If you could only play one video game for the rest of your life, which game would it be? This is the question that I posed before our video game reviewers at Geeks Under Grace to get their various opinions. I find this to be an interesting question because there are not a lot of games I constantly return to as I am always looking for a new experience. I also tried my best to challenge my fellow reviewers to pick a primarily single-player game as I believed this to be a tougher challenge. Multiplayer games tend to get updated and expanded upon constantly, but, aside from the occasional DLC packs, most single-player games are meant to stand on their own from the day of release without the promise of more content to come. Many single-player games are good, but which ones could you never get tired of continuing to play? By this standard, a single-player game that you can keep playing forever would be truly exceptional. The challenge was issued, and here are our answers. Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment below on your own “forever game”!
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
In discussions of the greatest video games of all time, The Witcher III tends to come up a lot and there is a good reason why. It’s a great story wrapped in addictive gameplay, dazzling graphics, and a vast open world that you can get lost in for countless hours. It put CD Projekt RED on the map and has become a gold standard for other developers making open-world RPGs. I have always gravitated to open-world story-driven games, and fantasy has always been one of my favorite genres in media in general, so it feels like The Witcher III was made for me. The Witcher III‘s story delivers by crafting a heartfelt narrative about the lengths a father will go to protect his daughter no matter the cost. Themes of fatherhood, duty, destiny, and self-sacrifice are just a few of the many themes that can be found in The Witcher III‘s narrative, which feels right in line with the spirit of the original book series.
While there are many open-world RPGs I could have chosen to list as my “forever game”, I picked The Witcher III because of the lengths it goes to immerse you in its world. In my experience, open-world games tend to live or die on how much there is to do outside of the main quest. The Witcher III not only has an abundance of tasks to be done, but a nice variety as well. You can fight monsters for money, carry out missions for the locals, hunt for hidden relics, or play a game of cards. There is no shortage of things to do and each is enjoyable in its own right. There are also times while playing in which I will just roam around the world and fight whatever monsters or bandits I run into because it is a world that is just fun to run around and goof off in.
What also makes me love the world of The Witcher III so much is how it is not only vast but also deep. The Witcher series has had the benefit of being able to draw from the book series of the same name for inspiration. Having a wealth of source material to draw upon allows the world of The Witcher to feel naturally intertwined with the main story. Every side mission feels like it was crafted with the same amount of care as the main quest and each side mission functions as its own mini-story set against the backdrop of a dark fantasy epic. All in all, The Witcher III is a game that I believe will continue to stand the test of time as one of the greats and one that I will keep coming back to.
Diablo II: Resurrected
When Thomas White solicited me to contribute to a community article on the topic of my forever game, I immediately thought about DotA 2, which I still play regularly. However, Thomas challenged me to select a single-player game. Now that’s hard, because I usually play a single-player game to 100% or close to it, then move on…forever. Gone are the days of my youth when I had 140 hours of free time and could play through FFT or Xenogears annually.
It just so happens that I missed the first deadline for my submission because I was too busy playing Diablo II Resurrected, a 1:1 remaster of arguably the greatest ARPG of all time. It is possible to play with up to eight other people, but I have always played alone. Given the number of times that I have re-rolled my lightning sorceress or my summoner necromancer, or experimented with a martial arts assassin, and the innate grind of magic find runs, Diablo II is by all intents and purposes my forever game.
What makes Diablo II so appealing? It is the perpetual hunt for loot. The game makes players feel like they are one more MF run away from getting Andariel or Mephisto to drop that one item that will catapult their character into godlike status. The challenge for me has never necessarily been finding godly items, but being able to walk from Act 1 in normal mode to the Throne of Baal in Act 5 of Hell. I would like to say that I do this with every character class, but I usually burn out trying to find the necessary high runes to execute this plan.
By design, the top-tier runes and runewords are statistically out of reach of the average player. Infinity, the must-have rune word for my favorite spec, the lightning sorceress, encompasses three runes that average a…statistically improbable chance of ever finding unless I were to take up DII as a part-time job. I have yet to discover them legitimately. Nevertheless, the fun is in the hunt!
