Europa 1400: The Guild: "a rich life of trading, avarice and intrigues"... with zero kills?

"Europa 1400: The Guild" places players in a medieval historic setting, with the general goal of building a wealthy and powerful family dynasty, and leaving it to the player whether their methods are going to be ethical and virtuous, or gruesomely underhanded and treacherous (or somewhere in-between).
Screenshot from the intro movie of Europa 1400: The Guild
The game begins when players create their own character and choose a modest starting occupation of some sort, ranging from blacksmithing, running a medieval tavern, running an alchemist's laboratory, the low road of thieving, or various other medieval trades like a stonemason, perfumer, or preacher.
The latest version of Europa 1400 is now available as "The Guild: Gold," featuring both the original game and built-in expansion pack which adds new features and even more interesting professions to choose from, including the traveling entertainer, tailor, and "churchyard warden" (who in actuality appears to be more or less a necromancer).
A view of Europa 1400's medieval London in winter, featuring the market square and Town Hall
As for the gameplay, Europa 1400 combines in-depth strategy, medieval "life simulation," and RPG elements with a nonlinear format, as well as the option to include or exclude historic events in the game timeline. So far, the in-depth strategic options and nonlinear format is showing excellent promise for being able to win the game without ever being forced to kill anyone— even though fending off the black treachery of one's ambitious rivals in the medieval business or societal structure is eventually going to be a necessity...
Player character "Gentleman Tarquis Goldlender" (with player name borrowed from an NPC from Thief:Gold)  retires to his abode "Honest Home" as the express picture of contented industry, reposing  after the virtuous labors of the day. However, as his wealth grows, it's only a matter of time before less virtuous citizens hatch nefarious schemes against him, plotting in the shadows of their own nighted dens and backrooms...
The Guild's game manual describes the game's setting and ambitious premise this way:
"The “golden age of discovery and free spirit”, as the late Middle Ages in Europe is known
by its contemporaries, is the era of free-thinkers and merchants.
With the nobility in dire financial straits, due to their penchant for extravagance and
ongoing, expensive feuds, some wealthy towns are seizing the moment to pay a high ransom
in return for increased privileges from their rulers, and occasionally even from the Emperor.
Their goal is to achieve wealth and power based on the philosophy of a free middle class,
albeit one that rules over others. This is the dawn of the free towns..."

