Some gamers are out there to enjoy the game, others look for a good story, and then there are those that want nothing more than to hunt down every achievement, trophy, and golden coin that has ever existed in this dimension and a few others. I am, or rather used to be, a middle line gamer. I loved to get as many unlocks and secrets as the next player, but also wanted to know what was around the next corner in a story as well. The plot twist and relationships were always interesting, but the allure of bragging rights was always hard to ignore. I could spend hours trying a mind-numbing platform sequence or fighting 30 enemies with a knife just for a little pop-up that said I did well. Though as time marched on (all over me), I became more of a story-centered gamer in a sense. I still enjoy gameplay mechanics every bit as I used too, even now more actually. However, when your time for gaming is reduced to so little, you see your gaming habits change a bit…or a lot.
I have played through a lot of games in my time; some with great writing and some with…well, not-so-great writing (looking at you, R.A.D on PS2). As I sat considering the best moments I have had behind a controller and keyboard, I came up with a personal list of my top five gaming stories and the best moments within. I started thinking about all the things that really speak to me in a story, the ones that really had some interesting ideas. Ideas that were crazy, never heard of, or simply overlooked for not being a military shooter with zombies. Mainly the stories that really hit home by making you have a reaction. In that regard I put together a list of some of top gaming stories that really seem to tickle the imagination.
Now this is all obviously my own opinion and in no way anyone else’s list. It’s the internet and a list, so right there on that merit I am immediately wrong to everyone and at least one person will be offended enough to contemplate time travel just to get rid of my opinions.
(To date, they have yet to succeed…I think.)
That being said I, present the top 5 video game stories that really shine on and became the driving force for a playthrough. Some games can be downright murder to complete, but the story makes you want for more. Good stories and bad gameplay don’t always ruin the whole thing, but it will definitely try. Bad voice acting can make you do horrible things too, or laugh in joy. Though really bad voice acting will make you evil incarnate.
(Again, I submit R.A.D. YouTube it and just listen. The field reporter in that game alone made me want to destroy an entire city JUST to be rid of her).
1) The downpour of Heavy Rain
This game had a ton of type. The PS3 needed to have something interesting, and the direction of Heavy Rain promised to be something special. It was supposed to be an experiment in interactive story telling. The game was compared by some to be no more than a glorified pop-up book or a boring movie due to the sub-standard plot and holes in the story. Nevertheless, gamers found quite a lot to love about it. Heavy Rain hit on a lot of emotions with its cast of characters, each one dealing with their own personal demons. The story itself could have been any episode of whatever cop drama that fills the tube, but as many know, it’s the delivery and dialogue that really make the story matter. Having a child of my own really helps drive the story closer to the heart as well. Screaming for a child in the middle of a crowd is a downright eerie experience that makes you sick even if it all turns out well. That said, shouting out the name Jason in a crowded area is actually a thing…people do it for fun.
All in all, Heavy Rain managed to pull through the promise of telling a deep and emotional tale while keeping the player interested in more than shooting things or solving puzzles. While I do recommend this game, I normally only advise more mature gamers, ones with kids preferably, to try it. It just doesn’t hold the same punch if you can’t relate to the situation. Or if your heart isn’t in playing a game where 50 pounds of TNT isn’t going off every minute while mutant zombies ninjas storm your castle as mecha wizards drop in with heavy machine guns firing live dragon bullets.
Actually…that sounds amazing. Someone get a kickstarter on that.
2) A sweetheart named Catherine
Catherine was a game that caught my eye for seeming like a lowbrow soft core skin game. The anime cel-shaded look was interesting and quite stylish, but I brushed it off as nothing that I would waste time with. Then one day I was looking for something new and the store guy said, ” Grab Catherine; it’s not what you think.” So, on a whim I took his advice, and proceeded to love the game. Catherine cast you as Vincent, a man with an everyday, all too real life. He has a girlfriend named Katherine, who has marriage ideas that tend to scare or stress him. After a night of drinking a bit much he find a stunning beauty named Catherine (with a C) talking to him. Next thing you know he wakes up next to her with no memory of what he did…or didn’t do the night before. This happens again…and again. The game takes you through a series of Vincent’s nightmares in the form of block-climbing challenges. These segments were a bit repetitive to me, and could be something I would rather play on my phone as a causal game, but that was not the point.
The questions being asked in between with the promise of finding out more about what was going on, it really dragged you into the drama. Being in a relationship was not a must, but it definitely helped you get inside the head and emotions of Vincent. The overall pacing and silky smooth styling of the game really come through and put you into another mindset. I actually found myself trying to be the best I could, not because I wanted that ending, but because I WANTED to be moral for the sake of my faux girlfriend.
