Among the many tropes associated with RPGs, the most prominent is the idea that they always end with you killing a god and saving not just the world, but all of existence. Who doesn’t want to be the chosen hero, after all? However, we may not always want so much to be placed on our shoulders.
If you’re looking for a game with lower, personal stakes, the games below will mostly meet that requirement. That’s not to say that these titles aren’t full of tension and danger, you’re just not determining the fate of the universe.
6 South Park: The Stick of Truth
Before South Park: The Stick of Truth, the raunchy animated series didn’t have the best track record with video game adaptations. From the start of the 2014 title, it’s evident that developer Obsidian put a lot of effort into both pleasing fans and creating a great RPG. It’s chock-full of references to the series, and the graphics could fool someone into thinking they’re watching an episode.
Appropriate for South Park, its story is completely irreverent and the framing device is an imaginary game played by the children of South Park. The stakes may be high in your imagination, but at the end of the day, nothing will change regardless of how the story unfolds. The sequel, The Fractured but Whole, has a similar story setup. The only difference is that the kids become superheroes instead of pretending in a fantasy setting.
5 eternal sonata
The framing device and setup of this game also prevent any royal bets from being part of the picture. The entire game world is the dying dream of Frederic Chopin, the legendary composer of the romantic era. The names of the characters and towns are all inspired by musical terms and pieces.
Turn-based JRPGs on consoles were already getting rarer at the start of the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation, but Eternal Sonata still draws inspiration from older games in the genre. Like many games that take place in dreams, it begs the question; Are the characters inside Chopin’s head real? After Chopin’s death, what happens to everyone in his dream world?
4 Son of the light
This Ubisoft RPG is unique for several reasons. Child of Light has a different art style and the overworld is side-scrolling, while battles play out like a traditional turn-based RPG. Although it also takes place in an imaginary world, the stakes and its story at least intersect with the real world a bit.
However, the real world threat is not an omniscient or magical being. Instead, the protagonist learns of an impending flood that threatens to destroy her father’s kingdom in the late 19th century. Had the hero failed, she would have caused much devastation, but the planet would have survived.
3 Yakuza: like a dragon
It’s fascinating to see how popular the Yakuza series has grown in popularity over the years. Although the sheer number of games in the franchise is intimidating to many, Yakuza: Like a Dragon represents a good starting point. Despite being the 7th main title, it has a new protagonist and goes from being a brawler to a turn-based RPG.
A game like Yakuza is weird in the first place, but being an RPG set in the present day makes it stand out even more. The story is full of melodrama and well written and realistic characters. You may break down in tears and empathize with the plight of the heroes here, but the stakes never threaten the entire world.
two The Wizard
This is pretty much the only simple fantasy world on the list. The Witcher deals with a lot of death, violence, and debauchery. You hunt monsters and put yourself in the middle of intense political issues. Magic is also heavily involved. Despite all this, the stakes in the first game are never too drastic.
Only during the ending is a more menacing threat revealed. Even so, this threat was not confirmed as real during the game. For those who have only played The Witcher 3, the smaller stakes here are also accompanied by smaller gameplay overall. Don’t go into the first game in the series expecting an expansive open world like the third numbered entry.
1 pokemon red and blue
The world wasn’t prepared for what happened when Pokemon Red And Blue first came to the Game Boy in 1996. As everyone reading this already knows, Pokemon would go on to become one of the most successful and enduring media properties in existence, permeating almost every aspect. of popular culture.
Even if Pokemon did end up changing the world, the actual story in the first game is low stakes. It’s about you catching the titular creatures and beating other trainers on a journey to become the best among them. After more than 25 years of games, the main format has not changed drastically. There is no reason to adjust a formula that works.
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