I would be remiss in singing the praises of a video game franchise that Blizzard owns without calling attention to the controversies that have surfaced throughout 2021. I have discussed some of this in a previous publication, but there have been updates since.
After Activision-Blizzard announced that a woman, Jen Oneal, would co-lead Blizzard after the departure of J.Allen Brack, she departed after only three months in the position. We now know why: even though she was co-president with Mike Ybarra, she was getting paid less, and was only offered equal salary after she professionally raised cane concerning Blizzard’s sexism. Oneal commented, “It is clear that [Blizzard] will never prioritize [women] in the right way.”
Since, walk-outs, calls for Bobby Kotick’s resignation, and unionization efforts have ensued at Blizzard HQ. And I support all of these workers’ efforts ironically by supporting DIIR. After all, we have seen that when the stink hits the fan at a big company, executives depart with severance packages, while employees have to file for unemployment to sustain themselves. Just ask Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision-Blizzard, who received pink slips just in time for Christmas.
Lastly, Vicarious Visions developed DIIR, a(nother) subsidiary of Acti-Blizz. Before being promoted to co-president, Oneal ran Vicarious Visions. I sleep well at night knowing that Oneal was in charge as DIIR was in process. However, we will see what the future holds for my continued participation in DIIR and possibly Diablo IV. At minimum, Kotick’s gotta go….
My forever game is a little indie darling called Don’t Starve. If you don’t know, Don’t Starve is an “uncompromising wilderness survival game full of science and magic” released by Klei Entertainment in 2013. And when they say uncompromising, boy do they mean it! You’re dropped into a wild and mysterious world and a well-dressed man tells you that you better get something to eat before disappearing in a cloud of smoke…and that’s it, that’s all the instruction you get for the entire game. The subsequent gameplay is fairly standard: collect resources, hunt, scavenge, and craft to survive as long as you can. You’ll quickly come to the realization that everything that moves in this world—and many things that don’t—is actively working against you, and most of them can kill you quite handily, including the darkness; that was a first. Oh, and did I mention that the game has permadeath? Soon, the titular challenge of not starving truly becomes the least of the myriad of challenges you’ll face.
So why is this unforgiving game my constant go-to over the years? I’ve played many other survival games but haven’t stuck with any of them, so why this one? I mused over this mystery quite often over the hundreds of hours I’ve spent in the game. I think the original draw of the game lies in how well balanced everything is. You’re constantly on the edge of disaster, recognizing and learning to deal with the dangers you’ve faced before but with the constant threat of something new just around the corner. The excitement of new discoveries followed by the dread of realizing that this new thing will most likely spell your doom, plus the allure of “I’ll do better next time” and “just one more go” makes for an oddly satisfying game loop.
But I think the real reason lies in a realization I had a couple of years ago: the game offers no progression to your in-game character; the progression happens to you, the player. Each of the characters that you can play as in the game have their own strengths and weaknesses, but nothing about them changes from day 1 to day 1000. In fact, your character has the ability to tackle some of the most difficult areas and trickiest bosses from the very beginning; the only thing preventing that is the player’s knowledge and ability. As you learn and explore the game world, the feeling of improvement and progress is palpable and personal, and the sense of achievement that comes with that is much more significant. You gain confidence in your abilities and start to push yourself to explore new areas and take on tougher enemies. It mirrors closely the journey of self-improvement in real life.
