Yes, there are lots of awesome sci-fi books, but there are also a ton of AMAZING sci-fi video games! So today for Sci-Fi Month, I want to flail a bit about my favorite games that have let me hang with aliens and fly through space!
MASS EFFECT Trilogy
This was my gateway drug into RPGs and Bioware RPGs in particular. And how could I not fall for this trilogy? A continuous narrative sprawled over three games, spaceships, alien companions, AI, laser guns, this was a space opera world you could inhabit. I’ve meant to go back and play this series, but I’ve locked in “my” version of how MASS EFFECT goes so much that I can’t bring myself to do it again. (And if you’re wondering, Romance Thane, BFFs Garrus.)
STAR WARS: TIE FIGHTER
I only let myself put one STAR WARS game on this list, and it was one of THE formative games of my childhood. We played this flight simulator with a joystick at my house, and I spent HOURS and HOURS running missions, sometimes co-piloting with my dad, sometimes running solo. Yes, the Empire is evil, but this game with all its limited graphics, did an excellent job of giving you that feeling that you were one of the most trusted agents in the Empire. After all, it’s not just ANYONE that gets pulled aside after mission briefings to be given secret mission objectives to complete in addition to the “main” ones.
HORIZON ZERO DAWN
Favorite game of all time? Depends on the day but this is permanently locked into, at minimum, my top five. You play as Alloy, a young girl raised in a world ruined by some past cataclysmic event, where robots that look like dinosaurs roam the land, providing scrap metal resources for those brave enough to hunt and kill them. There are two storylines at play here. The first is Alloy’s mission to understand who launched an attack on her clan during the recent coming-of-age ceremony; the other is to understand the technology Alloy recently found and what caused the world to fall apart in the first place. The writing in this game is incredibly strong, and the way both storylines unfold and wind together is phenomenal. Although the storyline wraps at the end of the game, there’s a teaser cliff hanger just begging for a follow up.
THE OUTER WORLDS
This is a recent release, and I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’m hooked. The moment I knew this game would be for me, however, was when I walked onto “my” spaceship for the first time and was greeted by a deadpan AI who threatened to space me if I didn’t leave, then found a loophole in her own code to accept me as her captain. Exploring the ship a little further revealed plenty of berths for NPC companions and I’ve steadily been filling those bunks with crew members. This is the kind of game where I really do mean to go investigate why that comm relay across the sector hasn’t been responding, but end up chatting with my companions for an hour instead. I love games that let me choose my dialogue. Oh, and the allure of walking over to navigation, pulling up a star chart, and choosing which planet to fly to next is strong. I’m in my own FIREFLY episode and having a blast.
Yes, the first PORTAL was a landmark in storytelling, but the snark and wit of PORTAL 2 is just too much fun to ignore. You are Chell, a human test subject in a series of devious puzzles designed by malicious AI GLaDOS. Besides the iconic AI, you’ll find recordings of company magnate Cave Johnson, voiced by the magnifient JK Simmons who demands “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back!” There’s also a fabulous co-op mode where you play as two robots that GLaDOS is putting through “cooperative” testing.
Those are my favorite Sci-Fi video games – what are yours?