|« Best Story||Most Original »|
The biggest hurdle for many roguelikes is plenty of people may feel their time has been wasted. It’s easy to get discouraged when thirty minutes of progress gets wiped out and players must start from scratch. However, there are ways to combat this and while Hades successfully engages most of them, it particularly excels in the writing of its characters. The economic writing in the visual novel-esque cutscenes carries not just a lot of emotional weight, but also provides the strong characterization that sets Hades apart from other, less story-focused games. The game ensures it never gets bogged down in the dialogue, and what is there sticks the landing thanks to entertaining interactions between characters and how it imparts a sense of place and identity.
Numerous Greek gods appear to help Zagreus on his quest, each exemplifying an attitude that reinforces their domain: Zeus has big cool uncle energy, Dionysus just wants to party, Aphrodite flirts, Demeter is cold and distant, etc. Better yet are the other denizens of the Underworld, who can be found hanging around the home base, even the ones who oppose Zagreus during his escape attempts. The knowledge that none of them can really die but are still stuck in their roles gives the game the feel of a workplace comedy, equal parts bitter resignation at their lot in life and trying to make the best of it. It helps that so much of the dialogue is unique, so much so that even after 40 hours none of it feels as though its been repeated. These conversations end up as their own reward; even when failing, the game has something fresh to offer the player in between runs. Hades is a lot of fun just to play, but its dialogue and characters are a big part of why it resonated with so many.
If there’s an image in the RPGaming public’s mind of the Yakuza series, it’s likely of two men tearing off their shirts to reveal magnificent fully-tattooed backs and screaming at one another. While that certainly happens from time-to-time, what makes Yakuza: Like a Dragon special is the quieter moments. Some of the highlights of the game involve Ichiban sharing a glass of whisky with the other party members and getting to know them better. Perhaps it’s because the cast is in their 30s and 40s and the characters are all at crossroads in their lives that the banter feels fresh and different from the usual teenage protagonists that populate JRPGs. Like a Dragon has some of the most interesting, mature, and insightful dialogue of any RPG, which is why it is worthy of a spot here.
Final Fantasy VII Remake takes our third spot for best dialogue because it gives such sharp writing to characters who lacked personality back in 1997 due to script limitations. Each character in Remake is a fully formed individual, bursting with personality. From Cloud’s dry sarcasm to Aerith’s bubbly and powerful personality to Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie being far more memorable than the original game allowed, each character has grown from the hollow shells they once were, and it makes for a compelling adventure. There is so much playfulness in the script, and it shows that localizers were willing to take risks in playing with this cast and story and redefining it for new generations. Although who knew everyone would be so thirsty for poor Cloud Strife…
by Zack Webster, Joshua Carpenter, and Sam Wachter