This game seriously eats up time--like a time-sucking monster demon that makes you forget any real-life responsibilities such as feed the dog (sorry dog) and use the restroom (sorry bladder). Basically, you find yourself in the mythical northern realm of Skyrim, having recently been captured by a bunch of Imperials for some unknown crime (sounds familiar...). Just before you're about to get your head chopped off, a dragon appears out of the sky and starts raining doom and destruction on the town folk. You have the option of escaping with your fellow prisoners (the rebel faction group called the Stormcloaks) or the Imperials with head-chopping axes. It's kind of a no-brainer who you decide to follow.
|My sneaky, lying mage totally bares no resemblance to a certain Marvel villian! No!...|
|Welcome to Skyrim! Land of "How do I climb these stupid mountains?!"|
Seriously! Bethesda really out did themselves with crafting the world of Skyrim. There's pine forests with autumn colours, murky and misty swamps, chains of snowy mountains, open fields of grass... I have literally gotten lost in this game several times--mostly because I kept picking herbs and flowers until I couldn't remember where I was going in the first place. The streams and rivers are teeming with fish you can catch and sometimes there's a treasure chest behind every waterfall.
|As peaceful and scenic as this is, what you don't know is that there is a bear off-camera waiting to eat you.|
Even if you ignored the main quests in Oblivion, eventually you hit a dead, boring end trying to complete all the various assignments (read: chore list) for the faction groups such as the Dark Brotherhood, Thieves' Guild, Mage Guild, etc. I found myself dreading turning on the game and playing for any narrative piece whatsoever. Any fun I had was in casting magic spells, solving dungeon puzzles, and discovering ALL the places. In fact, while the graphics were pretty sub-par, there was a lot more joy in the game play that I find myself actually siding with ludologists in this case.
So can there be a comeback for the narratives in Skyrim? I think so, and possibly in an entirely new light!
While the ludologists and narratologists call each other snide names from separate corners of the proverbial room, I honestly think Skyrim is the best of both those two worlds. The creators have enhanced game play tactics, weaponry, and magic so cleverly that it blows Oblivion out of the water. The Scandinavian sandbox is bigger, brighter, more naturalistic than it's predecessors that it offers an endless sense of adventure for the gamer. Not too thrilled with the current quest line? Well, go take a dive in the arctic waters and pummel horkers! Chase some bunnies while you're at it and steal some coin purses!
|Dude, you've even got interactive windmills and forges! How neat is that??|
But in all seriousness, I do believe that even the new and improved narrative successfully enhances the entire gaming experience as well. As mentioned before, you are a Dragonborn in Skyrim. This isn't some mamby-pampy "Go find my son and some special stones" routine like Oblivion offered. You fight hand-to-claw with dragons over their souls. And then you learn their shouts so that you may smite bandits in the most spectacular of ways. There's a gigantic civil war going on in Skyrim that is reminiscent of the Romans attempting to conquer the Germanic and Britannic tribes (inside, my History Major heart is fist-pumping the air). Even the guild quests have great incentives to offer the gamer--especially the Companions because you get to become a werewolf at the end (and there is no real negative side effect to being
I'm going to quit while I'm ahead and leave you all with a question; do you think it's possible to merge ludology and narratology?