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With modern life becoming more and more competitive, the time people have for hobbies has gone down drastically. This is especially true both for students as well as for office-goers, which means that whatever free time you get, you need to spend it thoughtfully. With Steam offering gorgeous deals during their sales, we often end up with games which we all “want to play” at some point of time, but then we return to our daily addictions. In my case at least, this was Counter Strike : Global Offensive. I was a junkie back in the day, playing it like it was a sort of religion, with beliefs about the video gaming industry that send shockwaves down today’s me. One day, one of my close friends decided to take me along with him on a journey in the world of RPGs, which happened to be a living world where you can be anyone you want – a magician, a swordsman, a thief – literally anyone! Growing up,  board exams and other responsibilities made me forget that, at least temporarily, before memories made me dig up that game years later. The name of the game is mentioned unanimously throughout the world today, both among critically acclaimed video game critics as well as people who started their journey into the video gaming world. Yup, it’s the Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim.

 A Huge World With Many Possibilities    

The game starts off on a rather tame note, when you are a helpless prisoner, imprisoned, and at the mercy of the captors. This was possibly one of the first games I played which allowed me to become anything – a reptilian snake-like humanoid, or an elf with long pointy ears, limbs and……lifespans too, or simply as different forms of humans. That’s the start of your journey to greatness. The people see you as a saviour, as a messiah sent by the several Gods they worship. You’d think you’d be more responsible and redeem your destiny, but of course not, who cares about destiny when you can marry an invincible teleporting companion, deliver some letters, open some locked boxes, run around in the world like a madman, and do random stuff because you can. The best part possible is exploring shops as well as houses for rare items, because apparently the villagers don’t respect you enough to bestow gifts of better gear on you – well, let the next bandit raid take care of them so that you can loot their houses in peace. Oh wait, if every shopkeeper dies, how can you sell your stolen wares in peace? Don’t worry, Skyrim’s engine only incapacitates important characters for a while and then they’re back to normal. You can flog those stolen wares for a price one-tenth of their actual value, because apparently the shopkeepers like to lowball irrespective how many “Speech 100” emotes you spam in their face (is this even supposed to work like that?) Explore dungeons and ruins where dangerous beasts as well as the dead guard their possessions zealously. The real question of what “cheap” item you need to ditch for the next expensive “possession” is really mind-boggling enough to make you forget that you have a test the next day, and it’s really early in the morning. The number of possibilities is enough to make you spend hours on the game without realizing how time went by.

Personalize your experience

The game world is big, and exploring it bit by bit means you need to use horses, go on foot, or simply teleport your way there along with your companions. See the outskirts of a settlement with farms and houses? Yup, get ready to harvest them and creep around in the house while the residents are out for work. Apparently, harvesting of their crops is okay, but taking their stuff from their home isn’t? That’s when I went on a looting spree, harvesting every plant possible just for selling them back to the farmers or consuming them in a fight. Why worry when you can heal yourself to full health by eating 80 potatoes – the enemy can’t even attack you while you eat them! Attack enemies head-on, or crouch your way in, landing stealth blows on enemies while taking 50 minutes to complete a task which otherwise would have taken 5 minutes, or simply take them down from a distance with magic or arrows. I pretty much thought to take on a mammoth with his giant master seated nearby was a good idea – needless to say, I regretted it, while on my way to space because I saved half an hour earlier after completing two missions for the main story. It was still totally worth it, as long as you save yourself some potatoes as rations and the ‘Lusty Argonian Maid’ for some light reading while on your way back to the ground. Practice the shouts you somehow learnt by absorbing a dragon’s soul at the city guards, and then put them down with a well-strung ‘arrow to their knee’. Whatever be the case, you have the freedom to do whatever you want – you’re the Dragonborn after all!

Role-playing – what is it?

Skyrim came out in 2011 a time when open world games wasn’t a norm, but an exception. Naturally, during the time, it was received well and became such a hit that news of its release reached the corners of the gaming community. The game world is huge, one of the biggest possible worlds during its time, filled to the brim with side quests as well as numerous locations to explore and unlock. The game world may seem repetitive at times, but the struggle to find what’s at the end of that corridor is what makes the game so addicting. I felt that I was lost while exploring the world, sifting through ruins and landmarks, looking for loot and what not, while slaughtering animals and the undead, and even machinations, if you’re down in the Dwemer ruins. You dive into a session of saving Skyrim from the dragons, and before long, you find the sun rising outside your curtains. The only possible deterrent is the side quests, which mostly look like “Fetch X item” or “Give Y person W item” or something along the same lines most of the time. In comparison to many RPGs released later, Skyrim lags behind terribly in terms of game mechanics, the quest system, as well as graphics, but it lay a standard for other developers to beat (particularly The Witcher 3, whose quest system was made to solve the “generic” nature of Skyrim’s quests) because of the unique concepts explored by the game during its time. Oh, and it also introduced the concept of a role-playing game to a generation of gamers who didn’t know what they were missing out on. According to gaming critics, I am supposed to nitpick on Skyrim since it did not age well, but considering the fact that the game opened my mind to the existence of a new developer I had not heard about before, as well as influence my choice in games, later on, I would remain forever thankful to it, irrespective of what others might say.

If you wish to dive into your younger self and explore the game that defined the gamer within you that you can see today, there is no better game than Skyrim. The game is a ‘flawed masterpiece’, and after spending a hundred hours or more in it, I’m pretty sure you’d agree too.

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