Here at RPGFan, we often refer to ourselves as “RPGFam,” so needless to say, we love good family dynamics in our video games. A couple of years ago, we even explored the Best RPG Moms and the Best RPG Dads, so we thought it was time to explore family dynamics that are often every bit as important: the best siblings in RPGs. Some of the relationships are important for plot reasons, some siblings understand and support each other in remarkable ways, and some even reflect our own personal family histories and dynamics.
Editor’s Note: While we have tried to avoid sibling relationships that are very spoiler-laden, there will be spoilers for the games in many of the following entries. Please be mindful of that as you are reading!
Alphinaud & Alisaie Leveilleur – Final Fantasy XIV
Writeup by Mike Salbato
Alphinaud and Alisaie are two of the first characters you meet in Final Fantasy XIV, and they have only become more vital friends and companions over the last seven-plus years. While A Realm Reborn largely focuses on clever and diplomatic Alphinaud, subsequent expansions bring his headstrong sister Alisaie into an equal spotlight. As the story unfolds, each twin grows exponentially in their own ways, and thankfully they no longer dress identically either! As someone who has spent his life bantering with his brother, I find their portrayals as siblings to be extremely well realized. Watching them converse, bicker, poke fun at one another, and all the while praise and support each other for doing things they are not good at — all of these elements contribute to making them incredibly rich characters. Alphinaud and Alisaie are as different as can be, despite sharing similar goals, and they complement each other — and the rest of the Scions, including us players as Warriors of Light — perfectly. In 2013, I had no idea I would come to adore these two as much as I have, and today I can’t even imagine Final Fantasy XIV without them.
Special Note: I want to offer up a special thanks to TheExtendedMetaphor on YouTube for her incredibly well-done video on the Leveilleur twins that I used as reference (and miraculously went live mere days before I wrote this!).
Sans & Papyrus – Undertale
Writeup by Alana Hagues
Who can think of a more perfect pair than the flamboyant, hardworking Papyrus and the sarcastic and laid-back Sans? Undertale‘s premier skeleton boys are polar opposites of each other, but like two puzzle pieces, they fit together perfectly despite their differences. Their introduction in Snowdin demonstrates their quirks and shows how they work together so well, bouncing off of one another to hilarious effect. Their relationship is the perfect antidote to the end of events in the Ruins (regardless of what run you’re doing). Even through the deadpan voice-grunting and lowercase Comic Sans font, you can tell Sans has a lot of admiration for his brother. He doesn’t ever want to destroy Papyrus’ hope or optimism, and if you go down the Genocide route, Sans makes sure to remind you of just who his brother is and what exactly you did to him. Their relationship in Undertale stands out for me because their humour helped carry me through a tearjerker of a game and made me fall in love with the Underground. In a game that promotes kindness and tests relationships, the love and sense of humour between these two is pivotal.
Riou & Nanami – Suikoden II
Writeup by Zach Wilkerson
Leaving aside the dodgy translation, I still point to Suikoden II as a virtually perfect RPG. And why not? Suikoden II has basically everything going for it. Quick, snappy combat. An iconic villain. A compelling story. An awesome castle to fill with 107 of your friends.
But the best part, the beating heart of this game, is the relationship between Riou and Nanami. Even as a silent protagonist, Riou clearly has a calm, steady leadership style, relying on the experts around him to make strong decisions. This is in clear contrast to Nanami’s big, brash personality, but it serves as a perfect counterpart to Riou, not only enhancing his leadership but also showing us how important they are to one another. Their collective dedication to each other, Jowy, Pilika, and the cause they pursue is the best kind of familial relationship; it makes the twists and turns in Suikoden II‘s final hours some of the most powerful and exalting of all video games.