Gentleman Tarquis Goldlender's modest medieval tavern "Little Dreckboun" seen in the foreground of the medieval town of London, 1400 AD.
Lest this be mistaken for an inherently nonviolent economic or trading simulation game, however, they go on to warn that: "...the town is not merely a place that promises hope of the prosperity for which everybody strives. Again and again, fatal epidemics run rampant, thieves and cutthroats lie in wait for their loot, and craftsmen and merchants compete mercilessly at the expense of the ordinary town-dweller.
There is also a steady supply of predators in the nobility, who are envious of the towns’ hard earned wealth and waste no time in occupying some castle ruins near the town, from where they can spread fear and terror amongst the traders ..."
The player's broad goal is consequently not only to make your fortune, but also to survive the foul machinations of whatever rivals end up plotting and scheming against you. Even if you never do anything to offend anyone, religious rivalries always exist as a baseline default source of antagonism coming from some NPCs, and other members of medieval society (including thieves and robbers, as well as competitors) will likely also covet your business assets or wealth for their own use, and consequently start plotting against you...
Gentleman Goldlender and I wasted little time investigating these ruins when we saw the luminous gold coins floating over them— but it would seem these picturesque ruins are actually the lairs of cretinous "Robber Barons," members of the nobility who have turned to using overt criminality against the rising medieval merchant class...
Each game of Europa 1400 begins when the player generates their own character, with the option to have a more specific goal defined by choosing from a set of "assignments." For example, a player can set a goal to become rich by accumulating a fortune in gold, to become a magnate, to finesse and/or slither one's way into the ranks of the nobility, to become a universal scholar, or take things in a more overtly dire direction by becoming a professional blackmailer (or worse). The player then embarks on an in-depth campaign, starting from living in a modest medieval town dwelling and building up a small business, and theoretically eventually building enough wealth and influence to rise to a position of power and prestige.
The interior of "Honest Home," where Gentleman Goldlender enjoys firelight and candle-lit medieval ambience, and trains diligently to increase his talents for negotiation and handicraft... (In future we also plan to add a wine cellar where he can hide hoarded gold from thieves, as well as to prevent the Crown and Church from becoming overly avaricious when applying taxes and tithes.)
Starting from the beginning of the campaign, players also get to choose their profession and allocate points to selected "talents," including "Negotiation," "Handicraft," "Stealth," and "Rhetoric",  showing that there is plenty of possibility to survive and thrive without having to rely primarily on combat. (The talents each player-generated character starts out with are determined by the player's choice of parents, whose combined talents are passed on to their offspring.)
Under the influences of the planet Venus, Tarquis Goldlender was born from the union of his father (a trader with talents in handicraft and negotiation) and mother (a thief, specifically a forger, with talents in stealth), bestowing a measure of their combined talents on their promising son...
So far the game shows lots of promise for combining medieval history and atmosphere with engaging non-combative gameplay, including mercantile pursuits, medieval investing and economic strategies, and a substantial amount of scheming, plotting and intrigues to avoid being ruined by ill-intentioned rivals.
A spectral hammer appears above Little Dreckboun— not as a manifestation of ghosts from Gentleman Goldlender's past, but as an indicator that the building improvements he ordered are under construction: Barred windows and stinging nettles to deter thieves on the outside, and a gaming table and leather chairs on the inside. Now even patricians may deign to seat themselves in our humble tavern and spend their gold...
The remaining question is just how far one can get into these darker dimensions of gameplay without some event forcing a player to "kill or be killed..." Our Google searches about a pacifist run in the Guild series weren't conclusive, yet the series shows very significant nonviolent promise.
For one thing, the game is known to be very nonlinear and let the player guide the members of their dynasty through a "life simulation" in which the same scenario can have different results each time based on the player's specific decisions throughout, making it sound much more likely that they won't force any mandatory kills on the player through any scripted plot events.
The Tavern's honest and hardworking employees distill and brew beverages in the cellar...
As one's businesses grow, the player can choose whether to involve themselves in detailed active management decisions (like buying raw goods, monitoring fluctuation of market prices of inputs and finished products, managing a fleet of supply carts to deliver goods to the marketplace, etc), or whether to hire a manager to run the business for them. Doing the latter will increase management fee costs, but free up time for other pursuits, including dealing with one's ambitious rivals....
A vagabond camp adjacent to our tavern and the frequent sighting of nearby thieves are causes for concern, but so far our investments in building upgrades (including stinging nettles and barred windows) appear to have successfully fended off burglaries...
Even when dealing with openly antagonistic rivals, the game has a creative array of non-combative choices about how to handle each situation, enabling players to try to take the ethical high road by building genuine influence and forging alliances with other NPCs— or to take the lower road of attempting to use bribery, blackmail, or even worse methods to try to manipulate rivals.
Nonviolent players who may nonetheless have one or two marks against them might find it advantageous to buy one of the notorious "indulgences" once sold by the Church, in order to absolve temporal sins in exchange for some gold. (And if anyone nails a dissertation on a public notice board condemning you for this action, you can probably just tear it down at a cost of 2 "action points" before it does serious harm to your reputation.)
There is also plenty of grey area since players can compete to win various forms of political office, influence other NPCs to use as allies to obstruct their rivals' hostility, and also to overtly abuse their positions for their own personal advantage. (For example, a town guard may have the ability to arrest specific persons, but if one climbed high enough to win the position of a judge, they could even become immune from prosecution.)
Town Councilmen (from the in-game tutorial) vote to award Gentleman John Merryman a position as town servant...
The welcome inclusion of an impressive array of "fantasy-RPG" special items expands the nonviolent asset list even further: Relics, potions, enchanted rings, alchemical reagents, and other special items may be crafted or purchased from an alchemist, tinctury, abbey, or occult shop, among many other places. There are too many special items to even list in this one post, but just a few noteworthy examples include a "Bloom of Discord" potion (which can cause two rivals to turn into enemies of each other), Skullfire Liqueur (to slip into an opponent's drink to hinder their talents in negotiation and rhetoric for one round), silver rings, gold chains, and musk perfumes (usable with varying rates of success to gain perceived influence with NPCs, including members of the town council or church), or stink bombs that cause a rivals' employees or henchmen to flee from the stench for a period of time...
The interior of the Tinctury, where Gentleman Goldlender purchased endurance potions to enable him to become even  more industrious. The Tinctury is also one of many places where players can spend some gold on non-lethal assets to aid in thwarting rivals...
One last word: "Europa 1400: The Guild" is by no means a casual game, and the depth of its gameplay means that most players should probably expect to invest at least a few hours getting used to the slightly challenging interface, and "learning the ropes." We struggled with it a little at first despite the helpful built-in tutorial and game manual, but ultimately found it well worth the effort, after which it became much more fun despite still being amply challenging. (We also noticed some other players denouncing the game in lengthy negative forum posts when they were frustrated with the learning curve— only to return a while later after they'd apparently gotten the hang of it, saying they'd changed their mind and concluded that Europa 1400: The Guild was actually fantastic.)
Show some good-natured patience like these nice pigs from the in-game tutorial, and vistas of profitable medieval opportunity will open up in Europa 1400: The Guild...


