While games in the olden days tended to favor one genre, things have changed in the years since. We get companies who are willing to experiment. This means different elements and concepts all get mashed together, often with delightful results. One such trend is to try and make everything an RPG in some way. Maybe you level up by defeating enemies, with the experience making you stronger. Perhaps there are story elements, shops, places to visit, or even a party system. There are lots of ways to make other genres feel a little more like an RPG and add some depth to the experience.
For example, we have so many shooters infusing RPG elements in there. The Mass Effect series is basically an equal shooter and RPG hybrid. It has a rich story, characters who level up and grow, skills you gain, parties you form with characters you recruit, shops to visit, and planets to explore. Each entry attempted to get you invested and have this ability to grow to help you connect more. Someone could even consider Destiny games to have RPG elements. You have classes which you are building up, a good storyline, characters who you can customize, and Destiny 2’s Shadowkeep even added stats back in and took it to a level beyond what Forsaken offered.
We see it happen with adventure games too. Castlevania is a series that went from a traditional action game to an action-RPG. Between Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the NIght, a bridge was passed. Suddenly, we saw installments with levels, different sorts of equipment, ability collecting, and other elements that encouraged you to spend even more time in a castle’s nooks and crannies than you ever would before. There were more rewards offered for our interactions. It simply enhanced everything.
But while that was a more natural progression, we also got some hybrids that added RPG elements to genres where we didn’t think they would fit or work. For example, there are quite a few puzzle games that add them in successfully. Among the most famous is Puzzle Quest, which blends match-3 puzzles with all sorts of RPG goodness. You choose characters that belong to different classes, which influence how you wipe gems from the board and damage opponents. You get to take quests. There is a world map that sends you around a kingdom. It is great.
But that’s only the beginning of odd hybrids. There are even more that shouldn’t work, but then do. One is Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure, which is a generic fishing game with RPG elements. Your characters level up, determining how effective they are. One might be able to craft better rods and reels because you went fishing, while another could become a better fisherman. There are missions. We also have Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X. Its Quest Mode has you playing songs to earn loot, but you might need to equip certain costume parts to get specific buffs or skills that make it easier to perform.
RPG elements can really help pull people into games. They can provide a sense of progression. Additional objectives can be worked in when you have them included in a title. You might see them help shape a story or provide excuses for allies. They might even help lure in people who wouldn’t have been interested before. It’s always great to see exactly how developers can use them to make something feel a little different.