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Zerxen

Anyone else like silent characters in JRPGs?

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Something like the original Final Fantasy, Etrian Odyssey series, DQ III, etc. Basically you customize your party and there's rarely ever (if any) dialogue spoken. In the even there is dialogue, it is very vague as to who said it. Personally I enjoy this type of set up because it allows me to visualize the party with my own imagination- any dialogue and personality within the party members is entirely headcanon.

 

Not to say I dislike games with set personalities, I just have a special spot for these types. Anyone else feel the same?

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I kinda like the Final Fantasy I and Dragon Quest III type of silent character, but for different reasons. What I really like about these games is that you pick your party. I like that customization aspect and how immediately it's made available to you. Blank slate silent characters make it clear that they're templates on which you build your own personal adventuring squad that will fight monsters in the specific way you want to try out.

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Yeah I had some I liked - my generics in Ogre Battle, Wizardry, and Final Fantasy Tactics stuck with me more than the main charathers despite not appearing in all the story cutscenes.

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Personally not so much.

I mean, stuff like Crono I'm not a fan of, where one character is the blank slate with a party of vibrant characters around them (And Crono gets off light because we get confirmation he can talk).

That party angle isn't necessarily a bad approach either, so long as you're working with that in mind. It works fine with FFI, but FFIII's DS version gave (limited) characterisation and that didn't hurt the premise imo. IT's been I while since I played one though, so you'll have to excuse my being brief.

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I'd rather they speak. Actually, in cases where everyone around them is voiced, I'd prefer the protagonist to be voiced, too. No special treatment.

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It varies based on the game. For Etrian Odyssey, which I do enjoy, it works and I have plenty of fun with the gameplay. And Link has been timelessly silent at this point, that I think he can stay that way. Giving Link a voice could be interesting, but it could be divisive, depending on how they choose to define the personality behind that voice.

For the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, not all games are the same. For Devil Survivor 2, a silent protagonist sufficed, partly because some of the flavor dialogue choices were well-done. But for Digital Devil Saga, Serph's lack of a voice was a bad move. Persona 2 made a major mistake in muting Maya and giving voice to Tatsuya in Eternal Punishment, because it's very weird to suddenly have the perky Maya go mute, and to see that I was missing so much from Tatsuya in Innocent Sin. Why did Atlus force a silent protagonist in games where there are no major choices to make?

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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The only silent protagonists I know are the ones from the Devil Survivor series which didn't bother me at all since I wouldn't say he takes too much spotlight. Each character has an equal part of the plot.

I think Ludger from Tales of Xillia 2 is almost silent. In this case it kinda drops him because he takes way too much spotlight of the game. Also the fact he's not interchangable in battles is another issue I have, but it's a different topic.

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If the player has the ability to make choices as to what the silent protagonist says or does which effects the story, such as in SMT or Baldur's Gate, then I do mind having a silent protagonist. 

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I generally dislike it. It's fine if the plot is basic enough that monologuing NPCs don't look too silly, like in the old Pokémon games, but I think that for example Persona 4 and 5 suffer from everyone responding to thin air when talking with to the player character. I always prefer playing as a distinct character over the whole blank slate self insert shtick.

Edited by ping

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I can live with silent protagonist but I typically dislike their presence. Blank slates bore me. 

I've got a softer spot for silent protagonist who do have a clear personality such as the more silly versions of Link, but at that point you might as well give up the pretense and let them speak since being a ''link'' to the player obviously isn't the case anymore. 

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I'm not a big fan of SPs, myself. The rest of the characters end up doing the talking for you anyway, so the whole notion of the character being your self-insert feels pointless. I especially hate when NPCs parrot the thing you supposedly just said but didn't, like in the early 3D Zelda titles (and occasionally even as recent as BotW). If the game's already decided what I'm saying anyway, why bother with the self-insert pretense at all!? I mean, imagine if you asked someone "Why are you scratching your armpit?" and they replied "What? Why am I scratching my armpit? Because!" That would sound so incredibly stupid, and it would become annoying fast. BotW thankfully gives the player a chance to interact with characters in a more natural way (most of the time) by giving you text options you select and the character reacts to them the way you'd expect a normal person to do. But again, it begs the question: Why even bother at this point?

Really, it feels like the whole "This is supposed to be you" explanation is just an excuse to cut corners and be lazy. Don't have to develop the hero's personality if they don't have one! And don't get me started on "But Thou Must" situations where the notion of choice itself turns out to be a lie. If it's required, don't mock me by giving me the "choice" to say "No" only to tell me "You must say yes." That is stupid, annoying, lazy writing. If your game can't handle the consequences of different choices, don't bother presenting the illusion of choice in the first place.

Edited by Lord_Brand

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I'm not a fan, really. It takes me out of my zone immersing myself in the story when there's this black void of dialogue where people are responding to stuff that wasn't actually said, especially if the writing is such that the characters the silent protag talks to have to use their one-sided dialogue to clunkily signal what the silent protag was saying, doing, or emoting

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At best it's something tolerated, rather than "liked" for me. I can see some merit in more traditional RPGs where you make your character but don't want the game pushing some tone of voice on you for dialogue responses. But on the other hand, adding voice acting to the protagonist was one of very few highlights for me when I played Fallout 4, a franchise that previously had protagonists that were silent (but still had dialogue trees). But I guess when most people say "silent protagonist" they mean somebody like Byleth who is factually mute more than they mean somebody who is really speaking in-universe.

You're lucky if your modern JRPG lets you name your character, let alone have any opportunities to role play. Since these protagonists are so integral to the plot with set relationships to characters, they really ought to be speaking back to them. I can't self insert myself into a story where I'm the chosen one, my evil clone is the antagonist, and my childhood friend has been waiting 15 years to bang me. You can still engage in power fantasy when the protagonist has his own personality and dialogue. People do it all the time. They want to be somebody who's cool and has everything.

Edited by Glennstavos

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1 hour ago, Glennstavos said:

You're lucky if your modern JRPG lets you name your character, let alone have any opportunities to role play. Since these protagonists are so integral to the plot with set relationships to characters, they really ought to be speaking back to them. I can't self insert myself into a story where I'm the chosen one, my evil clone is the antagonist, and my childhood friend has been waiting 15 years to bang me. You can still engage in power fantasy when the protagonist has his own personality and dialogue. People do it all the time. They want to be somebody who's cool and has everything.

Although I'm seemingly one of the less harsh silent protagonist critics here (I should add the avatar in XCX and DQ's litany of heroes are perfectly fine, I forgot to include them among the positives earlier), I can agree with the bolded. Isn't Zeus what every Classical Greek free, heterosexual & horny male wanted to be? And aren't the 4.3 trillion shonen & isekai protagonists out there all male self-inserts no matter how much they won't shaddup?

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