My favorite games are the kind that create a strong, sustained emotional reaction in me. Sadly, this is a rare experience. Having said that, there are certainly heaps of games I haven't played due to time constraints and due also to the fact that I've become jaded after playing so many hyped releases supposedly created by companies that "care about story" only to find that they equate "story" with characters that spurt text/dialogue at you and expect you to feel something about it.
Greatest game story experience (and game) of all time for me was Grandia back during the ps1. On the flipside worst story for me is shadow hearts, from the new world (I played it for the wierd mechanics). sh ftnw had a story ending so bad that I literally burned the game disk and packaging (worse than the me3 ending..). At the end of the day a story is not essential for games but because games are about creating experiences it is often the difference between a good game and a masterpiece.
Haha burning the disk - must have been pretty darn bad!
I really wanted to play Grandia but never got around to it - what'd you like about it? I've always wondered what it was like!
Grandia was out of the box creative like a final fantasy game. The cartoonish ps1 graphics grow on you and the story is epic in scale. The first 10 minutes are secretly a tutorial and arent that good but the rest of the game is great. The mechanics were far ahead of their time in terms of rpgs and made sense. The thing that made it great however is that most of the game was made by a single person and you can tell by how it feels like your peering into the mind of a very creative man's vision through how the mechanics and artwork compliment each other. The only drawback of the game was that you have to like cartoon graphics.
Sounds great - and I definitely don't have an aversion to cartoon graphics. Made by one guy? Very interesting - I hope they remake it. I was really taken by the rotating 3d view - for the time, it looked amazing!
Games that moved me...
One month ago I would have talked about several games: Half Life, Final fantasy X, Vampire - Bloodlines, Portal, flOw...
(Yes I am going to talk about Journey again) I don't want to sound cliché or over-hype it for those that haven't played it but Journey sort of changed that. Every aspect of it feels so purposeful and crafted, I feel like it's the best ever implementation of multiplayer - the creative restriction of communication and emotion between players is so intriguing (insert that "restrictions sprout creativity" quote). Two strangers on a spiritual journey together, not even knowing each other's name but learning to talk, helping bonding. The human element is what makes that game, it truly moved me on several occasions.
Not balling my eyes out "moved" but moments of true celebration between a stranger you've never met, a person you don't even know the name of, and yet you feel this connection. Moments of shared discovery (there are specific moments I want to mention but don't want to spoil for people who haven't played), happiness, reactions. Moments of sadness, shock, worry, relief. This is just the multiplayer aspect.
After finishing the game with someone I just want to thank them, on occasions have, and exchanged comments on the game. Quite a change from the usual "gg" after having murdered a couple hundred disposable enemies.
The environments, characters, atmosphere; beautiful. It just feels alive; a world that once was. The game design is very well crafted. The story is amazing if you can notice it, very open ended and to me very intriguing.
Seriously my favorite game of all time, it definitely won't be for everyone but personally it gives me hope for the industry. It seems to appeal most to those that can surrender to a game world, rather than focus on grinding for moar rubbish, or ever looking for faces to shoot. I would love to hear what other developers think of it, and the moments they find interesting.
Definitely looking forward to playing Journey soon - everything I've read supports what you've said about it. The multiplayer speechless aspect sounds interesting and much of Jenova Chen's approach reminds me in subtle ways of another favourite designer of mine, Fumito Ueda (Shadows of the Colossus, Ico). He also eschews language for the greater emotional flexibility it brings.
Why do the japanese seem to dominate this particular style I wonder?
Do. If you like those games you'll definatly enjoy Journey. Put it to the top of your to-play backlist, its only 2 hours~ :).
I wish I could say I felt the same about Shadows of the Colossus and Ico. I played SotC when it first came out and I just didn't click with it. I found the controls infuriating.
I don't feel the need to destroy these giant beings when I don't even know what they are doing? They seem rather innocent to me, they only seem to attack you out of defense. Are they defending something? Am I destroying the defense of something that needs them? And for what? Some woman that just died? Why do I care about her? As the player I don't know anything about her. I have no connection.
