Best Stories In RPGs

Highlights

  • RPGs with fantastic storylines offer immersive experiences that allow players to dive into captivating narratives and fall in love with the game.
  • Games like Planescape: Torment, Persona 3, and Kingdom Hearts provide memorable stories with intriguing characters and plot twists, keeping players engaged throughout.
  • The success of RPGs relies heavily on the quality and depth of their storytelling, and titles like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout: New Vegas, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt excel in delivering rich and consequential narratives.

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RPG is one of the most beloved genres in gaming, with plenty of subgenres and long-running franchises for you to fall in love with. The most important part of every RPG is arguably its story, with the most memorable experiences in the genre often coming from games that provide fantastic narratives for gamers to dive into, and fall in love with.

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Not every RPG is able to provide this, but those that do offer some of the finest stories ever seen in the format. Here are some of the best RPG games with fantastic storylines for you to enjoy.

Updated September 7, 2023 by Jouanna Bondakji: RPGs are always a blast to play, because you can throw yourself into the worlds they present. But the success of immersion usually relies on how good the storytelling is. There are countless RPGs with fulfilling and memorable stories out there, and we’ve updated the list to include even more of them.

16 Planescape: Torment

The Nameless One from Planescape Torment.

Planescape: Torment was released all the way back in 1999, but it’s still recommended to this day for how satisfying of an experience it is in pretty much every aspect. This includes its story. You play as an intimidating amnesiac killer known as the Nameless One who lives in the city of Sigil. That is, until a floating skull named Morte guides you out of there and into various unknown worlds.

Sigil hosts all sorts of species, a few of which will join you on your adventure to find answers to your lost memories. The game’s story keeps you intrigued and wanting to push on the whole way through, and the cast of colorful characters adds even more to the narrative.

15 Persona 3

Protagonist standing in between Junpei left and Yukari Right in a classroom

All the Persona games are heavily story-focused, but Persona 3 stands out among the rest. Its story doesn’t get bogged down by offensive humor as much as Persona 4’s does, and its pacing issues make you want more of it rather than less, as opposed to Persona 5.

You take on the role of a transfer student who soon finds himself awakening to his own Persona. He becomes the leader of a group whose mission is to eliminate Shadows and the enigmatic Dark Hour. Shadows seem to be the cause of the mysterious illness known as Apathy Syndrome. Persona 3 implements its themes of life and death very well, and one advantage it has over the other games is that not everything revolves around the protagonist. You see other characters interacting without him around, bringing interesting relationships and dynamics to fruition.

14 Kingdom Hearts

Sora pointing his Keyblade up with both hands to summon in Kingdom Hearts.

The Kingdom Hearts games get a lot of flack for being convoluted and confusing, but in reality, their stories just need some thinking, and they thrive off of symbolism and subtle messages. The first game has you play as Sora, a boy whose island quickly falls to darkness. He becomes a Keyblade wielder, and now, the fates of all the worlds are in his hands.

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Almost every game introduces new characters and plot points that connect to each other. It can be overwhelming if you’re not used to following such a long-running story, but if you let yourself strap into the ride, there’s no other experience like it. It becomes clear that characters who seem to have all the answers don’t. Or, they lie about the answers they do have. Also, you’re with Sora for so long that you can’t help but empathize with whatever he goes through during his adventure.

13 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

Star Wars Knight Of The Republic Darth Malak holding his lightsaber

Star Wars exists in pretty every form of media. Therefore, there have been many stories told in the franchise. Knights Of The Old Republic still manages to stand out, though. This is because it tells a tale more intriguing than the typical good versus evil story.

You play as an amnesiac who helps in the pursuit of the evil Darth Malak. On the way, this hero slowly recovers their memory while recruiting allies and making moral choices. That last point is the most important, as your decisions and your moral alignment heavily impact who you become and how the tale plays out.

12 Assassin’s Creed Origins

Bayek of siwa defending himself while holding the Pearl of Dur-Jakin in assassins creed origins

Once upon a time, every Assassin’s Creed game was an action-adventure title with a few RPG elements. Assassin’s Creed Origins changed things, though, as it fully committed to the Role-Playing genre. It also provided an incredibly emotional main story.

It stars a Medjay called Bayek Of Siwa, whose main focus is to avenge the death of his son by tracking down every member of the group that killed him. This mission takes him all over Ancient Egypt, where he meets some famous historical figures from that time.

11 Nier: Automata

2B and 9S standing next to each other and looking into the distance

A war between humans and machines happens a lot in games, movies, and television. But rarely do you see an entire tale about machines versus machines. However, that is what you get in Nier: Automata, as an invading mechanical force fights human-made androids.

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That is just the basic premise, though, of what is a very complex and thought-provoking narrative. In fact, it’s made so you can’t exactly know what’s going on after one playthrough. You’re encouraged to run through it multiple times to see and understand everything.

10 Shin Megami Tensei 4

Shin Megami Tensei 4 Isabeau and Flynn looking up shocked

For many, Shin Megami Tensei 4 was an introduction to the legacy franchise that has told many of the greatest JRPG stories of all time. This game’s main narrative is all about a war between angels and demons.

On the surface that sounds like a classic good versus evil tale. But the game uniquely blurs the lines between what’s holy and what’s sin in a way that makes both sides seem as heinous as they do justified in certain positions. It makes the game’s climactic decision legitimately difficult, whereas many games have simple “Hero” or “Villain” routes in their choice-based storytelling.