Edgar & Sabin – Final Fantasy VI
Writeup by Michael Sollosi
Two princes (kneel before you), neither of whom ever wanted to be a king. Edgar and Sabin join the party early in Final Fantasy VI; Edgar’s spears and special gadgets and Sabin’s claws and martial arts are reliable for the entire adventure. But there is something more impactful than their roles in battle: Edgar and Sabin’s trust in each other is inspirational and aspirational.
The twin brothers become orphans at age 17. A despondent Sabin and reluctant Edgar acknowledge that they’d both prefer to forge their own path in life rather than become king, so Edgar convinces Sabin to determine their futures with a coin flip. Sabin wins the toss and chooses to depart Figaro to dedicate himself to martial arts and self-improvement; Edgar becomes the new king, and over time, the self-proclaimed ladies’ man hones his skills as a machinist in the steampunk citadel of Figaro Castle.
Later, Sabin discovers that Edgar’s coin has the same emblem on both sides. Edgar thought that leaving it to “chance” would allow Sabin to leave with fewer regrets. When the party revisits Figaro, Sabin thanks his brother, and they toast to their parents’ memory. In those ten years apart, the two princes lived different lives and became completely different men, but there is no anger or resentment — only love.
Veronica & Serena – Dragon Quest XI
Writeup by Giancarlo Vazquez
A spunky, in-your-face gremlin tries to claw your eyes out and her gentle, thoughtful sister holds her back — what’s not to love? Dragon Quest XI‘s party members complement one another by filling various needs and falling naturally into familial roles. Veronica is the spearhead; she’s always coming up with a plan or tackling a confrontation head-on. Serena is often spurred into action by her sister’s aggressive drive to accomplish their mission, but she’s also the heart of the group. What’s incredible about these two — besides both being exceptional party members with essential abilities — is how much they learn from each other over the course of Dragon Quest XI and how well they adopt the other’s strengths when they are apart. When her sister isn’t around to bail her out, Serena’s reserved attitude tempers into a piercing resolve (reflected in her ability to equip spears in combat, maybe?). Without Serena, Veronica tends to become more inquisitive, and her concern for the well-being of others is easily spotted behind her abrasive attitude. Although the two are perfectly capable of handling themselves, they trust the other will play to their strengths. Veronica and Serena are an unstoppable army of two, and no other sibling pair in a video game comes close to their synergy. The Luminary might as well be their sidekick.
Hawke & Bethany – Dragon Age II
Writeup by Audra Bowling
Dragon Age II is a game I enjoyed despite its flaws. I greatly appreciated Hawke’s characterization — they felt like a real person despite the player getting a wealth of decision and personality choices for them. The story of Hawke is about the human underneath the talk and rumors, and their familial ties helps to further flesh them out. I’ve only completed one playthrough of DAII so far, and my story no doubt differs from others, but I especially adored the sibling bond between my rogue Hawke and her little sister Bethany, a reserved apostate mage who feels incredibly guilty for the lengths her family goes to in order to keep her safe. I took Bethany into the Deep Roads and felt fortunate that she became a Grey Warden, keeping her in the plot. As a result, Bethany deals with a lot of hardship on her own and resents Hawke because she was cut off from her family, but she eventually comes to accept what happened. The siblings reach a tentative understanding, and Bethany’s declaration that she’ll always be Hawke’s sister first and foremost is one of my favorite story moments. The two go through so much over the years spanning DAII’s plot, but they ultimately still care for one another, making their relationship stand out all the more to me during my playthrough.
Ramza & Alma – Final Fantasy Tactics
Writeup by Quinton O’Connor
Over the years — heck, make that decades! — that I’ve chatted with fans of Final Fantasy Tactics, I’ve seen some conversational trends. Folks line up to talk about the pragmatism of Delita, the sinister shadow of Argath, or the walking political science exam that is Wiegraf. Main protagonist Ramza Beoulve gets left on the sidelines to some extent, and his sister Alma is almost never mentioned at all. (I suppose life imitates art, eh? This is very much in keeping with the “Zodiac Brave Story.”) It’s all well and good, but if you’ve not yet done so, I implore you to think about Ramza and Alma the next time you have a hankering for a replay. Ramza and Alma Beoulve are the beating heart of this story from beginning to end. Final Fantasy Tactics has a wide cast of characters, but many of them either ally with or attempt to murder this destined duo across every chapter. When treacheries strike from the places these siblings thought safe, they find themselves on opposite ends of the kingdom. Yet throughout his quest, Ramza never stops yearning to defend Alma, and Alma in turn eventually seeks to shield her brother from the worst of what’s to come. In the final telling, sister and brother stand side by side to save the world.
