For many video games can serve as a form of escapism. We play games to live out a fantasy in the game, and that fantasy can take many different forms. Some peoeple find an escape in a farming sim, where you can lead a fulfilling life on a farm and get married, others live out a power fantasy as the most powerful person ever, mowing down enemies with ease, while still others crave a daunting challenge that they can overcome.
But what if you just want to be a hero?
I once read a discussion somewhere online where someone asked why anyone would ever play a light side character in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games, and one of the answers to this question was "Because my ultimate power fantasy is being able to help everyone." Sometimes when you play a game, you want to be able to save the world from the ultimate evil, but you also want to look out for the little guy along the way who is hurting now, and defeating the big bad won't necessarily solve his mmediate problems.
Enter Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies.
Dragon Quest games have always put you in the shoes of a hero who needs to save the world, but many of them offer more than a save the world plot. While most RPG's have side quests that let you do things for regular people who can't seem to gather flowers by themselves, Dragon Quest usually has the hero go from town to town solving the problems that the bad guy caused, either directly or indirectly. I feel like Dragon Quest IX is the best example of this in the whole series. Part of the reason for this is that in DQ9, you play a guardian angel.
Dragon Quest IX is one of the few games that lets you customize your character, though it's pretty limited as the game is only on the original DS. After choosing your gender and one of 10 preset faces, you start the game off proper and find yourself a newly appointed guardian of a small village. You are a Celestrian, an angelic race tasked by the Almighty to watch over humanity. As you protect your flock, their gratitude to you crystalizes into benevolessence, which is something you need to collect throughout the game.
Early on in the game, a horrible surge of evil rips through the earth. At first the only immediate consequence that you know about is that it clipped your wings and sent you careening down to the mortal realm. You land in the village you were the guardian of, with no way back to the home of the Celestrians. You'd think that getting back home would be your primary objective that dictates your every move, but it seems like the Hero in this case doesn't seem to be all that bothered by the situation. For a little while after this, you basically keep being a guardian angel for this town, just one that everyone can see now.
Eventually you find that to get back to your home you're going to need to collect a bunch of benevolessence and so you travel to a bigger town to see if you can find more people to help and you hear that a horrible undead knight has been terrorizing this town since the earthquake that brought you down to the mortal realm happened, and you immediately offer to help. This will be a trend in the game going forward.
Once you help the knight (who was really just misunderstood), you find that you need yet more benevolessence and head to the next nearest town and find that the recent earthquake has also laid this town low and they need your help. As you continue through the game, you find people who have been directly affected by the evil that threatens the world and you work your hardest to help literally everyone before you finally go to confront the evil.
Throughout the game, your character stays silent, as is traditional for Dragon Quest games. While some may not like that the person going around saving everyone is a mute, I've always added in my own dialogue for my hero. Some may interpret the story as the hero trying to get home, but anytime I've played the game I've imaged that the hero wants to get home, but also realizes pretty early on that people need him. This earthquake has hurt a lot of people in a lot of different ways, and I stop caring about the benevolessence and start caring more about saving the common person who can't do anything about curse that was unleashed on their town after the quake. While the causes of the quake are always on your mind, and as you go about helping the world you start to solve the mysteries surrounding the quake, I've always prioritized helping the people. Collecting the benevolessence (and eventually another item later on) was helping me reach another goal, but it wasn't why I was helping these people, I was helping them because I could, and usually because I was the best person for the job.