Journeys for Every Season

There’s been a wonderful set of games this year rich with story.

The ones I’m focusing on today are Japanese in origin, and I’ve been having a hell (the good kind) of a time. Persona 5, Nier: Automata, TLoZ: Breath of the Wild, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Oh, a spoiler warning here for y’all folks. If you love the brief but sparkling feeling of surprise, run away. Otherwise, feel free to spoil me like I spoil you—I’m of the opinion that knowing the twists and turns of a story help you enjoy it, as long as they aren’t bad ones.

I haven’t finished all the games myself, but I’ve spent dozens of hours in each game. I like to think of it as a gaming relay race. I’ll enjoy the game and progression of one story, and then suddenly switch to a game with a completely different tone. The contrast is pretty great, because it makes you appreciate the best of certain aspects all the more.

I adore the life simulator that’s fifty percent of the Persona 5 game. After you overcome a boss, the characters you’ve grown fond of during the journey just sit down, relax, and properly celebrate their victory. How great is that? Hell yeah, you just defeated a giant girl-eating incubus, why shouldn’t you blow up your stomach at a luxury buffet?

Gods, what I wouldn’t give to have my favorite characters revel from time to time. Supervillains bask all the time, so the heroes should have their festivals, too.

You know what my favorite upgrade system is? Puzzle games. Yeah, anyone remember those upgrades from those Megaman: Battle Network games? The ones that basically gave you Tetris pieces to fit into a grid in order to upgrade yourself. Love that. Nier: Automata’s chip system is right up there with it. Think of how happy people would be if you had the ability to just remove pieces of the gaming HUD from some of their favorite games and get upgrade space in return!

Play a new game plus with the HUD gone. It’d be a challenge, but that would be real fun. I could see if I was a master of the game—enough to rush through everything without a look at my statuses. And if you’re not the challenger sort, but instead like the atmosphere and graphics, wouldn’t the game look even better without all those minimaps and bars stuffed in the corner? Screenshots galore.

Yeah, you could just have an option to turn it off, but getting a reward for turning it off is just so much more satisfying.

Sometimes it’s just good to melt into a spectacle like Breath of the Wild. The small bits of story pale in comparison to the longer cutscenes of these three other games, but it means you’re a more active participant in the story. Guys, you can parry explosions in Breath of the Wild. Explosions! I can’t think of many ways to feel more badass than getting the timing of that down pat.

Ugh, know how I said I loved celebrations in Persona 5? I wish I could hold dinner parties in BotW house. Just have cooking pots firing off in the background as I create some legendary meals.

What else should RPG players do with their hordes of food? I know you’re out there, fellow dragons, let’s have more mechanics to burn our wealth!

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is by far one of the closest things to classical JRPGs on here. It went a more anime-ish route with some of the inbetween cutscenes, but I enjoyed most of them. Character moments! Character moments even for the blade characters you get with a lottery/gacha system.

This is one of those gacha systems I approve of, because all the blades have similar levels of power, so the random variety changes the move sets more than that the progression, allowing new runs through the game to feel noticeably different. I got a group of friends together to make separate accounts and start different XC2 games on my switch, and we had a lot of fun complaining about how lucky the other guy was for getting certain characters out of sheer luck.

So, here’s my ulterior motive: game developers, can you just make me a game with all these things I love?

No? Not now? Alright, I’ll enjoy what I got, but I got dreams, people.

Dreams are good. Keeps us going. Dream on, folks, and keep your torches lit for the holiday season!


Paris Forge