I really wanted to like it, and I still wish I do. The game looks amazing, and the simple idea of it seems awesome.
I will probally give it another chance at some point. I hope I missed something.
The Last Guardian is looking amazing though.
I assume the question is rhetoric.
The ending of Braid was the most emotionally powerful moment I've ever experienced in a video game.
@Matthew Gatland - I really do have to finish that game one day haha! I get really frustrated with open-ended, ambiguous stories though - to me, it's not "artistic" and deep - it's just lazy lol ;). However, Braid does seem awesome and I'm going to get back into it soon so I can make an informed assessment.
@kormyen - all your points are valid re: SotC. I think the open interpretation is a result of something Fumito Ueda said about the major influence on his style - watching movies in another language that he doesn't understand. He likes the idea of having to make up your own story to fill in the gaps. Having just said I don't like open-ended ambiguity lol I have to say that I like a style that is open to interpretation - I think that's different to open-ended.
It's possible that the whole "acting by video-gamer instinct to take down the Colossi - then discovering you feel guilty about it and conflicted as to whether you should carry on" is relying to much on a meta interpretation to be considered "successful" by some but I'm a fan of atmosphere and mood as much as anything else so I enjoy a game that doesn't clutter the screen with interface and game feedback.
Yeah, the question was rhetoric. Their art in general can tend toward a minimalistic style on occasion so I guess that's as good an answer as any.
Homeworld (for PC) is a game that I've bleated on about before so I'll try not to drag on too much.
For me, games that move me generally have strong Art Direction and a strong sense of aesthetic style - it also helps if they have a good story but a traditional story is not a pre-requisite.
I really liked Homeworld because its sense of atmosphere was impeccable and heartfelt. The use of Barber's famous Adagio (in choral version) was inspired imo (you can see the opening sequence below) and the sense of atmosphere created by the sparse yet vast soundscape and the free-wheeling 360 visuals was palpable.
Beyond that, the game had a great world and lore and the visual style of the ships was intentionally reminiscent of the old Terran Trade Authority books from the late 70s/early 80s which were atypical and full of character. I don't know if there's anything official to support this but it seems to me that EVE owes a lot to both sources (Homeworld and TTA)...
When you get through the first level (or so... fuzzy memory!) and you come back to find what has happened to your world and the remainder of your race there's a real weight to the way they've handled it and this continues throughout the game.
I loved this game - a great sense of style that hasn't really been equalled within it's field imo.
I remember at the end of Braid, the twist was so genius and mind blowing. I can't belive how simple it was. Probablly the best thing I've ever seen in a game yet.
Oh no I just started playing Shadow Hearts, From the New World to expland my pool of JRPG's. Have only been playing about an hour or so and its not exactly gripping. Furthermore the tutorial are slow and really kill the flow of the game.
The first game to ever truly move me was Final Fantasy VIII however I believe that is because of how much time I invested into the game (was completely immersed). The music was wonderful (now one of my favorite composers and what got me into classical music) and the game was fun. There was always something to do and it all tied in together and the use of cut scenes was brilliant.
I completely agree with what you were saying Damien about how time is limited especially the older you get however I think this can make you bias.
When I was growing up I would get one game for xmas and one for my birthday. So that game would have to last me near 6 months unless I got another game during the year. This meant that I was forced to play the game in full as opposed to playing it for a few hours and then trying a new game as the current one was not "grabbing" me. This also made me stick with mainly mainstream games however so I guess its its a double edged sward.
Braid, twice over.
The first time it really hit me was the twist ending as Matt and Soup have mentioned. It's funny, I'd be interested to know if it's the same for you guys but it all makes so much sense and seems so clear, but then you try to explain what actually happened and you can't put it to words. The game mechanics and story all tie in, like films or stories where loose ends all come together, and it gives this sort of dream-like effect, as if you've woken up and can remember the content but not the links that made it make so much sense at the time.
