5 Games That Had Great Settings
No, not the sliders you change around to activate subtitles. Setting is really important to any narrative experience be it movies, books, series or games. It provides a consistent backdrop to the overall narrative experience and sometimes it can be quite magical. To have an excellent setting is like being inside of a richly decorated restaurant with velvet sheets and tables made of rich mahogany. It enhances the experience. Even if you’re having some shitty McDonalds burger that’s a little cold and you may think the ice in your coke was made from the dishwater, it still feels like you’re having a nice experience. The same can be said of crappy games that still have an intriguing setting. They give a game some merit even if the game itself is subpar.
There are some games that flourish in this area with interesting settings as well as great gameplay experiences. It’s like eating a gourmet burger at the same Metaphor Restaurant I mentioned earlier. Here are some games that did it rather well.
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
I’m starting this one off with a little underrated game I enjoyed quite a bit. The game in itself was rather uninspired and a bit boring if I’m being quite honest. The combat was way too simple and the climbing mechanics were so simple they might as well have just made you climb automatically. But the reason why I loved it was because of the intriguing setting with the lush post-apocalyptia jungles and strange oddities that you don’t usually see in many games. The game world was beautiful and a grand departure from the normal brown, desolate wastelands that usually plague games of this ilk. That’s probably why Rage felt so boring because we’re so used to the normal archetypical wasteland that it just bores us now.
This game tried something different and moderately succeeded only to be let down by some simplistic combat and shallow gameplay. But it still remains dear to my heart for its great setting.
I don’t know why I have such a fascination with 40s and 50s America. Games like Mafia 2 gave me a good time just because of this setting. Even if the game was extremely linear and rather dull in the storytelling department, I still loved it because of the slick back guys in suits that drive horribly oversized cars and smoke absolutely everywhere they can. This is where LA Noire shined for me. The jazz-era has that magic to it that you don’t find in most modern settings. It had that vintage feeling down and really did the time period justice. The fact that it was a detective game of all things added that extra little magic to it. It explores corruption, perversion, racism and all those magical provocative themes all within the context of 40s culture and style.
The fact that it’s such a beautiful game also gives the era some added justice. It’s a pity that the open-world was only there for window dressing because the game world was absolutely phenomenal yet nobody truly saw it. I, the achievement whore that I am, collected all the golden film reels with the help of a guide. Even though the collectible was a crock of shit and offered nothing of value, it gave me the chance to really explore the world and it was absolutely amazing to behold some of the places I’ve visited. Truly an excellent era to get lost in.
Okay, this one is a little contentious. I absolutely abhorred this game. What was first announced as an RPG with interesting free running mechanics and promising storyline turned out to be a crappy Team Fortress 2 knockoff that was so boring and repetitive that I wanted to claw my eyes out with a rusty spoon. I hated nearly everything about this game, except the setting hence why it’s even on here. The setting held some tremendous promise. An ark built by mankind when everything went completely to shit that features its own sustainable resources. A corrupt government that aims to keep tight control over the citizens living both in the ark and outside. A rebel movement that aims to topple this government and make the ark available to the people, not just the super rich.
Such great potential for all kinds of narrative experiences, but the only form of tangible narrative we got from the experience was in text and audio logs that you randomly got throughout the game. They had this rich backstory that explains the motivations of the members of the government and the rebel forces and provides some context with regards to the building of the ark. This was all extremely interesting to me and it makes me more sad of the fact that they butchered it so violently. If they can make a Skyrim style RPG with this setting, it can be one of gaming’s greats. But alas.
Sci-fi and games are made for each other if you think about it, but for some reason it was never truly realised. We have so little sci-fi games that it’s quite perplexing. Along came Mass Effect with its amazing take on space travel, aliens and technological wonder. BioWare are famous for creating vast worlds with such massive amounts of detail that will make your head spin. The game was fully fleshed out with alien races that you could or could not bang, intergalactic travel, scientific phenomenons and just everything you normally associate with the space age. It’s one of sci-fi’s greatest marvels that could rival big names such as Star Trek and Star Wars.
During the course of the entire series, the setting was used as this gigantic framing device to tie everything together and make it all the more fantastic. You just wanted to learn and experience more of this world because of how incredibly detailed it all is. That’s probably one of the big reasons why it’s one of my favourite franchises of all time.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Pirates. Do I need to say more? Oh fine. Just like the statement made of sci-fi, the pirate theme is perfect for gaming in so many ways, yet was never truly realised for some reason. Literally the only pirate themed games I can think of are Monkey Island and Risen 2. One is a (fantastic) point and click adventure game with a wannabe pirate which combat consists of insults. The other one is a severely limited RPG with crappy gameplay and crappy visuals and it doesn’t even allow you to sail a ship. Black Flag gave the setting the justice that it deserves.
You are a swashbuckling pirate and that brand doesn’t consist of stupid Disney style sword fighting where nobody actually lands a hit. You viciously shoot down ships with cannons, board them, violently murder the crew and plunder all their cargo. It was as authentic of an experience as we will possibly ever get. It wasn’t cheesy either. There were no pirates with eyepatches and peglegs and I think I only saw one parrot in the entire game. I’ve always wanted a fantastic pirate experience and Black Flag gave me exactly what I wanted.
Of course, this is only a small number of games that had great settings. I included some lesser known ones just for the sake of variety, but the fact is that there’s a lot of games that have amazing settings. Some might be oversaturated a little such as the modern war setting that was repeated mindlessly as well as Tolkien-esque fantasy settings. Which games do you think had great settings?