Minecraft: Unique sandbox game with the option to turn off hostile monsters

Minecraft is a very unique open ended "sandbox" game that looks very much like it was inspired by Legos, and involves exploring, gathering resources, battling other blocky-looking entities, and (of course) building things with textured cubes. Its official site at describes it as "a game about placing blocks and going on adventures."
Vistas of nonviolent blocky opportunity open up before players of Minecraft...
Minecraft is not known as a horrifically "violent" game even with the game's default combat mode left on, but the good news for nonviolent gamers looking for an even more peaceful experience is that can also be played in a variety of optional modes and difficulty settings, one of which is the "Peaceful" setting that prevents any hostile monsters from spawning.
"OK guys, just to make sure we're all on the same page here: We're going to be playing on 'Peaceful Mode,' so no battles and no kills allowed, okay?"
Crafting items for various purposes is another dimension of gameplay, and players can learn how to mine and smelt ores to build more effective tools, as well as apparently trying to profit by using emeralds as a currency...
Minecraft has become a wildly popular phenomenon: Apparently the game sold 1 million units less than a month after its beta phase, and the developer has since sold it to Microsoft for over 2 billion dollars (!). We suspect Minecraft has to be played personally to fully grasp its hidden depths— but we're already all for it, and look forward to seeing what it has to offer in terms of exploring, prospecting, small-scale mining operations, emeralds, and gigantic pixels.
Sounds like we won't be needing that sword in 'Peaceful Mode,' but the giant pixels should definitely stay.

Skyrim: Zero kill open world RPG? Or just a noteworthy pacifist challenge?

