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Often one of the most appealing parts of an RPG is its story. They have frequently been the lynchpin of the genre. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is tasked with not just being an interesting story on its own, but with being the finale of long-running plot threads, some present since the 1.0 release over a decade ago. It’s a daunting task, but one that Square Enix’s Creative Business Unit III — and in particular lead story designers Natsuko Ishikawa and Banri Oda — were more than equal to.
The emotional roller coaster that is Endwalker has players experiencing the gamut of emotions. Not only is it an immense way to follow-up recent events of the game, it brings closure to the stories of many of the companions that players have known for years. Even now, the game’s emotional impact is striking, and there are very few games that can compare with the pay-offs it achieves. Endwalker is a stellar extension of Final Fantasy XIV’s impressively cohesive and connected story, which has long been one of its strongest points, widely regarded as a shining example within a series already much beloved for its narratives.
Scarlet Nexus took many by surprise with how playable and stylish it is — but another element that stuck with players is the story. Giving players the choice of two playable characters who join the ranks of the Other Suppression Force in a quest to fight against grotesque brain-eating aliens, Scarlet Nexus weaves a familiar yet fresh sci-fi tale with two narrative perspectives revealing the whole story. A charming group of core characters ensures there’s a strong all-around cast, with players given the chance to enhance their bonds with certain OSF teammates, integrating its story with the gameplay to provide bonuses in battle. There are enough tense, gripping moments of life-and-death that make this story compelling and worthwhile, further evidenced by its adaptation into a highly enjoyable anime series.
Like its predecessor, Persona 5 Strikers includes a story that magnificently evolves from an isolated problem for a group of teenagers to a full-scale emergency. The Phantom Thieves’ new mission begins with research into an apparently harmless app and a deluded idol, and ends up as a fight against an evil corporation threatening the lives of many citizens. The story effectively mixes a leisure trip, in which players are able to explore different locations, with an intriguing plot full of puzzling characters whose intentions are never certain. The new additions to the already lovable cast are more than welcome, and both main and secondary characters are well developed and have unexpected motivations that make them interesting. With many unforeseeable events, the story of Persona 5 Strikers is just as good as the best of the main Persona series, helping make it one of 2021’s standout releases.
by Robert Albright, Paul Shkreli, and Luis Mauricio