There are a lot of clichés in video game stories. Too many. It seems that for every original, well-written narrative, there are ten cookie-cutter stories churned out.
The other day I came across a fill-in-the-blanks story and decided it might be fun to implement a generic RPG storyline into it. I then filled in the blanks with what I thought was a more accurate depiction of RPG narratives. This is the result.
A teenage boy from a standard small village has a perfect life with a perfect family, except for the fact that he always has a bad haircut. Following the traditional naming practices of small villages, his name is inanimate object, or possibly an adjective. However, he has broken from tradition by choosing to become a fisherman instead of the common small village practice of becoming a hero of destiny/chosen one.
On his sixteenth birthday he leaves the village on a day trip to get naughty with the milkmaid and returns to find his village in flames. Generic bad guys have raided the village and killed/kidnapped your beloved family/parrot. The hero then gets angsty and swears revenge on the perpetrators.
He gathers his possessions and prepares to set out and avenge his parrot. The rest of the villagers lend their aid by selling him badly needed equipment at prices he can’t afford. Once his preparations are complete he says goodbye to the other villagers who have no problem sending a teenage boy to do their dirty work and sets out into the open world.
He gets to work immediately by helping every random stranger with pointless tasks they’re too incompetent to do themselves. Then, while rummaging through strangers’ belongings as they watch, he meets a mysterious old hobo who enlightens him that the raiders who burned his village actually work for the evil name you hear a thousand times in the game and instantly forget when you beat it/End boss. The only way the hero can defeat him is to collect the three fabled cheeseburgers of power. The now drunk hobo informs him where he can find these items of power and then wanders off to send the next random teenager he finds on the same suicide quest.
The hero sets out to right all the wrongs in the world and promptly gets to work by slaying every living thing that crosses his path. He get stronger and gains better equipment that mysteriously falls out of the carcass of every animal he kills.
Over the course of his travels he meets a diverse cast of characters with bad voice acting and shallow character development. One by one they join his party and bolster their overall strength. Eventually, our hero gains the backing of a formidable assortment of heroes but for some reason can only take two of them with him at a time.
He makes his way to the castle where the first cheeseburger of power is kept. He battles hordes of undead/robotic for some reason creatures, and makes it through the poorly designed castle that must be a huge pain in the ass to live in. He confronts the first boss and defeats him after heroically dying and reloading several times.
Our hero collects the cheeseburger of truth/strength/courage/wisdom etc. and, buoyed by its incredible power that doesn’t actually do anything, he sets off to obtain the rest of the set. He endures incredible hardships and some exceptionally tedious grinding, but eventually achieves his goal.
After acquiring the complete set of legendary items, he’s forced into action when the evil I forget his name begins a terrible standard apocalypse scenario. He springs into action and immediately proceeds to wander the world looking for missed side-quests and leveling up.
He arrives at the lair of the evil End boss just in the nick of time for the world to have ended several times already. His tireless efforts to collect the legendary artifacts bear fruit as he uses them to open the door. That’s it? Woo hoo! I’m so glad I went through all that effort. Couldn’t I have just climbed the walls or something?
Our hero battles his way through the lair and finally confronts his nemesis who then proceeds to drone on for hours about nothing in particular. He shakes our hero to the very core when he reveals a shocking twist that he is actually our hero’s long lost parrot or something equally stupid.
Undaunted by this new revelation that everyone figured out hours ago, our hero initiates an amazing final battle against an incredible power. Thankfully, all of his experience has taught him a wide array of powerful abilities that allow him to spam the same attack over and over. After a long and draining battle, our hero ultimately proves victorious and defeats his enemy.
Then, in a sudden and surprising turn of events, the evil parrot transforms his appearance, becomes even more powerful and this surprises absolutely nobody. The epic battle continues, and after defeating parrot’s changed form, he changes yet again into a third ultimate form. Our hero then wonders why he didn’t just use the ultimate form to begin with.
It takes all of his strength, but our hero finally perseveres and defeats his enemy. It was a long, epic quest to reach this point, but thanks to him the world is saved. And after all his time and effort, he is rewarded with some crappy slideshow while the credits play.
And yet, after all of this, I’ll still keep playing these games.