The "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" is a 3D RPG first released in 2011, with an archetypal fantasy plot and final objective of defeating a world-eating dragon. At minimum, it sounds like Skyrim is on par with RPGs like Two Worlds in that it gives players an absorbing "open world" that the player can explore peacefully, with many quests that have nonviolent solutions, and the ability for players to indefinitely postpone the primary quest objective for as long as they want...
Screenshot from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
But is the legendary Skyrim actually possible to complete as a zero kill run? We haven't been able to confirm whether the whole game can be completed without killing anything, or whether it's just another solid "pacifist challenge" open world RPG that allows players to spend many hours exploring and enjoying nonviolent gameplay. Either way: It looks like a game nonviolent RPG fans could easily get engrossed in for huge spans of time even if they never got around to formally completing the entire game.
Skyrim has even generated a bit of mainstream media attention based on the efforts of pacifist run players who enjoy wandering around in the beautiful open world using purely nonviolent tactics. The Wall Street Journal published an article about this called "Videogamers Embark on Nonkilling Spree: 'Pacifist Run' Wins Bragging Rights; Spells, Not Swords," focusing in particular on a Skyrum pacifist run player known as Felix the Peaceful Monk. Quoting that article's description of the "pacifist run" phenomenon: "Videogames have long been assailed for their violent themes and gruesome imagery. But a small slice of players has embraced a new strategy: not killing. They are imparting real-world morals on their virtual-world characters and completing entire games on a "pacifist run"—the term for beating a blood-and-guts adventure without drawing any blood."
Screenshot from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
One very nice nonviolent asset Skyrim gives players is a spell that allows players to not only stop enemies like wolves from attacking (like the freezing wave spell does very effectively in Two Worlds), but also temporarily calms them down and makes them friendly for a period of time. (This is a nice alternative to the more common type of charm enchantments that tend to bewitch NPCs so that they automatically start attacking their own former allies or cohorts— assuming the non-lethal spells even work in the first place.)
Screenshot from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Regarding open-world RPGs in general: We're not sure exactly which game was most historically influential in defining the 3d "open world" format seen in live-action RPGs like Two Worlds, Skyrim, Gothic III, etc, but they all seem to have similar systems of allowing players to invest in building skill in some mixture of combat, magic, and stealth (often including sneaking and picking locks, as well as picking pockets). The open world concept combined with the ability to complete chosen subquests of one's own choice in a nonlinear sequence definitely lends itself nicely to a pacifist run, since players can focus on maximizing the gains from as many nonviolent quests as possible. (Once in awhile this can make a crucial difference later on in dangerous encounters, such as when one can easily avoid violence with upgraded skills that require quite a few level gains.)
Looks like the "open world RPG" tradition of wildcrafting hasn't been neglected in Skyrim...
Some nonlinear open-world RPGs can even make great quasi-casual games for players who aren't worried about solving quests. The first time we played Two Worlds I, we spent several hours in "sneak mode" admiring the scenery and wildcrafting (not because we weren't interested in the quests and plot, but just because we were so impressed with the scenery and ability to find flowering herbs and toadstools growing in the wild that we ran out of time that night). It sounds like some Skyrim players do the same thing: We ran across a quote from a Metafilter user who shared that: "I played a lot of Skyrim and mostly just liked picking flowers and riding my horse." So it's clear that the peaceful potential of "open world" RPGs isn't being overlooked, whether or not the entire game's primary plotline can be resolved without dispatching a single foe...


Sid Meier's Pirates!: High-seas Trading, Treasure-hunting, and Running Away from Pirates (with zero kills?)

"Sid Meier's Pirates!" is a modernized 2004 update of the classic PC "Pirates!" game originally released in 1987, which was a quasi-historic (yet very fun) simulation/adventure game based on the lifestyles of either pirates, privateers, or pirate-hunters in the 16th to 18th centuries.
A dashing high-seas pacifist run trader prepares to bolt like a rabbit before incurring any kills...
It sounds like some crucial pacifist-friendly improvements have been made to the 2004 remake, in addition to the new high-resolution graphics: The Wikipedia article states that, unlike in the original Pirates! games, "...enemy ships cannot force the player to fight, although they can bombard the player's ships en route to a destination and even sink some (but not all) of the player's ships if they bombard them long enough."
Nostalgic 1990s screenshot of the captain's cabin from the DOS/PC "Pirates! Gold"
The game also has some other promising features, such as the ability to sneak into port town's where the character is unpopular without fighting, and (far better still) the ability to dig up and steal buried pirate treasure hoards of numerous historic pirates, including Blackbeard, Jack Rackham, Henry Morgan, and others...
A scenic (even if desolate) pirate haven town from "Sid Meier's Pirates!"
Digging up the buried treasure hoards of pirates who are still alive will apparently cause each of these legendary piratic personalities to chase the player around trying to kill them to reclaim the treasure, but that's nothing new in the life of the profit-motivated pacifist challenge campaigner...
Optimistically, it sounds like the game might be open-ended enough to avoid ever being forced to bump anyone off or use violence, and focus on trading and stealing buried treasure from pirates.
My opponent looks like he's off balance... time to run away as fast as possible and go dig up some more buried treasure...

