This has been an interesting year for me personally with lots of ups and downs. I’ll be honest; I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to this year. Through it all, I’m grateful for the amazing games I got to play and revisit. The remasters of classic games for the latest generation of consoles makes it easier than ever to re-experience the games I loved (and sometimes endured) as a kid. These include Final Fantasy VIII and Phantasy Star IV, both epic JRPGs telling ambitious plots that also acted as time portals to parts of my life as I remembered the memories associated with them.
This past year, I was terrorized by the journey of A Plague Tale, creeped out revisiting Raccoon City in the Resident Evil 2 remake, and spooked out playing Sweet Home again. Visual novels like Root Letter and 428:Shibuya Scramble made me wonder about the future of literature and books with their cohesive blend of text, visuals, and gameplay.
Portable games in particular have been really meaningful for me. I was riveted by Hotel Dusk and its complex web of interlinking stories that evoked more emotion in me than most of the films I watched this year. Ghost Trick’s music made death a jazzy groove and it’s a soundtrack I still listen to (I have an interview with the composer going up this Saturday). Samus Returns took Samus back to her roots in an isolated alien world that emphasized exploration and discovery in a way I hadn’t experienced since the original Metroid Prime. I’ve only just started A Link Between Worlds and am already impressed with the clever puzzles Nintendo has designed that make you, as a player, feel smart each time you solve them.
But it’s the games that have affected me personally that I’m most grateful for. In Dragon Quest XI, the heroes suffer a lot; they face an apocalyptic cataclysm, discover earth-shattering truths, and confront unimaginable evils. Spirits of the past give them advice and attempt to aid them as much possible. But they can’t directly intervene as every generation has to fight their own battles. Through the journey, they find out who their friends are, as well as the villains. People who are reliable; and people who are only in it for themselves. In their travails, I found comfort knowing that even these heroes have to grind it out to beat the harder bosses and struggle against the odds when everyone else has capitulated. If this year and DQXI has taught me anything, it’s that fighting evil takes a lot of endurance and guts.
I tried to imagine what a world without videogames would be like. What would fill the void and sense of immersion unique to games?
I’m grateful that games do exist and there’s so many amazing choices we have.
So Kotaku, on this Thanksgiving Day, what games are you most thankful for?