So You Want to Play a TRPG
A list of suggestions for those interested in TRPGs
Welcome, prospective TRPG players, to a mini guide on the genre and a list of suggestions. This guide will serve to point those interested in the genre in the right direction and to familiarize others with the TRPG genre, a genre that is very likely my favorite genre of video games.
To start things off, I'll explain what exactly the TRPG genre is. TRPG stands for Tactical Role Playing Game. It is a subset of the RPG genre that focuses on the tactical aspects of combat. Every TRPG features a turn-based combat system much like what is found in classical style RPGs; however, unlike classical style RPGs, battles are fought on a grid with later examples of the genre featuring varying terrain heights. Combat in these games are comparable to chess with RPG elements intermixed. TRPGs forgo the explorative elements of classical RPGs, often featuring a hub world or an overworld map with specific points to travel to where the battles are fought. In my personal opinion, this is a great change to the classical formula, since there is no real way to get lost, wandering in empty space filled with random encounters. The TRPG genre takes out most of the fluff and leaves the meat of the game, the combat, in a central position.
Now, with that out of the way, we can begin to look at several titles that are worth playing. There are a plethora of TRPG's, but those featured are those that particularly stood out to me. In order to accurately match you with a good TRPG to try, I just need you to answer 1 somple question.
Q: What sort of experience are you looking for?
A: I don't like challenges. I just want to have fun.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
System: Game Boy Advance
Developer: Square Enix
I've stated before that FFTA is a gateway game into the TRPG genre and that statement is as true now as it was before. The game is easy, simple, and enjoyable. You play as a young boy named Marche, a boy living with a single mother and a wheelchair bound brother. He and his friends, Ritz and Mewt, find a mysterious book written in a unfamiliar language and filled with drawings of fantastical creatures. An innocent wish from Mewt for the world to be more like the book causes the four children to get transported into the world of Ivalice, an exciting world filled with creatures and magic from the Final Fantasy series. From there, Marche finds himself at odds with his brother and friends who have found new happiness in Ivalice and refuse to revert the world despite Marche's desire to do so. This is especially true for Mewt who is now the prince of Ivalice with a father as the head judge and now having a mysterious woman as his mother despite his biological mother's previous death and his father's failure to remarry. The game's story has been criticized for being too childish, but it's still enjoyable and certainly isn't as convoluted as other games in the series tend to be. The art style is also worth mentioning, being my favorite representation of the races of the Final Fantasy series.
A: I enjoy playing "hardcore" games where you only have 1 life.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
System: Super Famicom / Sega Saturn / PS1 / PSP
There are many notable examples of TRPGs that feature permadeath, a system that permanently removes characters from the game after they have died in combat, but Tactics Ogre is my personal favorite. The game features a story of liberation from two countries that have taken control of Valeria, the main character's homeland, after the country's royalty disappears. I have only played the PSP port of the game which I highly recommend. The port features the same gameplay that made the previous versions great and has branching paths in the story that can be explored. There are, of course, multiple endings to the story which adds to the replayability of the game. At times, the game can be particularly difficult, which many should find rewarding. Before we move on, there is one particular mechanic that I'd like to point out. Unlike many other RPG games that require you to grind experience for individual characters, TO features a leveling system for the classes instead of the individual characters. This makes replacing dead characters relatively easy since new characters of the same class will be as high level as any of your other long standing members of that same class. This cuts down on needed grinding drastically and makes losing characters far less punishing than in other similar titles.
A: I enjoy games that have a lot of spectacular effects and silly humor.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
System: PS2 / PSP / NDS / PC
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Disgaea is an amusing series with a strong cult following. It's quite over-the-top with ridiculous special move animations, absurd humor, and level system that has a 9999 max level limit. I believe that the first sequel, Disgaea 2, is all around a better game, but the original Disgaea is generally what I recommend to others since it's really something anyone should experience. The plot to Disgaea is rather simple. The main character, Laharl, is woken from a 2 year sleep by one of the castle's vassles, Etna. Laharl father and king had died during Laharl's time asleep leaving the underworld's throne a point of conflict between various demons vying for the crown. Laharl must fight his way through various competing demons to claim his birthright as prince of the underworld. Disgaea adds a few elements to the TRPG genre, introducing geo panels, colored squares that have a certain effect on whose standing on them depending on what geo symbol(s) are on the panels of the same color. Destroying a symbol changes all the panels its sitting on into a matching color and damaging anything on those panels (including other symbols, making a chain reaction of changes possible.) Wiping all of the panels off the map also has a nice effect of dealing huge damage to all enemies. The other element introduced is the item world, randomly generated levels (up to 100) bound to each item. battling through these levels allows you to empower the item, something that is very valuable for higher level play.