Escape Velocity & EV NOVA: Zero kill run profit-motivated Space Opera

The original Escape Velocity was a 1996 space opera RPG/trading/action game in which the player begins as a freelance merchant starship captain who just purchased a shuttle, and had the freedom to explore the galaxy and enrich one's self as a trader— without the mandatory use of violence. Many of the main mission sets involved choosing to side with either rebel or imperial factions (and then blast the buhjeepers out of the opposing faction, of course), but the player was never actually required to choose a side. All missions involving mandatory combat were optional, and there is no set ending point to the game since it's based more or less on the free-roaming "sandbox" concept, so one could theoretically play Escape Velocity as a pacifist perpetually, and build up an enviable fortune as a space tycoon, all with zero kills. All this can now be experienced by modern players now that EV Classic has been reborn on modern operating systems through the new and improved "Escape Velocity: NOVA."
"Escape Velocity Nova" was released in 2002 and featured an updated engine with all-new graphics and many new galaxies to explore, all-new missions to take part in, and a gratifyingly large set of user-created expansion modules (many of which have complete graphical overhauls to create expansive new galaxies, ships, planets to visit, etc). And for "retro" gaming fans who loved the original 1996 version, someone even created an "EV Classic" add-on module for EV Nova, so players can play all the original 1996 scenarios (complete with the original graphics and sound) through the new version of the game.
Note: The screenshots in this particular post only show the EV classic module that you can download and play for free after buying Escape Velocity NOVA, but NOVA itself has a lot of graphical upgrades that make it look a lot flashier than the examples here.
Escape Velocity classic begins when the player launches their brand new merchant shuttle and journeys into the stars...
As for the "pacifist" / zero kill possibilities in EV Classic: You begin the game as an independent owner of a shuttle with a very modest cargo capacity, but which is enough to start generating profits until you're ready to trade it for a larger ship. With the shuttle's launch, the player has full freedom to plot one's own course through the galaxy to seek a fortune as an independent freelance captain.

Planets have shipyards selling various types of ships, outfitters selling aftermarket upgrades and equipment, a spaceport bar or lounge of some sort (where players can listen for rumors or new missions, watch TV, or gamble), a commodity exchange to buy or sell goods at the going rates on that particular system, and a mission computer to take on mercantile missions of various sorts.
The lush and beautiful world of Capella, where luxury goods often fetch a high price due to the world's high rates of interplanetary tourism...
The Escape Velocity games are well-suited to players who find the profit-motive highly engaging: The web of exotic star systems the player can travel through via hyperlinks are full of interesting profitable trade routes, arbitrage opportunities, and well-balanced risk vs reward opportunities. Even with fairly terse design, there is usually a convincing economic rationale for why commodity prices are high on one planet, or low on another. Some planets or space stations also have 'specialty' goods or unique economic conditions that can lead to additional profit opportunities.
Darkstar, another exotic system which happens to be one node of a highly profitable two-way trade-route with Capella...
Players who choose to side with rebels or imperials and blow lots of people up would eventually get special military-class shipyards unlocked and be able to buy rebel or imperial ships that are not available to civilians. However, nonviolent players who don't want to get involved with either of these factions still have lots of interesting ships available, and Escape Velocity NOVA even allows you to make millions of spacebucks by buying an asteroid mining ship.
An upgraded merchant ship and set of escort shuttles hired to transport additional cargo tonnage for higher profits...
As for evading the dangers of space pirates and other intergalactic fiends found in the Escape Velocity universe: All combat is based on a real-time engine, which means it's possible to escape reasonably quickly without ever being forced to kill anyone. Marauding space pirates typically provide a player's first combat encounters, but usually aren't difficult to evade unless one travels into the dangerous frontiers of space, where pirates are more numerous, and sometimes even occupy their own systems. (Wretched hives of scum and villainry, one might say.)
AI-controlled NPC ships in the EV galaxies also keep a close watch on each other, always looking for the first opportunity of blasting at rival factions, and the fact that all non-piratic factions will attack pirates on sight also makes the pacifist's challenge to stay alive easier in some cases.
The shipyard outfitters open new horizons for creative nonviolent upgrades to increase profits and more easily evade hostile ships...
For when the going gets tough: Shipyard outfitters provide a wide array of custom add-on technologies capable of boosting ships capabilities, including defensive armor and shield upgrades, and (more fun) aftermarket fuel-tanks and afterburners that make it reasonably easy to outrun most marauding pirates and hostile ships by dumping fuel on the afterburner until the player's ship is far enough from the system center to make a hyperspace jump.
For pacifist star captains who feel more in vogue when traveling through the galaxy on the wrong side of Imperial law: There are also various black market spaceports and systems where even more exotic upgrades are available. One has to be cautious about buying illegal ship upgrades since they may end up being stopped and scanned by Imperial ships— though in one of the user-created mods, one of the pirate systems even has a black market where one can buy a fake ID card (featuring a picture of "Doomguy") to avoid being automatically scanned and identified as a criminal.

