I asked on twitter who would like to take part in a guest post, the subject being “What’s your game of this gen?“. With this gen coming to an end later this year, I thought it an important and also interesting question to ask. I was astounded at the plethora and wide ranging responses I received. So many people volunteered to write that I’ve had to split it into two posts, below are the first batch of excellent and well thought about choices.
Chosen by Beki Sutcliffe
Website – The Universe Illusion
When I played Freebird Games’ “To The Moon” last year, it only took me around 4 hours to complete. I did it in one sitting. But ever since I watched the final scene play out, I cannot talk about the games that made a lasting impression on me without this one jumping to mind. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking and sentimental game in which you play as two scientists – Rosalene and Watts (one of the best double-acts I’ve seen in a game honestly) – who are tasked with fulfilling people’s dying wishes. The dying widower John wishes to go to the moon, only he’s really not sure why. Throughout the game you play through flashbacks of John’s memories, experiencing what he experienced, and feeling what he felt, through his childhood and into married life with his sweetheart River.
This game is a feat of storytelling, one which turns the most ordinary human experiences into scenes which have more impact than any AAA+ game I have played this gen. Whilst playing as the dynamic duo you really care about John and fulfilling his dying wish, and witness the feeling of urgency at solving the mystery before his body passes onto the next life. When you reach the final scenes of the game and every piece of the puzzle slots into place it packs a punch, and you will forget the fact that you are looking at a bunch of pixel-y sprites on the screen. To The Moon was the first game I can remember that made me cry, and that is why I will treasure it for a very long time.
Chosen by Arya Tayebi
Website – AryaTayebi.com
1991’s Street Fighter II was a system seller and single-handedly revitalized the coin-up industry. At the time it offered an unprecedented degree of control over it’s cast of stunningly realised warriors and misfits, but it’s enduring popularity through countless updates and revisions predicated on the thrill of competitive face to face play. As the arcades closed down, fighting games were increasingly relegated to cult status, building up an impenetrable wall of technicality to all but the nickel-pumping cognoscenti.
17 years later, with the coin-up industry quietly laid to rest in Western markets, Street Fighter IV had a daunting task ahead of it. Make fighting games relevant to the average gamer again. It’s solution was firstly to simplify the controls and streamline years of accumulated sub-systems, distilling the fighting to it’s purest form. New features were designed to both welcome new players and challenge old hands alike, such as a comeback mechanic that meant victory was never assured until the fight was well and truly over.
Visually the game used bold primary colours and chunky character models reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons to tap into fond 90s nostalgia, whilst 3D models allowed the camera to dynamically zoom-in on the (literally) eye-popping ultra moves. Most importantly this was all delivered with a robust net-code for the online generation. This formula proved so successful that it directly inspired Mortal Kombat’s 2011 reboot and indeed paved the way for a renaissance of sorts for fighters.
Few genres can elicit such a diverse or powerful array of emotions; pindrop tension, crushing disappointment, soaring elation – often all within a hair’s breadth of one another. The roar of that passion can be heard no louder than at the annual Evo event, where contenders from around the world come to fill the next chapter in their own narrative. For those who can still smell the nickel on their fingers, it’s only a new challenger away.
Chosen by Joseph Guthrie
Website – The People v. The Auracle
The question Mr Adebajo posed is a great question: what game this generation genuinely moved you? To answer this question, the elements that make up how I typically rate games had to be restructured giving more emphasis to the game that had more of a powerful effect on me and my emotions.
Going over all of the stirring and incredible games I’ve played in the last ten or so years, I managed to whittle down the shortlist to two games in particular: one for how utterly engrossing the game world & plotline was, the other for challenging me emotionally in ways I never thought a game could possibly do. The former (Fallout 3) to me still remains the best overall game I’ve played this generation and Bethesda deserve every plaudit they can get for it but the latter game (The Walking Dead: Episodes 1-5) trumps it in terms of games that stunned and roused every emotion within me.
The harrowing tale of Lee and Clementine trying to survive in a zombie-infested Georgia fuelled by little else than the desire to reunite with their loved ones is beyond powerful. The developers (Telltale Games) did in a video game what Hollywood’s producers couldn’t do [and haven’t yet done] with any of the post-apocalyptic zombie mediums they have adapted to the screen: they took players on a chaotic and controversial journey; and in the midst of it all, they managed to invoke every last sentiment at its most intense.
Telltale did this all while simultaneously one-upping Lionhead (the creators of Fable) at their own game: every decision you make truly matters and none of the characters you forge a dynamic with will allow you to forget it, thus adding to the magnitude of every choice you make.
I’ve been playing video games since I was about four or five. After all these years, Telltale delivered the first title that moved me to tears. The bond that Lee and Clem had and the overall story that encompasses it will forever resonate with me in more ways than one and I doubt we’ll see a game as emotionally provoking as The Walking Dead is for quite some time. If there’s one thing the next generation needs, it’s more games like The Walking Dead.
Chosen by – Ryan Syrett
Website – The Game Jar
Rather than pull one of the dozens of heart wrenchingly inspiring, beautifully told narrative driven games out of the hat that have been received in this generation I figured I’d pick a game that has meant a lot to me on a personal level, a game that has seen its life and death come and go in this entire (albeit long) cycle. I’m talking about the SKATE franchise, now I know it’s not Journey or Spec Ops, Enslaved or Fallout but to me the skateboarding community have been crying out for a realistic simulation of our way of life ever since we used to turn down the statistics on the original Tony Hawks. SKATE was that game; it brought the proficiency and frustrating realism of landing one trick in twenty to the home console. It taught the average non-wood pusher that pulling off the simplest looking flip or piecing together a four tick line with skill and style was something not to be sniffed at.
Most of all SKATE made me realise people thought more of us than weed smoking knobs who all talk like eighties surfers and dress like want to be gangsters/Sid Vicious by dedicating three games to the entire franchise. Although the latter is a hilariously true stereotype, I have pretty much dedicated half my life to a plank of wood and it’s fantastic to see that two of my favourite pastimes intertwined perfectly, if only for a short while.
In short, SKATE did more for our sport/lifestyle in video games media than Tony, Bam and a 1080 Christ Air McTwist ever did.
Now if only they put a rock button in…
Thanks for reading! Expect the next batch of choices in the coming week.
And a big thanks for the people above for taking the time to help create such a great post