16 role-playing games with the best storylines
Role-playing games with fantastical storylines offer captivating experiences that allow players to immerse themselves in compelling narratives and fa...
Role-playing games with fantastical storylines offer captivating experiences that allow players to immerse themselves in compelling narratives and fall in love with the game.
Games like Planescape: Torment, Persona 3, and Kingdom Hearts provide unforgettable stories with fascinating characters and surprising twists that captivate players from beginning to end.
The success of role-playing games depends significantly on the quality and depth of their narratives, and titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout: New Vegas, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt stand out for their rich and meaningful stories.
Role-playing games are one of the most popular genres in the gaming world, encompassing a variety of subgenres and long-standing franchises that one can fall in love with. Undoubtedly, the most crucial part of any role-playing game is its story, as the most memorable experiences in this genre often stem from games that offer fantastic narratives for players to immerse themselves in and become enamored with.
Not every role-playing game is capable of providing this, but those that do offer some of the best stories ever seen in the format. Here are some of the finest role-playing games with fantastic storylines that you can enjoy.
Updated on September 7, 2023, by Jouanna Bondakji: Role-playing games are always a pleasure to play because they allow us to dive into the worlds they present. However, the success of immersion typically depends on the quality of storytelling. There are countless role-playing games with fulfilling and unforgettable narratives, and we have updated the list to include even more of them.
16 Planescape: Torment
Planescape: Torment was originally released in 1999, but it is still recommended today due to its thoroughly satisfying experience, which includes its captivating story. You play as an intimidating amnesiac killer, known as The Nameless One, who resides in the city of Sigil. That is until a floating skull named Morte takes you away from there and leads you to various unknown worlds.
Sigil is home to various species, some of which will accompany you on your adventure to find answers to your lost memories. The game's story keeps you continuously fascinated and motivated to continue, and the colorful cast of characters adds even more depth to the narrative.
15 Persona 3
All Persona games heavily emphasize storytelling, but Persona 3 stands out among the others. Its narrative is not burdened by as much risqué humor as Persona 4, and its pacing issues leave one yearning for more, unlike Persona 5.
You assume the role of a student who soon awakens their own Persona. They become the leader of a group whose mission is to eliminate Shadows and the enigmatic "Dark Hour." Shadows appear to be the cause of the mysterious illness known as Apathy Syndrome. Persona 3 executes its themes of life and death very effectively, and one advantage it has over the other games is that not everything revolves around the protagonist. You witness other characters interacting even when they are not present, which brings forth intriguing relationships and dynamics.
14 Kingdom Hearts
The Kingdom Hearts games are often criticized for being complex and confusing, but in truth, their stories only require a bit of contemplation and thrive on symbolism and subtle messages. In the first game, you play as Sora, a boy whose island quickly succumbs to darkness. He becomes a Keyblade wielder, and now the fate of all worlds rests in his hands.
Nearly every game introduces new characters and storylines that are interconnected. It can be overwhelming if one is not accustomed to following such a long-standing narrative, but once you embark on this adventure, there is no comparable experience. It becomes evident that characters who seemingly have all the answers actually do not, or they lie about the answers they possess. Additionally, you accompany Sora for so long that you can't help but empathize with what he goes through during his journey.
13 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Star Wars exists in nearly every form of media, resulting in numerous stories told within the franchise. However, Knights of the Old Republic manages to stand out. This is because it tells a captivating story that goes beyond the typical good-versus-evil narrative.
You play as an amnesiac patient who assists in the pursuit of the evil Darth Malak. Along the way, this hero gradually recovers their memories while recruiting allies and making moral decisions. This latter point is crucial, as your choices and moral alignment heavily influence who you become and how the story unfolds.
12 Assassin’s Creed Origins
Once upon a time, in the world of Assassin's Creed games, each one was an action-adventure game with some RPG elements. However, Assassin's Creed Origins changed everything by fully embracing the role-playing genre. It also offered an incredibly emotional main storyline.
It revolves around a Medjay named Bayek from Siwa, whose main goal is to avenge the death of his son by tracking down each member of the group responsible for killing him. This mission takes him through ancient Egypt, where he encounters some famous historical figures from that era.
11 Nier: Automata
A war between humans and machines is a common theme in games, movies, and TV shows. However, rarely do we see an entire story about machines fighting against machines. That is precisely what you get in Nier: Automata, as an invading mechanical force battles against androids created by humans.
However, that is just the basic premise of a highly complex and thought-provoking narrative. In fact, it is designed in such a way that after one playthrough, you're not exactly sure what's going on. It encourages multiple playthroughs to witness and comprehend everything.
10 Shin Megami Tensei 4
For many, Shin Megami Tensei 4 was an introduction to the legacy franchise that has told some of the greatest JRPG stories of all time. The main narrative of this game revolves around a war between angels and demons.
At first glance, it sounds like a classic tale of good versus evil. However, the game uniquely blurs the lines between the sacred and the sinful, making both sides appear as equally repugnant and justified in certain positions. This actually makes the crucial choice in the game difficult, while many games in their decision-based narratives have simple "hero" or "villain" routes.
