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A variation of the Self-Imposed Challenge restricted to games with multiple controllable characters, like RPGs or strategy games. The player selects one character from the roster and completes the game using only that character, with all the others being restricted to a support role, perpetually dead, constantly blocking, or just ignored.

The difficulty level for this kind of run can vary wildly, depending on the character and the game. For example, RPGs frequently divide the experience gained from fights evenly among the surviving characters, which means that a solo character can gain levels very quickly early on, thereby breezing through the early game. However, later on, exponential requirements for gaining levels mean that the character is not nearly so relatively powerful compared to a full-on party.

For some games, this is not strictly possible because the character is either not in the party or not able to perform a technique required to advance the plot at certain points in the game. For these games, the variation is to use only that character in all situations where the game allows it, and use the bare minimum skills from the other characters when compelled to by the plot.

Not to be confused with Solo Sequence, in which single-character play is temporarily enforced. A character class (supposedly) designed to facilitate this kind of play is a Solo Class.

Examples of Solo Character Run include:

First-Person Shooter

  • This is more or less the preferred method of playing the game Daikatana, as the AI for your companions is buggy at best. The death of either one of them ends the level just the same as though you had died. Typically, the best option is to order them to stay put in some safe corner and go out and kill everything yourself.
  • Through the use of console commands, people have tried solo runs in Left 4 Dead by kicking bots from the game and had various levels of success. Valve seemed to have noticed and introduced a mutation for Left 4 Dead 2 called Last Man on Earth, where you play alone against only special infected and can only be knocked down once before true death applies.

Hack and Slash


  • A player known by the handle "Sydney Prime" is attempting to play Runescape - an MMORPG, of all things - solo. Runescape has no convenient permalink system, but inputting Sydney Prime into the Runescape forum thread search will suffice.

