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#1 Edited by SansJason (49 posts) -

One of the reasons Final Fantasy VII is a top five game of all time for me is because I hate myself. Because of that, I always found personal resonance in Cloud's story of failure, insecurity, and coveting what others achieved.

I'd like to play more games that can offer some measure of catharsis for my deep-seated issues; unfortunately, in most games, you are implicitly the most talented and successful person currently alive on the planet. Can you, Giant Bomb forum member, recommend me any games that either specifically or indirectly give the player the experience of not being as good as someone else? (Note: I mean single-player games, RPGs preferably. While it would be an amusing answer to the question, I'm already keenly aware of how well competitive multiplayer can provide the aforementioned experience.)

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#2 Edited by nutter (1608 posts) -

The new God of War is still on my backlog, but God of War 1-3 Kratos is a shitbag.

One James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2.

The guy from SpecOps: The Line.

Booker in Bioshock Infinite.

Nico from GTA4...most GTA protaganists.

Joel in The Last of Us is working through some shit.

I suppose I should mention that I’m thinking of these as flawed human beings, and not necessarily smaller, slower, weaker physically.

Kratos is probably the only irredeemable fount of misery. The rest are just dealing with regrets or hands they were dealt.

EDIT:

Catherine

Metal Gear Solid 3 and 5...and kinda 2 in a meta-commentary way...

Maybe a stretch, but Witcher casts you as a badass, but an outcast and freak, as the game continually calls Geralt. In Blood and Wine, you are also weaker than your ally as well as the antagonist.

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#3 Posted by acharlie1377 (61 posts) -

These are gonna be some off-key recommendations, but...

  • Darkest Dungeon: You will fail a lot in this game, and the ending isn't really about victory, so much as it is just surviving.
  • Octopath Traveler: I haven't played this one, but I know that the stories aren't about being the chosen one or anything, and more about small victories in a person's life.
  • Celeste: You're a girl with depression and anxiety issues trying to climb a mountain. More about overcoming personal failures than dealing with inadequacy, but still excellent.
  • The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion: Sure, you can end up being the leader of the Mage's Guild, Fighter's Guild, Thieve's Guild, and Dark Brotherhood at the same time, but at the end of the day you aren't the person who saves the world--it's the king, or prince, or something (haven't played this in a while).
  • Arkham Horror: The Card Game--The weirdest recommendation on the list, as it's a board game, not a video game. That said, it really captures the Lovecraftian vibe of failure and insanity; you frequently won't win the scenarios you play through, and that's okay. You don't have to replay through a scenario if you fail, you just suffer consequences and move on. Again, it's not a video game, but it's one of the only games I've played in any medium where failure is baked into its very essence. I liken it to a similar experience to Darkest Dungeon.

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#4 Edited by frytup (1182 posts) -

Play any online FPS against real people?

That always brings my failures as a gamer into sharp focus.

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#5 Posted by Laethe (44 posts) -

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is the one that instantly sprang to my mind, but there's countless games where that's the case and a few good ones have already been suggested.

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#6 Posted by nutter (1608 posts) -
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#7 Posted by shivermetimbers (1642 posts) -

State of Decay 2 springs to mind. You're always seemingly losing something when you gain something and making tough choices that don't always pay off sometimes without knowing it.

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#8 Posted by BeachThunder (15082 posts) -
  • Most survival-horror games, particularly ones by and inspired by Frictonal Games (Penumbra, Amnesia, SOMA).
  • Half-Life: Blue Shift - Unlike the original game where Gordon Freeman is fighting everything head-on, you play as one of the security guards, who just wants to escape and return home.
  • Gone Home
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#9 Edited by redwing42 (477 posts) -

Shadow Hearts 1 and especially 2.

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#10 Posted by Efesell (4060 posts) -

There's a lot of good games but dramatically out of scope with the actual request..

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#11 Posted by not_a_bumblebee (72 posts) -

Arthur Morgan seems like a pretty shitty outlaw in Red Dead Redemption 2. It's pretty rare when a caper goes right and there isn't a mountain of dead bodies.

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#12 Posted by imhungry (1076 posts) -

The World Ends with You was the game that jumped out at me. I suppose one could argue that by the end of the game the protagonist ascends to become a central figure in the plot but the game as a whole is pretty much laser focused on themes of the powerlessness of the individual and the strength that comes with supporting one another in a wonderfully executed way. There are some parallels to be drawn between Cloud and TWEWY's protagonist too I suppose so that might seal it for you. Play the original on the DS if at all possible.

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#13 Edited by Onemanarmyy (3966 posts) -

The Monkey Island games.

Guybrush Threepwood (mighty pirate) is a scrawny little dude that's a laughingstock among pirates and bumbles his way through life using unorthodox wacky point & click methods. Even his girlfriend sometimes acts like he's a kid that needs to be told that he's a very strong pirate.

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#14 Posted by KyCoo (4 posts) -

@sansjason: Why so negative? Why do you hate yourself?

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#15 Edited by BrunoTheThird (788 posts) -

Survival horror is the genre that excels above all others at making sure your character is as emotionally tortured as possible, but you're still superior a lot of the time once the credits roll.

If we're talking about being on the losing side of a rivalry from start to finish, I honestly can't think of a single game that does it, and there's a great reason for that: the creators want you to feel good, often powerful, or plain skillful, not like a loser. I'm not saying that wouldn't/couldn't be a fascinating game, one where you just couldn't overcome a rival, I just haven't found or seen it yet.

The only thing I can think of is if you play the older Pokemon games badly, your rivalry with Gary Oak is really depressing, but you can thrash him if you grind a bit. Same with Eric in Tony Hawk's Underground, but he's a cheater.

Edit: You know what, I just thought of a game that's entire premise and ending is about being the inferior half of an intertwined fate that can never be changed, from three different perspectives (technically at the same time, even). It's a really underrated game called Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. It fits your criteria in every way, so much that the next game in the series had to use the hard-to-get ending as the canonical one to avoid retconning stuff.

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#16 Posted by Brackstone (801 posts) -

The Kane and Lynch games are basically about how two evil dumbasses can't realize that all their attempts to improve their lives utterly fail because their only solution to any problem is increasing amounts of violence. Nothing ever goes well for them, and it's entirely their own fault.

Max Payne 3 is similar in that it's sort of about how Max Payne is a terrible cop, and terrible at protecting and serving in general. He's a violent, blunt instrument only good for shooting people and escalating the violence.

There's still an element of power fantasy to these, but moreso Max Payne with it's flashy gunfights and somewhat happy ending. I subscribe to the idea that the Kane and Lynch games are somewhat intentionally unpleasant, to great effect.

Now, on to my favourite example, Pathologic. In the Bachelor story of Pathologic (there are 3 playable characters), you're a doctor sent to a remote town in the russian steppe to try and cure a disease. But every facet of the game, every single thing, makes you realize that you can't do it, you can't save everyone, you can't cure the plague, and that really, you're just barely hanging on by a thread. By the end of the game, you even start to think that maybe it isn't worth saving. No power fantasy at all.

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#17 Posted by someoneproud (366 posts) -

Tales of Graces has a good turning point where the MC has a big crisis of confidence and has to accept he's not the hot shit he thought he was. In the end the party saves the world but he works through some serious doubt and shame to get there.