Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back once again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us all in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Be sure to check out her blog today to see what she’s written for her second answer in this collaboration, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.
Yesterday we looked at 12 gaming memories that keep each of us feeling warm and fuzzy throughout the year. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:
1990: The Secret of Monkey Island
I’m sure many readers were expecting this one to appear on a list of games I love. It’s the title that started my fondness for the adventure genre as a child, after realising that worlds I thought only existed in books could be brought to life through pixels on a screen. It’s also the series that’s home to one of my favourite characters: Murray the skull is simply awesome because he doesn’t let anything hold him back. Sometimes all you need is an evil mental attitude.
Myst makes my list because it features one of the best beginnings in gaming. I love that feeling you get when you start a new game and have no idea where this curious journey is going to take you, what obstacles you’re going to encounter and who you’re going to meet along the way. Despite being incredibly simple, the opening cutscene effectively inspires a wonderful sense of confusion in the player which perfectly mimics the character’s emotional state.
1999: The Longest Journey
I adore the story told by the Dreamfall series – so much so that I haven’t been able to finish the final instalment – and no other title has captured my imagination in the same way as The Longest Journey. Rather than share an individual story in each episode, everything is connected in ways which aren’t at first obvious: separate elements that appear unconnected are eventually weaved together in a way where it slowly dawns on you how significant they actually were.
2008: Fable II
So the Fable series may have taken a downhill turn when sequelitus hit the third instalment, but the second game is one of my absolute favourites. It was the title that got me back into gaming regularly as I was hooked after the first half-hour; I spent the rest of the week ploughing through it trying to find every side-quest, figuring out how to get past the demon doors and meeting as many residents of Albion as possible. This is the reason I’d love to meet Peter Molyneux.
2011: To The Moon
One of the first indie titles I ever played after being introduced to this side of gaming was To The Moon. It broke my heart and I was genuinely in tears by the credits; and it taught me that video games are much more than entertainment and pixels. Here’s a storyline that shows the player that life is too short to have regrets so if there’s something you want to do, get out there and do it. Chris from OverThinker Y and I both played the follow up, Finding Paradise, earlier this year.
2012: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller
Here’s a grown-up murder-mystery and not a game for children, and it’s one of those titles which is so deserving of a sequel. Protagonist Erica is an FBI Agent with ‘psion’ powers that enable her to see the past. With potent abilities like this it would have been all too easy for the developer to resort to them to push the plot along but instead, her powers aren’t the solution for every problem. It’s due to some great voice-acting and wonderful writing that she’s one of my favourite characters.
2013: Gone Home
Gone Home won’t be everybody’s cup of tea but it’s hard to deny that the writing and voice-acting are top-notch – full marks to Sarah Grayson for her portrayal of Sam Greenbriar. This was the first ‘walking simulator’ title I’d played and I was totally blown away. The teenager comes across as smart and snarky yet insecure and relatable; and both she and her story will have left a lasting mark on you by the time you’ve spent the three hours needed to complete the title.
2014: The Elder Scrolls Online
I’ve had an on-off addition to The Elder Scrolls Online since its release and I always seem to return to it during the winter months. I love the way it’s just so easy to go back to: you can fit in a quest or two during a spare hour after work and then put down the controller. With the purchase of a second PlayStation this year, the other-half and I are planning to set up another television in our living room over Christmas so we can go adventuring though the land of Auridon together.
2015: The Last Guardian
Yes, it can be extremely annoying when you need Trico’s help to reach a ledge and all he wants to do is clean his feathers or play with a nearby chain. But at the same time, The Last Guardian manages to create one of the most believable bonds between a human and an animal within a video game. Trico hardly ever does exactly what he’s told but if the player was able to order the creature around like a tool, the game wouldn’t be nearly as effective or emotional.
2017: Stories Untold
When I played text adventures as a kid, I always had this feeling I’d start to see elements of the title in the real world if I looked up from the screen; and it’s this atmosphere that Stories Untold manages to recreate so well. It’s extremely hard to resist the urge to look over your shoulder as you play through The House Abandon episode or not to expect your phone to ring when the handset does in-game. I’m really looking forward to the developer’s next project, Observation.
2018: The Red Strings Club
The Red Strings Club is one of the best titles I’ve played this year and I can’t recommend it highly enough, although this ‘narrative experience’ is highly likely not to be to everybody’s taste. It asks the player to think about how far they’d be willing to go to suppress the worst aspect of our personalities for the good of the population, and whether it’s worth sacrificing emotions such as sadness and anger. This is one game which stayed with me long after I completed it.
It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the third day of Blogmas tomorrow, with reasons why we’d play a video game. In the meantime, why not tell us about your favourite titles below?
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Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.