One other note: Players who are into more extreme forms of RPG gaming and refuse to reload game files can even turn on "strict play" mode, which would force them to rely on onboard escape pods to survive after their ship is destroyed by foes.


Deus Ex: A Dark, Gritty Cyberpunk Zero Kill Run

The Deus Ex series of first-person action RPGs is set in a dark futuristic cyberpunk environment in which various notorious organizations and secret societies (including The Illuminati, the Knights Templar, Majestic 12, and FEMA!) compete for control of the world. Not surprisingly, Deus Ex gave players the option to play through using violence— but also gained notoriety for allowing players impressive freedom to avoid killing altogether. The game is now considered a classic that was praised for its impressive implementation of "freedom of choice," as well as its plot.
Screenshot from the original Deus Ex
The first entry in the series ("Deus Ex," released in 2000) has since been followed by quite a few sequels. We've seen mixed reports about exactly how much violence was mandatory in each particular sequel, but all sound like noteworthy "pacifist challenge run" contenders at minimum, even though a few are said to have some unavoidable bosses. However, the most recent entry "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided" has been asserted to be a complete zero kill run enabled game in which it is definitely possible to win without killing anyone, including bosses.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
This also appears to be true of the original Deus Ex: The original showed up on our radar some time ago for its rumored inclusion of non-lethal weapons, stealth, and the theme of transhumanism applied to the player character through "augmentation." (The latter got our attention since it made us hope we could install some kind of implants to accelerate our speed of movement, climb walls, evade foes, or at least make our player character more a tank who could 'take his lumps' while everyone else took shots at him...)
Screenshot from the original Deus Ex
After a little more research, several sources appear to have confirmed that the original Deus Ex can indeed be completed as a zero kill run. We offer a spoiler warning here for those who prefer to stop reading and find out about all the details for themselves in their own run through the game...
If not: Some research initially pointed to the conclusion that one exception to the zero kill standard existed in Deus Ex, when a "boss" character named Anna Navarre supposedly had to be killed off to get a key to a vital doorway that supposedly couldn't be opened in any other way. Fortunately, we did not give up there, however..
Loyal UNATCO agent Anna Navarre says "I have come to watch you die."
Further research led to some youtube links and forum posts proving that you actually don't have to hurt her at all to get that door open: The solution is admittedly somewhat counterintuitive since it involves chucking a grenade in her general direction to make her panic and open the otherwise unopenable doorway for you, but we saw Ms. Navarre run away alive and well from the scene with the door wide open, so it obviously can be done...
Anna Navarre will live happily ever after in our upcoming zero kill run through Deus Ex
As for everyone else in the game: We also found an excellent looking Deus Ex game guide at Visual Walkthroughs that details how to win the entire rest of the game with zero kills. (That same guide originally claimed that blowing up Ms. Navarre was unfortunately mandatory, but later updated their guide with a link to another player who figured out how to get past her without bumping her off, and posted a gameplay video demonstrating it.)
Screenshot from the original Deus Ex
Conclusion: It looks like both the original 2000 "Deus Ex" and the 2016 "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided" appear to be capable of being played as zero kill run games, and all other games on the list also make the "pacifist challenge" list by enabling players to avoid the vast majority of kills in the game, despite not meeting the purist zero kill standard of the other two...

