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Remember, a Central Theme is not the same as An Aesop; a theme is a question, idea, topic or concept that the text explores, while an Aesop is a conclusion the author reaches about the theme or a lesson they wish to impart to the reader. As such, you should avoid phrasing your examples as conclusions.


Video Games
  • ActRaiser: Should a loving and caring god, like parents, take care of their creations forever?
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  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent: How far one is willing to go for redemption.
  • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs: The way an industrialized society views its workers.
  • Animal Crossing: Taking the time to be there for your community.
  • Assassin's Creed has the Arc Words of "Nothing is true, everything is permitted" and examines how this idea evolves and applies to different individuals and contexts.
    • The real theme is the struggles of history itself, that our ancestors are humans, and for all our relative progress, people are still the same more or less. Great figures in history have Feet of Clay and are more human and down to earth than expected and that humanity is only the inheritance of all past achievements and that descendants have a responsibility to make "all this suffering worth something".
    • The struggle between the Assassins and Templars is about the nature of power and freedom. To what extent do people need leaders to define and direct their lives, and to what extent does democracy work? Both the Assassins and Templars have a millennia long philosophical debate over this with no real resolution, with the running theme of compromise, failure, and Humans Are Flawed.
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  • Asura's Wrath: Should you even worship or have blind faith in gods or divine beings that do not care for the mortal's strife, especially if they are the cause of said strife?
  • Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Identity. Sometimes who we truly are goes beyond our wildest imaginations, but who do we become when faced with that revelation? When born of an evil bloodline, will we redeem ourselves or becomes something so much worse? How will that identity affect the rest of the world?
  • The Banner Saga series is about burden of leadership in dire circumstances, decisions we make for survival and their short and long-term consequences
  • Bastion: You need to let go of the past.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • The series in general: How far can a man be pushed until he breaks?
    • Batman: Arkham City: The theme of this game is specifically a question of whether criminals deserve basic fundamental human rights. To what extent do the worst of humanity command compassion and restraint? What does it say about a society that decides to wash their hands of them and simply corral them to a dustbin where they will eventually be subject to extermination?
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  • Beyond Good & Evil: Question everything. Never take truth for granted.
  • BioShock:
  • BlazBlue:
    • The struggle of free will versus predestination, which is summed up by the announcer: "The wheel of fate is turning. Rebel one. Action!"
    • A lesser theme in the series is the conflict between dependence on power and brute strength (reflected in characters like Azrael, Terumi, and Ragna prior to Character Development) vs. the reliance on skill and finesse (reflected in characters like Kagura, Bang, Rachel, and Ragna after his Character Development). Typically, the series favors skill over power.
  • Bloodborne:
  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon: Those you would readily call your enemies could turn out to be your closest allies. Pushing on alone out of distrust can prove to be your own downfall.
  • Borderlands:
    • Borderlands: The love of money is the root of all evil.
    • Borderlands 2: In addition to continuing the above theme, "hatred" is important. Over the course of the game, you begin to hate Handsome Jack as a true evil force that needs to die rather than a funny Faux Affably Evil jackass, and he in turn comes to truly hate you for everything you've done in the course of disrupting his plans.
      Anthony Burch: Now, I totally acknowledge that this is the creepiest and most negative sounding theme ever, and I’m not gonna throw out that little tidbit if I'm ever asked to defend video games as an expressive medium, but there it is.
  • Bravely Default: What takes the most courage of all, is the courage to refuse.
  • Castlevania
  • Catherine: Part of being an adult is accepting the consequences of your actions. Another major theme is the ups and downs of seeking respectively a stable and conventional life and an exciting, adventurous one... and whether or not you risk simply putting yourself into a box and living unsatisfied either way by putting either concept on a pedestal as an ideal opposed to each other rather than just trusting your instincts.
  • Celeste: Dealing with anxiety and depression.
  • Chrono Trigger: How even the smallest of actions can change the future in a significant way.
    • Chrono Cross: The unintended consequences of any decision. Seeing the forest for the trees, and accepting that there's a bigger picture.
  • The Civilization series: What does it take to raise a civilization from nothing to greatness?
    • Civilization: Beyond Earth: What does it mean to be "human", exactly? And how might we have to change that meaning in the future?
  • Code Vein: Memories, how despite them seeming lost they still reside somewhere deep inside. Sometimes remembering what happened in our past will drive our future and the futures of those around us. Also, holding onto our humanity through those memories, as losing ourselves can lead to becoming something worse.
  • Command & Conquer:
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins: The homeless, and middle/upper-class society's view of them.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: Will wealth and power really give you what you honestly want?
  • Crusader Kings: The real price of power is the human cost. Politics ultimately boils down to human interaction, and personal friendships and rivalries can decide the fate of nations. Cultural and religious differences can produce conflict and tension but are not insurmountable, and sometimes the bigger danger is the one closer to home. Your best-laid plans for the future sometimes go wrong through no fault of your own, so it's always good to cultivate possible alternatives.
  • Cuphead: The dangers of gambling.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Dark Souls:
      • Fire, death, what beauty means in the Crapsack World of Dark Souls, and ultimately, Humans Are Good.
      • Fear, whether it's fear of the known or unknown. Gwyn feared humanity and the darkness, so he linked the First Flame; Laurentius will train you in pyromancy only if you aren't afraid or put off by his power; and both the Crestfallen Warrior and Crestfallen Merchant are cowards who refuse to hope for anything cause of their fear, encouraging the Chosen Undead to basically give up. Fear clearly leads to bad ends cause the two crestfallen NPC's are miserable, you miss out on a Pyromancy teacher if you tell Laurentius his practices are unsavory, and Gwyn's linking the First Flame is inevitably leading the world to ruin rather than preserving it, if the third game is any indication.
    • Dark Souls II:
      • If the world is run by an infallible cycle, do any of our choices really matter? Should we rebel against the cycle or make peace with it? Perhaps what makes a choice meaningful is if we conquer adversity and fight in spite of the apparent uselessness of our choices?
      • II also has a theme of losing and changing identity, which even extends into the mechanics (now that you can respec). A lot of the secondary cast are losing their memories over time, and many of the bosses are marked by either having had their identity changed in some way (Vendrick by hollowing, the Old Iron King by possession, Velstadt by the darkness of the Undead Crypt, Raime by the black fog of the Bride of Ash, the Ivory King by the Old Chaos, and the Old Dragonslayer by simple time). It's not even always negative; both Mytha and Alsanna are changed by love, but one descends into madness and obsession while the other finds redemption.
