The Games I’m Most Thankful For

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As Thanksgiving draws near, and we all make plans for how we want to spend this special time, whether it’s with friends, family, or a mixture of both, I can’t help but to think about the games that influenced me as a gamer. These games, some older, some newer, usually aren’t known for their outstanding graphics or mind-blowing plots, but they all have a special place in my gaming heart. Here are the games I am most thankful for (in no particular order).

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Lara in all her polygonal glory!

  1. Tomb Raider 2

Initial Release: October 31st, 1997

Developed by: Core Design

This was the first game I ever played on the Playstation One I got for Christmas as a young boy, and it left me in tears (mainly because I was so terrible at it and erased a save from before the main boss so I had to restart the whole game over again.). It taught me how banging my head against a puzzle in a game could be solved by jumping off your left foot while running instead of your right, and that sometimes you need to hop backwards twice to get a running jump-start across a gap. It also showed me how working together (with my dad) we were unstoppable in our quest to kill a giant golden dragon that was a total jerk and totally not fun to fight. It also solidified my enjoyment of third person shooters and puzzle games, while helping me spend quality time with my father. Tomb Raider 2 hasn’t aged as well as I would prefer, but I’ll always remember the great times I had playing it as a kid.

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Sometimes one screenshot is all you need to fall in love all over again.

2. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Initial Release: March 20th, 2006

Developed by: Bethesda

Oh boy. I could write a whole article about all of the wonderful things in this game: from the shrine of Sheogorath to the Shivering Isles, this game is near perfect. Sure, the framerate liked to tank every now and then, but the “took an arrow to the knee” guard more than made up for it. Plus the story in this game is arguably the best in an Elder Scrolls game to date, and I still prefer the leveling up system in this one to Skyrim (mainly because you could just grind it out in the arena and become way overpowered way too quickly). Did I mention Patrick Stewart is the voice of Uriel Septum VII, so that alone should be enough to go play this game! I first played it on a laptop that barely ran Windows XP, yet somehow I managed to beat the whole game on it, then beat it again when it released on Xbox 360, then again when the limited edition 5th anniversary steelbook came out. I couldn’t get enough of the MASSIVE open world, somewhat disturbing Dark Brotherhood quests, and overall freedom this game gives players. I love this game, and is one of my favorite RPG’s to this day.

neverwinter nights dragon

Did someone say, DRAGONS?

3. Neverwinter Nights

Initial Release: June 18th, 2002

Developed by: Bioware

Did someone say, RPG’s? That’s right, I played the OG Neverwinter Nights on PC when it came out. Not only that, I beat it AND all the expansions (except Kingsmaker because I didn’t care for that one at the time) and loved them. The Balder’s Gate style game play was fascinating to me, and I died plenty of times trying to disarm a trap only for it to go very badly and result with my character being poisoned right before a major battle. The ability to save anytime meant that I was free to experiment with my choices, and that no dice roll would set me back too far (except for when I delete my own save…because that’s always a good idea). While it might not have been AS influential as Oblivion or some of the others on this list, it definitely belongs on here. And if you like RPG’s like  Neverwinter Nights, I highly recommend Tyranny on PC. It’s like Neverwinter Nights, only you are the bad guy, and by bad guy I mean you can be a really bad guy, wink wink.

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I mean…if you insist.

4. Mass Effect Trilogy

Initial Release: November 20th, 2007

Developed by: Bioware

You didn’t think I would leave my favorite Scifi video game series off this list, did you? Mass Effect 1 may have been rough around the edges at times, but its sequel improved on nearly everything and in my opinion is the best RPG I have every played. It had combat that made you feel powerful without feeling invincible, gave you some of the best characters and stories in an RPG ever, and choices that had a real impact. Unfortunately, it did have a sequel that was one of the worst RPGs I’ve ever played, which makes this series all the more important because of everything that it did right before it took a hard left turn into a pit filled with tears and turned into the largest dumpster fire known to man. Now all we need is a remake on current gen consoles and my life would be complete.

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One of the best twists in a video to this day is in KOTOR.

5. Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR)

Initial Release: July 15th, 2003

Developed by: Bioware

You can’t have a list of things I am thankful for without having something related to Star Wars. Growing up watching the original trilogy re-released in theaters and on VHS (yes I am old, no I will not tell you my age) I adored the idea of an invisible living Force surrounding and living in everything and being able to be immersed in that universe. Then there’s laser swords, and who doesn’t think laser swords are cool? Bioware made that happen in 2005, with the release of critically acclaimed Knights of the Old Republic.  I played the hell out of this game on the original Xbox, as well as on PC after it released on Steam many years later. It’s also on iOS, if you want a portable version that I’ve heard runs surprisingly well. Anyway, all that feeds into what I love about KOTOR, and why it saddens me more and more that we will most likely never see a KOTOR 3 (thanks for that Electronic Farts…I mean Arts). Oh well, I still have my Steam version that runs at 60 fps and 1080p. That’s not so bad, right?