The second time was when I went back to play the game. I read the first books message in world 2 and went "holy shit! I know exactly what this is." Nothing has ever spoken to me like that ever, so damn good.
It's interesting to hear a counter-argument to leaving a story quite open Damien. All through school its been "Abstract! Abstract! Abstract!" so it's nice to hear a refreshing point of view :D I think in this case though Jon has put a lot of work into ensuring that the gameplay and story work together to invoke a feeling in the player, rather than necessarily trying to tell a beginning, middle and end. Perhaps thinking of it more like a painting than a book might make it seem a little less ambiguous?
EDIT: Oh apologies if I necro-bumped, I'm new, I didn't read dates :D
I'm no authority here but resurect all you want Necromancer Rani - Especially threads like this one.
Braid is an amazing game :D. I agree trying to explain the ending just doesn't do it justice.
I am looking forward to Jonathan Blow's next game "The Witness".
There are some interesting posts/podcasts/lectures/rants on his websites if you hadn't already found them before.
@damiencaine Played Journey yet? :P
I've never played Braid. But I've heard a lot about it I don't think I've ever heard it described as a particularly moving game before. But after what you say about it, I'm definitely gona play it now.
So I had a pretty moving experience playing Mass Effect 3 a few months ago.... no it wasn't the ending lol
It was at the end of the Krogan missions. When Mordin, who I think was one of the best characters in the series, decides to sacrifice himself to cure the Krogans of the Genophage. He ends up being trapped at the top a tower as it's exploding and falling apart around him. The whole room around him is on fire and he has no way out. Just before he dies he starts to sing a song to himself. Its a song you hear him humming in his lab throughout the game. Then in mid sentence an explosion hit him in the face and hes gone.
I think it's the type of moment that only a long episodic game could achieve. Where the player has spent dozens of hours getting to know a character.
I'm pretty sure some of the other characters in Mass Effect have similar moving deaths, but those out comes can be affected by the player. In Mordins case, nothing the player does can stop him from dying.
People hate on Mass Effect 3 for it's ending. But that was only the last 15 minutes of the game! People forget that the game has some really great moments, it's such a shame that they have been over shadowed by the bad 15 minutes at the end.
I know I will get flamed for putting my nomination forward - Medal of Honor (the reboot version in 2010). For me it was about having a connection with the storyline. Im ex-military and hostile environment work (civilian side) and I've been to a location depicted in the game. It was the atmoshpere that got me, along with the soundtrack (linkin park - dont laugh) but it somehow seemed to fit with the game.
It's the first game (well after I had completed it) that actually made me sit there and think 'wow - that was intense', not just for the running and gunning but the emotional side as well.
I guess thats what games are about nowadays, creating a connection - for years music and film media have held the defacto status on this and its great to see games now doing the same. Its about drawing the player of the game in, regardless of the genre of game.
My two cents...
Homeword is gr8 game but I'm more on logic games. Do you know any good ones?
Check out Kentucky Route Zero. Awesome atmosphere and love the art style so much. Nice website too...
@Alucard completly agree. That song :'( =P. Meeting the characters again was the best part about ME3 I think. Seeing how they had changed (or hadn't) and what they had done the the years between the games.
@AramidTech I don't think your going to get flamed here. Can understand :). I had a similar "sit there and think 'wow..'" afterward when I finally finish Shadow of the Collosus recently. Love the ending, don't quite understand it but love the open endedness - kind of don't want to wiki the truth xD.
Some games are about "creating a connection" or "moving you" yeah.
Military shooter-wise; maybe you would enjoy Spec Ops: The Line. I've heard good things if you can look past how it appears to be a generic shooter at the start, but havn't actually played it myself. See: http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/spec-ops-the-line-part-1
@Mark Braid? http://braid-game.com/ (As per others mentioning). Logic/puzzle games... Space Chem? http://www.spacechemthegame.com/ ... Frozen Synapse (aka: Chess with guns) http://www.frozensynapse.com/
Whoops admin post...
