By Kyle Perkins and Lila Vale.
Okay, so a few days ago, I wrote an article on how gaming made me into a better author. Well, everything I said was true, however, all games are not created equally. This is a list of my ten favorite games that influenced who I am today.
Lila: I let Kyle do the ranking here, because I am terrible at picking one over the other, but some of these games are favorites of mine that definitely made me a better storyteller. I’ll add my commentary below his.
1o. Life Is Strange.
Have you ever done something in your life that you wish you could go back and change? Yeah, me too. In this game you play as a girl named Maxine Caulfield who finds herself almost in a dream as moments in her life begin repeating over and over. The thing is, she controls them. As you walk through this character’s life, you get to reverse the past and change your decisions to see how the future will play out. You will encounter an abundance of rich and compelling characters along the way, and your interactions with them will decide your fate and the fates of many others.
What I like about this one is that it does not require crazy gaming skills, it’s more about the experience and the story. Which is something a little different.
Lila: This is a game that anyone can play and enjoy; you don’t have to be a super skillful gamer. There’s suspense and mystery, and I love the unique style and concept of it.
Buy it here.
9. Dead Space.
This game starts off normal enough with you standing in a cockpit with a few other people talking about your mission to help a mining ship that they lost contact with. As you get closer to the ship, things start to take a dramatic turn for the worst. Your spaceship crashes into the one that everyone lost contact with, and necromorphs begin flooding in. These things are no joke, which you can tell from the picture above. You have to make your way through this massive spaceship trying to repair systems that were destroyed in the crash, all while necromorphs pick off any survivors around you, and you collect holotapes describing how everyone died. The necromorphs are very hard to kill, and will absolutely destroy new gamers. If you’re new to gaming at all, I would recommend the easiest setting possible. These guys are creepy as hell, and the music, as well as the ambiance of the game really put you there. Just be prepared to jump in real life a lot.
Lila: I haven’t played this one yet because it scares the shit out of me. Some day… maybe.
Find it here.
8. Red Dead Redemption.
John Marston is a total bad ass that destroys everyone in his path. The good news is, you get to play as him. This is an old western game made by the same people that brought the world Grand Theft Auto. In this game, you are an outlaw that has been taken from your family and are now being forced to confront and kill the members from your old gang for your freedom. This game is full of well-developed characters, and you won’t be able to stop playing it. The ending of the game will have you thinking about it years later.
Lila: I love love loved this game! I’m all about games with choices, and you can really choose how you want your John Marston to be in this one. Are you still an asshole outlaw, or do you try to redeem yourself through good deeds with the people you encounter? This game also brings you Nigel West Dickens who is one of the most obnoxious, yet memorable, characters ever. And the ending… well, I still am emotionally affected by it to this day. Don’t read spoilers, just play it. You’ll see.
Find it here.
This game is another scifi/horror. Maybe dystopian/horror, depending on how you look at it. This game is set in a network of underwater facilities that is devoid of human life. You spend the entire game uncovering the mysteries of why everyone disappeared, and trying to find a way back to the safety of the ground above. I don’t want to say too much and spoil this game, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you never pick it up. This game will leave you questioning your own existence, and reality around you.
Lila: This game is great. A real mindfuck, very creepy, with pieces of the mystery expertly sprinkled throughout the game to keep you intrigued enough to endure all the lonely creepiness of it. I loved it, though I needed a massage and a stiff drink afterward. It’s very intense.
Find it here.
6. Mass Effect.
This game focuses on the protagonist, Commander Shepard, and his or her quest to stop the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius from leading an army of sentient machines, called the Geth, to conquer the galaxy. While pursuing Saren, Shepard learns of a far greater threat in the form of the Reapers. I’ll leave it there to avoid spoilers.
What’s really awesome about this game is, all of the people you meet along the way, you will see in the games to come. So, depending on how your interacted with them, it will change their opinions of you later down the line when you transfer your game saves into the later installments in the series. Not sure if this was the first game to ever do this, but it was the first I ever played that did, and it was an amazing experience. With most games, when you beat a game, you get a generic ending and a generic beginning of a sequel that everyone gets. This series is tailored to you.
Lila: The ME series is amazing, and I never really cared too much for “space games” before. Your character really feels like your own in these games, you customize them to look however you want them to, and you can build or destroy relationships with secondary characters however you want to. This series, along with the Dragon Age series, are my all time favorites because of this. The developers do a great job giving the player the opportunity to make their own unique experience, and the main story as well as the subplots are well-executed and meaningful. My family is probably tired of hearing me gush about these games, so thanks for being here to take one for the team. 😉 Really, though, these are great. (Also: Alien sex. All I’m saying.)
