Game On! Story-Driven RPGs 

Game on!
Game reviews by Elizabeth, Justine, and Tessy.

Hello everyone! If you’re looking for games that are longer in length, heavy with plot, and driven by story – these games are for you! These games are our all-time favorite story driven games; we hope you’ll enjoy these reviews and recommendations!
Today's theme
Story-Drive Role-Playing Video Games

Game One

Dragon Age 
Available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows, OS X, and iOS

Dragon Age

If you love story-based fantasy games, and you haven’t yet stumbled across Bioware’s Dragon Age series, I recommend it will all of my heart. Let’s give this review a bit of perspective with a game of “Would you rather?”. If someone asked me if I had to choose between two video game series, Witcher and Dragon Age, and the one I didn’t pick would be wiped off my computer and mysteriously crash every time I every tried to install it again... I would choose to keep Dragon Age. Without hesitation. Pausing for the gasp of shock, how could I denigrate one of the mostly highly rated game from the past few years that is a book series and a TV show? Yes I’m still holding to my decision. Both games are a three part series moving from bad graphics to gorgeous, with ever elevating game-play, complexity, and just all around awesomeness. Both have lore so expansive I could build them libraries, with a dash of fluff (or not so fluff) romance, and elements of the ever sought after “your-choices-matter-somewhat"". But where Dragon Age pulls ahead is their character customization and game companions. You are the gruff and grizzled warrior Warden, the flirty and light-footed Carta rogue, or the crusading Vashoth Qunari mage. And (unless you cheat via Wiki) that character is only grudgingly aiding you in your quest while that one adores you, but that one over there holds a secret that might ruin your entire mission. That sense of emersion and personal stakes is a necessary element to a story-based RPG that you’ll be investing hours and hours of your life into, and is the only reason why you won’t fling your keyboard/controller away in disgust at all of the side missions (that both of them have an abundance of).   

Now that I’ve hopefully intrigued you, here are a few basics. Bioware’s Dragon Age series currently has three games, with rumors of the fourth game having been confirmed at Gamescom 2020 with early production teasers. The game series takes place in the fantasy world of Thedas full of rich history and magic, and if you gave me this entire blog post I would outline the lay of the land for you with a color-coded map and a lot of arrows and doodles. Suffice to say, in the first game, the stakes are pretty clear. You are the accidental hero tasked with gathering your team and uniting the kingdom of Ferelden (in Thedas) against a tainted evil, the darkspawn. What are darkspawn? Where did they come from? How do we kill them? Well the first game will involve lots of the latter and fans are hoping Dragon Age 4 will clear up the first two questions. After a variety of endings where evil is still vanquished (for now), we move on to Dragon Age 2. For those familiar with Bioware’s other story-based RPG, Mass Effect (also amazing but with spaceships), Dragon Age is a bit different since each story has its own main character, probably because your choices can lead to your death. So, in Dragon Age 2 you get stuck as a human (a mistake Bioware hasn’t made again), and fleeing with the aid of a dragon from the darkspawn invasion from the first game, you start your life anew in Kirkwall, a former slave city, and hope the giant statues outside the docks aren’t an ominous foreshadowing of your future (they are). From there, you’ll inevitably get involved in epic plotlines, even though you’re just trying to ensure that your family and found-family survives (good luck with that). A chain-reaction is sparked (you contribute) and a war breaks out that sweeps you right into Dragon Age 3, where once again you are an accidental hero tasked with saving all of Thedas, but this time from demons. At least you get a castle where you can stand on the ramparts and think heavy leadership thoughts this time. In the first game I tried it with the pond, and it just didn’t have the same effect.  This is all a gross oversimplification of an amazing game series (And I didn’t even get to mention the romances! That would be an entirely separate blog post!), but I hope its enough that when the series goes on sale as Dragon Age 4 looms on the horizon, you’ll give it a chance, and end up loving the series just as much as I do. – Tessy

Game 2
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Available on Nintendo Switch
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses for the Nintendo Switch isn’t just a game. It’s an experience. It’s easily in my top 5 favorite video games of all time and is a must-have if you’re a Switch owner looking for an adventure worth your time and money. You play as Byleth, a professor at an Officers Academy called Garreg Mach Monastery where you must choose between teaching one of three houses: the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or my personal favorite, the Golden Deer. Each house consists of 8 students you train in combat, taking them on monthly missions to face off against bandits, those who oppose the monastery, and even monsters! Your objective is to keep your students alive and build bonds with them as you lecture, host tea parties, give them gifts, and most importantly strategize well in turn-based battles. With so much to do, you can easily sink 80 hours into the game before completion, and with such amazing re-playability, you can spend weeks or months playing without tiring of it. Each of the 4 routes is unique, containing completely different storylines and characters, and you’ll want to experience them all for a whopping total of 320+ hours of gameplay! For me, Fire Emblem is an easy 5/5. The art direction is phenomenal, the gameplay is addictive, and the story and characters are unforgettable. You won’t be able to put it down or play it fast enough, and you’ll have a hard time finding a game that will measure up.  - Justine

Game 3
Available on  Windows, macOS, Linux, and Nintendo Switch.

Hey, you can't talk story games without visual novels. Visual novels are the ultimate story games: instead of jumping, fighting, shooting, or solving puzzles, you read paragraphs of text, occasionally making choices and influencing the story along the way. Visual novels have a bad rap for being all dating games: (a) dating games are fabulous, I have no shame and (b) that's about as silly as calling every book in the library a textbook.  

Eliza, a 2019 visual novel by Zachtronics, is a game all about dialogue, but there's no dating here. You play as Evelyn, a young woman in a grey hoodie with exhaustion permanently etched on her face. Once, tech genius Evelyn created a virtual counseling AI named Eliza. Then, she burned out, quit her job, and vanished for 3 years. Now ELIZA is everywhere, and Evelyn has returned to her old company to work on the lowest rung on the corporate ladder. As an ELIZA proxy, Evelyn sits in a room with desperate people and reads ELIZA's therapy script -- and only her script -- as words appear on screen. She's a human face for an AI assistant. When bosses and friends realize Evelyn is back in town, they start offering her paths forward: advanced work on ELIZA, developing an alternate AI, or abandoning the tech industry completely. Is ELIZA making the world better or worse, and what will you as Evelyn do to shape the future? Eliza is a thoughtful story with no easy answers, and it's even more relevant this year than last (thanks, 2020). It's currently available on Windows, mac, and Linux, and will be available on Nintendo Switch in October.  - Elizabeth
Tell us what you think!

Know of any games we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by [email protected] On 18 September, 2020 at 3:24 PM  

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