Video games are lucky enough to have broad, diverse genres that guarantee everyone will find games to enjoy. From the oddly named Metroidvanias, to adrenaline charged horror, to niche relaxing meditation games. Almost everything a player could ever want is available. Games are awesome because of this. As a form of entertainment, they are accessible to almost everyone with the plethora of casual games, while also acting as an art form capable of conveying emotions and ideas in a way that impacts players on a more personal level than film or writing.
Everyone has some extent of genre bias. Some people exclusively play shooters and sports games. Some only mess around with smaller indies that offer new creative ideas. There’s even hardcore fighting game competitors who dedicate milleniums to inputting combos. Up until recently, I found the peak of my enjoyment in platformers. They are simple and classic, being fundamentally unchanged since Super Mario Bros. on the NES. It’s mostly Mario, to be completely honest, he’s just great--and timeless apparently. Non-plumber platforming has also been an ongoing joy, from the intense pain of Super Meat Boy or Celeste, to the engaging collect-a-thons or adventures like Banjo-Kazooie and Hollow Knight. Show me a platformer that at least one person appreciated, I’ll probably dig it. I say ‘until recently,’ because I was perhaps close-minded on what genres I could really enjoy.
Yeah you’ve read the title, I’m tiptoeing around Role Playing Games, a weird, broad genre that has a name that could define almost every game ever. According to Google, an RPG is: “a game in which players take on the roles of imaginary characters who engage in adventures, typically in a particular computerized fantasy setting overseen by a referee.” Alright, this still does not clear anything up, so I’ll create my own observed meaning. While it’s true that RPGs have many subgenres, like JRPGs, TRPGs, or MMORPGS, I think a game becomes an RPG when it has some form of character progression--such as skill trees, level systems, and items--and is likely, but not always, turn-based.
For some unconfirmed reason, my past self was a self-diagnosed disliker of RPGs. I had justified it by saying that I found turn-based combat monotonous. From what I can tell, my early interactions with the genre just weren’t great games for me. I tried various Pokémon titles, all of them bored me. I attempted older games such as Final Fantasy and Golden Sun, those never caught me. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is technically in the genre, and is indeed flaming garbage.
Then Octopath Traveler happened. Leading up to release, Square Enix released a first demo to garner interest and feedback on the game. I tried it, it was boring. However, soon before launch they put out a demo of the first few hours of the game, which I reluctantly tried with a splash of pessimism. It was great. I don’t know what changed, but the combat was extremely satisfying and the world just instantly consumed me. I loved every second of it.
Apparently I didn’t hate the genre, but I wasn’t anticipating any other games. Before the launch of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it was another series I decided to dismiss and occasionally mock. Yet, I enjoyed it a lot. I mean, a lot. Fast forward to now, I am working my way through Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition the epitome of this article’s favorite three-lettered genre. So far, it has been an absolute joy to experience the Dragon Quest world for the first time with all of it’s delightful charm and slimes that I know all too well.
At this point, I have to consider myself a fan of games in the genre. They are a medium of fantastic storytelling that can offer gameplay that will either bore you or push you to spend hours maximizing a single battle, wrapped in presentations that offer some of the best soundtracks in all of gaming. If there’s anything I took away from this realization and would like to pass onto any readers, it’s that a closed mind towards your personal gaming will never bring in more joy. Open up to new experiences and take a second look at the recommendations of others’ that you are quick to ignore. There are always going to be masterpieces that each of us will never get the chance to play, but if you continue to explore with your interests, you are sure to find something stellar that you wouldn’t have previously given a chance.
You’d think that my affinity towards RPGs and Platformers would mean I love Metroidvanias, practically being an RPG adventure stuffed into a platforming world. But no, I am quite tired of those. Except The Messenger, which is great, go play it.