Ever since I was a young boy, I have enveloped myself in all things video games. It all started when my parents bought me my first original Game Boy back in 1996. I immediately set out to become a Pokémon Master in Pokémon Blue and struggled to beat Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. As I’m still an avid gamer, I feel the need to reach out to many readers who have never touched one before. Many people pass off video games as something young kids play to pass the time, and while some games are exactly like that, there’s an entire world of storytelling and adventure that can be uniquely experienced through the medium of video games in a way that books or movies cannot offer. Video games bring an interactive aspect to the media that allows for creative avenues where the player can alter the story and interact with the world around them. Along with that, many games allow for the freedom of exploration, to be able to not only imagine a world, like in a book, but to see and wander through it. After reading my blog post, I hope to peak your curiosity and maybe you’ll even want to play some of the games.
For science fiction, there are endless options to explore. One series that has garnered much popularity and acclaim is the Mass Effect (PC/360/PS3). Set in space, not only does it have a rich and epic storyline, it also allows the player to make choices that not only affect the relationship of the characters, but the very story itself. Interested in exploring space and trying to survive? Games like Elite: Dangerous (PC/XB1/PS4) and the upcoming No Man’s Sky (PC/PS4) offer the ability to live your dreams of exploring the great vast unknown of space. There are also many great games where the aliens come to you on Earth and you have to save the world. The Half Life series, all-time great games like, Half Life (PC, PS2) that deals with the aftermath of scientists opening a portal that allows aliens to invade Earth, and Half Life 2 (PC, Xbox, 360, PS3) which brings the protagonist back to try and save humanity in a world that has now been enslaved by the alien force that came through the portal. Other great science fiction games include the Halo series, the Gears of War series, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (PC), Borderlands 2 (PC, 360, PS3, Vita, PS4, XB1), and Portal 2 (PC, 360, PS3).
The fantasy genre is also very ripe with incredibly rich and story heavy games that will delight fans of fantasy books and movies. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, 360, PS3) (and most of the Elder Scrolls series) allows you to become the fantasy character of your dreams and save the world of Tamriel from the dragon Alduin. Once players leave the city of Helgen, they are given the freedom to explore and do anything they want, allowing them a playthrough feeling that’s unique and different each time they create a new character. In the same vein, The Witcher 3 (PC, PS4, XB1), heralded by almost all critics as the best game of 2015, also allows you to explore an open world, and although you play a distinct character unlike Skyrim, the choices you make throughout the game have drastic consequences on the story. The epic MMORPG juggernaut, World of Warcraft (PC), has entranced people of all ages for over ten years now with its grand and varied landscapes, excellent gameplay, and the ability to play with all of your friends. What is often missed by some is the vibrant and extensive lore found within each zone where players often having multiple continuing storylines. Other great fantasy titles with good stories include Pillars of Eternity (PC), the Dark Souls series (warning: these are very difficult games), the Final Fantasy series, the Fire Emblem series, the Legend of Zelda series, Dragon Age: Origins (PC, PS3, 360).
Another great setting for storytelling is within a post-apocalyptic world, where a video game can really show off its unique properties. While a book can describe the plight of the post-apocalyptic survivor and a movie can show the great devastation and barrenness of the world, a video game allows the player to experience the hardships of surviving, whether it be fighting off mutated creatures or just trying to find food to survive, some games really show you the struggle. The Fallout franchise is one of the most popular and fun post-apocalyptic games, set in an alternative timeline where 1950s culture never ended until the bombs dropped. The game takes a more humorous take to the world after the bombs drop, both rich with story and lore. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Metro (2033 and Last Light) both have a much darker tone and really challenge the player to survive in the harsh conditions brought on by nuclear holocaust. The Last of Us (PS3, PS4), an incredible game with one of the best stories, tackles a story of man and young girl as they try to survive in a world where a fungus has turned most humans into zombie-like beings.
Probably the genre most enhanced by video games is horror, with the added layer of control and the feeling that any mistake by you could lead to your character’s demise. There are plenty of horror-themed games to keep you up at night. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC) and Outlast (PC, PS4, XB1), set in a haunted mansion and an insane asylum, respectively, make the character escape, run, and hide from various horrifying things. Dead Space (PC, 360, PS3) and Alien: Isolation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h0cgmvIrZw) (PC, 360, PS3, XB1, PS4) are horror games set in outer space and really make the player feel the claustrophobia and isolation of space. For an unsettling play time, look no further than Layers of Fear (PC, XB1, PS4), a game where every time you turn around, everything behind you changes. The Resident Evil series is one of the most popular horror franchises in gaming (even being made into actual movies), and the first (PS, GC, Wii, PC, 360, PS3, XB1, PS4) and fourth (GC, PS2, PC, Wii, PS3, 360, PS4, XB1) games are often heralded as the best of the franchise. Silent Hill 2 (PC, PS2, Xbox, 360, PS3), part of another popular horror franchise, is cited by most critics as having one of the best stories in a game ever. If you happen to have access to an Oculus Rift VR headset, then you should check out Dreadhalls. While its not the most graphically beautiful game, it does offer a remarkable, immersive experience that will be sure to scare you. Other great horror games include Five Nights at Freddy’s (PC), Condemned: Criminal Origins (PC, 360), The Evil Within, and Alan Wake (PC, 360).
While those genres may have a plethora of games to choose from, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to choose from. If you’re into Noir fiction books, then look no further then L.A. Noire (PC, 360, PS3) and Grim Fandango (PC, PS4, Vita, Android, iOS), the latter set in a goofy, but surprisingly good, setting. While romance is a bit scarce as the focal point of a game (most if not all have at least some romance subplots), To the Moon (PC) is an excellent, if not somber, love story about an old dying man. For Westerns, there’s no better game than Red Dead Redemption (360, PS3), a masterpiece of a game that won many Game of the Year awards when it was released. Games based on movie franchises are also quite popular. Star Wars definitely has the largest selection of different games inspired by the saga, spanning various game styles. For one of the best stories, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, Xbox, Android, iOS) is set 4000 years before the original trilogy, where you can become either a Jedi hero or a Sith Lord, depending on choices you make throughout the game. Another great story can be found in Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC, GC, Xbox). The video game developer, Telltale Games, has taken the worlds Game of Thrones (PC, 360, PS3, XB1, PS4, Android, iOS) and The Walking Dead (PC, 360, PS3, XB1, PS4, Vita, Android, iOS, KF) and created episodic, choice driven, interactive drama games. These games focus almost entirely on the story with little gameplay and would be great for a beginning gamer. In the same vein, games like Until Dawn and Heavy Rain (PS3, PS4) are also great interactive dramas that have many branching storylines and multiple endings.
If you’d like to start playing today, try some of the ones mentioned in my post available at the library, by consulting this handy list of Games Now Available in the MORE Catalog!