The humble side-quest. Where would RPGs be without them? The plot might drive the narrative and carry the emotional weight, but there’s only so much ground it can cover, and with developers putting hundreds, even thousands, of hours into developing expansive, fully-fleshed out worlds as real as the one outside your door, it would be a shame to let all that extra work go to waste. Side-quests allow us to explore those nooks and crannies and see everything the devs worked so hard to build.
They’re also a chance for an otherwise serious story to take a break from the relentless drama and allow the player a much needed breather, and nothing releases the tension better than having a laugh. And for stressed developers, that means the opportunity have a bit of fun and strut their comic stuff lampooning the sillier aspects of its genre, taking the Mickey out of their own game or even sneaking in a pet in-joke or two.
Now, yes, humour is subjective, meaning this list is far from definitive, but with the talent on this list even the most jaded of gamers will be unable to resist at least one good old belly laugh. So relax and join us as well look at ten of the funniest side-quests in video games. (Note: Any game with side-quests qualifies. Also, Spoiler warning: if you don’t want the joke ruined, give the entry a skip.)
10. Passport To Pizza - Yakuza 0
Think of the most absurd, off-beat, ludicrous side-quest that can be set in our contemporary world, and not only will Yakuza 0 almost certainly have it, it will trump even your wildest imaginings.
Straight-faced protagonist Kazuma Kiryu encounters a woman who has run away from her abusive boss. The problem is her Japanese is poor, and what she’s asking sounds uncannily like pizza.
This obviously makes no sense, but through extraordinary, laugh-out-loud mental gymnastics that is as absurd as it is brilliant, Kiryu comes to the conclusion that yes, she does in fact want a nice, fresh pizza.
Delivery duly completed he learns that no, she wants a visa, not a pizza. Then her boss arrives, Kiryu beats him up to make up for his mistake, the boss reveals that no, he’s actually in love with her and asks her to marry him. She agrees, and wouldn’t you know it, the three celebrate...with a slice of pizza.
Farcical as it sounds, Yakuza 0 somehow pulls it off, landing the humour while expertly threading the needle between the potentially offensive and downright idiotic and topping it off by sneaking in a truly heart-warming finale to boot.
Nicely done, Yakuza 0. Nicely done indeed.