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Series that went off the rails narratively


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ZD Legend
Apr 7, 2019
Maybe it's just me, but ... some video game series that go on for a while has a tendency to go off the rails narratively, making the plot more and more complicated and maybe even disjointed or perhaps just worse. (One of many people's favorite examples, to the point of it being meme status, is the Kingdom Hearts series.)

Are there any such instances you can think of, where a video game series, in your opinion, just should've chilled a bit a few entries ago? I know a few that made me feel like that, even series that I like a lot (The three Parasite Eve games) where I just wanted to scream at the storyboard editor to pull the breaks in the latest entry. That being said, complicated plots have their time and place in the industry for sure, but do you ever feel that a plot can be too complicated for it's own good?


ZD Legend
So, so many.

Kingdom Hearts is definitely one.

I've not played Halo but I know enough about it to know that the series seems to have lost its way narratively.

Assassin's Creed seems to be crawling around in the dark too.

I'd mention Zelda but the point of it is to be a legend and not history.

The Legacy of Cain series went off the rails by the end too. There were only five games but by the time Defiance came around things were so twisted and convoluted that it was difficult to figure out what was happening and why.

Even the devs said that things got so twisted that they regret including certain scenes because of the paradoxes they made. Yikes.


~ ZD's Pug Dealer ~
Jul 6, 2011
Halo is the Major one I know about. What was previously a series featuring a rich lore and good storytelling, the storytelling went off the rails with halo 5.

The first trilogy had a clear narrative direction and Halo 4 kick-started the new trilogy setting a direction for the future installments. There is extended lore in comics and books beyond the games but the understanding of this isn't important to the average player when enjoying the games. They worked well as a game series.

Halo 5 not only did not continue with many of the setups that 4 established and reversed an important plot point almost immediately, but it relied on extended universe lore from other halo media for its events to make any real sense to players.


ZD Champion
Oct 13, 2013
DOOM 2016 and DOOM Eternal.

I know, very controversial. But I believe John Ramero was correct. We all know the story in a porn movie quote. Both of the new DOOM games have way too much story. Mind you, any story more than zero is too much for a DOOM game.

Final Fantasy after the 6th game.
I don't think I need to explain this one as it's rather self evident.


Disaster Master
Dec 26, 2017
Isn't every final fantasy its own story? If its self containted each game then the whole series really can't go off the rails, but yeah, certain games do.
Anyway, starfox kinda did this before Zero. Mostly thanks to Command, which was just a big cluster**** story wise.
Dark Souls too, the closure of the first game still feels more satisfying than the stuff they tried to do with 2 and especially 3
I'm not sure if Sonic counts, but the story in those games basically evolved from Mario game "stories" to basically the worst parts of a final fantasy story.


Oct 24, 2012
Crisis? What Crisis?
Pan-decepticon-transdeliberate-selfidentifying-sodiumbased-extraexistential-temporal anomaly
The Zelda series made coherent sense up until Wind Waker where ninty arse-pulled a silly excuse to make Baby's First Pirate Adventure shoehorn into an existing series it bore no resemblance to at all. Then for a woefully brief instant ninty made an honest continuation of the series with Twilight Princess before jumping off the rails again.

Then they proceeded to make a prequel that not only had bunk-all relevant to provide to the series, whatever other pointless details it introduced only served to make an already convoluted and contradictory series even more confusing. And then they released BotW, which has no tangible connotation to the rest of the series and pretty much stands entirely on its own in whatever larger context the Zelda series has (sans the usual series callbacks and references of course).

The Myst series sorta went off the rails in its final installments. When you have to execute an internal retcon of your established fiction you're probably venturing into sketchy narrative territory. Myst worked well back when it was supposed to be you having these adventures and before Uru's shared persistent online narrative adventure necessitated an internal retcon. Now all of a sudden the Myst series has a time and place and it couldn't have been these players exploring D'ni in Uru who explored Myst and Riven all at once. Now every player of the early games became the eponymous "Stranger" and players lost their connection to those adventures. It certainly didn't help that Uru's development was cancelled and reworked and cancelled and restarted and cancelled numerous times over the course of its existence, causing entire narratives and plotlines to be cut, rewritten or truncated.

Of course, other than Halo probably, no game series has gone off the rails harder than Mass Effect in the final hours of its third installment.


The Artist Formally Known as Deku Shroom™
Jan 21, 2011
Fun Guy
I feel like the Resident Evil series gets a little weird here and there as the games went on. 7 seemed to put the games back on a pretty interesting path, but just in general, the amount of infected and betrayals gets a bit mishmashed.

I'd say Pokemon once they started adding in additional universes and weird time travel stuff. Time travel to go back in the past to see Oak meet Celebi? Dope. Time travel back in the past of a parallel universe to capture a Pokemon that single-handedly devoured the world while being relatively easy to defeat within the game. Annoying. Pokemon isn't even a game that needs a strong overlapping narrative, so the fact that they tried and fumbled so much is kind of infuriating.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm blanking. Some of the later Mega Man series games in the X and Zero line get a little crazy, and while I enjoy those games, I feel like the story is just kind of silly.
Mar 18, 2019
The Zelda series made coherent sense up until Wind Waker where ninty arse-pulled a silly excuse to make Baby's First Pirate Adventure shoehorn into an existing series it bore no resemblance to at all. Then for a woefully brief instant ninty made an honest continuation of the series with Twilight Princess before jumping off the rails again.
It’s amazing, literally everything you said here is factually incorrect. If anything Windwaker is when the series actually started to have a cohesive plotline.

But I digress

I can’t really think of a series that hasn’t already been mentioned here. Pokemon, halo, etc. are all very good examples.

I guess if I had to add one it would be Mario. Yeah I know it’s not supposed to be a story based game, but the games still acknowledge each other’s existence in nearly every entry... sometimes. It’s not like an Easter egg or two here and there, it’s full on talking about previous titles. Mario has been to space on 5 separate occasions in the main series platformers alone, yet each time it’s treated as if it’s his first (except for, ironically, the first time). Also, how many different kingdoms and species can the world possibly have?

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