I find it interesting that in a typical MMO, I’m moving through the story to get to the combat. You know, the stuff that’s repetitive and burns people out like nobody’s business? As much as I like the social aspects of MMOs, the actual game part is severely lacking. I don’t feel any investment in my character or the game outside of the meta.
Transfer that thought for a minute to single player games, where evidently the entire game revolves around you. Clearly you need to be the king of the game, the be-all, end-all and the story is naturally tailored around that. Choices matter because they are contained and you’re not affected by others.
I’ve played a couple hours of Ni No Kuni now, a JRPG of simple design but amazing execution. While yes, you do take the prototypical white knight the portions outside of the main story are the true gems. Your companions matter in more than simply being numbers – each means something. The Wizard’s Book is more akin to the WAR Tome of Knowledge, slowing growing in complexity as you progress through the game. Visual art and sound are so consistent and engaging that you don’t realize you’re in a game, more like a movie.
I miss the feeling of purpose and discovery that I get in single player games compared to the MMO space. It seems like the latter is more of a lobby with numbers in order to chat rather than a game proper.