Group SNE / Vic Tokai / Pikachu Play (YouTube)

Immediately upon starting Laplace no Ma, you’re asked to assemble a group of adventurers. Where normal role-playing games like Dragon Quest might let you choose from classes like Warrior and Mage, however, Laplace no Ma’s characters hold more mundane occupations. Detectives act as the game’s front-line brutes, for instance, dispatching enemies with guns and fists, whereas Scientists utilize so-called “Spirit Machines” that can be customized to examine monsters, deal damage, and buff allies.


Of course, as soon as I saw the Journalist class, I knew that was the one to assign to my main character.

Journalists in Laplace no Ma come with a variety of skills but are relatively weak in the combat department. Where they really shine is in their unique ability to take photographs of the monsters you encounter in Weathertop Manor. By equipping a camera, the Journalist’s main attack command is replaced by the option to photograph whatever creatures are currently assailing the party, from the mundane to the supernatural.


When it comes to surviving the constant horrors of the decrepit mansion, the Journalist is almost entirely useless (ouch), but the role’s true worth reveals itself when you eventually make your way back to town.

The front desk clerk at Laplace no Ma’s health- and sanity-restoring hotel is, for some reason, willing to pay top dollar for your disgusting photos. Apparently, the dude’s never seen a basic house spider before, because he shells out $20 every time you bring him a picture of one. Same with bats. And the rewards only go up from there: $40 for a slime, $80 for a ghoul, $100 for a ghost—there’s even an evil door that respawns every time you exit and re-enter Weathertop Manor that garners $300 a pop. It really adds up, especially when film costs only $2 a photo.

A photo of a ghoul with the caption, "I'll buy this picture for $80."
Whatever floats your boat, my dude.
Screenshot: Group SNE / Vic Tokai / Kotaku

While Laplace no Ma is a pretty middling experience otherwise, I love when RPGs provide these sorts of class-based mini-games. I never went back and finished Bravely Default II, but the several hours I did experience were spent obsessed with the Beastmaster job, which is essentially just Pokémon if you set your captured monsters free after a single attack. If I had to guess, my affection for Dragon Quest IV, specifically the chapter devoted to merchant Torneko Taloon, probably comes from the same place.


Simply put, it’s cool when role-playing games let you play a role that doesn’t exclusively involve killing things. The introduction of classes that take pictures or tame creatures or are just really good at buying and selling things goes a long way toward making these fictional worlds feel like real places and not just arenas for living out our most violent power fantasies. Don’t get me wrong, I love lighting up zombies with magic spells as much as the next guy, but it’s always nice when games treat characters who have more going for them than physical prowess as valuable members of a team.