9 Mass Effect 2

mass effect 2 intro commander shepard running normandy under attack

The Mass Effect trilogy is one of the most memorable in gaming history, but many would argue that it peaks in the second entry. After all, the title has an incredible cast of characters, with every one of them being packed to the brim with personality and having their own stories completely unique from one another.

The main story is breathtaking too. In it, the iconic Commander Shepard has to join the morally questionable Cerberus group in an effort to stop a mysterious race called The Collectors. It all concludes in a final mission that is still discussed to this day as an all-time great conclusion.

Your actions play a big role in altering the fates of certain characters, as well as moving the story in different directions, all of which add to the grandiose scale of the adventure you find yourself involved in. It still holds up even to this day.

8 Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas Love and Hate weapon on a soldier

The Fallout series is critically acclaimed, but Fallout: New Vegas stands above the rest of the series, especially because of its amazing setting. New Vegas is a brilliant hub point for the game, and the plot surrounding it is full of consequential decisions that can massively shift the direction of the story at every turn. As such, what starts out as a traditional revenge plot quickly opens up. And the protagonist ends up meeting several factions and deciding the fate of the wasteland.

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There are multiple possible endings to this tale, and the volume (and quality) of sidequests can lead to you spending more time on side missions than the game’s main story — not that this is a bad thing, mind. You can play New Vegas however you wish. There’s no good or evil. It’s all just down to how you, the player, decide to act in this post-apocalyptic world.

7 Final Fantasy Tactics

Agrias from Final Fantasy Tactics (official art from Brave Exvius crossover event)

There’s a reason Final Fantasy Tactics is a cult classic: it has one of the best plots in the Final Fantasy series, offering a brutal dive into a world rife with political instability and unrest. You’re thrust into a war between two kingdoms, as you take control of a mercenary who becomes heavily intertwined in the conflict through his actions on the battlefield.

The combat is brilliant in itself, but when you mix this with the emotional storytelling, as well as the brilliant roster of characters you’ll meet and interact with, every battle becomes a high-stakes fight. It leads to some truly saddening moments across a playthrough.

6 Undertale

Undertale Frisk in a bed of flowers underground

Singing the praises of Undertale’s story in the present day almost feels redundant. This game exploded upon its release in 2015 and is undeniably as charming as it is thought-provoking. What starts out appearing like a more innocent experience quickly turns into something both sinister and somber. A story that forces you to examine the ways you treat the marginalized and desperate.

It almost feels silly to get that deep over a game with a pixelated skeleton that tells bone puns, but the equal divide between humor and emotion is what makes Undertale a modern RPG classic for all ages.

5 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3 Geralt in the bar with three other characters glaring at him in the background

The Witcher 3 is the best game in the Witcher series, and with all its DLC, easily offers 150 hours of gameplay full of fascinating story threads and sidequests for you to take on. The main tale revolves around the protagonist Geralt and his friends trying to track down his adoptive daughter Ciri, who is a target of a mysterious force called The Wild Hunt.

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Geralt is a brilliant protagonist, and his job as a monster hunter leads to some fantastic fights and setpieces. Every inch of the map has something interesting going on, and if you’re willing to invest the time, there is lots of lore for you to discover in every location. There are a lot of choices to make as well, all of which have small effects on the outcomes of the story.

4 Final Fantasy 7

Final Fantasy VII Cloud Getting Off Of Train

Many would label Final Fantasy 7 as the greatest RPG of all time. It certainly has one of the greatest stories and will likely make you cry at several points. It also has a shocking twist, which really ramps up the stakes. All of this is set in the fantastic world of Gaia, a planet which is, according to the game’s lore, a living entity.

Cloud is an all-time great video game protagonist, and his supporting cast isn’t too shabby either. Cloud and his companions go on both an emotional and physical journey that sees them take on Sephiroth, who is a brilliantly fleshed-out antagonist. The remake is amazing, but nothing can quite beat the original experience of Final Fantasy 7.

3 Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger Colorized Art Of The Team Posing For A Picture

Chrono Trigger is a game that has stood up marvelously to the test of time, and its time-bending story is a key part of the reason why. Crono is a great protagonist, even if he doesn’t speak a word throughout the whole game, and his companions, which include Frog (a literal frog), and Princess Marle are as wholesome as they are wonderfully well-written.

You’ll travel across time in order to prevent the world’s destruction, with each location and period you visit being distinct from one another. It has multiple endings, too. Each is triggered by decisions you made across the game.

2 Disco Elysium

Harry and Kim posing with city in background

Disco Elysium stands tall among some of the classics of the genre. It offers an impressive degree of choice in how you advance through its story. You’re placed in the shoes of a detective with a murder to solve, with the game being set in a world rebuilding after a great war decades before.

There’s no combat in Disco Elysium. You’ll instead have to settle for some complex verbal sparring and learning to make use of an interesting skill system that can lead to vastly different shifts in the story depending on how you choose to use it. The writing is really clever, and it’s a perfect game for repeat playthroughs due to its open-ended nature and the vast world to explore.

1 Dragon Age: Origins

Overhead view of Shale waking up in Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins is the series’ best game, and it has the best story to boot. Both the story and the characters are written incredibly well. And the world which you’ll be exploring, Ferelden, is large in both scale and content.

The Darkspawn are a brilliant opposing force, who are trying to invade the surface world. You play as a new member of a group called the Grey Wardens that are required to stop this evil force. Origins hits highs that every sequential entry in the series has been unable to hit, especially with its writing, which is some of BioWare’s finest work. It fits perfectly within the game’s fantasy world.

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