And I forgot to add @Mark re: majaya - interesting, will check it out!
@kormyen - played Journey a few times now, yes! All is as you have said haha - great game, amazing aesthetic sense e.g. camera smoothing and easing to make every frame a perfect still, blah etc. everything everyone's already said. Loved it!
Kentucky Route Zero, Proteus, etc. - checking out asap...
@AramidTech - I had a similar experience playing through COD 4 in stereoscopic back in the day - I don't care if the game experience is pretty much on rails - its no more intrusive than the equivalent movie version's railroading plot heh.
Re: Shadow of the Colossus - I remember an earlier comment wondering how we should care about a protagonist who automatically goes around killing these big creatures but I think the beauty of it for me was that as soon as the character 'fearlessly' clambers onto the first colossus and scales it, hanging on for dear life, etc. I figured he must really love that girl lol. It just made me wonder at the passion driving him and the backstory we'd missed out on since the impression was almost like we'd come in on the last reel of an epic tale. I like that about Fumito Ueda's games, the sense of slight disconnectedness, half a story, fill in the gaps yourself!
@kormyen oh man I watch some gameplay of Kentucky Route Zero its so cool. I love the art style. The game as a weird surreal feel to it.
@damiencaine COD4? that wouldnt be the nuke scene your talking about would it? I think the whole series since has been trying to recapture that high point of COD4
Re: COD4 - just in general really - I found the whole thing to be a surprisingly enjoyable little contemporary war-action movie experience. Never thought I'd enjoy a modern warfare type FPS but COD4 pulled you into the thick of things and thanks to the very subjective experience (e.g. as youv'e said Blake, the nuke scene, also the intro assassination, etc.) I found it utterly engaging.
Re: Kentucky Route Zero - love that visual style! Off the chain... Very keen to check it out.
Re: Shadow of the Colossus - Yeah thats how I felt about the ending with "Love the ending, don't quite understand it but love the open endedness - kind of don't want to wiki the truth xD.". I was blown away by my own interpretation of the ending, but it seems quite open / questions not knowing how things fit in or relate.
Kentucky Route Zero. Be warned "part 1" (available now) is quite short. However I'd buy it just for the art style alone, so simple, so good. @Alucard re "The game as a weird surreal feel to it." Yep xD. The atmosphere is awesome. Very intruiged where it will go in the next 4 parts.
Holy Kentucky Route Zero! Hadn't heard if it before now. Get in my eyes!
Sorry for the double post, I am not sure if an edit would be broadcast.
Kentucky Route Zero demo! Free. Limits and demonstrations
If you haven't played it; try the demo. If you have played it; try the demo (“unique and doesn’t overlap with Act I, and it starts sketching out some backstory for a few already-introduced characters.”)
Source: Rock Paper Shotgun
Also worth a look is Papo & Yo.
It's about a kid dealing with his father's alcoholism.
Doesn't quite pull of everything it tries to, but it's got some really nice moments.
Wow, as others have mentioned @Kormyen, thanks so much for mentioning Kentucky Route Zero! That game looks amazing. You mentioned looking forward to The Witness and I second that. Jon mentioned most play-testers think its far better than Braid... I can't imagine that especially with the gameplay vids so far looking quite stale, so I am getting it for sure, if nothing else out of sheer curiosity.
I really want to play Shadow of the Colossus, the gameplay I've seen has never really drawn me in, but it seems that everyone who plays it really rates it so I gotta give it a go.
Has anyone played Every Day the Same Dream before? It's not one of my top favs or anything, but I do love how straightforward the concept is. It somehow gets away with being quite critical and - I don't want to say depressing, but that's kind of what it is right? - and yet it still engages the player, or at least it did for me.
I liked Every Day the Same Dream too.
Super simple concept, but the way it unfolds works really nicely