I recently found myself sifting through my collection of RPGs, and it occurred to me that nowadays, most game heroes have personalities. Not always interesting or likable personalities, but personalities nonetheless. There was a time, though, when it was not uncommon for the main character of an RPG to have virtually no dialogue and no distinct personality traits. They were a blank canvas upon which the player could project their own image.
I am not sure which style I prefer. Certainly it lessens my enjoyment of a game when I dislike a character. For example, I would have enjoyed FFX much, much more if Tidus and Yuna had no dialogue and simply followed my directions. Their personalities and accompanying dialogue repulsed me and in that case, no dialogue would have been preferable to the dialogue I was given. However there are also games such as Shadow Hearts where I simply adore the main character and the game would lose so much of its charm if it lost his personality.
Games in which the main character is just a vessel for the player’s will tend to have better immersion whereas games with strong main characters tend to feel more like a movie or a book I am progressing through. I feel like I am in the game when I play Chrono Trigger or Earthbound, and I feel like I am watching the game when I play FFXII or Disgaea. Both styles have their time and place, I suppose. I just find it unfortunate that fewer games take the blank canvas approach to main characters. Are there any current games like this that I am unaware of?