Role Playing Game

  • The Tales games are popular among elite players for, as a cursory glance in YouTube will tell you, demonstrating your pimp combo skills by soloing powerful bosses. Many of these vids are also No Damage Runs.
  • There is a version for Breath of Fire 3, but it can be something of a hassle, as the game automatically revives slain party members after battle; thus you must keep killing them at the start of each fight...
  • In Chrono Trigger, it is possible to skip straight to the final boss fight with only your main character. However, you can only do this at the very beginning of the game, and only by starting a New Game+, with data from an existing file.
  • Rogue Galaxy allows for a solo character run of sorts, by setting the AI on "keep away", under which circumstances they won't help you fight at all, and won't heal themselves so they can be left dead. Party members auto-revive with 1 HP if Only Mostly Dead at the end of a fight, but they'll die again in short order if not healed, making their momentary livelihood mostly meaningless.
    • And due to the sheer stupidity of the AI, you're probably better off doing this even if you're playing the game the straight way.
  • Many of the Exile/Avernum games from Spiderweb Software are arguably easier in some respects with a solo character, as that character gets all the good loot (of which there is a strictly limited supply), all of the experience (a high-level character is much harder for monsters to kill than an equivalently-leveled character), and only a fourth of the available target space. The big problems come in figuring out your skill distribution.
    • Singletons, as they are called in Avernum, are also extremely vulnerable to being wrapped in web by giant spiders. If the spiders continue spinning webs (and they will. They always do), a single character will get no turns at all, getting stuck in a zero-AP loop. Cue either an impossibly long death process or a Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
    • Actually, skill distribution isn't that much of a problem since you'll be getting a whole party's experience worth for just one guy early on, and later on you can buy potions that award skill points. The real problem is inventory space: in Exile it's often a good idea to give up armor and helmets after a certain point so as to be able to carry more loot.
  • This, or simply using a much smaller party than the maximum, is a popular challenge in Baldur's Gate. The sequel is absurdly easy with this method if one has the expansion pack installed, since the solo character gains access to abilities that would normally only be acquired in the expansion and are many, many times more powerful than the standard skillset.
    • Better Infinity Engine games to try this trope with are the Icewind Dale series. Trying it in the sequel is lunacy (doable, mind you, but still lunacy), because the Challenge Rating system ensures that you'll soon end up gaining as much XP solo as you would with a full party.
    • This is not, on the other hand, very common among Planescape: Torment players. This is possibly because dying is easy for the lead character, but staying dead is hard; or because after the initial roughness of going it alone, even dying becomes hard; or because so much of the game is character interaction, including with party members, and there are so few mandatory fights that you're missing the point of the game if you try a Solo Character Run.
  • Both SaGa 2 and SaGa 3 revive dead characters at the start of every battle. How do you deal with that? By using codes to petrify most of your team, and any fifth characters to boot! Just be prepared to deal with extreme difficulty, even compared to other solos.[1]
  • Final Fantasy
    • This is very popular in the original Final Fantasy. A solo Fighter is regarded as easiest. Black Belt is not difficult when massively overleveled, Red Mage has both good offense and defense plus multi-targeting black magic, White Mage has the advantage of the RUSE spell, and Black Mage has multi-targeting black magic starting from the third town. By far the hardest, Thief has to grind halfway to the level cap (with poor offense and defense the whole time) before being able to have a CHANCE to defeat the fourth mini-boss. Nobody has ever gotten past the fifth one.
    • Final Fantasy IV has seen a number of attempts using Cecil (the only possible one, as the party is far more fluid than later Final Fantasy games). The usual strategy is using Bacchus (an item that causes Berserk) to get through boss fights. The Demon Wall is the usual choke point.
      • Only Cecil is possible, unless of course one uses patch codes of one form or another. It's quite possible, though mages will have a rough time. As, in some versions, bosses that are fought without a magic user in the party, such as Valvalius and the Dark Imp, are totally immune to spells.
    • Final Fantasy VI has a variation, with people only following this as long the required character is around, meaning someone that joins early and rejoins early like the Figato twins is the "closest" to the feel of the challenge. Umaro is considered to be the only one that can't win it, for obvious reasons.
    • This can be done in Final Fantasy VII except when plot-necessary (when Cloud is out of his mind in Mideel and Tifa, then Cid take over). It's somewhat trivial if you use Cloud, since the Yoshiyuki sword you pick up in Rocket Town powers up if you have dead people in your party. It's balanced out by three bosses (Reno, Bottomswell, Carry Armor) that have attacks that trap your character and require intervention from your dead party members, netting you an instant game over.
      • It's possible to get through those bosses without using anyone except Cloud. The key is you have to kill them before they can attack (done by power leveling, Meteorain is needed before you leave the Train Graveyard in order to beat Reno).'
      • Save Scumming can be considered mandatory for those three. Reno and Bottomswell can be taken care of without much hassle, but Carry Armor can quickly become That One Boss, since it will often open the battle with Arm Grab, ending the fight before it can even begin.
    • SCRs are ridiculously easy in Final Fantasy VIII, thanks to the ease of pulling off LimitBreaks. Lionheart, "Armageddon Fist," Acid, Invincible's all good.
      • Another reason is that there is no limit to the number of Guardian Forces you can assign to a single character...thus, it is entirely possible to have a level 10 Squall with 9999 HP that hits for thousands damage about one third into the game.
    • Accomplished with most of the cast from Final Fantasy X, even to the point of a solo Yuna playthrough with no Summons.
      • Note that there is one boss fight exception if you use Yuna for this challenge, unless you are absolutely insane. (You'd have to be pretty insane to play Yuna Only, No Summons, No Sphere Grid, etc. anyways. It's been done, though.)
  • Soloing with the main character in Lufia: The Ruins of Lore quickly makes the early game a breeze and allows you to learn the various game-breaking class skills that much quicker. Who needs a party when you can deal random amounts of damage for cheap (Chance Hit), heal yourself fully for free (Sacrifice), skip most normal fights (Tear Gas), and attack all enemies for free (Rapidfire)? In addition, the Ancient Cave bonus dungeon only allows the main character (and a pet monster) in, so you'd be able to get the essential survival skills (including Absorb and Mirror) that much sooner.
  • Prior to generation V, Pokémon is actually easier on a Solo Pokemon Run, since an over-leveled starter with a sufficiently versatile move set can overwhelm pretty much anything. Type disadvantages cease to matter when you're thirty levels higher than anything else. The only hitch is that you'll probably need a few PP-restoring items for the Elite Four, and a second Pokémon whose only purpose is to hold mandatory HM moves (no starter Pokemon can learn all the required ones anyway). With the new experience system in Generation V, a solo-mon run has become quite a bit more challenging.
  • A popular method of establishing exactly how broken the Arcane Warrior class is in Dragon Age: Origins.
    • Possible, but more difficult with a stealth-based Rogue.
  • Extremely common in the Fallout series, especially the first one. This is mostly because party NPCs in the first game did not level up and were liabilities due to friendly fire and obstructing doors or corridors.
    • Also doable in Fallout 2, though less desirable because the joinable characters add so much to the game. Much easier in Fallout 3 because not only are joinable NPC's liabilities, they're pretty uninteresting characters.
  • Also easier in Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, owing to the quicker and higher leveling potential of a solo PC. Even an unarmed build can solo more effectively than a full group that requires weapon maintenance and healing.
  • Geneforge is a rare case where this is neither beneficial nor negative, simply a different style of play suited to a different class. (If you're wondering how that could work, it's a Mons game--and the classes that are best with mons are the worst fighters when cornered.)
    • This is only a Self-Imposed Challenge for the Shaper class, and later Lifecrafter class, because Shaping skills are their specialty. Without creating mons, the benefits of Shaping specialization can be focused on healing and defensive buffing, but the build doesn't leave much in the way of direct damage ability.
    • In fact, with the Agent class, this is actually a BETTER idea, because it means you don't have to share experience with creations that really won't do you any favours. Generally Agents only make creations for large scale battles where they can benefit from Meat Shields. Not having any creations also means a bigger essence pool, so it becomes much easier to use essence-gobbling spells like Augmentation, Essence Blade, or Aura of Flames.
  • The Dungeon Siege series, having a bad rep for essentially playing themselves, become reasonably challenging when this is attempted.
  • Try playing any of the Wizardry games with only one character. Goddamn hard - but can be done.
  • This is actually fairly popular in Persona 3 and Persona 4 for certain bosses due to the modular party system. (You can go into Tartarus or the Midnight Channel alone if you like). Persona 3 Portable even has a Tactics Command that orders your party to leave for the duration of the fight. The problem is that unless you set your party on Stand By or have them block every turn, you don't have access to All-Out Attacks, lowering your damage output considerably. Interestingly enough, some bosses are actually -easier- solo, because your ability to change Personae allows you to exploit Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors without having to worry about your party giving the enemy a free turn.
  • Ultima VII will allow you to do this if you tell all your party members to "go home". It also means you don't have to keep listening to them whinge about wanting food all the time.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins, creating a deck gives you the option to lock characters out of it, meaning they can't participate in battle. Depending on who you choose to lock out, this can make the game quite a bit harder.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Alien Swarm requires a console command, (normally requires 2 players minimum) but it is entirely possible to play every level solo. Including ones where you need to stop and protect the tech while he hacks a door or computer.