9 Mass Effect 2
The Mass Effect trilogy is among the most unforgettable in the history of video games, but many would argue that it reached its peak in the second installment. After all, the title features an incredible cast of characters, each brimming with personality and having their own unique story that sets them apart from the others.
The main story is also breathtaking. In it, the iconic Commander Shepard must join the morally questionable group Cerberus to stop a mysterious race called the Collectors. All of this culminates in a final mission that is still discussed as a great conclusion to this day.
Your actions play a significant role in changing the fate of certain characters and steering the story in different directions. All of this adds to the magnificent dimension of the adventure you are involved in. It still holds true even today.
8 Fallout: New Vegas
The Fallout series is celebrated by critics, but Fallout: New Vegas stands out from the rest of the series, particularly because of its impressive setting. New Vegas is a brilliant centerpiece of the game, and the narrative that surrounds it is full of far-reaching decisions that can massively alter the direction of the story at every turn. This quickly transforms an initial revenge plot into a multi-layered tale. The protagonist encounters various factions and determines the fate of the wasteland.
There are several possible endings to this story, and the volume (and quality) of side quests can lead you to spend more time on them than on the main storyline of the game - not that this is a bad thing, mind you. You can play New Vegas however you want. There is no good or evil. It all depends on how you, as a player, act in this post-apocalyptic world.
7 Final Fantasy Tactics
There's a reason why Final Fantasy Tactics is a cult classic: it has one of the best narratives in the Final Fantasy series and provides a brutal glimpse into a world full of political instability and turmoil. You are thrust into a war between two kingdoms as you take control of a mercenary who becomes deeply intertwined with the conflict through their actions on the battlefield.
The combat itself is brilliant, but when you combine it with the emotional storytelling and the brilliant selection of characters you meet and interact with, every battle becomes a highly thrilling encounter. This leads to some truly poignant moments throughout the game.
The praises for the story of Undertale in today's time almost seem unnecessary. This game exploded upon its release in 2015 and is undoubtedly as charming as it is thought-provoking. What initially appears to be a more innocent experience quickly transforms into something both dark and melancholic. It's a story that forces you to examine how you treat the marginalized and desperate.
It almost feels silly to get so deeply immersed in a game featuring a pixelated skeleton telling bone jokes. However, it's the balanced blend of humor and emotion that makes Undertale a modern RPG classic for all ages.
5 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is the best game in the Witcher series, offering easily 150 hours of gameplay with all its DLCs, filled with fascinating storylines and side quests for you to tackle. The main story revolves around the protagonist Geralt and his friends, as they try to track down his adopted daughter Ciri, who is the target of a mysterious force known as the Wild Hunt.
Geralt is a brilliant protagonist, and his role as a monster hunter leads to fantastic battles and impressive settings. Every inch of the map has something interesting to offer, and if you're willing to invest time, there are plenty of stories and lore to discover in each region. There are also numerous decisions to make, each with small but impactful consequences on the course of the story.
4 Final Fantasy 7
Many would consider Final Fantasy 7 to be the greatest RPG of all time. It certainly has one of the most magnificent stories and is likely to make you cry at multiple points. It also has a shocking twist that truly raises the stakes. All of this takes place in the fantastic world of Gaia, a planet that, according to the game's lore, is a living entity.
Cloud is one of the greatest video game protagonists of all time, and his companions are no slouches either. Cloud and his allies embark on an emotional and physical journey, as they confront Sephiroth, who is a brilliantly crafted antagonist. The remake is great, but nothing can surpass the original experience of Final Fantasy 7.
3 Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is a game that has wonderfully stood the test of time, and its time-altering story is a significant part of the reason for that. Crono is a great protagonist, even though he doesn't speak a word throughout the entire game, and his companions, including Frog (a literal frog) and Princess Marle, are just as heartwarming as they are wonderfully well-written.
You will travel through time to prevent the destruction of the world, with each location and era you visit being distinct from one another. There are also multiple endings, each triggered by the decisions you make throughout the game.
2 Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium rises high above some classics of the genre. It offers an impressive variety of possibilities for how you progress through the story. You step into the shoes of a detective tasked with solving a murder case, set in a world rebuilding decades after a major war.
In Disco Elysium, there is no combat. Instead, you must settle for complex verbal confrontations and learn to utilize an intriguing skill system that can lead to vastly different changes in the story depending on how you employ it. The writing is truly clever, and it is a perfect game for repeated playthroughs due to its open nature and the vast world waiting to be explored.
1 Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age: Origins is the best game in the series and also has the best story. Both the plot and the characters are incredibly well-written. And the world you will explore - Ferelden - is vast in both scope and content.
The Darkspawn is a brilliant opposing force that seeks to invade the surface world. You play as a new member of a group called the Grey Wardens, who are tasked with stopping this evil power. Origins reaches heights that no subsequent entry in the series could reach, especially with its writing, which stands among BioWare's best work. It seamlessly integrates into the game's fantasy world.