What would you ask the Gaming Fairy to make you forget?
Final Fantasy VI
My absolute favorite RPG and, um, obvious inspiration. I love the characters, the way the story builds, losing Terra at one point, the escape from Vector, your brief foray into the land of Espers. Especially the stunning second half where the bad guy wins and destroys the world. Rebuild your team and take him down.
Call me a snob, but none of the Souls or Blood games since have matched this world and its pacing. I never cared for Demon’s Souls or the free-warping bonfires of Dark Souls II. The original’s huge interconnected world, vast secret areas (holy cow the tree), and disgusting environments felt earned and real. I’ve plumbed that world for its secrets, but what I wouldn’t give to experience it anew.
Here’s a game I want to re-experience for its mechanics. It doesn’t have the plot of Final Fantasy VI nor the intricate world of Dark Souls, but its vision of space is so compelling. There are many ships to buy, billions of stars to visit, upgrades and missions and trading routes. I adored my months with Elite until I had licked its novelty clean. Now the ships don’t tempt me, the missions are routine, and the trading routes are well-worn.
Haven’t thought about this game in a decade, have you? Again, the original, that’s strangely more advanced than what we’re playing now. A real FPS sandbox, where you can toss barrels into huts and blow them to the ground. Stop the guy signaling for reinforcements or let them come and take their truck. Enjoy the incredible facial animation and have the “mod guns by clicking on them” mechanic feel new. And forget that the second half is battling weird squid aliens.
Oh, to have this before SimCity. Or again, now, and not be bored with construction. I love base building games, and nothing’s more pure than this. Making houses for people, optimizing traffic, checking that the police can reach everyone. So much fun. But after a while I stopped innovating in my designs and lost my touch.
Batman: Arkham City
Polygon talked about gaming comfort food recently and it didn’t really click until I started writing this article. I feel like I could play Arkham City while sleepwalking. It’s basically the perfect Batman game: a big city that’s not too big, lots of abilities without overwhelming you, occasionally play as Catwoman. Things like that. No armored tanks and overwrought cutscenes.
No Man’s Sky
Oh, you thought Arkham City was a recent game? No no. This is one I’d like to do again. I’m ashamed that my blog wasn’t functional when this game out or I’d have a dozen posts documenting my discoveries. Even though the final product disappointed in a lot of real ways, I’m delighted by what they did publish. The planets felt huge and meaningful, the upgrade system was compelling (for a while), and there were lots of little touches like portholes that opened up when you approached them. I want to get lost in the universe again.
System Shock 2
Here’s a game I would pay $200 to experience as a proper remaster. The gold standard for horror games, System Shock 2 terrified me constantly. I loved how the enemies have named and histories, how they apologize as they attempt to murder you. And since I willingly sat through the movie Passengers, I have to admit that spaceship interiors are a draw for me all by themselves.
Somehow I want Pillars of Eternity to be this game. I want Final Fantasy XV to be this game. Heck, I want Dungeon Siege II and III to be this game. I know we’re supposed to mock how it was billed as a Diablo-killer, but for me it was. The huge seamless world was shocking, and rare even now. I loved having mules amble along behind your party of adventurers. I loved the business card-sized plot that you could totally ignore. I loved that the final mission of the game was to stop the sieging of a dungeon.
I’ve got to go, uh, reinstall some stuff.