Immersion Breakers in JRPGs

Immersion is such a personal thing that it’s impossible to define one set of rules that would apply to everyone. For me, I would say a big part of immersion is staying consistent. This applies to the rules of your world or the characters themselves. As much as I love JRPGs they are frequently guilty of contradictions and irregularities. These immersion breakers don’t necessarily ruin a story, but they always make it worse even if by only a small amount. Here is my list of the worst offenders in no particular order.

  • Battle healing only – You can resurrect and heal grave wounds in battle but the possibility of someone getting hurt during a cut scene leaves your whole party helpless.
  • Child gladiators – We’re on a mission to save the world, so why not take these literal children with us? I’m sure they are emotionally developed and have sufficient combat training for all the fighting and killing we’ll be doing.
  • Weakest to strongest – When the game starts, the big baddy could absolutely wipe the floor with you and your party. By the time the game ends, you’ve not only caught up to them but surpassed their fighting talent. Maybe the villain was too busy conquering the world to keep training? Games might sometimes try to explain this away by claiming your character is the chosen one, but your whole party is as strong as you are anyways.
  • The stingy shopkeeper – They know you are off to save the world (and coincidentally their life), but you better still pay for that gear or those items.
  • The casual emergency – Quick, it’s an emergency! We must go save the village! But, actually, feel free to take your time and fully explore the world or finish 20 side quests before you get there.
  • Slightly inconvenient, totally impassable terrain – We might be brave adventurers, but don’t ask me to get my feet wet or climb over those rocks.
  • Tutorials that break the 4th wall – Please don’t talk to me, the player, directly. I’m shy.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Characters can absolutely change over the course of a game, but it should be plausible. Characters who constantly flip flop on their morals and opinions don’t feel like real people.
  • Forced romance – Who doesn’t like a good romance? Please, though, make it believable. Give them common interests or have them balance each other’s flaws.
  • Win the fight, lose the cutscene – We just kicked the bad guy’s butt, but then suddenly lose during the cutscene like the fight never happened. That is annoying and feels lame.
  • Welcome to the party downgrade – This character was super strong when you fought them. In fact, they were able to take on your entire party by themselves. Now that they’ve joined your team, though, they suddenly do way less damage and have way less health. Maybe they don’t feel as motivated now that they have the chosen one on their side?
  • The helpless dungeon spelunking expert – This NPC is totally unable to fight and completely clueless but somehow made it deep into this super dangerous dungeon full of complicated puzzles. Don’t think about it too hard, just go save them!
  • The badass but helpless damsel – She is totally badass and probably stronger than your character is, but she’s been captured and can only be saved by you. Don’t worry, she’ll wait for you to get there.
  • Too lazy to catch the bad guy – We’ve just had a long boss fight and managed to emerge victorious. Not even a cutscene was able to sway the battle in the enemy’s favor. For some reason though, let’s go ahead and let them run away. I guess it’s only fair for the heroes to do it when the villain let you live earlier in the story for no good reason either.
  • The totally not mute protagonist – Literally every other character in the game can talk but not you. Everyone pretends like you talk though. It’s weird. I’d love to see a game explore an actual mute main character. Now that sounds interesting.