Every once in a while a game will come along that you know is going to stick with you forever. It changes the way you see the medium forever. Now I’m not talking about every little moment that you experience in a game you love will stick with you but rather moments that get ingrained into you. Images are created by masters of their craft and given to us, the player, with the hope that they will stay with us for a long time. Sometimes, these moments alter our expectations of games going forward and we will not be satisfied until we find something that can equal it. I thought it would be fun to explore some of the things that altered me and changed the way I view games now.
The first time I stepped into the shoes of Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time I was blown away. The experience was amazing and surreal. Here I was in a fully realized 3D world that was open to explore. A grand adventure was to be had by many in this game. The game set the mark for open world games in a way not many have been able to match, including Nintendo themselves. Pulling the Master Sword from the alter in the Temple of Time offered us a feeling of elation that has been seldom matched over the years since its release. Ocarina has stuck with me and a great many other people for so long because it was near perfect in every aspect for its time.
The Alien Trilogy set the bench mark for horror in the film industry many years ago. Since then games have taken cues from them to create terrifying experiences for gamers. If any game ever got immersion into horror right it was Dead Space. You know how they did it? Sound. You can play through the game with the sound off and not be scared one bit but if you put your headset on or turn you r surround sound up and play in the dark you are in for a ride. It’s not just the sharp notes when something pops out at you; it’s the haunting melodies that play in the stillness as well. The clanking of your boots mixed with the soundtrack as you walk down a long corridor caused my hands to sweat and my heart to race. I could only play this game in half hour intervals because my nerves couldn’t take it. No game has been able to match the emotions that sound can bring out like Dead Space did.
This generation of consoles has been bookended by two of what I consider the greatest games of all time, Bioshock and Bioshock: Infinite. What Ocarina of Time was to open world games; Bioshock and Infinite are to storytelling and atmosphere. No other game has come even close to matching the awe I felt at the completion of either of these games. There isn’t much I can say without spoiling anything. Bioshock may be years old now but I still refuse to ruin an experience that amazing for the few that haven’t played it. Just do yourself a favor and live in the worlds of Rapture and Columbia at least once. If you were to pass on them you would be doing a great disservice to yourself. Thank you Ken Levine and Irrational Games. I will be chasing the feeling that your games have given me for years to come.
These are just a few of the games that have left their mark on me in one way or another. Plenty of others have done the same but I would love to know what has impacted you over the course of your gaming career. It fascinates me when I talk to other gamers and hear them tell stories of games that excite them. Leave your story in the comments below.