With a fetish for suppressed memories, guilt-ridden heroes and psychologically projected enemies, the Silent Hill series might as well be renamed Freudian Purgatown. People play for the dark, adult themes as much as they do the gruesome blood and gore.
Silent Hill 4 stands out from the rest, though, by using its genre – and its unique setting - to comment on real life nightmares such asagoraphobia(a fear of the outside),hikikomori(extreme social withdrawal affecting thousands of Japanese teens), clinical depression and severe loneliness.
Is the game’s protagonist truly trapped inside his own apartment, or has he isolated himself from the world? Are neighbors actually out of reach, or has he disconnected from them because of mistrust and discomfort? The answers wouldn’t be clear to those suffering from the ailments above, and they’re not obvious in Silent Hill 4.
Amber: Journeys Beyond
How dark is this obscure ghost-hunting adventure from the mid-1990s? In the course of just a few hours, you enter the mind and body of three characters: the first is a boy who drowned in a frozen lake, but doesn’t comprehend he is dead; the second is a WWII-era housewife who committed suicide after learning her husband was killed in combat; the third is a gardener who fell in love with a small child, then murdered her after she did not return his affection.
What makes AMBER such a difficult yet rewarding trip, however, is that you don’t know these people’s secrets until you solve them for yourself. When you finally discover the widow’s fate, you’ve been the widow for some time. When the gardener’s evil is revealed, you’ve already experienced and grown accustomed to the world from his perspective.
AMBER does more than create sad, disturbing characters – it forces you to feel their pain and to forgive even their worst decisions.
Final Fantasy Tactics
You can always count on Final Fantasy for an epic and satisfying storyline, but the majority of the franchise still falls into predictable ruts. Reunite the orbs. Slay the dragon. Rescue the virginal love interest. Discover theemo guy'sunforeseen destiny. Pit magic versus technology or vice versa. Stop some screen-filling representation of chaos, preferably in outer space.
Final Fantasy Tactics, in comparison, seems grounded and believable. The wars, religions, political struggles, class conflict and international alliances of the Ivalice kingdom could pass for our own world’s convoluted history. Narrative points as dramatic as assassination, terrorism, economic crisis, slavery and even the ascent of an illegitimate heir each have their modern parallels. The tragic ending is more Shakespearean than Square.
While other Final Fantasy games might make you cry, Tactics is the one that will make you feel like a grown up.
A gruesome murder. A missing killer. Two detectives searching for clues. The plot could be ripped from any number of generic whodunit games or CSI spinoffs, most of which substitute forensic special effects and copious amounts of bodily fluid for any real level of maturity.
Indigo Prophecy surprises and challenges the player instead, fracturing the clichéd setup into multiple angles and perspectives. You control both the wanted man and the two detectives searching for him; in fact, you must hastily cover up the crime scene before returning as the cops to analyze whatever clues your former self accidentally left behind. In a later chapter, you inhabit both the killer, who is suffering from strange visions, and the killer’s brother, who doubts the very existence of those visions.
Most games draw a clear line between good and evil, hero and enemy, success and failure. Indigo Prophecy blurs those lines, and is much more authentic as a result. (Well, until the hallucinogenic circus of the second half, anyway... the less written about that, the better.)