Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Maybe describing 999 as my favourite game of all time is a bit of an underestimation. It’s way more than that: it’s my favourite story of all time as well.
The premise is SAW-like and simple: you play as Junpei, you’re stuck with eight other people on a ship similar to the Titanic that’s slowly filling with water. You have nine hours to figure out your escape. You have to explore rooms in a point and click fashion to solve puzzles.
As Junpei and the rest of the cast explore the ship, they uncover various truths about the place: about why they were chosen in particular, about where they are, and so on. But then, when it seems like you’re close to figuring it all out– the game ends.
Except, it doesn’t, not really. You have to play it again, making different choices regarding the doors you choose to explore behind, resulting in the discovery of different things, all eventually culminating together in one ultimate truth– probably with the help of a guide, though. Getting to that ultimate truth is a pain, but in the case of this game I’d say the journey and the destination are equally as important. Play this game.
Dragon Age Origins
I don’t think I’ve ever been as drawn into a game as I was with Dragon Age: Origins. The spiritual heir of the classic RPG directly adapted from the DnD sourcebook, the game uses this structure in conjunction with Bioware’s excellent storytelling to craft a masterpiece of dark fantasy.
You play as a Grey Warden, a conscript-knight forced to fight against the demonic hordes of Darkspawn during the Blight. But deeper plots run beneath this surface story; the king is killed and his murderer takes over, an Arl’s son is demonically possessed, horrific discoveries are made during a descent towards the Darkspawn – all of which is fated only by your choices in the narrative. You’re not alone on this journey; a variety of unique companions join you. These characters are the game’s soul. There’s Alistair, the bastard prince with a love of cheese; Zevran, an elven assassin fond of innuendo; Sten, a giant who can only be literal; and, of course, your loving dog, among others.
Overall, even though it’s been six years since I first played it, Dragon Age: Origins remains my favourite game, a true classic of the fantasy genre, and there’s no game quite like it.