In our ongoing series about binge-worthy games, we present various kinds of games, that we can play for days without end. In Passing Time in Turns, we looked at turn based strategy games. Today, we slip into the shoes of heroes and take a look at the goliaths of gaming. How do role-playing games make passing time in fantastic worlds such a breeze?
Most role-playing games have two things in common: large worlds to explore and quests, which send us on journeys through these worlds. Perhaps, there is no game that combines these two better than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The action RPG by CD Projekt RED from 2015 offers an exciting open world. On its own, it is worthy of days of exploration. In addition, the game’s main quest and numerous side quests let us experience fun and thrilling stories full of memorable characters. This is completed by difficult dilemmas in a world without clear distinctions between good or evil. The decisions we take have consequences that steer the overall story to very different outcomes.
If you prefer science-fiction to medieval fantasy, the Mass Effect series offers you a comparable, but very different way of passing time in fantastic worlds. Traveling through the galaxy, we have various decisions to take there as well. These may rarely change the grand plot. But losing one or another beloved travel companion drastically changes the way we feel about our grand quest to save the galaxy. However, this gives us plenty opportunity to play through this space opera again. This time, we can choose other party members to accompany us on various missions.
Whereas these two game series take a modern, action-packed approach to combat, Dragon Age: Origins offers a modern version of classical turn-based combat. Much like its spiritual grandfather Baldur’s Gate, it builds upon the rules of pen-and-paper games like Dungeons & Dragons. While Baldur’s Gate requires knowledge of these rules, Dragon Age: Origins explains its system well enough to start immediately. The turn-based fights are relaxed enough, so we can keep playing without taking breaks. A shorter, modern alternative in this genre is Tyranny. A very fun RPG that can be played cooperatively is Divinity: Original Sin. Its successor can be even played with a group of four people.
A contender for best classical RPG is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Again, this is especially interesting for fans of space games and a must-play for Star Wars fans. However, it is also appealing for anyone who wants to play a villain. Of course, we can play a righteous Jedi hero. However, the dark side allows us to take decisions with results that range from comically evil to outright gruesome.
For those with decidophobia, there are linear RPGs that excel at telling single, coherent stories. Final Fantasy might be the most famous RPG series of all. Fans still argue about which game is the best. While older installments suffer from classical JRPG grinding, a remake of Final Fantasy VII is currently in development. If you prefer action-based combat in real-time, I recommend Tales of Symphonia as an entrance to the Tales of-series. A light-hearted alternative are the Super Mario RPGs like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.
If you want to develop a role-playing game, focus on creating a world full of memorable characters and exciting stories. The lives of these characters might range from dark and grim to comically silly. Every quest is an opportunity for the players to get to know your world and its inhabitants better. Playing a good RPG is like reading a good book. While a good combat system can be fun, we do not remember the countless times we fight a random minion. We remember the struggles against villains that oppose everything we value.
What are your favorite experiences of passing time in fantastic worlds? Share them in the comments below! I look forward to reading them. In the meantime, I will finish just one more quest.
(Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash)