An in-depth look at the video game stories that rocked our world.
Has a game’s story ever left you so confused and speechless that you just want to sit there for the next three hours thinking about what the hell you just experienced? Has a video game ever given you a complete mindf*ck?
I know what you’re thinking. What? Yet another blog about video game narration? Yeah, yeah. But trust me, this one’s different.
At the beginning of summer, I set myself a couple of goals, one of which was to watch more anime. My exposure to anime has been spotty, and even as of right now I’ve only completed four of them (Toradora, Fooly Cooly, Angel Beats, and Madoka Magica). But even with my limited experience with anime, I’m pretty sure I already understand why people can be so crazy about them. They stick. They stick with me for a long time. I can’t stop thinking about them. I spend countless nights just lying in my bed trying to process and sort out what the hell I just watched.
Why does anime stick with me like that? The answer may surprise you. It’s not because they tell good stories. It’s because they of the life lessons and moral ideas they present through their storytelling. They give us something to think about, something more than just a cool plot or cool characters. They make us think about life, how we live it, and what we live for. And for that reason alone, they stick with me for days, weeks, months even.
And that’s just with four random anime. I can’t even name four games that do that to me.
Author’s Note: SPOILER ALERT! Minor theme spoilers for Xenoblade Chronicles and major plot spoilers for Conker’s Bad Fur Day discussed below.
But if I had to name one game that affected me the most after I finished playing it, it would be Xenoblade Chronicles. Now, I haven’t played very many JRPG’s, but Xenoblade introduced some crazy ideas that I would never have expected from a video game. Yes, its story was nuts, but it’s the themes that stuck with me. Can we fight against fate? What is the point of living? Is life just some sort of mad experiment?
Perhaps the most striking resemblance between Xenoblade and anime in general is that they both throw all this stuff at you at the last minute. Everything you expected would happen went straight out the window. Oh, you thought this would happen? Well, you’re right, but then this happens and OH WAIT this turns into this and now this is that and that is this and… well you get the point. Sitting down and watching the final cut-scene of Xenoblade blew every corner of my mind. And when the credits finish rolling, you just sit there, thinking. Then you start screaming at your television, demanding that you get answers from the total mindf*ck that has just encompassed your brain.
Another game that’s surprisingly similar in nature is Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which remains to this day one of my most memorable gaming experiences ever. I adore this game, not because it’s fun, but because the story was absolutely nuts. At first glance you may not realize it, but CBFD tells a story that’s so deep and emotional that it almost made me cry. And I never cry when it comes to video games.
Here’s the gist of it. Conker’s a**hole of a girlfriend is kidnapped. Against better judgement, he goes off to try to save her, hoping that they can one day escape into the country and leave a peaceful life. As a result, he has to go through all this ridiculous sh*t just to find out where his girlfriend is. And once he does… he watches helplessly as his girlfriend is mercilessly executed. And that he’s now ruler of the land he hates. And that the former king was an alien breeding facility. And that ultimately, he accomplished absolutely nothing. Then the game ends, with Conker’s final words being this: you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Let me recap. He failed. He failed everything. In Conker’s Bad Fur Day, nobody wins. The game was even supposed to show Conker shooting himself at the end, but that scene was cut at the last minute. Imagine this: it’s like beating Super Mario Bros., then finding out the princess is dead. That hurts.
These two games are memorable for a reason. They make you sit down and think even after you’ve completed them. No, not think about the game. About life. Your life. What is the game trying to tell you? What does it all mean? You think you understand it, but then you realize that there are inconsistencies. No, this can’t be right. This has to be it. No, but then that other thing wouldn’t make sense. But then again if this happened. No, never mind.
You wake up. Was it all a dream? No, you just dreamt of the game you just beat the other day. Again. That’s when you know you’ve experienced mindf*ck.
I want more game likes this. I want games that make my mind go total ape. I want games to teach me ridiculous philosophical ideals that have no practical use in the real world. I want to know the truth about nothing, and nothing about the truth. I want my mind to be f*cked so hard I have trouble breathing.
Okay, this blog is getting weird. I’ll just stop it right here.
Have you ever experienced a game that mindf*cked you so hard that you started to question the values in your life? Talk about those weird gaming moments in the comments below!