Undertale, a zero kill run enabled RPG

Undertale is an independent RPG about a child who falls into an underground world inhabited by monsters, and apparently offers challenges and rewards for players who learn to "coexist" with them (or at least spare their lives, after winning non-lethal bouts of combat after they attack).
Like almost every "console-styled RPG" that takes after the classics on NES, Genesis, SNES, etc, the game has combat encounters— but this time with the twist that after fighting with the enemies for awhile, players are given the option to talk to and spare the monsters, rather than ever being forced to kill them off. Undertale also has a built-in pacifist ending that can eventually be obtained (which is also apparently the best ending available).
We haven't played Undertale yet, but noticed the game has generated a large number of fans who are wildly enthusiastic about it. We think the story sounds interesting, the old-fashioned "lofi" sprites looks like they have plenty of charm, and another promising point is that the designer overtly mentioned wanting to design a different combat system than was usually found in similar-looking console RPGs.
Everyone involved with this site is a big fan of classic console RPGs like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Lufia, Secret of Mana, and many others— but any alternative design that can preserve the charm of the classical console RPGs without the "grind" of the usual turn-based random battle system sounds well worth trying to us...
One thing we'd also love to see someday would be a subset of new console-styled RPGs that comes up with some mode of engaging gameplay that doesn't depend on combat at all. Until then, Undertale is a zero kill run enabled RPG which even has "pacifist" themes woven into the story, and which has already become a popular cult classic.

Dishonored: A supernatural zero kill run stealth game

Dishonored is another dark game series involving supernatural assassins and graphic violence— but one which also gives players freedom of choice to use unconventional strategies, including the option to win the entire game without killing anyone.
Screenshot from Dishonored (in which crossbows can reportedly be loaded with nonlethal "sleep bolts")...
This is another one of many "contrarian" titles that we wouldn't have guessed was playable with zero kills unless we'd been told about it. In fact, we initially second-guessed that it really was a zero kill run after seeing gory screenshots of what most players were doing in the game— until we found interviews in which the developers themselves confirmed that Dishonored most definitely can be completed without killing anyone. Apparently not only is a zero kill run possible in the game, lots of special effort went into implementing this, and one of the designers mentioned that a disproportionate amount of their effort probably went into making the game work well for zero kill players.

One article we read mentioned that the stealth system in Dishonored was originally based directly on inspiration from Thief, until the developers made various changes to implement their own ideas, which include a creative array of supernatural powers and abilities. These can be purchased using runic whale bone artifacts, and include the ability to slow time, knock enemies down with gusts of wind, or see through walls. There are also "earthier" nonlethal solutions: Following in the footsteps of the 1980's arcade machine "Tranquilizer Gun," the player can load crossbows with "sleep bolts" that act like tranquilizer darts to put enemies into a deep but non-lethal sleep.
Screenshot from Dishonored
An NBC news feature on the game ("10 Tips for Playing Dishonored Without Shedding A Drop of Blood") interviewed one of the designers, who said that implementing a zero kill run through Dishonored was something they originally planned to include to some degree, but that after telling more people about it, they got an enthusiastic positive response and "realized that it was something that people really wanted. And so then we made it a mandate to make sure that we approached the entire game with non-lethal options."
Some nonviolent NPCs
In some cases, the game provides opportunities to eavesdrop on various characters to acquire vital information (such as combinations to locks, or locations of secret entrances), but also to provide more character interest: One of the designers mentioned that they had deliberately tried to include material to suggest to players that NPCs they might otherwise have considered killing had lives beyond their obvious role in the game, so that players might think more carefully about sparing them.

