As video games have become more and more mainstream, the amount of people who play them has risen exponentially. That’s.... well, kind of what mainstream means —so this totally checks out. Along with that, then, comes a great diversity among types of gamer and the games that they play.
Sure, we’ve got the guys and gals who only play FPS titles, and possibly only Call of Duty at that. They’re happy there, raging until they burst their bowels and defending their precious K/Ds and everything, and that’s great for them. Others might prefer a slice of light puzzling or action at the end of a long work day — or simple little titles on their commute. That’s the beauty of being a gamer. We’re an all-inclusive sort of bunch, and we’ll take anyone (unless you play on Xbox and we’re PlayStation, or you’re PC and we’re console; then we hate you for no damn reason at all).
There’s more to it than a simple genre divide, but generally, certain types of people will find themselves better suited to some types than others. If you’re the impatient, haul-ass-straight-to-the-action sort, it’s probably safe to say that you’re a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. It’s also probably safe to say that the RPG genre can be a tough one to get into for you.
A lot of role-players pride themselves on containing a metric crapton of dialogue, after all. The genre’s not the only culprit, but it’s a prominent offender, as you’ll see in our 15 Games That Are Fun But Won’t Shut TF Up
15 Grand Theft Auto IV
If Rockstar’s iconic crime ‘em-up is known for anything, it’s for corrupting a generation and teaching us how to shoot hookers. But if it’s know for anything else, it’d be for its free-roaming, no rules nature. Much of the fun of Grand Theft Auto is in heading off the beaten track, ignoring the story quests, and spending a good few hours trying to drive that rusty piece of crap tractor into the hangar of your buddy’s waiting plane.
For a lot of us, Grand Theft Auto IV represents the pinnacle of the series, the best the games have ever been (maybe even could be). Even so, your open-world freedom was often stunted by NPCs repeatedly appearing out of nowhere and demanding you go bowling with them. Shut up, guys. Stop that.
14 Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII’s status as one of the series’ black sheep is well-documented. In comparison to most Final Fantasy games that came before and after, it’s an odd little curio, a slice of creative experimentation on Square’s part. This makes it a real love/hate sort of game, and opinions on that will differ from fan to fan.
Much of this is due to the game’s unique Junctioning system, which revolves around ‘drawing’ magic spells from enemies and items and equipping them to your characters’ stats. It was completely unlike any direction the series has taken before, and is still really controversial. With its unfamiliarity, the ins and outs had to be explained to the player, and this made for a super slow opening to the game as tutorial after freaking tutorial popped up to walk us through what we were supposed to be doing.
13 Yoshi’s Island
I think you already know where I’m going with this. Humour me anyway.
I’m not sure quite how many liberties you have to take to class constant-ass-pain crying as ‘dialogue,’ but I’m going to run with this one because hot damn, if this isn’t among the most appallingly awful sound effects in video game history. Biology tells us that baby’s cries are shrill and freaking loud so that parents get off their asses and tend to them, but I’d have no qualms punting Baby Mario off the nearest cliff and I think nobody would judge me for it.
Generally, Nintendo’s first-party Mushroom Kingdom-centric titles are rock solid, and the music and sounds full of some of the happiest bleepy bloopies around. What the hell went wrong here, guys?
12 World Of Final Fantasy
Last year’s World of Final Fantasy wasn’t intended as a hardcore RPG for hardcore RPG-ers, true enough. It was more of a family-friendly intro to the genre, set in a super cutesy chibi world of super cutesy chibi Final Fantasy characters. As such, there was more than enough fanservice to keep series fans happy, but still.
As adorable as the little thing was, whose idea was that damn speech pattern? Seriously, whose? I don’t have a "the" clue, but I "the" hate it with a furious burning passion. Long, ridiculous and ‘wacky’ cutscenes constantly intruded, replete with cheesy jokes and Tama the talking far too much. Still, as I say, this was an entirely different Final Fantasy project, not to be taken too seriously, and was a lot of fun despite that.
11 The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Many of you are probably poised, calloused typing finger at the ready, about to curse me, my children and my children’s children for one hundred generations, for daring to snark about Ocarina of Time. Still, as we all know, even One of the Greatest Games of All Time™ can’t be perfect, and a little snark can be grounding.
When it comes to Ocarina annoyances, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that our fairy guide Navi got right on my last nerve. Her constant simpering Hey, Listen!-ing is memetacularly irritating. With all of that said, though, I don’t think that damn owl gets quite enough hate. We’ve already got one feathery-assed guide who can die in a fire, we don’t need you cruising over to us every ten seconds with pointless prattling dialogue as well.
10 Dragon Age (series)
As RPG fans will know, the genre is much more diverse than it may seem at first. By definition, there’s a lot of dialogue to be had, whether in scenes to advance the story or constant chats with NPCs. This is usually the case, but it’s not mandatory by a long shot. From Software’s notoriously challenging Soulsborne titles, for instance, are classed as action RPGs, with some leveling and weapon modding to be done. In those titles, though, you’ll get rare conversations of a couple of lines, that are few and far between if that.
On the other hand, there are franchises that push the traditional RPG talky-talky thing to the hilt. Dragon Age, for instance, revels in its dialogue, with scenes and conversation paths at every turn. The fighting-to-talking ratio is totally flipped from Souls'.
9 Persona 5
With all of that said, though, some role players seem to have a mix of the two styles down pat. The much-ballyhooed Persona series has been thrust back into the limelight with the recent release of Persona 5, and it’s a prime example of this.
While battles featuring ‘Personas’ (I like to think of them as power ranger versions of the high school student main characters) are a huge part of the games, the day-to-day focus is on school life and social relationships. As you make friends, complete assignments, join clubs and all kinds of other activities, it’s inevitable that you’ll talk. And talk. And talk. A lot. It’s all about connections. Forging relationships, hanging out with friends to maintain said relationships… as a result, it’s all a little slow going.
