Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin. You heard it. The opening to the song, as the anthem of a soaring game blared and while the drums beat in the background, you could feel your own power rising, almost as if you yourself could command the power of voice, that of the Dragonborn that could take over the world.
Skyrim is the game of a generation. The elder scrolls has been a lauded series before it, but Skyrim reached so many more, it became a household name in video games, it was that game that everybody played, that everybody got hooked on. “Oh I was up all night playing Skyrim”, it became that for months. A full two years after its release, and even a time after the final DLC had come out, I would still have the occasional friend come out and say “Yeah I went back to Skyrim, modded my horses into ponies. I played it all weekend.”
Skyrim let people do what they wanted, at their own pace, and anywhere you turned there were rich options to pursue. This is a game, much like Civilization V, where play time was measured in dozens of hours, more often than singles. From the opening sequence you got an introduction to what the game would offer, but you had no idea. Soon you would be going to magical ice universities and casting great spells, or joining the army (one of them) and honing your abilities with a bow.
Oh wait I joined the Thieves Guild, now the Dark Brotherhood, did you know you could go there? Oh my god there’s a city underground. Skyrim is a game of those moments, those awe-inspiring bits of time where you just can’t believe what is happening.
It’s a game of anecdotes. One person will fight off a dragon, then fall into a pit and discover a tomb…naturally full of Draugr. At the end of the tomb as they exit onto the side of a cliff, they realize that they have no idea where they are. Well a waterfall runs by them – might as well jump into it right? Oh wait, that unlocks another quest, one with a bard who wants me to get his instrument back. Where is it? Ah, of course, the other side of the damn continent.
Skyrim isn’t meant for short impressions articles, but one thing that really impressed me was the variety and depth in all the environments. One city would have it’s own architecture, climate, culture, racist tendencies, biases against me or magic maybe. It was everything a world should be – fleshed out, visceral, and real.
I’m not saying it was perfect. Oh, you could laugh at the wooden facial animations, or the guard dialogue that repeated everywhere you went, or how you could jump on a rock to keep a bear from being able to kill you, but these are small problems in an exceptional experience, both in quality and in the breadth and size. It’s a game that I legitimately loved going back to, and it had enough quests that, even if 40% of them were repetitive, the others were unique, engaging, and took sixty full hours to complete. It was and remains a spectacle of content.
Back to an anecdote, since this is an impressions piece, I feel obliged. One of my favorite experiences of Skyrim was exploring the dwarven architecture and tunnels. The whirring machinery and the inventive robots were a delight, and the city they eventually led to in all its glory was certainly worth the trek and the annoying bothersome Falmer. Anyway, one time I was passing between what I thought were two Dwarven statues, continuing on down the path and looking at the next door I’ll go through. Then I hear clanking and a hissing noise, and turn around to find the two gigantic statues charging me, arms raised to knock me to the ground.
I died that time, I thought it was worth it.
This is the best game ever,