Did I mention that I love video games?
I love games and the stories they tell. Here, I am going to focus are the games that did it right, and really hit me where I lived.
Which is on a mobile adventure platform… in the sky. I have a picture as proof!
Oh, but hey, this drops us into the first game!
SKIES OF ARCADIA
Now I know what you’re thinking, and while the above image says Eternal Arcadia, Skies of Arcadia was the U.S. title.
The game follows the adventures of Vyse, Fina, and Aika. Vyse and Aika are sky pirates in the world of Arcadia. We join them as Fina is being chased by the evil giant empire, because we have to have one of those, ala Star Wars fashion. Right as Fina is captured, the empire’s ship is attacked by Vyse and Aika’s pirate ship.
They get Fina off the ship and proceed on their adventure!
This is a game that is lighthearted and full of adventure. It tells a solid story that doesn’t go for the emo button immediately, which is surprising, since most JRPGs of this type have hit that button so many times it has just remained in the ON position. The ships, the map, everything about this game echoes the feeling and joy that is exploring. Getting into ship combat, exploring new lands, I could go on, but I’d rather just let you play it.
These seem like great elements, but how do they tell a great story? Granted, I ragged a bit on the story intro, and while it uses some familiar tactics (an evil empire, an ancient weapon, mysterious pasts) it doesn’t dwell on any of these things. In fact, SOA allows the world to breath and gives the characters a chance to grow and change and it is because of these elements that I love this game. It’s like playing a season of an anime series, which if they ever make this a series, I would watch it in a heart beat.
The point is this, Skies of Arcadia meshes the adventure, the story, and the world so well that you can forgive it’s combat (which is rather repetitive) and just focus on the escape that is this game. It isn’t trying to be the best thing ever, its just doing what it does best, and that’s having fun.
War, war never changes.
It’s a line that came back from being a ghoul after the WTF moment that was Fallout Tactics in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. I fell in love with this game when I was in Jr. High because it hit me at the perfect age in which I wanted to be out there in the world, make choices, and kill slavers.
Maybe not that last one, but if I did meet a slaver, I’d probably do it.
Taking place after the Vault Dweller was forced out into the wilds after saving his vault in Fallout, Fallout 2 is about the village of Arroyo and his descendants. You are one of these descendants, and after completing the brutally hard tutorial temple level, you are released out into the world to find a Garden of Edan Creation Kit, or G.E.C.K, to save your village that is dying.
How does this game do on the story front? It does well because while there is a narrative to follow, you must save the village, you are not bound by a specific time frame like the first game. You can wander, look, and meet all sorts of people and even get others to follow you on your adventures. This game has a story, but really, Fallout has always been about your story because at the end of the game you get a play by play of the fates of the communities and people you meet after you have interacted with them.
It all depends on you and what you do. I haven’t really played a game that has so many outcomes and just stuff in it to do like Fallout 2. This is a game that tells in interesting tale with its tongue planted firm in its cheek. If you play this game, take the perk that boosts the random events in game. You will not regret it.
I remember seeing the advertisement for this game in the back of PC Gamer and just falling in love with it on the bus ride home from school. I think I’ve played this game five times, and while the story is on rails, I just wanted to live in its world for a little bit longer.
You play Manny Calavera a travel agent for the Department of Death, whose job it is to help usher those souls just entering the land of the dead toward their final destinations. When a beautiful woman walks into Manny’s life he goes out in search of her across the Land of the Dead. Along his 4 year journey he stumbles across corruption, war, death (again), and all while smoking a cigarette.
Manny’s adventure is one you are not going to see again (until the re-release happens on the PS4). The land of the dead feels alive (no pun intended) as you traverse the many careers of Manny as he moves between numerous jobs and solves some truly interesting puzzles. This game is heavily influenced by Film Noir, which makes me love it even more, and it does such a great take on the genre by not being a complete parrot. It tells a refreshing story that goes to some interesting places with interesting creatures (fire beavers!) and I love it so.
What really makes this game are the characters that are in this world. They are all a little crazy but they are all memorable, and Glottis is probably one of the best sidekicks from any game I’ve played. I cannot wait for the update since playing this game today is nearly impossible due to how old it is, but soon it shall be brought back for you all to enjoy.
SPEC OPS: THE LINE
To end this list I picked a game that really hit me hard.
Spec Ops: The Line is about a squad of Delta Force soldiers who are called to find out what happened to an Army battalion that was sent to Dubai to help evacuate the city.
What these guys are feeling is pretty much what you’re going to be feeling when you’re playing this game. That isn’t to say it is going to be a depression quest, but rather it is eye opening. This game isn’t really about combat as much as it is about the human condition and what happens to people who are pushed to the edge. This game’s narrative is tied so well into the game that everything was made to point back to it. Everything from the increasingly degraded look of Captain Walker, to his execution animations, to the world around you. Everything was sculpted to reinforce the story, because that is what was at the heart of this game.
I was glued to my seat while playing this game. I did and didn’t want to leave because I was appalled by what was happening on screen but also at my choices as a player. This is a game that is really about choice and how sometimes we just don’t have a good one to make. War never has a good or bad choice like most games make you believe. In war, it is about what is necessary, and that necessity drives the plot forward in this game.
I cannot recommend enough this game. It is an experience that you will not have again and I don’t want to talk about it anymore as I feel it would constitute spoilers. Just realize this, this game has done well by word of mouth, because when it was released they wanted people to think it was just another shooter.
Boy, did they pull one over me.