A: I've played all the well known TRPGs. Give me something obscure.
Only being released on the PSP is a great way of becoming an obscure game. It also helps to be in a not so mainstream genre like TRPG. Obscure or not, Jeanne d'Arc is an excellent game loosely based off of the french tale of Joan of Arc. Certain main characters have magical armlets that let them enter an empowered mode once per battle, making them hit hard, take less damage, and giving them very powerful special attacks. Special abilities, magics, and elemental affinities are bound to collectible stones that you can equip to units. On the subject of elemental affinities, the game features a rock < paper < scissors element system that allows units to gain an elemental affinity that allowed them to deal significantly more damage to another unit of the weaker element. Being bound to equipable stones makes changing elements easy and didn't require too much investment allowing you to change your units' element to match whatever battle they're going into. The game does not feature permadeath, but it does introduce a turn timer that restricts the time players take to beat levels though I did find the timers to be fairly generous, so they're nothing to worry about. It's simply something that discourages players from cheesing levels since such methods tend to take quite a while. This is definitely a great game that any TRPG fan and/or PSP owner should at least try.
A: I want a waifu simulator.
Fire Emblem Awakening
Developer: Intelligent Systems & Nintendo SPD
Here we have the biggest reason that I own a 3DS. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a fantastic entry in the Fire Emblem series that greatly expanded the relationship mechanics that have been present in past games. In past games, relationships were built between specific characters, and the better the relationship between 2 adjacent units, the better they performed in combat thanks to stat boosts they received. Awakening also does this but makes certain characters' children recruitable later in the game, and how these children are stat and ability wise depends on who their parents were. The absolute best thing is the fact that you can marry ANY of the bachelorettes, EVEN ONES THAT NO ONE ELSE CAN MARRY! Marry all the waifus! (one per playthrough)
A: I have no shame.
Kamidori Alchemy Meister
It's a porn game with unusually good gameplay... When I first downloaded Kamidori Alchemy Meister, I expected a fire and forget ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) visual novel that I would just play until I unlocked all the CGs and then I'd move on and forget about it. To my surprise, it turned out to be a great TRPG with a crafting system that wasn't complete shit... and it also had a ton of sex scenes, I guess. The game's story depends entirely on which of the 3 main waifus you decide to
boink romance, but each one makes for some fairly challenging gameplay (at least until you recruit the Jester Demon who breaks the fucking game by teleporting, hitting like a truck, and being nigh impossible to hit.) Aside from the main characters, you recruit a variety of (female) spirits, angels, and demons that help you throughout the game. Yes, this is a sort of "screw anything that moves" sort of game, but once you get past the adult content, it is a great TRPG that I even found good enough to be worth importing. I still have the game, sealed and on display. This game isn't distributed outside of Japan, but it does have a fan patch to convert it to english.
A: These are cool and all, but do you have something less... Japanese?
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Surprise, The Japanese aren't the only ones who've delved into the TRPG genre! From the same developers of the Civilization games comes a gritty, tough-as-nails experience. Play as an ultra cool anti-alien global military force, fighting with the odds stacked against them. XCOM is a difficult game that features a perma death system and a fail state if you screw up too many missions. It has base management mechanics that allow you to develop new technology that's reverse engineered from the very aliens you're fighting, and if you have the Enemy Within DLC, you can even develop mechs, biotic enhancements, and psychic powers. The game even has a fan mod that adds tons more content and makes the game even harder! I love this game, and I think that it is one of the best TRPGs out there.
Oh, and fuck the goddamn fucking whale mission.
Edited by ViolentAnemia, 21 August 2016 - 01:11 PM.