For this month's Bitmob Community Writing challenge, I was asked to create a Top 10 list (something I never do to be honest) about any subject that interests me. Each entries also had to be in 50 words or less. So here's my Top 10 list of game environments.
One of the elements that interest me the most in video games is their environment; the space they create and in which the action and narrative will take place. Here is a short list of 10 game environments (in no particular order) that hooked me in one way or another.
10: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's Ocean
For the young Link, the ocean represents the frontier of his little world. It starts out as a big and intimidating vastness in which you have no clear direction. But as the young hero grows more mature, he learns to master the wind and the waves. The Grand Ocean then becomes an ally.
9: Prince of Persia's Kingdom (2008)
Unlike the sands trilogy, this game gave us less of an actual Persian kingdom and more of a storybook “Arabian Nights” world. As you are filling the world with life, you can’t help but wonder what this magical kingdom once looked like.
8: Red Dead Redemption's New Austin
In movies, the Western genre is mostly defined by its great empty spaces. Unlike many Western themed games that use the genre elements but put you in a narrow path, RDR is giving the player an open world in which he can truly experience the life of a wandering cowboy.
7: Grand Theft Auto 4's Liberty City
I know everybody said it but I’ll say it again: Liberty City truly is the game’s main character. Every little details and NPCs create the illusion that the city lives beyond Niko’s immediate surrounding. A feeling that was exploited with both expansions — each taking place in parallel to Niko’s adventures.
6: Fallout 3's Capital Wasteland
One of the great funs of Fallout 3 is exploration. The player is rewarded for doing so with little set pieces. Every house, raider camp or store is holding a story that may not be linked to the grander scheme, but still helps building a world and an atmosphere.
5: Bioshock's Rapture
The underwater, Art Deco corridors of Rapture truly make it a unique location. Once again, this environment is filled with details echoing the past life of a fallen utopia. The contrast between what once was and what it is now serves the game’s cautionary tale better than any spoken dialogues.
4: Far Cry 2's African Country
The most amazing thing about this African landscape is that beyond its incredible beauty, every inch of it is potentially hostile to you and will try to reject you. The game puts your life in danger at every crossroads, and every moment of calm becomes much more precious.
3: Limbo's Forest
Nothing is scarier than not knowing where you are, and Limbo knows how to pass on that feeling. This mysterious forest is certainly dangerous, but the fact that nothing is truly ever revealed, that everything is only shadows, makes this forest one of the scariest environment in a long time.
2: Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor's Manor
Even though the game is about eating bugs, there is a whole other level of narrative happening all around your avatar. Every area in the game is filled with details evoking the manor’s tragic story, and it’s up to the player to slowly piece it together.
1: Shadow of the Colossus' Forbidden Land
Once again, it’s all those subtle allusions to a mysterious past that captures my attention. Most of this world is eerily empty and devoid of life. The game also gives you plenty of time to explore this land, knowing that the only things to be found there are ruins and giant creatures.