Let me tell you my story...
Many years ago - before marriage... before children... before a full-time career, I played far too many video games and I spent far too much money on those games, but it was my solitary place and I found joy in disappearing into the various worlds that I encountered through many games. Most of my games were RPG's because as you may have read in my Day 2 article, I was an only child. So, being an only child left a decent amount of games out of my collection because I had no-one to co-op with or join online. So I spent my days and nights building into my RPG characters. I played them all: Final Fantasy, Blue Dragon, Fallout, Borderlands, Infinite Undiscovery, Resonance of Fate, Fable, Dragon Age, Dragon Quest, Dark Cloud & Rouge Galaxy (a enitrely overlooked game by the way) and so many more over the years.
There's one franchise in general that I spent far too much time playing. I played so much and loved the game so much that I eventually found a decent PS2 emulator and grabbed ROM versions of each game in the franchise.
That franchise is: Dot Hack.
I can't even begin to describe how much time I spent pouring my heart, soul and effort into this collection of games. The series in general is an RPG that (air quotes) "simulates" an MMORPG without actually playing online. We follow the main character Kite as he explores 'The World' which is the ficticious game world. Along with the standard RPG elements, there is a mystery to be unraveled through your exploration as Kite tries to discover why other players have gone comotose while playing in 'The World'.
The original set of four games (Infection, Mutation, Outbreak & Quarantine) were met with mixed reviews; the pros were character design, unique setting and commtment to maintain the suspension of disbelief. Whereas at times the game pacing was lacking and the improvements between games was minor. But you could officialy start with any of the four games and pick up the story it was best if you began with Infection and played through completion because you would then be able to import your uniquely classed and outfitted character into the following games. The game in general was a commercial success which led to a reboot of sorts with Dot hack//G.U. (Rebirth, Reminisce & Redemption), although it was more of a retelling with differnt functions and playability which enhanced the gameplay while keeping the premise and character transferability intact.
Sadly, as I do not have my Playstation 2 anymore, I had to resort to an emulator and rom of the game iterations to quench my addiction, as in my opinion there really hasn't been a game that carries the game characteristics of being an MMORPG without actually using the internet. So for that I applauded Bandai & Playstation for creating such a game that filled my need for character creation and development without actually creating servers or relying on actual players to populate the world that I played in.
Honestly, if you ever have the change to play these games; do it. I spent countless hours exploring randomly generated dungeons, facing extremely powerful enemies and crafting the perfect squad with exquisetly crafted skills and abilities.