    • Dark Souls III:
      • The game adds the themes that when a Crapsack World has reached the depth of awfulness, can anything really be worse, even an age of Dark, and nothing lasts forever but one legacy can live on for eternity, for better or worst.
      • III also has a theme of legacies. Many of the bosses and secondary characters are tied in various ways to legacies: struggling to live up to them, abandoning them, continuing them, seeking them, corrupting them. The final ending choice is whether to continue the legacy of lords, bring it to an end, or seize its power and create a new one.
  • Dead Rising keeps a running theme from corrupt government officials, the selfish who wish to profit and to the psychopath bosses: Is the greatest threat during a crisis the crisis itself, or other people?
  • Deus Ex: Worries of the modern age, in particular self-aware AI, governmental conspiracies, the rise of cybernetics, and the loss of an easy way out.
  • Devil May Cry: Nature vs nurture and the importance of maintaining one's humanity over throwing it away for power.
  • Disgaea: The Disgaea games tend to tackle at least one or more themes in each respective game.
    • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: Individuals of different races, such as demons, angels, and humans, can together united in spirit. One race shouldn't judge another based one rumors alone. All living creatures can feel emotions like love.
    • Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness: The importance of family and what it means to protect them. The detriment of being resistant to change and too caught up in the past.
    • Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories: You Are Not Alone and you don't have to wallow in bitterness and loneliness for the rest of your existence. The most unexpected people can help you heal mental scars.
    • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice: Open your heart to others, no matter how hard it may be. Discovering the true virtues of heroism, such as self-sacrifice, having the courage to stand up for others, and helping A Friend in Need who strayed from the wrong path.
    • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: No matter how trivial or detrimental, keeping promises is important. Even in unfortunate circumstances, you can always stay positive and find something to gain from it, especially if helps you grow as a person. The horrors that humans raging war against one another can wrought. Ignoring responsibilities for too long will have dire effects in the long run.
    • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance: Being driven by rage and revenge can lead to eventual self-destruction. Always have faith in yourself and your allies. Even the coldest of hearts can warmed with genuine kindness.
  • Dishonored:
    • In a corrupt society, criminals, smugglers and assassins are more honorable than the lords who have power.
    • Choices determine who we are and the world we live in, every choice has consequences in big and small ways, and living with those choices is the hardest thing one can do.
    • What do people do when they get a little bit of power? Does power always corrupt or can people choose to be different?
  • The Dragon Age series as whole: Loyalty and friendship can change a Crapsack World for the better.
  • Dragon Quest has themes for many of its games:
    • Dragon Quest IV: The power of teamwork: What 1 or 2 people could never achieve can be easily accomplished by a larger group.
    • Dragon Quest V: The importance of family: When you are cornered and feeling helpless, your family will be there to help.
    • Dragon Quest VI: Dreams and Reality: What changes can someone's dreams have on the world around them? What does it mean to exist within a dream, with the possibility of disappearing when someone else wakes up? Also, the end of the game is about the triumph of hope over despair.
    • Dragon Quest VII: Time travel. Save the past in order to save the present.
    • Dragon Quest VIII: Which is ultimately more important to you, your personal obligations or your freedom to happiness?
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Divinity. What makes a god, what comes with being one (religion, in particular), and how far mortals would go to achieve godhood.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Change is inevitable, you can alter that change to be something better but in the end, Nothing Is the Same Anymore.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
      • Is the world worth fighting for?
      • What makes a nation, culture, or society what it is? How do you determine who is a "true" member, and who gets to decide?
      • When two sides in a conflict both have legitimate grievances with each other, how do you decide which one to support? Or is supporting neither a legitimate choice, when there is a greater enemy to face?
      • The overarching theme of the many, many small subnarratives of the game is "What it takes to persevere in the brutal Grim Up North".
    • The series as a whole focusses on different views on fate and what it means for people's lives.
  • Ever Oasis: New opportunities come from meeting new people.
  • The Fallout series: Even After the End, people will still try to kill one another.
    • Via Word of God, the series' other central theme is that you need to let go of the past. In New Vegas in particular there is a direct correlation between a faction's evilness on the Karma Meter and how tightly they cling to the values of the past. This even extends to all of your human/humanoid companions and all of the DLC.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has a theme beyond that, and a different one for each DLC. In the game overall, it's that all power is a gamble (quite appropriate for Las Vegas) and small things can tip huge scales.
      • In Dead Money: Obsession is a cage. (Begin again, let go.)
      • In Honest Hearts: We're all tribes in the end and family forgives no matter what, so long as you admit that you went wrong.
      • In Old World Blues: The Wasteland may be harsh, but the Old World was no kinder. Look to the future - not for something better, but to make it better.
      • In Lonesome Road: One person with one careless action can leave unimaginable scars, and the power of symbols - particularly flags.
    • New Vegas also heavily tackles the topic of Hegelian dialectics, which is mentioned by Caesar himself. As Caesar said in-game, the thesis contains or creates its antithesis. They are bound to clash and in that moment a synthesis is born, combining elements from both.
    • Fallout 4 also puts a heavy emphasis on letting go of the past. Unlike New Vegas, their stubbornness to let go isn't directly related to how evil a faction is, as the Institute wants to create a better future by ignoring the past, whilst the Brotherhood of Steel seek its history for answers.
  • The Far Cry series has an overarching theme of men becoming monsters, whether figuratively or literally:
    • Far Cry 2: War for the sake of war, and that eventually the only way to make it end is to save the innocent and kill everyone else, including yourself.
    • Far Cry 3: Insanity, the blurred line between fantasy and reality, and whether or not a normal person can ever be good again if they choose to go down the rabbit hole and embrace their inner warrior.
    "Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?" (It's doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.)
  • Once Final Fantasy started to develop genuine plots, it began to look at themes:
    • Final Fantasy II - War Is Hell.
    • Final Fantasy III - Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil are fallacies; instead the world must have a balance of both.
    • Final Fantasy IV - What does it mean to redeem yourself? How strong is guilt as a motivating factor?
    • Final Fantasy V - Legacy. The old generation making room for the new one, most visibly by the deaths of the Precursor Heroes.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • An examination of love, in all its myriad forms: familial (Strago and Relm), parental (Terra), romantic (Locke, Celes), fraternal (Edgar and Sabin), both found and lost. More specifically, that love itself is the meaning of life.
