Every once in a while—not often, just occasionally—I come across a game which I simply want to give a score but not truly write a full review on. Sometimes when that occurs it’s because I just don’t have anything nice to say about the game whatsoever, but that truly is exceptionally rare. No, more often the case is that I absolutely love the game but think that readers should experience the thing, in its entirety, for themselves. Oh sure, I might have one or two nits to pick, but picking those nits could easily lead people to think the game isn’t as great as it in fact is (and beyond getting me lambasted in the comments section).
Okay, that’s enough, no more vague generalities, let me be quite specific: you should definitely play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – it is breathtaking and wonderful. It is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best game this reviewer has played all year. The game’s menus could use some work and I did notice the occasional problem graphical glitch quickly switching from being underwater to being above it, but every issue with have the game is but a minor quibble.
What is the game? Well, for those of you who don’t know, it is a massive (and I do mean monstrously big) open world RPG game. You can pretty much set off at the start of the game and go anywhere you want and do anything you want. Or, at the very least, you can try to, because if you do something like try to slay a dragon right at the beginning of the game and try to do so without any sort of aid whatsoever, you’re going to wind up dead.
But, the game will certainly let you try to do it. It will also let you have open dozens and dozens (or hundreds and hundreds) of quests at any given time. That means that if you’re like me and easily distracted you could wind up with an overwhelmingly large list of opening quests. You see, while on your way to completing one quest, you run into various dungeons, towers, cities, encampments, etc., and can start another dozen (or more) quests. There is a feature which allows you to fast travel to cities (if you’re not carrying too much stuff) so you can keep yourself from getting distracted, but while doing that may help you stay on task, it also eliminates part of the wonder of the game.
Visually, Skyrim is truly striking. The world is absolutely magnificent, and one gets the sense that every rock, every tree, every hillock has some sort of story that goes with it. Fast travel and you lose the opportunity to see the world in which your characters inhabit (not to mention the opportunity to improve your fighting skills when you come across a baddie).
One of the things I like best about the game are the random encounters between two enemies. One minute you’ll be all nervous about the dragon running you down, and then, from out of nowhere, a giant will appear. The dragon and the giant will then go head-to-head and you can just sit back, relax, and then pick off the greatly weakened winner of the battle without issue. Fun!
At the outset of the game you are allowed to customize your character, choosing their appearance and race. While different races offer different advantages, you can still turn your character into just about anything you want as you level up and choose where to allocate skill points.
Essentially, the same is true for the entire game and the best takeaway message that there is for it – Skyrim is exactly what you make of it. You choose which quests to accept and, sometimes, how they end (do you support side A or side B). You choose how you deal with those around you. You choose where you go and how you get there and who you go with (to some extent any way on this last bit).
From the moment you enter the world of Skyrim, it is completely entrancing and a huge time investment. One could easily spend hundreds and hundreds of hours questing, exploring the nooks and crannies of the world, and leveling up. I could tell you more about it, delve into how advancing skills works and tell you about all the factions and the civil war and everything else that goes on in the game, but quite honestly, you should experience it all for yourself.
In short, if you want to get deeply invested in a great game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the way to go. There is a reason you see it at—or near—the top of so many “best” lists for videogames.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360 and PC.