Welcome to “Games To Know Me,” a series where Sidequest writers tell us about the games that have affected them! Inspired by Chris Leddy’s viral tweet, we’ve asked our writers to think about five games that are important to them and why.
Zainabb Hull has been sobbing over video games since childhood and writing about them for Sidequest since September 2017. You can find them and their feelings over on Twitter.
Mass Effect Trilogy
BioWare, Edge of Reality, Demiurge Studios, Straight Right
Microsoft Game Studios, Electronic Arts
November 20, 2007 (Mass Effect) – March 21, 2017 (Andromeda)
Sci-fi didn’t really appeal to me before I played Mass Effect. I preferred fantasy settings (looking at you, Dragon Age) but I was won over by travelling around space on a small ship filled with your besties. Mass Effect has incredible narrative, worldbuilding, and characterisation, all of which fully sucked me in from the start. But the reason this series is so important to me is that I played the third game during a difficult and lonely time in my life. The N7 crew were there for me when I had nobody else to turn to, and I could escape to distant planets when I most needed it.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Level-5, Square Enix
PlayStation 2, Android/iOS, Nintendo 3DS
November 27, 2004
Dragon Quest VIII is still my favourite game to this day. The OG RPG in my life, I still love the chirpy cel-shading, adorable monster design, and the misfit group of adventurers you build up over the course of a game. I spent hours on Dragon Quest VIII, level-grinding so I was better than the next big boss, and exploring the huge open world. My brother used to watch me play and help me level up the characters, and we’d build our own character headcanons on top of the in-game narrative. My fondest gaming memories all come from this title, and it still gives me the warm and fuzzies today.
Sony Computer Entertainment
Playstation 3, Playstation 4
March 13, 2012
For me, playing Journey is an act of self-care. The lush visuals, ethereal soundtrack, and gentle gameplay always feel healing. A solo game of Journey is grounding, meditative, and introspective, whilst playing through with strangers in the co-op mode makes me feel a sense of community and nurturing. The transience and cyclicality of Journey resonate with me and my beliefs, making it a deeply personal title and one I can always rely on to feel more grounded.
Free Radical Design
Playstation 2, Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube
I played this classic title SO MUCH when I was a kid. My brother and I would set up epic games of us vs eight AI enemies, with one-shot kills and ridiculous weapon sets. Our first ever game of TS2 was a Flame Tag match which had us immediately hooked with the unbeatable character choices (I played Monkey) and the adrenaline of outrunning the computer. Eventually we moved onto TimeSplitters 3 with its superior narrative and new maps, but TS2 is still the Mister Giggles of my heart.
Revolution Software, Sumo Digital
1996 (The Shadow of the Templars) – 2015 (The Serpent’s Curse)
Point and clicks comfort me like nothing else, with my first being Myst III: Exile (an impulse buy because Brad Dourif, aka Grima Wormtongue, was in it and I found it at the height of my Lord of the Rings obsession). Whilst the impossible, gorgeous worlds of Myst might have dragged me in, it’s Broken Sword that has kept me inside the world of point and clicks for so many years. Broken Sword captures atmosphere like no other game I’ve played, from Parisian streets at sunset to a quiet middle-of-nowhere Irish village (with an angry goat). To this day, I’m seeking a game that makes me feel the same way Broken Sword does with its perfectly illustrated vistas, snappy dialogue, and charm.
Zainabb Hull is an editor at Sidequest, a freelance writer and videographer, and sort-of artist. They’re also a trans, queer, and disabled brown femme. They tweet into the void at @ZainabbHull.
I must second what you said about the Mass Effect series , Zainab. I’m fairly new to gaming, I only started about 3 years ago. My SO recommended Mass Effect 3 to me after I finished Skyrim a few years ago and I was hooked. I just recently went back and played through the whole trilogy and Andromeda. Some of the most memorable scenes for me were actually ones of failure when I played through the first time and I wasn’t familiar with the gameplay. I never thought I could become so emotionally invested in the characters of a game, but Mass Effect was a whole other level of storytelling in gaming.
Thanks a lot Hannah! Yeah, Mass Effect was kind of a game-changer for me too, I was definitely unprepared for how emotional the whole experience became! I’m glad you enjoyed the series as well. What’s next on your list? I’d recommend other Bioware games for storytelling, like the Dragon Age series. Telltale also do a different kind of storytelling – my favourite series from them is The Wolf Among Us but The Walking Dead is also fab (I’m not much of a fan of the comic or show, but the game is super compelling with some really well-written characters).