      • There's also taking responsibility for your past deeds and forgiving yourself, which is seen in Terra, Locke, Shadow, Setzer and Cyan.
      • A secondary theme could be said to be power; how far people will go to obtain it, and what they do with it once it is theirs.
      • By contrast, the central theme of the Big Bad is nihilism born out of the awareness of everything's impermanence, the self-fulfilling nature of such nihilism, and how self-destructive it is to let it consume you.
    • Final Fantasy VII - Realizing one's true identity and potential, and the role that they play in the never-ending cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
      • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII - Legacy. The actions of one generation influencing the next and paving the way for a new age, either through genetics (Jenova cells) or inherited wills/morals (Angeal's honor and the Buster Sword). Do the circumstances of one's birth determine whether or not they're a monster? The price of freedom, what it takes to become a hero, and what it means to be one.
      • Dirge of Cerberus - Environmentalism. Deeply buried corporate secrets (Deepground) returning to haunt the survivors of a global crisis brought about by said corporate power. The sins of the past being used to save the present world.
    • Final Fantasy VIII - The importance of The Power of Friendship and how distancing oneself from others emotionally can be more damaging than forming bonds and being open.
    • Final Fantasy IX - Self-discovery and what it means to "live". One's fate is not decided by how they are born or what their predetermined purpose is.
    • Final Fantasy X - All tradition must be questioned. No victory comes without sacrifices.
    • Final Fantasy X-2 - An exploration of a world's culture and society experiencing significant changes and shift from tradition. The tensions between the old and new ideologies threatening to escalate into a war and repeat the mistakes of the past. Shaking off the constraints of the past and finding a strong and confident person within yourself by embracing your newfound freedom.
    • Final Fantasy XII - The cycle of revenge and forgiveness. Is power the only way to fight against power?
    • Final Fantasy XIII - Free will, the power of the human spirit, facing yourself, forgiveness, and redemption. It's pointless in trying to run from your problems as they will eventually catch up with you and potentially get out of hand on a large scale. Theocracy, totalitarianism, and propaganda. The nature of people from two different worlds being brainwashed and conditioned over centuries to fear and hate each other, only to meet and realize they have a lot in common than previously believed upon getting to know each other properly.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 - How far will you go to defy fate?
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Having emotions and being true to yourself are not weaknesses. The downsides of immortality, even the illusion of it, and how death can become a desirable option. The rise of religious cults that aim to fill the void of absent leadership and use their power to influence who they believe deserves to live or die.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn - Healing after great catastrophe, and the power of belief to shape reality.
      • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward - How the past influences the present, the terrible cycle of revenge, how people react to the upending of their beliefs, and how one deals with grief and loss.
      • Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood - Loyalty, the identity of a nation, retaining or regaining hope amidst overwhelming odds, and the lengths people go to be free.
      • Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringer - Legacy, how the people and civilizations of the past shaped us. Also, despite our mortality, we should never give in to indolence and despair and always strive for a better tomorrow for our future generations.
    • Final Fantasy XV - The rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, and the incredible burden that it entails. Also, you don't have to go about it alone.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics - The consequences of seeking power and using people as tools.
      • Also: What is the difference between pride in oneself and arrogance? Will our actions exonerate or condemn us, both to ourselves and to others? And in either case, which is more important, the approval of ourselves for our conduct, or the approval of others?
      Ramza: "A man who's lost his pride will never be free."
      • True heroism isn't always rewarded positively
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance:
      • Avoiding reality is not healthy.
      • Things aren't always as bad as you think they are. Doned may have been confined to a wheelchair, but his mother babied him while Marche was neglected. Ritz's confidence grows when she's no longer ashamed of her natural hair color, especially after she sees it in a completely different light. While Mewt had the most reason to want an escape, due to losing his mother and being bullied, ultimately his father and his friend did still care and try for him.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 - You must live life to the fullest, even the painful bits.
    • Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - Memories are precious things that make us strong.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time - A loving family can overcome anything.
    • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light - Evil conquers from within the heart.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • For Honor: Is there really honor in war? Can there be? Should there be?
  • Frost Punk: The City must survive. What are you willing to sacrifice to ensure that it does? Will it be enough?
  • God of War: Revenge leaves you empty.
  • Grand Theft Auto games deal with the over-the-top nature of American popular culture, the sliminess of mass media and ubiquitous corruption.
    • Betrayal and revenge are running themes throughout the series. Grand Theft Auto III for example has the protagonist being betrayed by his girlfriend and partner, Catalina, in crime in the opening among others throughout the game and he appears to be on a quest for revenge against her. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City likewise deals with a character who has been betrayed twice and must betray others in return to survive and all subsequent games have had multiple people betraying the protagonist as a major plot points.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas deconstructs the True Companions sentimentalism in street gangs. The people who you think are your real friends will sell you out if you get in their way. Your real friends turn out to be the ones who are there for you when you are really down.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV: Your past scars your future. Every character has one mistake they regret and try to fix it in some way or another. Most importantly, is The American Dream still alive?
    • Grand Theft Auto V: In an age where everyone is willing to betray, kill and steal in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, is loyalty still a virtue worth dying for?
  • Guilty Gear: Sin and redemption.
  • Half-Life — Is a One-Man Army Icon of Rebellion against an Orwellian state truly a hero, "The One Free Man", or an Unwitting Pawn to circumstances and forces beyond his understanding and control?
  • Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number: The viscerally delightful, briefly satisfying, and alluring, but ultimately pointless and self-destructive nature of violence.
  • Hyper Light Drifter:
    • The futility of striving for something that may not even exist in the first place.
    • Individuals taking power for themselves with violence.
    • The nature of death, and the different ways one can relate to it.
  • inFAMOUS: If given great powers, would you choose to use them for good or evil? Or as stated by this one in-game quote (mis)attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Beware the Superman. Can the heroes whom we idolize be easily brought down if they had a really "bad day" and transform into the very thing they opposed?
  • Injustice 2: Thou Shalt Not Kill vs. Pay Evil unto Evil. Is killing in the name of justice and saving lives morally acceptable? At what point do we draw the line? The game also explores the pros and cons of both methods on solving crime.
  • Jet Set Radio: Expression.
  • Kentucky Route Zero: the burdens of capitalism and debt, and the power of community, found families and art.
  • Killer7: Every nation has its own culture, and one nation forcing its culture onto another will only make the other nation bitter.
  • Kingdom Hearts: No man is an island, good or evil. The Power of Friendship, and the kinds of things it can drive people to overcome.