Turn-Based Strategy

  • Extremely common among the Fire Emblem community. The series is well-suited to solos because a powerful character can dominate the battlefield, so if the player can get the character out of his early vulnerable levels intact, it's usually smooth sailing from there on out. The generally accepted rule is that only the selected character can deal damage -- other characters are allowed to open chests and doors, rescue, seize, or recruit as the player sees fit. Difficulty level ranges from the relatively easy (Ike solo in Fire Emblem 9) to the mind-bogglingly difficult (Colm solo in Fire Emblem 8).
    • The final bosses of Fire Emblem 4 and 7 almost entirely rule out this challenge for those titles because of their high stats and/or weapon properties. Likewise, a Crutch Character solo run in any game (save 8) is unlikely to succeed.
      • There is a tactic that allows Fire Emblem 4 to be soloable (by sword users, anyway), that utilises the Berserk status and a lot of luck.
      • Eleventh-Hour Superpower characters are usually considered acceptable workarounds in such cases.
  • The Final Fantasy Tactics series. This also applies to a similar challenge, whereby a player is allowed to use a full party of five characters, but they all have to be the same class. A large part of the difficulty arises as most classes are incapable of healing themselves, and a dead character who is not revived after three turns is dead for good. This has also been combined where only the main character is played and he must remain as a single class.
    • To this day, a five-man party straight class challenge has been completed for all playable classes, including Calculators not using math skill ever. Solo straight class challenge has also been completed for all classes except mime and true calculator, as well as many other game-shark only classes or even monsters.
  • Because Disgaea doesn't give Leaked Experience, it can be simpler to power level one of the main characters and stomp the rest of the game rather than try to balance levels across a party of ten characters. This is almost a requirement in the post-game, because levelling and appropriately equipping just one character takes an absurd amount of time, even if you aren't trying for perfection. This restricts the options to using one horribly overlevelled character and nine decoys or abusing the base-panel combat mechanics and Enemy Level Up Geo-Effects to create a team of poorly equipped Lv. 9999 monsters.
  • This is what a large part of the community says the easiest way to beat the original Front Mission.

Turn Based Tactics

  • You want a really hard one of these? Try the original X-COM, sending only 1 soldier to each battlescape.


  1. In FFL2, beating even the weakest monsters is a pain and a half if you're a solo human or mutant, and in FFL3 expect to grind thirty or so levels for a late boss; for reference, when playing normally you beat the final boss somewhere between level 32 and level 40!
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