By: Iris the Keyblade Master
Hi everyone! I’m Iris and this is my first game review for Real Women of Gaming!
This past year, I tried to expand my horizons a little bit and play more video games that didn’t have “Kingdom Hearts,” “Legend of Zelda,” or “Final Fantasy” in the title. And by that, I mean that I played three games that didn’t have those words in the title. Considering how often I play Kingdom Hearts, I’m going to call that “progress.”
So these are some of the games I finished in one form or another in 2016:
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
This is a game that I’ve played on and off for years. Finally, I managed to beat it during a blizzard this past winter. It’s known for being such an unusual game because it forces you to go back and replay the same three days over and over again, until you have everything you need to save the world. Link, the hero, gets stuck in a parallel dimension called Termina that’s about to be destroyed by a possessed kid in a mask. You defeat him by collecting masks of your own that give you all kinds of powers. Also, by replaying the same series of events over and over, Link gets to know all of the side characters in the story the way you wouldn’t in another game.
But the element that drew me into Majora’s Mask was the soundtrack. After hearing an amazing fan remix of “Stone Tower Temple,” I just had to play it. It didn’t let me down: from the Song of Healing, to Oath to Order, to Majora’s Theme, to Stone Tower and the Deku Scrub Palace, this game’s music is haunting and beautiful. So on that note, I also recommend checking out Theophany’s “Time’s End” albums. They’re incredible.
Life Is Strange
This is the other time travel game that I played this year. It was very different, but no less good.
Life Is Strange stars a high school senior named Max Caulfield, who transfers back to her former hometown to study photography at Blackwell Academy. One day, out of the blue, she discovers that she has the power to control time. This allows her to stop her former best friend from getting shot, and thus begins a very dark, character-driven plot to figure out Max’s new power and why a girl in town went missing.
This is like an adult indie movie meets the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. Often you get to pick how Max responds to the people she meets, which changes the course of the story. If you don’t like how something turned out, you can send Max back in time to try something else. However, the power is limited. Once you leave an area, you can’t change your past decisions. So get ready to feel paranoid as the game reminds you that “THIS ACTION WILL HAVE CONSEQUENCES!”
The best part of this game is the cast of characters. First of all, there are a ton of well-written female characters and the entire game centers around the complicated relationship between Max and Chloe. Additionally, most of the characters grow and change in some way, or at least show a side that you didn’t see before if you allow Max to interact with them over the course of the story.
However, I do need to point out that the game has some extremely trigger-worthy plot lines. These include suicide, drugging and assaulting women, domestic abuse between Chloe and her stepfather, and major character deaths that you can’t always prevent. So, please tread with caution if you decide to play it. It’s a highly emotional experience, but I’m glad I played it.
Kingdom Hearts: Unchained X
Kingdom Hearts was the series that turned me into a gamer, so it makes sense that it would be the same series that got me interested in mobile games. One of the best parts about Unchained X is that you don’t need to play the rest of the series to enjoy it, unlike a majority of the other entries.
In this entry, you create your own character who lives in Daybreak Town with a cute cat creature named Chirthy. Chirthy guides you through different Disney worlds, helping people with their problems. But gradually, your character will get sucked into events that lead to the legendary Keyblade War that’s discussed in the main series. It’s simple to play and there’s lots to do in addition to the main story quest. Definitely try it out if you’re a Kingdom Hearts fan!
Secrets Can Kill
If you grew up reading about Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but you haven’t played the computer games yet, you’re missing out on a lot of fun! (Not to mention another great series with a positive female character as the star!) I played the remake of the first game, Secrets Can Kill, and enjoyed it for the most part.
Nancy goes undercover to find out why a high school student was murdered. You have to question suspects, figure out complicated puzzles, and escape the occasional trap to catch the murderer. It’s not my favorite entry and it’s really short. Nonetheless, it’s a solid game so I recommend giving it a try.
Final Fantasy VII
Yeah. The Big One. One of the most well-known classics in video game history. Like Majora’s Mask, I played this one on and off for years, and this was the year I finally beat Sephiroth! AW YEAH!
As you probably know, Final Fantasy VII came out for the PlayStation in 1997, so it hasn’t aged well in the graphics department. But the story and gameplay make up for it. I first came to know the characters through Kingdom Hearts, and then one of my friends sent me a video from a walkthrough that covered Cloud’s attempt to rescue Tifa by crossdressing. All I could think was, “I have NO idea what’s happening right now, but I have GOT to find out. Where’s the rest of this game?”
And the rest of the game turned out to be just as entertaining. If you haven’t at least tried it yet, do so.
I don’t usually play first-person shooters at all, but after receiving encouragement from a friend, decided to give it a try. Now, I’m not a fan of the horror genre any more than I’m a fan of first-person shooters. And to top it off, I had to play this game mostly at night so it wouldn’t bother the rest of the family (because why subject them to the Splicers’ ramblings too?). But once I started, I could not stop playing.
You play a mostly silent protagonist, Jack, who gets stuck in an underwater city after a plane crash. It’s been overrun by the Splicers, zombie-like people who are out to kill anything that moves. Only a few survivors are left, and most of them aren’t friendly either. You’ve got to navigate the city to find a way to escape.
It’s the atmosphere that makes this game so amazing and terrifying. The city of Rapture is dark, gloomy, and falling apart at the seams, even without the Splicers. You usually hear them rambling threats before you actually see them, and they look pretty scary too. And while it’s a science-fiction game, the way that the city fell apart feels sadly realistic. You learn more about the backstory through audio recordings that they left scattered in different areas.
So, what games did you play this past year? What are you hoping to play in 2017?