The Wow Factor - EuphoricEnnui Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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The Wow Factor

 

I think it goes without saying that there are a plethora of games these days for just about any kind of person. Fun games, deep games, silly games, scary games, even creepy downright weird games...from Japan...nah I'm just kidding. I think.

Anyway, having recently played through the original Bioshock got me thinking of a certain kind of game. You see, while there are a HEAP of games out there but there seems to be remarkably few (from the ones that I've played) that presents that certain...je ne sais pas....wow factor. Sure, these games are fun, but more than half the time it is the subject matter or the presentation or...something else...that's really pulling you in and then throwing you back out as you let out a nearly breathless exclamation.

"Wow."

So for this blog entry, I would like to pay homage to the games that did just that to me. Fair warning, there are bound to be spoilers...but a ton of these games are likely old anyway so you know...get with the times. Nah, kidding again. Maybe.

 

1. Bioshock

With a recent blog and a new review written up for the game, I can now say that my love for the first one is pretty well documented. Bioshock feels like one of those games with the potential to be ageless. When I first played it and I came across my first Big Daddy I was left frightened and immobilized. After seeing the ill-fated Fitzpatrick, I was shocked yet strangely, was even more curious to meet Cohen. And finally, after learning the meaning behind the words "Would you kindly..." I was left absolutely speechless. In this gamer's opinion, it was by far one of the most devilishly clever plot twists in a video game I had ever seen. So subtly incorporated, it changed how we felt for the entirety of the game. To realize that nothing was done out of your own free will, even at the time when it felt absolutely natural.

The controller blurred, my room vanished. I wasn't just playing a game. I was living it. While this list is in no particular order, if I had to put it in one, Bioshock would be at the absolute top.

 

2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

So many of my blogs makes mention of this game, you're probably getting annoyed with it by now. Sorry, but I have to include it just one more time...that's probably a lie. I love it a lot :/

In any case, Amnesia accomplished what I feel a lot of horror games are lacking these days--the feeling of absolute terror. Dead Space is great and all, but you're not entirely helpless. Resident Evil is cool, but...well I'm not gonna touch that actually because I don't wanna be maimed by a friend of mine. The point is, even though I tend to scare easily when it comes to movies (lemme alone), video games rarely ever frighten me.

But Amnesia has been a serious exception to that rule. While, if I did happen to get frightened in a game, I could typically just force my character to run through it or something, I can't even tell you how many times I've stayed absolutely frozen in that game, hiding behind book cases, doors, and even a tiny little table once. It took me forever to finish because, my God, Frictional Games turned out to be absolute geniuses at crafting a truly remarkable horror game.

What's more, the more you progress, the more you find out about Daniel. The more you find out, the less disgusted you are with your surroundings and the more disturbed you become with the man that you're controlling. Yes, the voice acting can be hammy. But the story Amnesia tells has a tendency to completely suck you in when it isn't make you change from a nice chocolate brown to a pale-looking bleached white. 

 

3. Batman: Arkham City

If there is any game that you stand to risk getting pissed at me for, it's this one. Let me say again, there are going to be spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Frankly speaking, the last kind of game I'd expect to make me have to roll up my mouth from my fake wood flooring, is a third person action game. However, if any character was going to do it, it would have to be the Batman himself. And he did. Rocksteady created an absolutely stunning game that pulls you in for one hell of a ride. Between it's epically amazing boss battles (Ras al Gul is fantastic) and it's crazy cool story I couldn't tell you what aspect of it I liked more.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

But the most incredible moment comes at the very end. There was something about Joker's ultimate demise that left me...well heck, I still can't even really put it into words. I LOVE Batman (in a non-gay way...maybe. I dunno) and everything to do with Batman. The Joker is not only the greatest villain in the Batman universe, but has often been called the greatest villain ever. Full-stop. Period.

His death, and the solemn expression Batman had on his face made me almost freak out and seriously...still can't even really explain why. But obviously, experiences like that epitomize what is known as "the wow factor."

 

4. Half Life 2 and its episodes

I play these games once annually for a reason. They are absolutely stunning and perhaps one of the few games that make me genuinely feel for the other characters. I think I've mentioned before how I'd totally date a gal like Alyx Vance. There's something sexy about a girl who can kick as much ass as the main character...or me. I kick a lot of ass. No kidding...probably. You should be used to these jokes by now.

But that's actually besides the point, it's not just the fact that I think I actually have a crush on a video game character, but also the fact that all the characters are as fleshed out as Alyx is that makes me adore this game. The first time I played through all of them I literally couldn't stop. Didn't sleep that night at all. Still no regrets. Perhaps it's because the game clearly seemed to be inspired by my favorite book of all time is one of the reasons. With it's very realized, 1984-type dystopia with a sci-fi twist, and its "Big brother is watching" thematic elements, I am more than happy to call the Half Life series the video game world's equivalent to that fantastic novel.

 

 

I could go on, but if I don't stop now then I'll probably spazz out are something. The truth of the matter is, I am just so incredibly happy I've encountered games like this in my generation because, and being completely honest...if I had just grown up on the fun, but pretty simple, games of the past, I might not be a gamer today. I love thought-provoking elements in my entertainment. I don't like mindless fun for very long...which is probably why as much as I enjoyed Just Cause 2 and Crysis...I haven't played them in forever. Can't even remember the controls. But as for games like the ones I mentioned as well as others including Portal, Fable 1, the Mass Effect series, and the latest being Dear Esther, I could play them over and over and over again. And it isn't because of multiple endings or open worlds, but because these games aren't just fun, they're mind-boggling.

And since I don't want to end a blog on the word "boggling," I'm going to end with a question. What games have given you that "wow" factor?

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