If there is one thing I have noticed when playing games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, or Persona, it’s that stakes feel higher during battle when you’re side-by-side with characters you are invested in. Games that feature in-depth relationships, dialogue trees, and love interests have the ability to enhance a title’s gameplay, even if it may only be subconsciously. Let me explain.
Example: Persona 4
Throughout my time with Persona 4 Golden I fell in love with the characters while trying to uncover the bizarre murders happening in Inaba. From spending casual time swimming at the beach to being gathered around the table doing investigative work, I slowly learned about each character’s likes, dislikes, fears, dreams, history, etc.. After learning so much about these characters you really start to feel a sense of companionship. These friendships translate to something else on the battlefield. Suddenly you feel like it’s you and a gang of friends kicking ass together. It’s pretty incredible that a game developer can write a character into someone who is not only interesting to talk to, but extremely likable as well.
However, as you probably know, some games aren’t capable of this — a title needs fantastic writing and (usually) professional voice-over acting to go with it. Some studios choose not to include in-depth character relationships — like Horizon Zero Dawn for example. Sure, you get to know some of the people you fight along-side during your adventure. But not to the level of series like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Persona. While I absolutely adored Horizon Zero Dawn, I never felt Aloy was close to anyone in the game aside from her guardian. I think the addition of dynamic relationships and love interests would have only made the experience even grander.
In The Back of Your Mind
In the world of Persona, anything is possible. We’ve seen major characters killed off in the past so leading up to the final boss in Persona 4 was extremely intense. Not only because I had already been through hell with these characters, but the idea of one of them being killed actually terrified me. Same goes with Mass Effect 2; You build up these incredibly detailed and immersive relationships with your crew but the entire premise of the game is a ‘suicide mission’. Without the inclusion of relationships and intimate moments, these games would not have had the same ‘wow’ factor.
I think pretty much any game (that is story-driven) can benefit from having characters worth getting to know. I would even go as far to say that the only type of Persona game we’re missing is a full-on dating sim (make it happen Atlus!). I want to know what you think. Are there some games that you wish included a romance option? Or more in-depth character relationships? Leave all your thoughts in the comments section below, or on our social media page!
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