Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
It takes me a really long time to get through a video game nowadays, but I managed to finish a Gamecube game called Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance recently. For those new to the series, Fire Emblem is a turn-based strategy game where you move your army units across a grid to fight the opposing army units. Each character has unique abilities, weapons, and skills, and there are dozens of characters to choose from when creating your band of heroes. This is part of the fun of Fire Emblem–leveling up the characters you wish to use in your troop. But there is a catch: characters that die in battle stay dead–forever. Unless you reset the system and do the whole battle over again, but these battles can last a long time…
For a video game, the storyline is actually very impressive. It would need some major tweaking to work for a novel or television (anime?) format, but as a video game the story works very well. Creating Fire Emblem would be a dream come true for an author that loves to world-build. There are several countries involved in the war of Path of Radiance, each with its own history, culture, geography, and so forth. Then there are scores of characters from each country, each with a unique personality and backstory. The player gets to choose which characters to learn about, and even decides which ones will interact with each other in scenes between battles. Technically the player can go through the game several times and find out entirely new things about the characters each time, depending on who is chosen and who they converse with.
All in all it is a very fun, though quite challenging game. I actually played the sequel on the Wii for this game first–Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn–which has an even more epic storyline in my opinion. Playing the first game made me appreciate Radiant Dawn even more, actually, because of how well it works as a sequel. It really took every little plot element it could from Path of Radiance and made a brilliant storyline out of them full of plot twists and clever, unexpected developments. So if you’re looking for a good tactical RPG with a long, immersive storyline, I suggest Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn from the Fire Emblem series.