  • Kirby: Cute is not necessarily harmless.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Is redemption truly possible for everyone?
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Even seemingly innocuous actions can have unforseen long-term consequences.
  • The Last of Us:
    • If Harry Potter is about how very intense, primal parental love is beautiful and can quite literally save the world, this game has exact opposite theme. This is about how parental love is so intense that it can drive people to do crazy, destructive things and how Outliving One's Offspring is one of the worst things that can happen to someone. Joel is still reeling from his daughter Sarah's death twenty later and jumps at the opportunity to take that love and put it onto Ellie. When he finds out that Ellie, who's immune to the virus that caused the zombie outbreak, is going to die in the surgery to get the virus out of her brain, rips her off the operating table and slaughters everyone in the operating room. He knows that she would want to cure the virus but he does it anyway. He damns the world of a chance to cure the virus all because he can't bear to lose another daughter.
    • Partnership. Almost every named character has or had some sort of partner or companion.
    • Selfishness. There's rare exceptions but the motivations of almost all the characters have some degree of selfishness to them.
  • Left 4 Dead is interesting in that the theme - The Power of Friendship - is almost entirely told through gameplay, e.g. committing traitorous acts such as running away from your team will draw a tank or hunter to you, getting you and probably everybody else killed.
  • Legacy of Kain: Take a Third Option. There's always one somewhere.
    • The developers of the first game in the series described its core motif as "What is evil? Perhaps it is only a perspective." This theme has coloured every game in the series to a greater or lesser extent, with its extensive use of Grey-and-Gray Morality.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: No one person, no matter what they've done in the past, no matter what they've done with their lives, is completely beyond love and redemption. Any life can be given meaning so long as you're willing to reach out to them. Also nobody does something without motive or purpose, we all have our own reasons for the choices we make.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A true hero needs power to make a difference, wisdom to make good choices, and courage to face adversity.
  • LISA: Vicious Cycle of Abusive Relations, and Cycle of Revenge over course of generations until one can break the cycle.
  • Live A Live: Can anyone, even the seemingly nicest person you know, become evil if they have enough hatred inside them?
  • Lollipop Chainsaw: Love always finds a way.
  • The Longest Journey: Mystery is important, there is no magic in knowing everything.
  • Lost Odyssey: Is being immortal really as great as it sounds?
  • Lunar: Silver Star Story:
    • You can do anything if you have people you care about.
    • The Fate of the World.
  • MadWorld:
    • Humans Are Bastards, and this isn't about to change any time soon. All you can really do is is stiffen your spine and keep going.
    • Anarchy Reigns: When, if ever, is it right to take the law into your own hands?
  • The Mafia series of game each have their own theme and considering the world the series take place in they are dark. The main one of the series however is that one can never truly escape from the Mafia once involved or lead a peaceful life even if you are no longer a member.
    • City of Lost Heaven: How one can be roped into a life of crime and once involved deeply can never truly escape. the protagonist learn this in the worst way possible
    • Mafia II: How one must be willing to give up and lose everything to have a chance to succeed in the mafia.
    • Mafia III: Crime can pay, but one must be smart.
  • Manhunt: Humans Are Bastards and how much violence are you willing to inflict on others in exchange for your freedom?
  • Mass Effect:
    • Can a single person change the fate of the galaxy?
    • Also the fact that sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how well you think you're doing, you can never get a flawless victory. Sacrifices must be made, and you can't save everyone. Despite this, things can always get better.
    • And actions that you take, no matter how small or insignificant, can come back to haunt (or help) you later. We are the summation of our choices.
    • Centrally, the story of all three games seems to have a great deal to do with the emergence of AI and the way the inevitable conflict with organics will be played out or resolved. This itself can be tied into the greater theme of parenthood and creators-verus-creations. We dare you to find a single main character in the game who doesn't have some sort of family issue. If you actually do, they'll probably instead have issues with their mentors, trainers, employees/employers, oldest friends, or someone else who could be said to have created or been created by them.
    • The risks of cultures and societies achieving things they haven't earned are presented multiple times throughout the series, and are central to the choices at the end of all three games.
    • No matter how impossible it may seem, a Third Option can be there when you need it most.
    • Being the person in charge is not always fun or glamourous, especially in this case.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man X For the series as a whole: Is it possible to change what you were designed to be?
    • The franchise has a lot about the relationship and strain between humans and machines as the latter become more and more advanced. Most protagonists seek a peaceful union between man and machine, but their ultimate goal is constantly tested to the point where they're left wondering whether it's even possible to begin with.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Metroid:
  • Monster Hunter: The perennial fight between man and the wildlife.
  • Mortal Kombat: How the world is worth fighting, killing and dying for.
  • NieR: Futility and the true meaning of a sacrifice.
  • NieR: Automata: Futility and finding new purpose in spite of it.
  • Night in the Woods:
    • Change is inevitable, in all things. And if you don't accept it, you'll achieve nothing but suffering. So when things inevitably end, it's important that you accept it and value that they existed to begin with.
    • God expresses themself in various forms. You may not always understand, but they're looking out for you.
  • No More Heroes: Violence and revenge both have consequences and are more than "just a game".
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Killing others for no reason is wrong and shouldn't be glorified.
  • Ōkami: No matter how hard you pray, the gods won't do everything for you. Each individual Story Arc has its own central theme as well:
    • Eastern Nippon: Love conquers fear and death.
    • Western Nippon: Sometimes the greater good requires the sacrifice of the best people.
    • Kamui: Your duty isn't always what you think it is.
  • The Outer Worlds:
    • How far will you go to maintain an inherently exploitative and broken system? How far will you go to destroy it?
    • The consequences and problems that arise from allowing scientific facts and information to be disregarded or worse just for profit.
  • Parappa The Rapper:
  • Persona: You can't run from yourself. Doubles as the core theme to the Persona series as a whole. Another theme is The Power of Friendship is worth living for and no matter how hard life can get, your friends always have your back and they will support you.
    • Persona 2:
      • How rumors affect reality. Personal responsibility for making the world what it is and what we want it to be, and the consequences of failing to take responsibility.
      • Eternal Punishment specifically: Acceptance that life may not go your way or how you planned and that adulthood is somewhat terrifying, but you can still make the best of what you got and that there are good things about adulthood,..."just a few".
    • Persona 3:
      • No matter what, hope for the future. Nothing is ever truly hopeless.
      • Remember that you will die one day (Memento Mori), but do not long for death and instead live your life to the fullest.
