Inspiration and Video Games Part Two

CC image by JDHancock

Hey, remember me? I wrote about video games ages ago.

No? Not really? Yeah, me neither. It really was a long time ago. I took a brief sojourn. Sabbatical. Whatever word is going to get me out of trouble! But here I am ready to get back to it. So let’s recap.

In my last blog Inspiration and Video Games, I went over numbers 10-6 of my top ten video games list. Click here to get a refresher on what those were. Now, I’m really not considering things like gameplay or graphics or just overall video gameness. What I’m looking at are games that I found creatively invigorating based on setting, story, and characters. Sometimes, we need a creative boost, and these are the games that did it for me.

I’ll also remind you, as I did in my last blog, that I’m probably going to miss some great games. Maybe I’ve never played them, or maybe they just didn’t do it for me for whatever reason. Whatever the case may be, feel free to post the games that have inspired you in the comments below so that I can play them instead of writing blog posts like I’m supposed to. Ahem…

Before I get to my top five, I want to tell you of some other great games that didn’t quite make the cut.

Honorable Mentions:

Red Dead Redemption
To be honest, this game is amazing. The story was engaging and fun. There are two reasons it’s not in my top ten. First, it’s a western, and that setting doesn’t inspire me the way other settings do. In an effort to remain spoiler free, I’ll just say as my second reason that I wasn’t pleased with the way it ended. Endings are a big deal to me.

Skyrim/Fallout
For everyone who expected this to be my number one game on the list, HA! I am in complete agreement that these games are masterpieces. However, it didn’t make my list because it is too open world for me. I, unlike most people, don’t enjoy the fact that I can spend over 300 hundred hours wandering the world never touching the main story line. The millions of side quests start feeling repetitive, and I ultimately feel too overwhelmed to glean much inspiration from it. In terms of setting, it is very well done. In terms of story, you can focus on the plots you want and enjoy them. However, in terms of character, the game falls short. Because there is so much freedom to do whatever you want, the character you play has to stay as generic as possible in order to fit in with the legion of different paths you can take, and, as a result, is 100% without personality.

Between Two Souls
This game has a really compelling story. However, it is very cinematic, so much so that the characters are motion captured actors that you are already familiar with. Ellen Page is the main character that you play and Willem Dafoe is her guardian/scientist. It is almost like watching a movie that you occasionally get to push buttons to. I dislike attaching actual actors to characters because I can’t help thinking how ridiculous Dafoe’s Green Goblin is or how helpful it would be if Page was actually Shadowcat instead of this character. My point is, you don’t get to have any inspirational kick from the characters because they don’t stand apart from the actors playing them. That being said, the story is pretty kickass.

Okay, I’ve postponed long enough. It’s time for my top five. I have actually rearranged this list several times, so clearly I’m struggling with the order myself. Here it is!

CC image by naughty_dog

CC image by naughty_dog

5. The Last of Us
Hilariously, there was a bit of an issue with one of the main characters from this game looking and sounding like Ellen Page, not to mention the character’s name is Ellie. Apparently, someone went and decided Page was the best person to base female video game characters off of. All of that aside, this game is amazing, and it’s a zombie game. But it’s a zombie game that doesn’t make a big deal out of being a zombie game. There is no unnecessary, stupid drama or things done for shock value—just a story that begins post-apocalypse that invests you deeply into the characters and the world. This story packs a serious emotional punch. I’m so excited for the second one.

4. Dishonored
So a Bethesda game did make it into my top five, but not Skyrim or Fallout. I love this game, and I am eager to jump into the second one, which brilliantly propels from the first. The setting is dark and haunting, the story is malleable to low or high chaos decision making with an awesome fantastical and steam punk style. And even though your character doesn’t speak (hello, Legend of Zelda), you’re invested in his plight. I love how well crafted and unique the world is, and I was completely invested and intrigued by every step of the journey.

3. Assassin’s Creed
I know there’s about as many of these games as there are Starbucks on street corners, but I owe a lot to these games. They take the cake on badassery, and when the first one came out ten years ago, it really jump started my imagination. The settings are endlessly incredible as the different games allow you to immerse yourself in renaissance Italy, colonial America, Victorian England, and more. The characters are typically witty and entertaining. This story is a bit oddly done but if you can get behind the conspiracy theories spanning the course of history, you’ll find the games to be creatively inspiring. Seriously, the amount of ways you can kill people in these games…

2. Mass Effect
The three Mass Effect games should have taken my number one slot, but the ending did it in. Let’s just say that the only way to get a satisfying ending to the series is to download a mod (for those who don’t know, mod is short for modification, which is a change or addition to the game that was created by community members that you can choose to download). Endings are important, remember? But let’s get to the good stuff. This game’s liberties and customization is top notch. You can choose between what are called paragon and renegade actions or dialogue, but it’s not as cut and dry black and white as some other games. The game’s setting is also incredibly expansive. It’s a sci-fi with many worlds and races all with very developed histories and cultures. There is a wellspring of characters, and all of them have varying amounts of time devoted to developing them. The game is addicting. I think had it come out as a TV show, movie, or book it would have been amazing.

CC image by stringanomaly

CC image by stringanomaly

1. Bioshock
Heck yes. Bioshock. What words could I use to explain how masterful each of the three games are? To this day I am left reeling from the events of the third game, but, truth be told, all three of the games were so dark, so full of mind blowing twists, and so incredibly ingenious that I could play them again and again and be lost in their worlds and stories. The first two stories occur in an underwater city; the third takes place in a floating city. Each story has a different character but closely follows an overarching storyline. This game does not have the open world concept, the character customizations, and the decision making that typically draws me in. It doesn’t need them. The story is rock solid, the world enticing, and it stands on its own. I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

So there you have it—my top ten inspiring and creatively invigorating games. If you enjoy video games and find yourself in a creative desert, these oases will pull you out.

By: Rachelle Clifford