I love everything about music, movies and videogames, videogames especially, be it for my private retribution on the absurd reality around or for the pure enjoyment out of it. As of now, when friends or people approach me cautiously, asking me what to harpoon from the latest video game releases, I do not stand with the obvious answer. Of course GTAV was entertaining stuff, of course The Last Of Us is a dear Playstation exclusive, but there are games, and there will be games, especially in India, that will be totally overshadowed by these big giants.
After whatever happened to us and GTAV, I have withdrawn from any kind of affection for that piece, especially the lethargic and abusive online mode. It’s like that famous football saying, no man is bigger than the club. Of course GTAV deserved the praise that it is getting, but with websites publishing three GTAV articles a day while the rest of the good stuff is slipping away, I think it is too much. The industry of gaming needs stuff like GTAV, but it also needs the other material that is surfacing, GTAV is not synonymous with videogaming. Never was, never will be. My sense told me that GTAV’s success was maybe a big political stunt at the end of the day, with money and heads involved, but I was just being plain sad for my other favourite babies out this year. And to a certain extent, GTAV’s success made sense with whatever happened to us.
I have supported this industry both from the inside as well the outside for a long time now. And I feel glad when someone throws a piece of paper at me and asks me to pen down names for the upcoming awards. CVG’s Golden Joystick Awards was one such Gamers’ Choice Awards out this year, with AAA games like GTAV, The Last Of Us and Bioshock: Infinite fighting it out. While it was equally tough being a critic on voting categories like Best Indie Game, that had The Mark of the Ninja, Hotline Miami and The Unfinished Swan. I solemnly took charge of my babies and voted after thinking and researching for at least an hour.
Best Visual Design? Definitely The Last Of Us, man, I still can’t rise above the crazily detailed Bill’s Town, or reaching the Dam, or the University in rust and virus! Studio of the Year? Well, honestly Naughty Dog, but given the amount of hard work, creative spirit and research the guys at Arkane/Bethesda put in Dishonored, why not them battling out Ubisoft Montreal with Far Cry 3? Best Multiplayer, and they don’t have either The Last Of Us Factions (MP Underdog of the Decade) or Crysis 3 Hunter Mode (Which I think is an exceptionally smart multiplayer style), think I’ll pass this one. Best Storytelling? It’s an amazing feel to see an indie game from Starbreeze battling it out with The Last Of Us and Tomb Raider, my vote’s definitely with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I still feel emptiness in my left hand during the game’s climax (won’t give any further spoilers)
But then came a moment that made me virtually hug the guys who nominated these entries, Best Gaming Moment. For a matter of fact, there are only four games that resonate from this annual, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, The Last Of Us and Dishonored. It was so much fun first reaching and then climbing the radio tower as Lara in the Square Enix’s revamped Tomb Raider. I literally cried in buckets, and I’m not at all ashamed at claiming it, when Joel lost Sarah like out of nowhere. The fine detailing in those dying moments, the minimal expressions on the characters and the mild squeak before Sarah succumbed to her death (I’m sure by now you’ve played The Last Of Us, apologies if you haven’t). “Did I ever tell you the Definition of Insanity?” Vaas is probably the most villainous character I’ve encountered in a long time and he did steal the show with Michael Mando’s exceptional character portrayal of this lunatic owning an island with pirates. All these entries sort of made me smile and I was glad that whatever I’ve enjoyed the most this year are now potential award winning moments.
Then I saw the final entry in this very category that made me completely flip over with the biggest ‘Oh F***’ expression in my life. Dishonored’s epic Lady Boyle’s Last Party. I’m sure not many people have tried their hands at Dishonored, and even lesser who have appreciated the dark and melancholic setting of the whole political plot imbibing one of the most fascinating royal assassinations ever. Dishonored is the reason why I felt out of place in Bioshock: Infinite, I was still so much in love with the dark and dingy Dunwall. With Corvo I learnt to hold on to my breath, with him I realized that I had a Plan B, a Plan C, all the way to X, Y and Z. I could feel the grin of a decaying civilization and the shrewd political scenario that was always shifting hands. Dishonored is one of those few games, like Dark Souls and The Last Of Us, that understands that a gamer is an intelligent fellow. He is fit enough to roleplay, and not merely abide by guidelines or regular button spamming. I was given tons of choices at the end of the day, To Kill or Not to Kill, and with each action, the fate of my game ending changed.
Check out the demo footage of the whole episode:
And it was Lady Boyle’s Last Party that will forever be the best moment from the whole year 2013. Sneaking through the crumbling city of Dunwall, avoiding the patrol radars of the Tallboys, reaching the main gate, either by swimming through the moat or blinking through the electric posts and finally stealing the invite from a guest. The masquerade party was the perfect place for Corvo to lay low and execute his plans, or else you can create mayhem and still complete the mission. But even so, Dishonored triggered my intelligence in its own ways. Figuring out which one is the Lady Boyle I’m looking for, by interacting to figuring out how to kill her and escape this party undetected, it was one of the very best moments of video gaming. And while leaving the place, did you sign off as Corvo in the Guest List? IMO it was the most badass piece of interaction available after you’ve killed someone without anyone’s notice, to leave your mark behind. One of those moments that can persuade one to believe In the future of video gaming, and tell the non-believers why you are a gamer in the first place.
The 1998 Thief made me swear an oath to stay a smart gamer, and Dishonored was like my destiny ever since that day. By the way, you know who won? Yep, Vaas! I like him, but this was hardly any competition, Lady Boyle’s Last Party was the gig, Vaas’ lines were just a pretty neat cutscene, coming from an exceptional character portrayal! Why Vaas? Maybe because Far Cry 3 has set standards by giving a game that is enjoyable besides being a commercial biggie. It was a public’s choice show and I’m sure the public stayed as mainstream as they could be. But as a games writer and a games fan, I will do my bit to preserve and push what’s ideally right for the right reasons.
I’m sure at the end of the tunnel there will be people going crazy to play games that don’t achieve anything in their own ways but simply entertain you with blood and gore or nowadays a stellar open map. But it will be games like the original Thief, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and Dishonored that will forever stay as standalone masterpieces whether they win silverware or not. It’s for the same reason that I support Arsenal FC in my football fanatic life, sometimes you win without winning anything. At least they win respect. Arkane and Bethesda truly stand as iconic names with what they’ve achieved out of Dishonored, and no matter how many times you beat the game, each time it will be a different experience. Just don’t complain how dingy the setting is, or how elusive each chapter end is, or how dreadful the creatures look like in Dishonored, it is what sets it from common rambling like GTAV. GTAV is a splendid game, a reason to let go of everything and submerge yourself into mayhem, but with Dishonored you will learn to call yourself a man.