    • Persona 4: Is the truth attainable? Can one successfully dispel the fog of deception and self-deception?
    • Persona 5:
      • Comfortable social order isn't worth the suffering caused by corrupt authority figures who exploit and abuse the people under them for their own gain. Sometimes it's better to rebel than to quietly accept how things are.
      • Justice and the law. What the former means as a personal or societal ideal and whether the latter means anything when the ones responsible for upholding the law so easily break it with little to no consequence.
      • The more mundane manifestations of The Power of Friendship. It doesn't always take the form of shiny superpowers. Sometimes it's just something as simple as having someone by your side when the world seems against you, but it's no less powerful or valuable. This is highlighted in the Confidant system, where Joker recieves services or learns skills from various people in exchange for helping them with something. As Joker helps people with their problems, they're inspired to repay the kindness by providing more aid to Joker.
  • Pikmin - Teamwork. Alone we are weak. Together we can do anything.
  • Pillars of Eternity - Memory, reincarnation, and betrayal. The Watcher remembers their and others' past lives... except the great betrayal that made them what they are and bound them to the Big Bad. Late in the game, the topic of divinity and why mortals need gods also comes to the forefront. Also, that trying to move forward by forgetting the past doesn't solve anything, but at the same time clinging to the past at the expense of the future is no better.
  • Planescape: Torment - You Can't Fight Fate. The Nameless One may save and redeem his companions, civilizations and his enemies, but in the end he simply can't save himself.
    • Most themes in the game (including whether it errs on the side of Screw Destiny or You Can't Fight Fate) depends on how you play it and personal interpretation of the ending. However, one of the larger ones, one that links in with the Arc Words ("What can change the nature of a man?") is that of Change. What changes, what doesn't, and whether anything can't.
  • Pokémon:
    • If you are part of, or leading, a team, see your partners as True Companions and draw strength from one another, rather than as a means to an end. Pokémon are not tools of war or profit. It boils down to interspecies cooperation (both between humans and Pokémon, and between different species of Pokémon), and that playing to everyone's strengths can win you battles you can't on your own, and get you to places you can't reach on your own (literally, in the case of HMs/Field Moves). Summed up perfectly by the theme song of the first season of the anime: "You teach me and I'll teach you."
  • Portal / Portal 2: If Humans Are Flawed, why do we expect our self-aware creations to be any different?
  • Postal, the first one that is, is about how much a man can destroy after suffering with enough turmoil in his mind caused by mental illnesses and the stress of modern life.
    • Postal 2 is about a man who feels unfit in his current life in modern day America and either learns to live with it and dodge his problems, or brute force his way through things.
    • Postal 3 is about the same as the second game, but more so about showing how much chaos one is willing to do in order to solve one problem. Hence why the town it takes place in is called Catharsis.
    • Paradise Lost, the expansion pack to Postal 2, is about the Postal Dude having to go back and face the consequences of his actions in order to retrieve someone he loves dear, his dog Champ. He also fights and moves on from his past and makes inner peace within himself by the end of it.
  • Prince of Persia (at least the Sands of Time sub-series): Every action has consequences. You can't evade them forever.
  • Psychonauts:
    • The little (or not so little) things that happen early in life stay with us forever. Freud Was Right
    • People are complicated, and deep down we're all children.
  • Quantic Dream:
    • Fahrenheit: Guilt, murder, and redemption (basically all the words written behind Lucas on the cover art).
    • Heavy Rain: How far are you willing to go for someone else's sake?
    • Beyond: Two Souls: Death and growing up, especially growing up in stressful situations.
  • The Quintet Trilogy of SoulBlazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma carry their own themes, but they all have one in common: Is it ok to leave the world as it is? Or is progress always needed to avoid stagnancy?
  • Radiant Historia: Is a Heroic Sacrifice truly for the best, or just an obligation?
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II:
    • We all inevitably have to pay for the bad things we’ve done.
    • Progress always wins out over raw savagery.
    • Blind loyalty comes at a high price.
    • Revenge is a fool's game.
  • The Reconstruction: Scope; the necessity to understand all sides of the story and the full truth before one can make the correct decision, and the danger of jumping to conclusions. However, you must acquire the necessary knowledge without also losing sight of what is truly important.
    "How far back must we stand before we can see everything ahead? And...does that mean we must lose sight of what was closest to begin with?"
    • This is strongly represented by the Multiple Endings; if you get the normal ending, your scope stays in place, and does not expand. In the Golden Ending, your scope explodes, as you realize the story was Science Fiction all along, not Fantasy.
    • I Miss the Sunrise is the inverse of this; whereas The Reconstruction's scope went from small to big, here the focus is on big to small.
  • While Resident Evil as a series isn’t exactly likely to be winning awards for its literary merit any time soon, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard as individual installments manage to share some similar themes of family and the various forms that estrangement from, longing for, and devotion to it take.
    • Resident Evil 3: The things we can do when desperate and determined. Sheer determination can win out against overwhelming odds against us.
    • Resident Evil 5 brings up one at the beginning with Chris's opening monologue: When we've been fighting a seemingly neverending uphill battle, is there a point to continuing? Sometimes, we need to be reminded of what we're fighting for and why.
  • Rise of Legends: In the end, is there any difference between magic and technology?
  • Quite unusually for an over-the-top, uber-silly action game, Sengoku Basara 3 has a fairly downbeat one, seeming to be about how all the fun times and glory days are either over and done with or coming to an end. Instances include Mitsunari's total anguish over the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Motochika constantly muttering "those days are long gone", Oichi degenerating into a Psychopathic Woman Child, Yoshihiro still fighting despite knowing his generation's practically over, the lack of well-known characters from previous games due to plot purposes... oh, and being set at the very tail-end of the Sengoku Jidai is a fair indicator. Still, considering the plotline about Tenkai attempting to resurrect Demon King Nobunaga and succeeding, maybe it is telling us that it's better to move on.
  • Rogue Galaxy: Do heroes want to save people just because it's right, or because of their own personal desires and scarred pasts?
  • Rule of Rose: The difference between an adult and a child's mentality, the difference between fairy tales and reality (and how the two combine), and the different forms of love.
  • Saints Row series as a whole: Power can be lost as easily as it can be gained. What do you do with power? Do you enjoy it's benefits and keep good PR or do you flaunt it and remind the world why you have it?