Catherine really stuck with me. Maybe it was the jazzy tunes, the surprises, or perhaps the idea of how I would act in said situations. This is one I definitely recommend for older gamers in a sense, as your maturity level tends to add to the enjoyment. Also as far as cel-shaded girls go, Catherine is a downright babe. So yeah…there’s that too.
3) An old dirty tale called Red Dead Redemption
I had a blast with this game. It’s another one of those games I avoided simply because it was not up my ally of interest. Red Dead Revolver was an OK game, but it tjust never hit me in any way to care about it. After finally giving in to try Redemption, I kicked myself for not trying it sooner. Redemption is something of a spiritual successor to Revolver. Casting the player as John Marsten, the game sets you free in the old west of an America long gone. The whole game is a big hunt for John’s old criminal gang to get his wife and son back from the government boys holding the gun. That right there is not exactly an original story in any sense, but the delivery thereof is what amassed such a huge audience. Along the path, you get to know the kind of man Marsten is and the company he’s forced to keep.
It was a great feeling to immerse myself into this rough rider bad-ass good guy that filled the scripts of old western flicks. Riding off into the cool desert nights fending off wolves and hunting bears. Even watching a train passing by on new age locomotive, pulsing metal and steam, as you sit atop your tired steed. It had the sense of watching time drift by, sitting right on the cusp of the future with your hand stuck in the past. I truly recommend that gamers give this a play if they haven’t already. The story lies in the experience, and the ending is a satisfying one to take in. This was a gamble for Rockstar to make, but one that paid off well. It fills you with a sort of golden good guy pride (if you choose to play it that way) that some games don’t always do good job of getting at.
Plus if you get bored, you can load up the Undead Nightmare DLC and kill zombies in the old west, ride an apocalyptic steed, or hunt Bigfoot. Because why not.
Seriously, why not?
4) Rockets in with “To the Moon”.
This is an indie game that almost escaped my eye. I don’t get to try out a lot of the indie stuff I see as I simply don’t have time. I got stuck on a late night job for a customer, trying to get her PC working. She was a gamer and told me to try out this game on her laptop while we waited. It was a 2D old school retro rocket back to my days on a Super Nintendo. The game play was OK, puzzles and the like. The characters and the crazy premise however made the game amazing for me. Tasked with going into a dying man’s memory to create the dreams he always wanted, you find yourself feeling real emotion for this story. The witty banter and simple yet perfect music score give this game a wonderful charm that resonates deep within. By the end you feel like you really did some good in strange digital sense.
Many gamers may not admit it, but we are suckers for great graphics, awesome production quality, and tried-and-true formulas. To The Moon offers such a nice break from all the killing and darkness. In some ways it injects the player with a little bit of humanity. It just may not get a lot of exposure due to the lack of cash funding the project. Think of it as a mental cleanse for that entire zombie/bad guy population you have had to thin out. Not only do I recommend this game, I encourage gamers to give the indie scene more love. Sure there are some that don’t really amount to much. But every now and then you come across a dev that really knows how to put together a gem. This is one of them: try it out.
5) All over the universe as of late, but can’t leave it out: Bioshock Infinite
You keep hearing about this game all around the net. If you haven’t, then I assume you have crashed across a computer, mistakenly activated the internet, and muscle spasms made you type this site into your address bar. If so, continue reading and then go play games.
Bioshock Infinite provides you with yet another first-person shooter. Been there done that…powers?, yep that too. Escort mission? Meh… That’s the on the surface grey approach. Although when you really take the role of Booker Dewitt to heart and begin your tale in the flying city of Columbia, there is a certain sparkle that catches in your eye as the game unfolds its story into your mind. You can’t help but be enthralled by the retro Americana the world oozes. While the game has a set story, the best part of the experience is what you begin to fill in. Booker’s past, his debt, the meanings behind such things, it all brings you closer to be more and more curious. Even the heavy ham science in the game gets you wondering what could and could not be.
A huge driving force is Elizabeth, a young and willful girl who doesn’t look out of place in a Disney movie. Yet there is so much more to be discovered. The layers of the character peel away in such a gratifying way, it makes you more than happy to destroy a set of enemies just to know more about what is going on and why. Calling this an escort mission is infinitely off the mark. The game never burdens you with the pain of actual escort. Elizabeth can handle herself well and helps out too (sometimes a bit much though). The gameplay itself is nothing horrible; the shooting is great as is the power usage. The Skyline riding provides a hell of a roller coaster ride on its own as well. Though when you find a new nugget of info, a new recording, or when you get to witness one of the more amazing set pieces in the game, your reward meter rises ever so quickly. While trying hard to spoil anything, the story really does push a near perfect connection in a lot of ways. This is one that gamers should definitely not miss out on. However, judging by sales and internet traffic…there is little chance of that.
Remember, always give a game a chance. You can find some great titles that you would have otherwise denied yourself.
Game on gamers!