My desire to play the game may wax and wane over time, but without fail, Don’t Starve is the game that I keep coming back to year after year. Now with Don’t Starve Together, the multiplayer, games as a service version of the game, I know that new challenges and surprises will always be there when I do.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I remember when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out a decade ago how enthralled I was by the trailers. The fact that there was this enormous, wide-open world I could explore anywhere at my own leisure was something I had always wanted in a game but never was able to experience before. Now, all these years later, I am still nowhere close to finishing Skyrim. I have restarted the game numerous times, however, especially as each expansion pack was gradually added into it, and I found that no two playthroughs were exactly the same for me. It’s a game that I get to experience for the first time over and over again, and still find something new. There are just so many quests, so many locations, so much lore, so much to discover that I have to wonder if it’s even possible for me to do everything in the game in just one lifetime, if I had the time. Even if some of the graphics are starting to show their age, the landscapes and cities of Skyrim never fail to captivate me with their beauty, and the music sucks me deeper into this world full of fascinating creatures and characters. I imagine that Skyrim is a game that I’ll want to keep returning to time and time again, and will be a game that I will never grow tired of playing. The fact that it remains a popular game to so many others and continues to expand on each console is a testament to how Skyrim is a modern classic that will continue to enchant many players in the future, including myself. I’m so fond of the adventures I continue to have as the Dragonborn, and know that this would be my pick of a game that I would want to play forever.
Just Cause 3
My forever game would have to be Just Cause 3—but specifically, with the jetpack from the first DLC. The jetpack is a game-changer, allowing you to reach new heights without the use of your grappling hook or parachutes, or other vehicles. But besides being able to literally jet across the map with ease, Just Cause 3 follows the series’ tried and true formula of dropping you into an island paradise with a dictator in need of toppling. Play involves you shooting, driving, flying, and jet-packing across the entire fictional island chain of Medici, which is based on the Mediterranean. As you play and liberate new areas, you gain access to better and more powerful tools to aid you in your takedown of the dictator. Or, you can just parachute onto a mountain, call in an air-drop of a monster truck, and drive down to the beach as fast as you can. Half the fun of the game is coming up with new and crazy stunts to try and top the last thing you pulled off. Whether it’s dragging a boat behind your plane to try and hop between the two, or bailing out of a truck loaded down with explosives as it crashes into a gas station, there is no end to the possibilities for destruction and mayhem that you can cause. Not to mention there are tons of collectables, vehicles to track down, and challenges to test your mettle against. I still fire it up every once in a while to fly around and blow some stuff up. No reason. Just ‘cause.
As much as the memes for this game deserve their existence, the truth of Kingdom Hearts and its sentimentality cannot be denied. I think my answer to the favorite character question in my GUG application was Sora because of the relatability shared between our circumstances of being swept up into a greater calling. And the proof is in the pudding: every time something significant happened, a swell of tears reverted my age back into fourteen. Sora being announced for Smash, Kingdom Hearts 3 bringing the Toy Story world to life, getting plat for the PS4 port, and even beating the first two games are still solid in my memory.
Kingdom Hearts has always shown that nothing is impossible. It encouraged fandoms to fuse, and communities of teens all around the world kept the lore and franchise alive in their own way. And I mean the ones making wholesome, adventurous content, of course.
I tried hard over the years to make sense of the continuity and story, so I could raise a defense and help others give Kingdom Hearts its dues. But as I got older, things changed as they naturally do. And even though the complicated mess makes first year lit class students look like seasoned veterans, it doesn’t equate to the whole. Plus, what people think is way less of a care for me these days. If you wanna talk Kingdom Hearts shoppe, you gotta talk about the music. Yoko Shimamura is a beast. You also gotta talk about the gameplay. The floaty, wild, magic-y mechanics of KH2 and 3 give such freedom to play around with. They are unlike any game and haven’t been mimicked yet. At least not as obvious as other “love letter” projects do in the indie scene. Sora is as agile in platforming and movement as Mario or Link (BoTW). Each game brings a new gimmick in their character customization. Whether it’s Tetris in 358/2 Days, or cards in Chain of Memories, or the combo creations in 2&3, there was something to tweak, and experiment for a broad spectrum of gamer skills.
Ironically, I see now that the series is a lot about fusing: Disney/Final Fantasy, RPG/Action, dark/light, magic/technology, the paopu fruit. It’s no wonder the series deals with being anything but Simple and Clean.