My Favorite Video Games, Part 1

As a lover of books, it’s probably not too surprising that I play video games mostly for their stories

 

 

bioshock
Left: Cover Art for Bioshock, showing Big Daddy and little sister. Right: The underwater city of Rapture.

 

1. Bioschock

I love this game so much, that I’ve played it at least five times and even bought the book based off the game “Bioshock: Rapture” by John Shirley and read it twice. What I liked most about this game is not its addicting gameplay or it’s scary atmosphere, but its story. What appears to be merely a horror game taking place in a secret city under the sea, Rapture, is actually a complex story with roots in the philosophies of George Orwell and Ayn Rand. Though this sprawling city was created to be a utopia for fresh thinkers, it quickly disintegrates into a city divided by not only class, but also the use of a new substance called Adam. Adam allows people and the player to wield fire, ice, and other telekinetic powers. This is really fun and I can see why it wasn’t long before the Adam users became addicted to it. Unfortunately these addicts turned into raving lunatics that actually attack other people. I mean, what else are you supposed to do with the ability to summon a cloud of angry bees?

Anyways, the few remaining sane citizens lock themselves away for their own safety. It is this city in shambles that the player enters when his plane goes down in the middle of the ocean outside the entrance to Rapture. He navigates dark and shadowy halls, complete with lurking addicts that will attack him on sight, eerie “Little Sisters” that farm Adam from corpses, and their deadly protectors called “Big Daddies.” Along the way, the player is forced to make difficult choices that even affect the outcome. And there is shocking twist at the end! If for some reason you haven’t played this game yet, pick it up!

And for book lovers, definitely check out John Shirley’s “Bioshock: Rapture” novel, which takes place before the fall of Rapture. It’s such a pleasure reading about the creation of Rapture and seeing its descent firsthand. It’s by far the best video game novelization I’ve ever read.

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Though I played Bioshock Infinite and found it fun, the game couldn’t hold a candle to the original for me. Plus, it’s sad when your favorite part of the game is the DLC–which held true for me for Inifinte–Burial at Sea, which takes us back to Rapture, was the most fun I had playing the game.


 

My favorite dragon from Puzzles and Dragons
My favorite dragon from Puzzles and Dragons! I squealed like a little girl when I got it!

 

2. Puzzles and Dragons for iOS

I never thought I could be addicted to a game for a cell phone game. In fact, the thought of people even playing RPGs or anything like it on a cell phone made me laugh. Then I happened to see a screenshot for Puzzles and Dragons and thought it looked fun. At the time, my boyfriend was stationed in Texas without wi-fi and we were looking for any sort of game we could play together. Bored with Words with Friends and other similar games, we gave Puzzles and Dragons a shot. We both got addicted and a couple of months later, I’m rank 64, with no signs of stopping. It’s like Pokemon meets a dungeon crawler. You have your own team of monsters (many that are completely adorable—like my favorite Strawberry Dragon—or others that are badass looking, like the Zeta Hydra) that you level and take into battle with you. Throw in special dungeons, limited time dungeons, and you’ve got a recipe for a serious addiction. Plus, you can take the leader of a friend’s monster team with you!


 

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Elyos and Asmos battling it out.

 

3. Aion – PC

I had to include my first MMORPG in this list because it is ultimately what I judge every other MMORPG against. Aion is an amazing free to play game, complete with two different races –the angelic Elyos and the sinister Asmodians– who are at war. This leads to some serious PVP.  This game  even introduced me to the term “gank,” which means a bunch of people ganging up and killing a single player. Sadly, I was often that single player! I can laugh about it now, but there’s nothing that burns quite as bad as peacefully upping your Essencetapping (gathering materials)  to get brutally slaughtered by a group of the enemy race.

But it wasn’t all bad. In an abyssal area called Reshanta, players fly around on their wings, capturing and recapturing enemy forts while PvPing. And in other parts of the world, there was nothing quite like the feeling sneaking through a randomly spawning rift into enemy territory, never knowing when you’d come across the enemy race. My favorite classes were the chanter and the archer, but I also played cleric. Unfortunately I am a mediocre healer, no matter what the game, so chanter with its supplemental heals and buffs, was the better option for me. I always lament the lack of a class similar to the chanter in other MMOs and was very disappointed when Final Fantasy 14’s Bard didn’t play more similarly to it. But, if you’re looking to dip your toes into an MMORPG without a subscription fee on the PC, try this one out!