One of the designers also said they had to make special efforts to preserve a scene near the end of the game, in which players who went on indiscriminate killing sprees ran the risk of being betrayed by a key character who otherwise would not have turned on them. (Apparently they were under pressure to cut the scene due to fears that gamers who like going on indiscriminate killing sprees would be upset with the game if their actions turned out to have negative consequences.) The Wikipedia article quoted the Dishonored developer as stating: "Everybody just wants to be told in a video game that you’re great, no matter what you do. If you slaughter everybody – you killed the maids, you killed the old people, you killed the beggars – you’re great, here’s a medal, you’re a hero... We decided that sounds psychotic. It doesn’t match our values... What we wanted was to let you express yourself in the game, but to have the world react to that, at least in some way."

Dishonored is definitely a title we'll be playing as soon as we can. One caveat in the meantime is that we're not so sure about just how little violence you can actually get away with (as opposed to the infliction of fatalities)... The article that introduced us to the game mentioned that some of the non-lethal solutions one may be obliged to use to complete the missions were "horrific," despite the fact that they didn't result in a kill...
Nonetheless, it looks clear that Dishonored still achieves the zero kill run standard, that lots of special thought and effort went into making this very thing possible for players like us, and that (like Thief) the game even has a built-in scoring system to reward players skillful enough to win the whole game without killing anyone. (In Thief, this was known as the "Ghost" rank, and in Dishonored it is apparently called the "Clean Hands" achievement.)

Doom: 1990's "Ultraviolence Pacifist" Run?

The 1993 classic first-person shooter Doom was one of the most influential games of all time, and also aroused a huge amount of controversy over what was (at the time) considered a highly realistic simulation of graphic violence and killing. Doom consequently sounds like an extremely unlikely contender for a zero kill run for obvious reasons, but as it happens: Doom is apparently one of the many counter-intuitive cases of violent games in which a pacifist run is possible, and possibly even a zero kill run...
Well... you can put that thing away if you want, because apparently even Doom is a zero kill run...
Despite being loaded with violence, games modeled on the Doom engine tend to have a final objective based on reaching some key area and throwing a switch or activation device of some sort, rather than blowing holes in specific monsters...
The object in the center is the "yellow key," one of many keycards needed to get through Doom levels.
As the Wikipedia article on Doom states:  "The objective of each level is simply to locate the exit room that leads to the next area, marked with an exit sign and/or a special kind of door, while surviving all hazards on the way. Among the obstacles are demonic monsters, pits of toxic or radioactive slime, ceilings that lower and crush anything below them, and locked doors which require a keycard, skull-shaped key device, or a remote switch to be located." This ironically means that players can actually avoid partaking most (if not all) of the in-game carnage that caused Doom to become so controversial in the first place...
An example of one of the locked key-enabled doorways needed to complete a level in Doom
Veteran Doom players have apparently been doing this for a long time, and coined the term "UV Pacifist Run" to describe the ambitious undertaking of playing the game on the "Ultra-Violence" (second highest) difficulty level setting without slaying a single monster— though tricking irascible hellspawn into attacking each other apparently is considered acceptable.
Doom's retro in-game shareware advertising page...
A replay of Doom isn't one of our own imminent prospects, but the classic Doom game's 3d engine undoubtedly had a long legacy, and a lot of well-known "FPS" (first-person shooter) games were directly built on the Doom-engine's foundations. Dark Forces, Heretic, and Hexen (all some of our ongoing pacifist run prospects) all feature extremely similar engines to the highly influential Doom engine, for example, and future generations of FPS engines that were used in stealth games were also heavily influenced by the Doom engine.