No Stereotypes Allowed: RPGs that do things differently

I felt like making a list of RPGs that don't just fall in line with being a rip-off of Final Fantasy, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars because I'm a little sick of those. Originality will be rewarded. I'd love to expand the list with suggestions, especially since I've never played one of the Shin Megami Tensei-related games.

If you suggest a game, please also state how and why it's different than the most typical of its genre contemporaries.

List items

  • The games from the Mother (as it is known in Japan) franchise play with stereotypical notions of Western culture and aren't set in a medieval castle-town but instead take place in tiny urban communities where a gang of thugs might have taken over the local arcade and you eat hot dogs to replenish health or find yourself in need of a pencil sharpener because you need a new weapon.

  • The ship of a dude looking very much like Einstein in his best days crashes and is in need of somebody to collect the power cells he lost to fix it. He talks to YOU directly. YOU need to guide Terry, a boy the professor met at the crashsite over a series of islands, through caves full of demons or a military base with soldiers that look like Solid Snake. You take a bath to heal, use talents or weapons to level them up and put on different outfits to enhance your abilities. Like cooking, which allows you to combine different ingredients in order to create dishes that heal you and temporarily provide stat boosts.

    Oh and it's a Suda51/Grasshopper game ...

  • An ambitious project plagued by the fact that it plays a lot like Mass Effect and came out right after everyone fell in love with Mass Effect 2.

    Alpha Protocol is a modern-day spy-RPG with a stronger focus on gray-scale morality and a less transparent conversation system while the combat is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Mass Effect. It's unpolished nature and bad timing seemed to have doomed the game to be discovered only by those who like ambitious but flawed games the mainstream has overlooked.

  • A first person RPG based around vampires set in modern L.A. with lots of dark alleys? Sounds awesome!

    You can play as vampires from different clans, functioning like classes. One of them is actually insane which results in, well, crazy conversations and has other gameplay effects. Lots of replayability through various choices you can make with each clan.

  • The game is probably best known as an attempt to create a Secret of Mana sequel with more Western sensibilities. It didn't get a lot of positive attention but it's setting is still quite fascinating.

    You're a kid who gets trapped with his dog in the world of Evermore created by Professor Ruffleberg. The machine that transports people to Evermore malfunctioned many years ago and trapped the Professor and a few other people in it. You meet these people in various eras appearing as their respective versions of a utopia. The game is presented like a time travel story, with the boy and his dog (who changes appearance and skills depending on the era you're in) traveling to a prehistoric jungle, a city in the antiquity, a medieval city and a future space station.

  • Ark lives in the underworld in a peaceful village until one day he "opens a box" and shit goes sideways. Turns out he has to "resurrect" the world. The overworld, to be specific. This overworld just happens to be "our" world - planet Earth!

    First you have to go to five towers in the underworld to resurrect the five main continents, then you travel to the overworld where you have to help create life. Plants, animals and eventually humans. Since people tend to cause trouble, it's not all honey rivers and candy burgers once you've done all that. Optionally, you may even choose to help develop certain cities you've visited along your travels into big metropolises by, for example, taking part in the discovery of electricity.

  • The World Ends With You takes place entirely in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan. You're playing on two planes of existence with combat being spread over both screens.

    I can't say more about the game since I own it but still haven't managed to play it. I know, I know ... shame on me! :) I'll rectify that soon!