    • Saints Row: Father-son relationships. In every gang's storyline, there is some intergenerational tension going on (especially compared to the sequel, where only the Ronin arc features it), starting with Julius and the Playa of the 3rd Street Saints: it's no coincidence that Julius keeps calling him "son", while the cutscene capping off the three main gang arcs is one big "Well Done, Son!" Guy moment. On the Carnales side, we have Hector Lopez living in his father Alejandro's shadow (and failing to live up to it, as Orijuela snidely points out in their very first scene), while simultaneously trying to be a father figure to the ineffectual Angelo. Among the Vice Kings, Benjamin King displays tough love for Warren Williams, but the latter is too eager to be a real banger (like King!) to appreciate it; when Williams actually turns on King, he instantly disowns him. Finally, among the Rollerz, we have Joseph Price being completely subservient to his uncle William Sharp. Hector-Angelo, Sharp-Price, and Julius-Playa dynamics show distinct parallels in that the father figure being taken away prompts a self-destructive Roaring Rampage of Revenge in each case; and if you take the second game into account, Playa calling Julius out on straying from the Just a Gangster mentality mirrors the clash between Julius' foil, King, and Williams. It is also interesting to observe, that in all three gang storylines, a woman drives a wedge of varying size between the father figure and the "son": Luz of Los Carnales is just an enterprising Gold Digger, Tanya of the VK is an manipulative rank-climber, and Lin for the Rollerz (by way of Price's Best Friend Donnie) is an undercover agent working to undermine the gang. We may even go as far as to include the fifth major faction in the game, the Stilwater Police, here, via Chief Munroe and Troy, given how the latter succeeds the former in the sequel after briefly getting caught between two opposed father figures.
    • Saints Row 2: Arrogance and cycles of violence. All conflicts in the game are instigated by the arrogance of the four Stilwater gang leaders: the Brotherhood arc is kicked off by the Boss' Small Name, Big Ego-fueled rejection of Maero's rather reasonablenote  business offer, coupled with Maero's own alpha male stubbornness; of the Ronin leadership, both Kazuo and Jyunichi are so proud of their Good Old Ways from back in Japan, they refuse to adapt and consequently really screw things up with the Saints (and Ultor); the General of the Samedi, meanwhile, has the Insufferable Genius kind of arrogance, in that he firmly believes that he is better than everyone else and therefore can do no wrong, regardless of the human cost involved. All three conflicts are then exacerbated by the eye-for-an-eye escalation of violence, with each next reprisal grander and more vicious than the last, until, in the end, the Saints are the only ones left standing — not thanks to any kind of superiority over everyone else, but simply by outlasting them all. In fact, the only enemy who is decidedly NOT arrogant or vindictive is Dane Vogel of the Ultor Corporation, which makes him the perfect final boss for this game, being pretty much the polar opposite of the Boss.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: Freedom, Loyalty, and Redemption
    • Sometimes, we have to balance freedom to choose with loyalty and obedience to a lord or code, even if it means turning one's back on one or the other in a conflicting scenario.
    • Who or what is worth killing for?
    • Is there redemption even when we have trodden a dark path almost to the brink of the abyss?
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: Even on other worlds, humanity is still human... but can it become something more?
  • All of the Silent Hill games have one (with the possible exception of Origins).
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Differing opinions will splinter groups, and taking any (or no) side will leave someone unhappy.
  • SimCity: What it takes to run a city efficiently (...or inefficiently).
  • The Sims:
  • Skies of Arcadia: How love and friendship affects and changes people; the lengths to which people will go for their ideals or love for others.
  • Sly Cooper: Envy gets one no where. All the Big Bads in the series have been driven by jealousy, primarily of the Cooper Clan.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog CD - Technology is not inherently evil as long as mankind does not misuse it. The Bad Future shows us a portrait of a world overrun completely by technology but Good Futures illustrate technology and nature co-existing in harmony, making for a better Little Planet.
    • Sonic Adventure 2:
      • Poor Communication Kills. For example, Sonic is mistaken for Shadow and wrongly arrested. Shadow misunderstands Maria's final request and nearly destroys humanity instead of protecting it as she wanted him to.
      • Are people innately good, or innately evil?
    • Sonic Heroes - The supah awesome power of TEAMWORK!
    • Sonic and the Black Knight - Who Wants to Live Forever?
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) - Do The Needs of the Many really outweigh the the needs of the few? Since Elise is used as a living seal for Iblis the world is safe from destruction, but she obviously suffers from it and has to force herself not to cry so as to not release the god through her tears. After being confronted about it by Amy, Silver wonders whether or not it's right to kill Sonic to save the future and later on in the story Silver is reluctant to seal Iblis inside of Blaze thus sending her into another dimension and out of his life even though doing so will keep the world safe. At the end of the game, when Elise has to blow out the Iblis Flame to stop it from ever existing, she is hesitant to do so since that will erase the meeting between her and Sonic. She even cries, "I don't care what happens to the world!" She has to choose between keeping the first friend she ever made and everyone else.
    • Sonic Generations - Take the best of the past and look forward to the future.
    • Sonic Rush - You can't always do things by yourself. Blaze's reluctance to accept Sonic's help causes her to force him into fighting her, after which she finally welcomes his help.
    • Sonic Lost World - Don't rush into things without thinking through first.
    • Sonic Forces - Teamwork and friendship, as well as facing fears.
  • Soul Series: Each game brings up "Tales of Souls" and what is inside each character's soul that makes up the whole story.
    • Soul Edge: Duty, each character is tasked to seek the title sword, either through memories of their loved one, to gain power so they can overcome a challenge, or to destroy a great evil.
    • Soulcalibur: Companionship, both the main heroes and villains form a group and even side characters such as Seong Mi-na were with someone during that time.
    • Soulcalibur II: Corruptions, the shards of Soul Edge has affected the world in some way that is slowly creating malfested.
    • Soulcalibur III: Atonement, many characters are trying to make up for a mistake, even the character who managed to resurrect Nightmare is doing this to fix what he feels is a curse he suffer due to his foolishness.
    • Soulcalibur IV: Revelation, this is where people are starting to realize that Soulcalibur is just as bad as Soul Edge if left unchecked and are finding ways to stop both swords at any cost.
    • Soulcalibur V: Generations, the battle between Soulcalibur and Soul Edge continues on, even to the next future generation of youth.
    • Soulcalibur VI: Discovery, new information has lead to a better understanding of the second game in the series to the point where things might go in a completely different direction than what was originally known.
  • Spec Ops: The Line: War Is Hell. Seriously. Especially because arrogant and impulsive actions lead to human suffering.