8 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
As far as super huge hit franchises go, Star Wars has had more luck than most when it comes to video game adaptions. There have been some truly great titles, like Super Star Wars and the GameCube’s Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, which put other licensed ballaches to utter shame.
As with those two examples, a lot of the best Star Wars games have been oriented around pure action. The Knights of the Old Republic games are an exception to this; BioWare-developed RPGs that are far, far more than the sum of their famous parts. The first and second games were critically acclaimed, but The Sith Lords is permanently etched in my memory for one main reason: Kreia. The mentor of the Jedi Exile does not, has never (and will never) stop talking.
7 Yakuza 2
As I said back in the intro, player preferences are all different. Some like a slower-paced, more methodical adventure, others want to be in there spraying bullets-amundo around the place —like the last half-hour of Commando, but with even more gratuitous violence—right from the get-go.
As for me, I’m in the latter category. I don’t want to be waiting around for a long damn time before I even gain control of my character. A quick establishing shot, then hand me the reins. That’ll do just fine. Yakuza 2, however, did not want to play ball, sporting one of the most long-winded and drawn out intros in recent gaming memory. Watching a scene or two, controlling your character for a nanosecond or so, switching to a couple more scenes… Fantastic game, but this was totally excessive.
6 Darkest Dungeon
This indie roguelike from Red Hook Studios is one of gaming’s biggest recent sadists. In a world of craptacular hand-holding and breaking you in gently, Darkest Dungeon is a ball-buster of the highest order.
The premise is that you, as the inheritor of a grand but demon-ravaged estate, must hire a team of swarthy adventurers to wipe out the infestation and reclaim your birthright. You do this by venturing through a series of side-scrolling dungeons and engaging in turn-based battles.
Darkest Dungeon is known for its oppressive, Gothic style, its innovative ‘stress damage’ system (this is a secondary health bar, which fills as each adventurer sees horrific things a la Eternal Darkness) and its narrator, who constantly comments on EVERY. DAMN. THING. Excellent as I find the game and its voice acting, enough already.
"Prodigious size alone does not dissuade the sharpened blade," you say? Wel, that’s just dandy.
5 Resident Evil 4
Very early in Resident Evil 4 —almost as soon as you take control of him, in fact— our hero Leon S. Kennedy is introduced to Ingrid Hunnigan. She is to be his support on this mission, she tells him, instantly giving the player the hunch that constant and useless-ass interruptions via prattle over the radio are all the ‘support’ you’re going to be getting. Which proves to be exactly the case.
This situation just gets worse as the game progresses, with antagonists Ramon Salazar and big bad Osmund Saddler jacking the line and joining in the fun themselves. At every turn, they’re calling you purely to talk smack and otherwise be complete a-holes. In such an action-oriented game, these BS conversations constitute just about all the dialogue you’ll get, and I could’ve quite easily done without.
Well, holy damn. This one was far too complex for me back in the day. 3 deep 5 me, you could say.
Xenogears is a Squaresoft-developed RPG, which hit the PS1 in 1998. Its plot centered around a ragtag group led by player character Fei Fong Wong, as they try to solve the mystery of a group known as Ethos and the powers of the vast robots (or ‘gears’) they have excavated from beneath the ground.
The game explores some intriguing concepts, looking at the relationship between humanity and machines and what can come of it. Into this melting pot, Square throw the philosophies of Freud, Yung, and Nietzsche, making for a hugely involving world and plot. It also —as you can probably imagine— sets the scene for a game that drops the kind of dialogue that could break your brain like it’s nothing at all. Vast quantities of it, too.
3 Metal Gear Solid
It was inevitable, really. We can’t snark on Resident Evil 4 and its tediously cheesetacular radio conversations (“Saddler, you’re small time”) without mentioning Metal Gear Solid, the reigning champions of excessive and oft-useless dialogue.
Now, in my eyes, the Metal Gear series is one the most iconic and greatest there is. Even so, it’s surprising how much of your time with the games is spent not actually playing at all. Whether it’s the numerous and way-too-damn-long cutscenes, or the prattling and protracted codec conversations about terrorists, conspiracies, what Colonel Campbell had for breakfast that morning and an in-depth history of his bowel movements that month, there’s so much fluff.
All of this, of course, is intentional, and arose from Hideo Kojima’s lust for all things cinematic, but still.
That’s right, friends. Shenmue is here. This one has a special place in many gamers’ hearts, being a cult classic and killer app for the ill-fated but amazing Dreamcast. Revisiting the original today, it might feel like a relic from a simpler time, but the fervor surrounding the release of Shenmue III today shows what an influential title this really was.
In the days before Grand Theft Auto and the like, Shenmue pioneered the free-roam adventure. It’s one of those titles that can’t quite be pigeon-holed into genres, offering a unique mix of RPG, brawler, action adventure and life sim that was totally unlike anything else at the time. A true classic, sure, but it was utterly laden with shonky dialogue, and the voice acting was hilariously wooden.
1 Kingdom Hearts 2
Yes, I know. I hear you. I’m getting up on the Hydra’s back. It was pretty darn obvious that’s what I had to do. Now stop this talk.
As was the case with World of Final Fantasy, the Kingdom Hearts games aren’t the most hardcore RPGs you’ll find. They were designed not to be. As such, you can expect them to be a little more intuitive, forgiving and less complex than the Darkest Dungeons of the world. With a similar super cute art style comes a similar sense of humor, and endless ‘funny’ cutscenes intended to appeal to the Disney fans in all of us.
That tutorial level? That was a step beyond the pale, right there. How much hand holding is too much? This much —that’s how much.