Find it here.
5. Witcher 3.
Witcher 3 is probably one of the most visually stunning games ever created. Not only is the game absolutely beautiful, but the music and extremely developed characters really make this game come alive. I am not going to go in depth into this game because it’s the third in a series and you probably need to play the first two to really appreciate it, but you will get lost in this game, and hope you never come out. If you love fantasy games, definitely pick this one up.
Lila: I have yet to play this game, but I will say it is visually stunning and I have heard nothing but good things about it. This is another one where the decisions you make have impact and meaning, which is always refreshing.
Find it here.
Skyrim is the 5th game(depending on who you ask) in The Elder Scrolls series. This game is truly open world, meaning you can go anywhere you please, at any time, without disrupting the story. You can travel from city to city, meeting a metric fuck ton of people, and doing special quests given to you along the way. It will take you forever to truly complete this game due to it’s size and the fact that nearly everyone you encounter will have some errand for you to run, but you’ll absolutely love it. This series has arguably more lore than any other game out there, and it all ties in with every game. Everything you see in game, as well as the books you pick up and read along the way, tell a story about the past and the way these lands were shaped. You will probably spend more time out of game trying to learn everything you can about the abundant fictional history of the game, than you actually will playing it, and that’s saying a lot. This game is massive.
Lila: Skyrim is amazing, and holds a special place in my heart since it was one of the first modern games I picked up when I got back into gaming. The open-world format is great because you can go at your own pace, which was perfect for me as I tried to learn the ropes of maneuvering a character that wasn’t in 2D. You get character customization and dialogue choices in this one as well, which I always love, and the world is massive. I spent an entire summer playing this game and it was so worth it.
Find it here.
3. Bioshock: Infinite.
This game is another among the incredibly beautiful titles. You play as Booker DeWitt, a private investigator from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. You are sent to rescue a girl from what appears to be a cult in a floating utopian city known as Columbia. However, you quickly learn that not everything is what it seems, and sometimes when things look too good to be true, they usually are. This game is yet another mindfuck that will leave you questioning reality for a long time after you stop playing it.
Lila: Great game, and it might be my favorite of the BioShock series, as well. The characters are rich (the twins are the best), you get a follower who actually is useful and developed, and the twist at the end is incredible. Plus, like Kyle said, visually it is a beautiful world to spend some time in. Fun fact (since Kyle didn’t mention it): Sebastian’s city in Ecta: The Divide was inspired by this world.
Find it here.
2. Fallout: New Vegas.
Fallout: New Vegas is set in… you guessed it. Las Vegas. The catch is, it’s two hundred years from now and atomic bombs have scorched the Earth. You play as a guy waking up from a gunshot wound to the head, after completing a delivery you now know nothing about. You spend the majority of the game trying to find the guy that left you for dead, until you get pulled into something bigger at play — the fate of the Mojave. Fallout: New Vegas was made by the same company that brought you Skyrim, so everything I said above about quests, people you meet along the way, and the size of the game all apply here, too. Every decision you make, and people you meet along the way will decide how this game ends, and you’ll come back to playing it over and over to see all of the possible outcomes.
Lila: By now you probably know that I love character customization, I love story, and I love choices. Also, I’m a big fan of just fucking around in a game to see what I might wander into. FNV has all this stuff. The setting is great, the factions are interesting, and I had an absolute blast playing it. Another fun fact: The vibe of some of these groups, specifically post-apocalyptic casinos and the cats that run them, inspired some of our world and characters in Bait, Brutes, and Bullets.
Find it here.
1. Half-Life 2.
Hands down, the best game ever made. There is no need for arguing. This is not an opinion, it is a well-known fact that only someone suffering from oxygen deprivation would disagree with. This game is every conspiracy theorist’s wet dream, and if you’re into dystopian/scifi, you should be ashamed of yourself if you haven’t picked this up. This game was way ahead of its time and is still a front runner, despite its age.
There is just too much to this game to sum up in a short summary, so just go pick it up. Do yourself a solid. It’s been out nearly thirteen years.
Lila: What he said. Really, though, this game is fantastic. It’s linear, but it doesn’t feel that way. You have to think and use your environment to problem solve, which adds to the immersion and makes it that much more gratifying when you figure something out. Plus, you get to beat shit with a crowbar. No alien sex here, but you wouldn’t want to.
Get it here. (Bonus, you get Portal as well!)
Honorable Mention: Layers of Fear.
Find it here.
Do you agree with this list? Disagree? Tell me your top ten in the comments!