  • Starcraft:
  • Starcraft II:
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: "You were deceived."
    • Jedi Knight: A Reconstruction of some central themes of Star Wars: that after the hero and companions endure a massive Break the Cutie (or Break the Haughty if playing Dark Side), The Power of Friendship can defeat the Big Bad.
    • Jedi Consular: Cooperation vs control. The Consular tends to emphasize working together and most of Chapters Two and Three involves gathering allies for the Republic. In contrast, the enemies they face use things like mind control and possession to acquire supporters.
    • Republic Trooper: At what point does Good Is Not Soft and Pay Evil unto Evil become He Who Fights Monsters?
    • Smuggler: Fun and Profit. How free are you really if you just live to indulge hedonistic desires, and how vulnerable does this leave you to manipulation or deception? Also, individualism vs altruism: do exceptional individuals have a moral obligation to help the little guy around them, or are they well within their right to be in it just for themselves?
    • Sith Warrior: Power. What is true power? Manipulation and deception, brute strength, or gathering strong allies? The Sith Warrior acts as The Brute to a Darth and later becomes The Dragon to the Sith Emperor himself, and encounter various characters and storylines with different ideas of what true power is, and how the Sith Warrior responds to each says something about their stance.
    • Sith Inquisitor: Freedom. The Inquisitor was once a slave who found their freedom through becoming a Sith. Numerous decisions the Inquisitor faces have to do with freeing or imprisoning/enslaving others and the player can emphasize in conversation the aspect of the Sith Code that states the Force guarantees freedom.
    • Imperial Agent: Deception, Betrayal, and Loyalty. The Imperial Agent is a "professional liar" who uses infiltration, subterfuge, brainwashing, possibly seduction, and other underhanded methods to gain information and resources for the Empire, only to be betrayed by their masters, and navigates a myriad of conspiracies, Batman Gambits and Xanatos Gambits that forces them to question their loyalties.
    • Bounty Hunter: Honor. Is it possible to fight honorably? Or are bounty hunters just psychos for hire, or attack dogs for evil masters? Notably, the Bounty Hunter encounters many characters (buyers and fellow warriors) with different stances on the above, and the Bounty Hunter can choose fight honorably or not.
  • Star Fox: Trust your family, your equipment, your allies, your instincts. You can't win alone.
  • Super Mario: Mario saves a princess from Bowser, or one of his minions.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Luigi saves someone from ghosts, despite his fears.
    • Super Paper Mario: The Power of Love, any and all love. All the bosses represent some form of perverted love, and all the characters showing genuine love end up redeemed. Almost every NPC talks about or shows some form of love, whether it be romantic love, friendship, familial, even love for the environment.
  • Tales Series: There is no such thing as "pure evil." Even the most vile of villains have a reason behind what they do. Also, placing all of your hopes on a single person to save the world is going to mess them up.
    • Tales of Symphonia: It's never too late to atone for one's sins. Every life has value, and everyone deserves the right to live happily.
    • Tales of Vesperia: Making your own choices. It's better to choose what you want to do or what you feel is right, rather than resign yourself to what others expect of you or what you think you have to do.
    • Tales of Xillia: It is better to work together to forge a better future for everyone instead of mindlessly devoting yourself to a single cause.
    • Tales of the Abyss: Don't let prophecy or fatalism decide your actions. Your family, your nation, or the circumstances of your birth don't define who you are; only you can do that.
    • Tales of Legendia: The Power of Love, and what it can drive people to do when the love isn't reciprocated.
    • Tales of Phantasia: Things are rarely as they first appear.
    • Tales of Berseria: Revenge is pointless; there are greater causes worth fighting for. Humanity does not need to be "saved" from itself. Also, treating other people as tools is monstrous.
  • The Talos Principle: The plot behind the puzzles is a discussion of what it means to be human, and whether it's possible to program a machine that can qualify as human in some sense. The expansion continues this, with focus on how the deeds of individuals reflect their value.
  • Tekken: The conflict between succeeding generations.
  • Tenchu: The need to exercise power wisely and responsibly.
  • Thief:
  • This Is the Police: The self-serving nature of power, the result of trying to please multiple parties ends up with the most vulnerable paying the price, and the difficulty in being a normal joe in a corrupt system.
  • Thomas Was Alone:
    • The importance of teamwork and making connections with others to solve problems and make things better for yourself and others.
    • Benjamin's Flight: The dangers of hubris and overconfidence.
  • Threads of Fate (aka Dewprism): Destiny and Goals, and acting against one's fate.
  • The Turing Test: How different is human mind from a machine?
  • Tokyo Xanadu is filled to the brim with them, typically about one a chapter:
    • Chapter 1: How far are you willing to go for those you care about, even when you're very likely in over your head?
    • Chapter 2: Jealousy and how it destroys friendships and ourselves
    • Chapter 3: You can't hide away from the world. Sometimes you have to be a part of it whether you like it or not.
    • Chapter 4: Even if you have good intentions, fighting alone isn't always the answer. Accept help when it's offered.
    • Chapter 5: Pushing others away, even cause you think it will keep them safe, can only bring about your own downfall.
    • Chapter 6: How we got to where we are now may be good or bad, but in the end, what we do with it now is what matters. note 
    • Chapter 7: Being united for a common cause and accepting even the seemingly unlikeliest form of help.
    • Final Chapter: When believing a lie for so long, even when made fully aware of it, are you truly ready to let it go?
    • True End: When given a chance to make an extraordinary change, are you willing to go to the most extreme lengths to do so, even if it meant facing the greatest challenge you've ever encountered?
    • In the end, the overall theme of the game is accepting things we resist. Asuka resists attachment to others given her dangerous line of work, Yuuki would rather sit at home and live his life on the computer, Shio pushes that he'll handle BLAZE alone when appalled at their actions, Garou initially refuses the XRC's help due to their relative inexperience, and Kou starts to break down as Shiori begins to dematerialize after the final battle, showing he's not yet ready to let the lie go as he thought.
  • Tooth and Tail: Revolution eats her children.note 
  • Touhou:
    Akyuu, Forbidden Scrollery ch48: "When they're kids, everyone thinks there's only one truth. They think that, just like when they used to ask questions to their parents or teachers, every problem has a definite answer buried somewhere, waiting for them to find it. But, the idea that the world is finite is simply a delusion of us humans. Once you get older, you'll realize that the world is infinite. [...] If the world is made up of the infinite, then there are infinite truths as well."
