The old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words. While it is important to express ourselves with graphics, it is equally important to see how powerful the written word can be. Much like a picture, it can evoke a variety of emotions from many different demographics. The death of Aeris, even without any speech, would not have meant as much had she not been endearing within the storyline previous to the momentous event. So, storyline plays an integral part of any good RPG; from the flowing, robust stories of a Final Fantasy game to the sparser, sectioned stories found in a Shining Force game.
Like in previous Reader Awards, the readers voted on games that had solid storylines. The ones they had to choose from were top notch this year. Storming into the first spot is a game that readers found enjoyable overall this year, Tales of Symphonia. Continuing the proud tradition of the Tales games, it is not surprising to see why so many fans of the series were so avid even before multiple titles were available in North America. If the popularity of this entry is any indication of the Tales fanbase, it would be unsurprising to see more being localized in the future.
Tales of Symphonia brings a storyline that offers the best of the RPG world.
It combines together seamlessly old RPG clichés, more than a few groan-out-loud pun moments, and every day problems dealt with in the real world, like prejudice. With the characters coming from diverse backgrounds, their learning to work together formed a game plot that kept many players going for the long hours it took to complete the game. All of these aspects combined to make a solid game that the readers truly appreciated, according to many votes.
Not far behind in many readers' thoughts was a bit of a surprise, but stuck out as quality goods for many, nonetheless. With a storyline that hits far closer to home than many fantasy RPGs, Shadow Hearts: Covenant mixes darkness and humor in a way that strikes a chord for many. Continuing where Koudelka and the first Shadow Hearts left off, Covenant is set in the real world, minus about one hundred years; and it uses this to its advantage, intertwining actual historic events with the fictional plot at hand. This meld of real and surreal, along with a bit of off the wall humor, gives Covenant a feeling found in few other games. This is possibly why so many readers enjoyed it so much, and awarded it second in their voting.
Rounding out the top three is a title that shows just how much patience can be rewarded with a solid game. Much like Tales of Symphonia, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the winner of many reader awards, proving that patience can be a virtue. With multiple endings, Star Ocean has huge replay-ability. Throw in a huge mix of decisions that not only affect the people in your party, but also the characters that have not yet joined, and you’ve got a storyline that can be different each time the game is played, depending upon how the player chooses their actions. Slow to begin but picking up quickly as the game moves forward, Till the End of Time provides a solid plot that affords it a replay-ability found in few other games.
by Anna Marie Whitehead