“Classics” is a strong category in any medium. It calls to mind unforgettable films that broke new ground and tattooed their images on your memory; unskippable songs that make you remember specific moments and the feelings attached to them; timeless, bound stories that can last for decades or far beyond. It’s the same for video games. Games that started a genre or made one relevant again; the ones that gave you an experience unforgettable to your gaming life; these are classics, ones that withstand the test of time for one reason or another. You know the ones I’m talking about. Each generation has had its share, and though it is too early to definitively name them such, this generation is no difference. Since they aren’t classics yet, these following games (or series if they all made a big enough splash on this generation) are the ones destined to be classics.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
It only seems fitting to start off this list of classics with a title that brought an entire class of video games back from disparity and humiliation. Superhero games, Batman being no stranger to this, were at the worst of times considered a mockery of the medium. Only a handful were ever considered fun and the majority were unlikeable in most respects (need I bring up Superman 64?). Needless to say, when the relatively unknown Rocksteady Studios announced they were developing a Batman game, scoffs were what most of the gaming industry and community responded with. When they unveiled their final product, the industry unanimously awed at their achievement: Possibly the greatest superhero, as well as licensed video game to date, and one of the most fun from this generation.
Never has a game captured the essence of being The Batman so completely, with the predator mode allowing you to stalk the bad guys, listening to their terrified chatter as you took them out one by one. The array of gadgets at gamers’ disposals was truly worthy of The World’s Greatest Detective, and the combat was some of the most satisfying, hard hitting, and fitting for the character to ever grace our consoles. If it isn’t remembered for saving comic book games altogether, then it will be remembered for its truly immersive world, naming you The Batman.
While these titles, especially Demon’s Souls, may not have garnered as much attention or fame as the rest of this list, those who have played them will understand their inclusion. Perhaps they will land somewhere within the circle of “cult classics,” but classics nonetheless. If nothing else, no games have ever given players such a sense of accomplishment after succeeding as these games have. They’re aggressively difficult gameplay may be the first thing people talk about, but the way that gameplay forces a player to be patient, to watch and learn, and to succeed is what is remembered. When Demon’s Souls hit store shelves, the few gamers that bought it recognized the difficult yet rewarding experience early on. However, such a small percent of people would understand this, or grasp the perfectly executed “desperately alone, but not on your own” atmosphere that the game’s unique multiplayer brought to the table. When Dark Souls was released, more people were waiting this time around to experience what others had talked about.
It may have taken longer than some other popular titles, but this two game series is experiencing a following of dedicated gamers enjoying themselves within its world. While it may take much the same path to achieve classics status, it has the qualities to last.
The Mass Effect series
Yes, the Mass Effect series are up for classics status since all three games came out this generation, tell a singular story of a single individual and his crew, and of course, set the game world ablaze with their masterfully crafted sci-fi story and a plot driven by you and your choices. It could be said that Mass Effect set the standard for how character development should be done and how developers should combine grand story telling with epic action sequences.
Many of the Mass Effect series’ more memorable moments are jaw dropping dramatic sequences, whether it’s a Thresher Maw taking down a Reaper or an entire galactic defense force charging the larger, more advanced enemy with nothing but their own hope and will to survive, and the figure of The Shepard to guide them. Other unforgettable pieces stem from moments you made happen yourself, whether from a choice made five minutes ago, or two games ago. The death of a character hits you harder usually because you played a part, and because you were given the opportunity to forge a bond with them. The fall or rise of a species rings more synonymous with your name because you had a hand in their recruitment or in their extinction. Whether it’s the choices, or the epic scaled events, this was your story, the story of The Shepard that will be told for generations, and make him one of the classics.
There are several reasons BioShock has the potential to ascend to classic status. It successfully based itself around a deep philosophical point, an argument against Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, but was still a very fun game; it dropped players into an incredibly immersive atmosphere, thick with terror both from the people directly in front of you, and from the ones you could hear in the distance; it gave us a setting that couldn’t have pushed the point that we were truly alone any harder, a ruined city at the bottom of the sea. Finally, it gave us that horribly cold and heart stopping moment: The moments we heard the Big Daddy’s heavy, slow, metallic footsteps just around the corner, just down stairs, just down the hall, or right behind you.
Perhaps the main reason BioShock will be considered one of the classics is the fact that it did all this and was also one of the most enjoyable games of this generation, or any for that matter. And gamers, new and old alike will still be able to compliment these points years from now when looking back on it when it’s a classic.
How do you talk about a game that may achieve classics status when it seemingly already has? Portal presents just this problem. A relatively obscure and unorthodox title, Portal roped gamers in with these exact qualities, along with its unique and extraordinary puzzle mechanics and an undeniable ability to laugh at itself. The game’s sense of humor was strengthened only by one of the most memorable characters of video gaming: the sentient, sadistic artificial intelligence known as GLaDOS. GLaDOS’s constant insults and hurtful yet hilarious comments towards the silent protagonist as she fought her way through the brain-bending puzzles kept the grim undertone of the situation from being taken too seriously, which ultimately led to players being able to enjoy the sadistic humor of the evil machine all the more.
Portal’s puzzles, or rather, the way they were implemented and solved, also assist in its high status amongst gamers. The portal gun, the first person perspective, and the constant need to platform provided a unique experience that has never been able to be replicated, except for in its sequel, Portal 2.
If you want to know what a modern classic is, just look at Portal and you see exactly. If you want to see a game destined to be a true classic years from now, keep looking at Portal because it possesses all the qualities needed.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is shaping up to be one of the most influential series of this generation and a future classic. Where Mass Effect set the bar for interactive storytelling, The Walking Dead series blew that bar away with its intense, suspenseful, and emotionally tense interactions and moments. Your choices are more consequential and therefore much more difficult. Simple gameplay and art style help to compliment the complex and terrifying adventure. While it may not be a pioneer for anything from a strictly gameplay perspective, its powerful, incredibly interactive story cements its spot amongst many great titles of the time.
Never has a game hit you with so many decisions that you truly do not want to make for fear of the affects they may have on the outcome before you. And rarely ever has a game made you care so much for what these outcomes may be, and whether or not the people surrounding your character may love you or hate for them. With so much having to be put in to an experience like this, and having it repaid in so much more (cheerful or grim), how could one not consider this game one the greatest of our generation, and a future classic?
Call them what you will, like them or hate them, but a truly objective mind can see that these titles (and more from this generation) will more than likely stand firm in the test of time and be remembered years from now and be called classics. Whether it’s their groundbreaking mechanics, the shear enjoyment they give gamers, or a combination of many things, these games have what it takes. These are, without a doubt, here to stay. These are the future classics of this generation.
If you like classics, check out our review of one of the older classics, made modern.
To find out more about one of my picks, check out the official site to one of our modern classics.