Honorable Mentions:

Sansretour Valley

Witcher 3 is a beauty to look at, even on a basic PS4.

6. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Initial Release:

Developed by: CD Projekt Red

If you want to know my full thoughts on this game, check out a previous article on why I think this is one of the best RPGs in the last decade. Let’s just say the combat, story, beautiful world, and fascinating side quests mixed together for a beautifully crafted potion in this masterpiece of a video game.

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Don’t think about the needle, don’t think about the needle.

7. Dead Space 2

Initial Release: January 25th, 2011

Developed by: Visceral Games

The best horror game I’ve ever played is Dead Space 2. It didn’t have as much of an emotional or gaming impact on my life as the others on this list, but it was still a phenomenal experience nonetheless. From the main character Isaac Clarke hallucinating from the trauma he experiences, to the well thought-out crafting system, all the way down to the design of the levels, everything fits perfectly together. After how great the first game was, it would have been easy to create a somewhat disappointing sequel. Instead, the now defunct Visceral Games (thanks for that too EA) made a compelling argument for their game as the best horror title ever. For that, I am truly thankful.

There are so many others I could list, but that’ll do for now. What games are you thankful for? Are there some you have a personal connection with? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Cat Quest Review – A Purrfectly Enjoyable and Adorable RPG

Released: August 8, 2017 on PC, iOS, and Android

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As I booted up Cat Quest and read the first couple cat pun lines from your spirit companion (named Spiry, because of course they are) I was cautiously optimistic to start this kitty pun adventure. I knew it had cat puns, and being a cat person myself I was hoping to enjoy the dialogue without growing tired of the constant play on words. I was also cautiously optimistic that I would enjoy the game until the end. Thankfully, I can say overall it was a very enjoyable experience, even if it did feel a little short for a bite-sized game.

Developed by Gentlebros, Cat Quest takes you on a journey to save your sister, who has been taken by Drakoth, the game’s antagonist. Along the way, you speak to dozens of cute anthropomorphic cats who speak in almost pure cat-tastic puns and ask you to do dozens of fetch quests (Spiry sometimes comments on the mundane nature all of the fetch quests, which doesn’t make them any more interesting) that often end in a piece of loot as the reward. Even though many were simply go to a place, fight bad guys, and then return to the quest board, they were short enough that they didn’t overstay their welcome. The main quest is also serviceable, and has a nice twist about three quarters of the way through that I found interesting. It won’t blow your mind, but it doesn’t need to for the game to still be fun.

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The world is a decent size, and is easy to navigate through.

The quest for loot, leveling up, and mastering the magic system is what drove me to fully complete the game. Each piece of loot has its own statistics that upgrade when you find duplicates of that item. There’s enough different weapons and pieces of armor that I was always excited to open a new chest, hoping it was a new sword or better armor to equip. The spells are also interesting, whether it doubles your damage, shoots out lighting to the sides, or heals you, each one feels like it belongs and has a use. You can have four equipped at once, are able to swap them out at any time, as well as upgrade them with coins you gain from defeating enemies and completing quests.

The loot alone wouldn’t be interesting if there weren’t plenty of baddies to test them out on. This feline inhabited world has enemies just bouncing around the map, and they get stronger the farther north you go. Just be prepared to die a few times if you go up there too soon, they don’t mess around with the overkill on some of the enemies that have a skull next to their health bar. The enemies also vary in attack patterns and have interesting designs. Some use magic against you, some use  their weapons, and the fearsome dragons use both at the same time.

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Just one of the many dragons you’ll defeat on your quest to save your sister and the world.

If I had to nitpick, I would say that after the conclusion of the main quest, I was left wanting more. I wanted to find more loot, fight more enemies, and complete more quests. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue. However, with Cat Quest only clocking in at around nine hours to finish everything the game had to show me, I did feel like there could have been more added to the game. There are hints at more content coming if the game does well enough, so fingers crossed that it gains in popularity so I have another reason to return.

I really enjoyed my time with this game. It isn’t a game that will win an award, but gamers can use more games like Cat Quest. It isn’t particularly long, but the content there is very well crafted and it has a cute and cuddly world to pair with fun and frantic combat that many indie games can’t match. Cheers to Gentlebros for making a gem of an indie game, and I hope they continue to produce more like it.

Score: 9/10