  • Twisted Metal: Pursuing your dream at any cost.
  • Tyranny: Power
    • The difference between the spirit of the law and its many interpretations.
    • How complex perceived ways of evil are when looked at objectively and missing a side of good.
    • Everyone's a player in the game of power, and The Chessmasters who are presumed to be absolute are just as much pieces who can be used and manipulated as their own pawns.
    • How peoples' views of a person can change what was once a simple man into a extraordinary being of myth. (at the cost of them losing their Hidden Depths)
    • Sometimes evil wins.
  • Uncharted: Luck, Honor (or lack thereof), Deception, Greed, and Legacy respectively.
  • Undertale:
    • Determination, and what determination means within the confines of a game.
    • Every action, good or bad, has a consequence. Also, what would you do if the consequences can't affect you at all?
    • It's simple and easy to resort to violence, but it's a solution that hurts everyone involved, including its perpetrators. By contrast, forgiveness and mercy isn't always easy, but it makes living with oneself a lot easier.
    • Do you really have to see everything in a video game? Even if you have to act like a monster to do it or the arguable original appeal of the game is lost?
  • Until Dawn: The limits and unpredictability of trust, loyalty, and friendship; how single mistakes or rash decisions can change or destroy lives and relationships.
  • Warcraft III: Don't let thirst for revenge consume you. Don't draw hasty conclusions. Know your priorities.
  • Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant: Do you have free will? Does anyone? Does mankind? Or is it all destiny, preordained long ago?
  • The Wolf Among Us: Organized crime prospers in a system that favors the rich over everyone else, preying on both desperation of those who have nothing and greed of those who want more.
  • The World Ends with You: To truly live, you have to reach out to the world.
  • Xenoblade: Screw Destiny. Humanity should the one to decide its own fate.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: Can people from vastly different backgrounds live together in peace?
  • Xenogears: Everyone is broken and trying to become whole—often at any cost.
  • Xenosaga: Clinging to the past perpetuates suffering; progress comes about by letting go.
  • Yakuza
    • The Franchise as a whole: To live life honorably and face any challenge or difficulty with dignity. Face any challenge in front of you with all your might and determination, look at that which opposes you in the eye and fight them like a dragon.
    • Power and position given to those who didn't earn them will only lead to tragedy.
    • What it means to be a man.
    • Yakuza 1: Running away from the problems you don't want to face. Many of the main characters, including Kazuma, make choices in an attempt to avoid running into things they don't want to face, but over the course of ten years, it comes back to bite them in ways they couldn't even imagine. For Kazuma, it was taking the blame for a crime Nishiki had committed, realizing that he should have just let life take its course. For Nishiki, instead of facing his problems head on, he's convinced that getting the ten billion yen will solve all of his problems and will allow him to get everything he's always wanted.
    • Yakuza 2: Revenge, everyone involved in this plot is doing this for the sake of a personal slight and vendetta that has to be avenged and how it affects everyone. Even the OP for Kiwami 2 centers around it.
    • Yakuza 3: Losing something important to the characters involved, wherever it's family, friends or their homes, everyone's got something to lose in this story.
    • Yakuza 4: How the past affects the present, a majority of the events that happened in Yakuza was due to actions done 15 years ago
    • Yakuza 5: Dreams. What sacrifices is one willing to make to achieve their dream. But will they discover that there was something more important to them.
    • Yakuza 0: Oaths and Promises, how malleable is one's integrity to keep their promises to those around in a time when money and all that it brings can warp a person's view on just what can be sacrificed for it.
    • Yakuza 6: The Song of Life: Family and life, what does it means to be a family and a father figure in more ways than one.

Visual Novel

  • Ace Attorney:
    • The series as a whole: The truth will always make itself known.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: There will be people trapped by circumstances beyond their control, and they need someone on their side to defend them and clear their names.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All: Are amoral actions justifiable by sympathetic intentions?
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations: What does it really mean to "defend" someone?
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: What's better: law based on absolute proof or law based on human evaluation?
    • Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth: When the law is limited or perverted, how can we ensure justice without resorting to simple vigilantism?
    • Gyakuten Kenji 2:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies:
      • How far can we trust others when the evidence is against them?
      • The dangers of hiding your emotions and how you should confront them.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice:
      • How much are we defined by our heritage and past experiences?
      • Risking everything in pursuit of what you believe in. Every trial except Turnabout Storyteller has the cast putting everything on the line to do what they feel is right.
  • Danganronpa:
  • Dream Daddy: Being a father is hard work, being a good father is a difficult thing that demands determination and dedication to your children, who might not always like what you did, but it's sill worth it.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!:
  • Fate/stay night has an overriding central theme for the whole plot as well as another central theme for each of the three routes.
    • Plot as a whole: Conquering oneself
    • Fate: oneself as an ideal
    • Unlimited Blade Works: struggling with oneself as an ideal
    • Heaven's Feel: the friction with real and ideal
    • As a whole, the Nasuverse has an emphasis on the state of humanity, good and bad, and how it affects their spiritual "mother", Gaia. If humanity is strong, humanity will try to leave their 'cradle' and Gaia will go crazy from finding out that her kid is growing independent. From then, humanity will have to struggle their utmost effort to be free, even if they have to kill their mother. If humanity is weak, Gaia with continue to baby them forever. However, her enforcers/babysitters are abusive and humanity's dependency would cause them to become no different than farm livestock said babysitters feed on. The "humanity is strong" route is the conception of Fate Series, while the "humanity is weak" route is the conception of Tsukihime. The one who makes the choice is humanity themselves.
  • Fleuret Blanc discusses materialism, obsession, and collection; the role of objects in our lives and the meanings we attribute to them.
  • G-Senjou no Maou: In this world, there are only those who use money and those who get used by money.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Poor Communication Kills, Sinners must atone for their sins and not blame someone else for them.
  • Monster Prom: The challenges of high school romance i.e. making the best out of your choices and stats.
  • Songs And Flowers:
    • Learning to live with mental illnesses, be a better person, and not to let your past define you.
    • Humans Are Flawed, but don't be afraid to let them into your life and love them anyway.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Because of love, we are able to see things that we could not see before. But because of love, we also see things that shouldn't exist.
    • The difference between facts and truth and that truth is, in most cases, entirely subjective.
  • Zero Escape: Look beyond first impressions and expectations. Everyone has Hidden Depths, good or bad, so one should refrain from judging until they get the facts straight, both simple and complex.

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