When I was a kid, I went through a period of consuming choose your own adventure books in mass quantities. It was the merging of books and games, my two loves, so I kept telling myself that, as the amalgamation of the two, they were even better. But they weren’t better. I never identified with my character in those books the way I identified with Bilbo in ‘The Hobbit’ or Hazel in ‘Watership Down’. And they were definitely not as exciting as stomping mushrooms in Super Mario Bros or hitting things with Simon’s whip in Castlevania. Obviously the gameplay was lacking because there isn’t much you can do with “turn to page 67” (even adding a die roll and combat system, like some of the more advanced versions did, didn’t do much to increase the sense of risk and accomplishment inherent in games like Super Mario Bros and Castlevania), but why was the story not as immersive? The theory I think a lot of us who make games operate from is that offering player choices creates a sense of investment in their character and in the story that supersedes that of a novel or film; however, in my experience, that is seldom the case.
Note: While I do discuss my feelings about the end of the Mass Effect trilogy, this post contains no spoilers. I make no such voucher for any comments that may or may not be left.
When I walked out of the last Lord of the Rings movie, I had a feeling that I seldom got from a movie but frequently got from books – that utterly satisfied and yet nostalgic feeling of ending.
30 Days of Video Games, Day 2: A game I’ve played through all the way twice
So, there are several games that could qualify for this one, especially if I count games that I’ve tested. But like I’ve said before, testing is not playing. Even setting that aside, there are several choices; in the end, I settled on one of my favorites, Mass Effect. Of the two so far, while ME2 had somewhat better mechanics, I think ME1 had a far better and more cohesive story. Of course I had to do at least two playthroughs (and I will probably do a third) for each game, to experience both the Paragon and Renegade storylines. I think Jennifer Hale is awesome and will forever be my Commander Linnea Shepard regardless of the role she’s playing.
Originally published here.