Fiora & Dunban – Xenoblade Chronicles
Writeup by Alana Hagues
Given the events of Xenoblade Chronicles, and the lack of screen time and development Fiora and Dunban get, it might be a little surprising to see them here. But being a little sister myself, the relationship between the headstrong, kind Fiora and the protective, determined Dunban feels familiar to me. Both of them are stubborn to a fault, and it’s clear just from their early interactions and teasing that they adore and respect each other. Which makes the events that follow shortly after, and Dunban’s speech to Shulk, sting even more. Later in the game, after certain revelations about Fiora, the siblings get more time to bond through Heart-to-Hearts. In “A Family of Two,” Dunban stumbles over his words trying to comfort his little sister as she comes to terms with her new body. The two clash, but both apologise immediately, a cycle my brother and I have been through. And in “Brother and Sister,” Dunban reassures Fiora that she is still Fiora, his little sister, who loves cooking and uplifts others.
With Xenoblade‘s focus on relativity and community, it’s obvious to me just how key Fiora and Dunban’s relationship is. Even though it goes largely unexplored in the game, it’s still incredibly important to me. Siblings are often overprotective of each other, and this manifests in different, complicated ways, but it always comes from a place of love.
Sara & Scott Ryder – Mass Effect: Andromeda
Writeup by Audra Bowling
Scott and Sara Ryder are fraternal twins who join a spacefaring colonization project along with their father following his dishonorable discharge from the military. Sara, the older twin, has a strong attachment to science, while Scott longs for exploration and adventure. The two find common ground through the Andromeda Initiative. My playthrough of Mass Effect: Andromeda saw Sara step into the Pathfinder role eventually, but I was thoroughly impressed by how Scott was still included despite being out of commission at times. Some of Andromeda‘s more memorable moments stem from interactions Sara has with Scott, showcasing their bond and allowing more personal storytelling and decision-making in the overarching plot as the twins struggle with their current situation and family secrets. There was even a portion of my playthrough where I controlled Scott in order to help save Sara’s life, and the younger Ryder sibling also has an integral role in the final boss battle. Mass Effect: Andromeda isn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but I genuinely cared for and became more invested in the familial ties between Sara and Scott than I thought I would. It’s a shame they don’t have more scenes together, and that they don’t get the chance to be squadmates.
Beat & Rhyme – The World Ends With You
Writeup by Audra Bowling
The bond between Beat and Rhyme in The World Ends With You really struck a chord with me. The two siblings look out for one another throughout the Reapers’ Game, even though Rhyme doesn’t have any real memories of Beat actually being her brother. There is a sibling bond that connects and pushes them forward all the same. Despite lacking a personal goal or dream of her own, Rhyme wants to help Beat accomplish his. Meanwhile, Beat wants nothing more than to provide her with that kind of motivation, even though he ultimately lied to her about having a dream in the first place. This is largely due to their backgrounds: Rhyme excelled in academics, while Beat lost the attention of his parents because he didn’t excel. Despite this familial turbulence, Rhyme was a supportive figure for Beat, though at the time, he only viewed it as his little sister pitying him. Their involvement in the Reapers’ Game is the result of a tragic set of circumstances that Beat constantly tries to push past for Rhyme’s sake, even though it pains him that she doesn’t know who he is at first. These siblings truly care for one another, both as partners and as family, even when those bonds aren’t always apparent.