We all have at least one video game which defines us. It’s understandable that this could be the first we ever played although this isn’t always the case. Other releases might also make our lists thanks to their narrative, protagonists, or just because they’re a whole lot of fun.
After being tagged in a tweet from Alex Sigsworth at the beginning of April, this was a subject I ended up thinking about for a few weeks before hitting the keys on my laptop. Which four titles would make my defining list and why? Some I knew immediately, while others I had to think harder about to make sure I picked those that felt as though they’d had a lasting impact on me as a gamer. Join me as we take a brief journey through my gaming history and look at the releases which define me.
1990: The Secret of Monkey Island
I might play other types of releases nowadays but it’s point-and-clicks that I regularly return to. I’ve always adored stories and there’s just something about the way the narrative is so inextricably linked with the gameplay in these titles that makes me adore them as much as I do. Although some may feel that the adventure genre is a relic of the past and the only thing keeping it alive now is nostalgia, for me it’s still evolving and adding new elements – just look at Unavowed, Stories Untold or The Red Strings Club as great examples from recent years.
The thing that fascinated me most about Fable was the sense of character development as it was the first time I’d seen anything with such an important alignment mechanic. I spent the entire game trying to make my Hero as good as possible and that’s still something I do today; the paragon route is always more appealing and I find being an evil protagonist difficult. It’s Fable II which is my favourite in the series as it took what I adored about the first game and made it even better, and this is something I hope happens again with Fable IV.
2011: To The Moon
Since then I’ve preferred indie games because their developers have the freedom and creativity to experiment, and they give me the kind of unique stories I want to experience. I’ve played very few big-budget releases since beginning to blog in 2013 and don’t see that changing right now. The third instalment in the To The Moon series is due to be released at some point this year and you can expect a marathon stream of all the titles when that time comes – along with a few tears on Twitch.
I want more games like this. Ones which take an established genre and then provide something new and unexpected; give you something you didn’t realise you were missing; and offer players a space to relax and clear their mind. Eastshade is possibly the most calming gaming experience I’ve ever had and one I won’t forget. The developer has said they have no plans to make a sequel which is a little sad but if this is what they can do with the RPG genre, I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.
Two years ago, I wondered whether defining titles were going to become a thing of the past. What effect do short attention spans and endless distractions have on video games? Could failure to reach the ending cutscenes and those associated moments of realisation mean an end to gamers experiencing a release which sets them off on their future digital path? I still don’t know the answer to these questions but maybe they’re ones I’ll put to my stepson when he’s in his early twenties to see how he responds.
In the meantime, I’m curious to see which game will make it onto my favourites list next and perhaps become a title which defines me personally. And what about you: which four releases would you choose?