I haven’t made a list in a while and I’ve been meaning to for some time, especially one that gives me a reason to talk about Fire Emblem some more. Spoiler alert for the list but I think most of my readers were expecting that. One thing I love about some video games is how they have choices that affect what kind of story you will experience and the Switch has a number of games that provide this feature. Some games do this better than others. Now I want to make this clear that this is not a list of which games overall I like the most because that’s obvious given what I like and would frankly make things far too predictable. No, this list is entirely based on how well I believe the multiple-route mechanic was handled.
5. Shin Megami Tensei V
Now I absolutely had a great time playing this game. It features an incredible story with even more incredible gameplay but while it has multiple endings it was a clear choice for the last spot on my list. The reason for this is the fact that the choice that decides what ending you get happens at the very end of the game so a good 95% of the game is the same no matter what route you pick. Sure you can make choices that make some endings easier to get than others but for the most part three of the four endings are available and you just pick which one you want at the end of it. The fourth ending you also pick at this point but you do have to do a few extra steps to get to it which does make it more satisfactory to unlock, but it still requires you to play through the same story as the other three just with a requirement to do specific side quests along the way. Don’t get me wrong I love this game, but changing the final few minutes of a game is frankly not the best motivator to replay the game to unlock the alternate endings.
4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
So I’m sure this is a fairly shocking part of the list for long-time followers but Fire Emblem takes the fourth spot. Now, this is my favorite game out of all the ones on this list, and with four very different endings, it does the multiple-route mechanic very well. It ranks higher than SMT V because each ending changes the entire last half of the game but where each story has almost the exact same first half it also means it won’t beat anything else on this list. You can pick which ending you want, with one exception, at the very beginning of the game which gives the impression that the first half of the game will also change drastically as a result, but sadly that’s not the case.
3. Digimon Survive
Now this one takes this spot on the list because it does something pretty interesting. As far as routes go you pick which route you want to go on around chapter eight and after that, the story splits into one of four very different experiences making up the last third of the game. Now by the standard I’ve expressed so far, that would put this one at a lower rank than Fire Emblem, but we have a few things that made this one take a higher spot. The first is that which endings you can unlock are based on how you talk as the main character throughout the game so you could in theory unlock as many as three of the endings to pick from or be locked into one. That is one reason why it ranks higher is due to how the choices you make throughout the game will drastically change your options on how it ends. The second reason is the game’s fourth ending which features the best story of them all and can only be unlocked after beating the game once. This story not only changes the last third of the game but drastically alters sections throughout the entire rest of the story. The fact that one ending is locked to a subsequent playthrough encourages multiple playthroughs of the game more than the previous two on the list.
2. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
So yeah Fire Emblem takes up two spots on my list and doesn’t take the top spot either time. I think Three Hopes actually does a far better job with the multiple-route mechanic than Three Houses because when you make the same choice at the beginning of the game the entire rest of the game changes which means you get three routes where the story is almost entirely different so it’s like getting three separate games. If that wasn’t good enough each story also has two variations to it depending on if you unlock a certain character or not which unlocks a few differences to the overall story. So you get three entirely different stories and each story has choices that affect different parts within it so it really had a masterful approach to the multiple routes gameplay.
1. Triangle Strategy
I have not seen a game that used the multiple route mechanic as captivating as this since the Mass Effect trilogy. Triangle Strategy features four different endings. For three of the endings, you decide which ending you want at a certain part of the game and each ending is drastically different. However, as you progress through the game you make a long series of dialogue choices that affect your stats in one of three categories. Each decision is based on each category and you use your various stats to try and persuade your party to agree on the decision you the player want to make. So while you have access to each ending at the very beginning of the game you might not have high enough stats in a particular category to persuade your party to go with the ending you want so it makes each choice you make very important and I love that about this game. Furthermore, you make several decisions in the game that will make entire changes to several chapters in the game itself. Additionally, the fourth ending is only unlockable if you make a specific series of choices dependent on having adequate stats in all three categories. The game may have four endings but you make so many choices in the story you could play this game over and over again and never take the same series of choices twice essentially getting a unique combination of events each time. It’s easily the best use of the multiple-route mechanic because the game could take any number of twists and turns that will change your experience well after you unlocked all of the endings.