 

 

4. Persona 3 and Persona 4

Combine high school life with a dungeon crawler and supernatural forces and you have a really addicting series that is very easy to pour hours into. These stories have everything–romance, mystery, humor, death, magic, tragedy, and more. You play as a silent protagonist, whose answers and choices are yours. Plus, there is a system called social links that allows you to build up relationships with your friends, party members, and other NPCs who are all fully complex characters with interesting motivations. Many of their stories are very touching. And funnily enough, I get a kick out of playing as a guy and making all the girls fall in love with me.

I personally like the premise of Persona 3 FES better, but the characters of Persona 4 better. Persona 3 FES features a tower called Tartarus, home to dangerous shadows that only appears during the dark hour–a special hour of time when all people, except the protagonist and his party members, are put to sleep into coffins. Determined to protect their home, the main characters explore Tartarus, while simultaneously fighting all the shadows they can by summoning their own Personas.

In Persona 4, these characters too have a strange territory to explore, but this time it’s a strange world inside the TV! When people start appearing on a strange channel called the Midnight Channel, which only appears when the TV is turned off on rainy nights at–you guessed it–midnight, only to wind up dead, the party enters the TV on a rescue mission. Even though the supernatural story is very interesting, I love the bond between the main character and his family, Nanako and Dojima. When the murders threaten his family, the protagonist’s friends immediately step up to support him and to apprehend the person behind the crimes.

 


 

My Bard (with my boyfriend’s Dragoon) in FF14.

 

5. The Final Fantasy series

I was going to pick a single installment of the series, but honestly I love them all so much! I’ve played almost every single one, including FF14, where I focused on Bard and White Mage, but inevitably played pretty much every class. My favorite thing to do on this game is to fight Primals! However,  FF14’s story didn’t really do it for me. I skipped practically every cutscene, with no intention of ever watching them or any desire to see future ones. What about the characters you ask? I’m indifferent to those too.

To me, you simply can’t beat an original single player Final Fantasy–the stories are deep, the characters complex, and the world large. And I have a special place in my heart for Final Fantasy 10 because it was the first Final Fantasy game that I ever played and is what got me hooked on the series. I even cried at the end of the game. Despite my attachment to Tidus and Yuna, I do have to admit to being an unashamed Final Fantasy 7 fan girl. I love everything about this game, but especially the mystery of Cloud’s past, the mythology of Jenova, the Promised Land, and the Ancients, and the characters. I also am a huge Aerith fan and a die-hard shipper of Cloud x Aerith.


 

 

6. The “Tales of” Series

When I felt letdown by Final Fantasy during the 13 trilogy (all right, I liked them a little), I picked up the Tales series. I cannot say enough good things about this underrated franchise. I LOVE it! This is one series where I do NOT skip the cutscenes. In fact, I try to unlock as many of the additional skits throughout the game! These skits take place in between cutscenes, so you’re not just walking around with silent party members (does anyone else hate that?) These skits are often hilarious and/or reveal more about the world or the party members. And not only do these “Tales” games have great stories, but they offer the ability to have more than 1 player during battles (unfortunately not over the internet–this really needs to happen). This is great for me and my boyfriend! Not only does it mean that we don’t have to take turns, but it also means that I can take over the stupid A.I. heals or DPS, while he tanks! 

 Favorites in the series: Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Xillia.


Doesn't this picture make you think of "Dragon Roost Island" music?
Doesn’t this picture make hear the”Dragon Roost Island” music?

 

7. The Legend of Zelda series

I didn’t play my first LoZ game until I was in my early 20s. But when I did, I quickly became so enamored of the series that I changed all of my ringtones on my Blackberry (yes, I had one of those) to Zelda sound effects. Text messages sounded like the opening of treasures chests, etc. I annoyed the crap out of everyone around me, but I’d do it all over again. This series is so magical that it’s really difficult for me to pick one favorite, but I do really love Wind Waker. I loved sailing out over the ocean and discovering new islands! 


Other favorites:

The original Spyro series

Elder Scrolls series

Uncharted Series

 

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Posted August 9, 2015 in Games

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