RPGs often have stories that focus on epic wars or preventing an apocalypse. Atelier Ayesha is not one of those games. What makes Atelier Ayesha stand out over many of the 2013 narratives we encountered is the fact that it deals with love, loss, and sisterhood. Ayesha's story is one to uncover because it focuses on personal growth and finding the truth about her missing sister, Nio. It's a game RPGamer staff member Sam wrote about feeling a personal connection with, but Ayesha's greatness is also found in its subtler moments.
The game has a great and strong cast of characters who help guide Ayesha on her journey and yet it really is Ayesha's genuine nature that transforms them instead of the other way around. The only war in this story is the one people fight with themselves, and the only apocalypse is a personal one wherein the end of the world means losing a part of yourself, because Ayesha proves that people can go to the ends of the earth and back to find who or what is most important in life. Atelier Ayesha wins our award for best story because it reminds us how powerful personal journeys can be, and how they can shape who we become.
It's always arguable how far story in an MMO can take things, partly due to the amount of game time it has to cover and partly as its main purpose is often to simply guide players toward the next thing to kill. However, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn offers a stellar example of both an engaging story and how it can make the MMO gameplay style more engaging. The story on its own may not be the most thrilling throughout, but almost every part of it helps build Eorzea up into a deep and captivating setting, even managing to evoke some rather tearjerking moments at times. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has been a success on multiple fronts, and there can be no denying that keeping players interested with a great world and story is a significant one.
Tales' stories have always been a strong point for the series, and Tales of Xillia is no exception. The cast is engaging, featuring strong protagonists and a twisting story that does a great job of keeping players engaged throughout. Rieze Maxia is another fascinating world in the series, which always does a good job creating its own unique worlds and physics. The two differing viewpoints depending on which of the protagonists we chose to focus on is another interesting aspect, giving us another reason to replay it without costing us the whole tale if we don't. Although the tale comes to a decent conclusion on its own, it can't be denied that many are looking forward to seeing what happens later this year when Tales of Xillia 2 comes West.
by Sam Marchello, Alex Fuller