JRPG, or any rpgs and "silent protagonist"s


#1

So I was talking with a friend, and I am a fan of both western and JRPGs. Some of my favorites are the Baldur’s Gate series, final fantasy, Fallout (prefer 1 and 2 but 3 and 4 are fine), Suikoden, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, most bioware stuff, Witcher 3 (all of the witcher games, but 3 is more of my favorite of all time) a hell of a lot more and recently got into the Persona series which I love, but one thing I always hate which I do frankly find more often in JRPGs are silent protagonists.

I understand the reasoning that might be behind them. To play a blank slate, something where there’s no personality imposed upon them that might conflict upon the player’s own personality is understandable. I do find it boring though, and especially impractical. Whenever your character has conversations, they very often boil down to people talking up a storm to you and occasionally giving a short answer. You will go through long, critically important to the story, sessions where you your character doesn’t seem to have much input except for the critical decisions which is dull.

Do people like this? I mean I loved in the Witcher that you both had a lot of control how Geralt was, but he was still a predefined character that you got in the shoes of, was not silent in the least bit but still gave you the room to interact how you wanted. That’s something how every RPG I think should work. As the closet weeb I was, after finishing Persona 4 I watched the animation that gave the main character an actual character and it was way better; honestly wish they just wouldve given him dialogue all the same and still had you made the same choices. Is what it is though.

tl;dr: quit being a scumbag and read. Are most people cool with silent protagonists or even prefer them, or dislike them like I do?


#2

It works for some games and it doesn’t work for others and for some that it used to work for it no longer does. It just depends. Souls RPGs would be ass with a predefined hero for example, but then The Witcher series does a fantastic job of giving you choice while working with an already existing character who has been around for about 30 years now.

So it really just depends on the game and the execution of silent or talkative protagonists, they get fucked up in both realms and get done fantastically in both realms as well. I tend to feel like it depends on how structured the narrative is. For example the early Zelda games worked well with a silent protag because you where expected to role play the majority of the adventure, you go where you want to, do what you want, and discover at your own pace. Same reason the Souls games make Silent Protags work well, they are role playing experiences and are built to be that way from the ground up. They are heavily based on Table Top RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons where you create your player character from scratch and then role play through your adventures as said character. This doesn’t work as well for later Zelda games because the narrative has become very thick and heavy. Your funneled trough the games in a more linear fashion told to go here, do this then you can go here and do that. That kind of thing. So you kind of end up feeling like an errand boy instead of a role played explorer. Not to mention Link is way more defined in his roles in later games unlike early ones. He has back story, friends, and sometimes even a job already. In Souls your a blank slate. You have whatever backstory the player wants to give his newly created hero, he has no friends, only those he meets on his journey, you have quests givin to you, but it’s almost entirely up to you if you want to partake in them or do what the quest giver wants you to do with those quests.

Even in the Witcher unless you can role play as Geralt you’re going to be missing out on that roleplay aspect of the RPG because Geralt comes saddled with ass loads of baggage. 7 different books before he ever got a video game, a defined job and skillset, and his love insterests are people he already knows extremely well, especially by Witcher 3 when he has all his memories back. I mean honestly one of the hardest parts of getting into The Witcher 3 is dealing with the fact that Geralt has all his memories back AKA 7 books worth of content to contend with in your role play session. His history with Yennefer is so fucking rocky that even trying to get into the way the two of them treat each other can be really tough if you haven’t read the books.

So it really just depends on the game and how well they pull off the goal they set out to reach. Souls does Silent Protags fucking great, and Witcher 3 did a talkative, grumpy, old man monster hunter with serious issues extremely well as well.

So I guess to answer your question…I like both. It just depends on how well it’s pulled off.