franchises before the games mentioned above (mostly because all my RPGs were Final Fantasies…) and after only one hour of gaming through Dragon Age II I already wanted to play it again due to the ramifications of the story based on some of my choices. I beat the game and there were moments when I was like O_O when the events of the main story unfolded, for basically two reasons: “death is easy” and “what you answer matters”. And by these two reasons I felt immersed on the story and universe of the game and wanted to keep playing it.
As for Skyrim, I am currently on level 32, and I don’t feel like letting go of the story of the Dovahkiin so soon. But more on that is for another post… maybe 😉
What about you? Do you agree that JRPGs are dead?
PS: After googling a little, I found two threads that can add more interesting points on this discussion:
PS 2: This discussion can become long and boring quite fast, so that’s why I didn’t mention Mass Effect and its impact on JRPGs, the experience of MMOs, the exaggerated nostalgia of Dissidia and so on…