A few weekends ago I was talking to my cousin and the topic of video games came up. Out of the blue, he threw out this question to me—what video games would you come back to again and again? After all the games I have played since the time I became a gamer, a small but growing list of games has become obvious replays for me, if I weren’t going through the backlog of games I have accumulated.
Here are the games I would 100% replay if I somehow managed to play everything in my possession.
Kicking off this list, it should come as no surprise that Dragon Age would be at the top. Dragon Age, along with their subsequent sequels, have cemented my status as a gamer and persuaded me to get an Xbox 360. The story, characters, and the ability to make different choices that would influence your ending were what convinced me of video games being a meaningful avenue for storytelling. And of course, Dragon Age had everything I enjoyed in my fantasy stories—magic, dragons, and epic battles.
Coming in second should also come as no surprise. Developer BioWare struck gold with their two biggest franchises Dragon Age and Mass Effect. After finishing what was released of Dragon Age at the time, I was not particularly interested in playing Mass Effect at first. Between high medieval fantasy and science fiction, I was more of a fantasy girl than a science fiction one. But the friend who introduced me to Dragon Age was the same one who brought over Mass Effect to let me test it out. About 15 minutes into the game, I was immediately hooked on following the story of Commander Shepard and the adventures they went on aboard the Normandy. Like Dragon Age, it had a strong story with choices and memorable characters you won’t soon forget. Can you tell I’m a huge story person?
Despite the controversy surrounding Cyberpunk 2077’s problematic release, the game overall was a pretty solid experience, bugs and all. Cyberpunk had choices you needed to make, Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand (in likeness and voice), and a gorgeously constructed Night City to explore as V. Since then, a massive update of Cyberpunk 2077 has included even more improvements and enhancements prior to its initial release.
I haven’t been able to go back and replay it with the new additions, even though friends have told me it feels like playing a whole new game, but I hope to be able to do it at some point. Besides, there are other backstories you could play as V to get a slightly different viewpoint along with the alternative endings you could have. High replay value makes your investment in the game ultimately worth it in the end.
Final Fantasy XV
Unlike the previous games on my list, Final Fantasy XV is a linear story from beginning to end with zero player choices. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to go back and relive the heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, road trip story with Noctis and his crew. Not only is the game so beautiful to traverse in but the battle system was one of the only Final Fantasy games I was able to see through to the end. While FFXV oftentimes had a convoluted storyline that only made sense if you sought out the movie, anime shorts, and novelization they released outside of the game, it never stopped me from fully immersing myself in the world of Insomnia and blasting the radio on the Regalia to enjoy all the brilliant music of Final Fantasies past.
The World Ends With You
The World Ends With You was one of the first games I played on the Nintendo DS when I started out as a gamer, and what a delightful discovery for someone who was trying to figure out what type of games I wanted to play. The story of Neku and his journey through the Underground, and the friends he makes along the way, was surprisingly deep and emotional. TWEWY had one of the best character arcs I have ever seen in a game, and the obvious love the game had for the district of Shibuya in Tokyo was on full display. If you ever needed any convincing to book a trip to Japan, this game might do it for you. Between the fashion and the mouthwatering food, TWEWY becomes an unintentional ambassador for what makes the city and culture of Japan truly great.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange was one of those interactive video games that not only utilized player choice to full effect, but introduced a novel game mechanic of the rewind power, going back and making different choices to help a friend or to produce a different outcome. As Max Caulfield, you’re trying to make sense of this newly acquired power but dealing with the unintended consequences that come with it.
Since the first Life is Strange, many sequels came afterwards with different characters at the center of the story like Sean and Daniel Diaz in Life is Strange 2 and Alex Chen in Life is Strange: True Colors. Each game is different in its approach to the powers the character has and what is the main issue of their life they’re trying to get through. Regardless, I have enjoyed every single one of these games and would absolutely replay again, and I have with True Colors.
As Dusk Falls
The game As Dusk Falls by newcomer studio Interior/Night is similar to the Life is Strange series, but with a much more developed and complex approach to player choices. At certain points in the game you play as three different characters—Jay, Vince, and Zoe—who must make some very difficult decisions which will impact not just you but those around you. Sometimes in devastating ways. A lot of the huge critique about player choice in games is that it’s an “illusion of choice”. You may think the choices you made will have a real effect only to discover the disappointment of it not making any difference in the end. After doing one playthrough of this game, I think As Dusk Falls managed to avoid those pitfalls player choice can sometimes have.
Small choices matter than you think, and how one tiny decision could upend the desired result you were hoping for is probably the most brutal of game experiences I’ve ever had so far. The decision trees in As Dusk Falls are very detailed and complicated, but it makes playing this game worth coming back to again and again to see the many different outcomes for every single character that’s closely tied to the main three you get control of.
What video games have you already played that you would come back to every single time?
3 thoughts on “Video Games Rewind: Games I’d Return To If I Had Nothing To Play”
Great read simpleek! The timing is kind of amusing to me as I just restarted Final Fantasy XV recently. It’s been several years since I played it and it felt like the perfect time to revisit it! TWEWY is another game I like to pick up again and re-experience after a decent chunk of time has passed.
Thanks! Yeah, FFXV and TWEWY were such good games that if I had more time I would go back and replay them instantly. But having so many other games to play in my backlog, it does make that a little tricky. I hope going back to FFXV feels as exhilarating as the first time you played it!
Hah hah, yeah I know what you mean about having a backlog! The struggle with managing the desire to replay old games and playing new ones is tricky sometimes. 🙂
Yeah, this time I’m playing the Royal Edition which has new endgame content and all of the DLC, so I’m playing those as I progress. And! I finally watched Kingslaive as well! So it’s adding to the FFXV experience a ton with more context and background details !! It’s been great! 🙂