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3 Games That Released Exactly When We Needed Them

/ Jan 5th, 2017 No Comments

Final Fantasy XV

Video games have a way of affecting you, sucking you in, surprising you, and sometimes giving you exactly what you needed (and sometimes what you didn’t know you wanted).

Three games, Watch Dogs 2, The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XV, came out at the tail end of 2016 that gave gamers something necessary in a troubling time. 2016 was a tough year. It was a divisive time for many. The last few months felt like shaky ground.

Naturally, with such uncertainty and alienation, you would want to feel a part of a community, a brotherhood, or a partnership. Watch Dogs, Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian all offer that sense of belonging that people desperately needed. These three games released exactly when they were needed most.

Stand for Something

Watch Dogs 2 centers on Marcus Holloway, a charismatic hacker who has been wrongly profiled for crimes he hasn’t committed. Holloway knows there is something rotten in cTOS 2.0, but also knows to expose those systemic evils inherent in it he can’t do it alone.

What Watch Dogs 2 does extremely well besides immerse you in the hacker culture is make you feel like a vital member of a group working toward an important goal. More than simply being in a group working together, you become close friends with the members of Dedsec San Francisco.

The bonds you build with Sitara, Horatio, Josh, Wrench and even T-Bone are so tight that you’d be willing to die for them as they would for you.

Watch Dogs 2

In Watch Dogs 2, you actually feel like a member of Dedsec.

There are heartwarming, charming character moments between Marcus and the other Dedsec members throughout the game. One that stands out the most is when Marcus helps Sitara scare her niece from dancing on the internet for creepy dudes in a side mission. During another mission, Marcus hacks Nudle with Horatio’s help. The two bond over the lack of POC representation in tech and Silicon Valley. It is an incredibly poignant scene that cements their friendship.

Then, there are the countless bro moments Marcus has with Wrench. One of the sweetest is early on when the two bond over their love of Jimmy Siska and watch the Cyber Driver trailer.

The members of Ded Sec prove that you can be a part of a cause and still have fun and build ride-or-die relationships.

Let Me Ride

Every Final Fantasy features a group of characters that come together to achieve a goal, with the main character being the de facto leader. Final Fantasy XV is framed as Noctis’ story — and for the most part, it is — but it also tells the story of Ignis, Gladio and Prompto.

These three retainers are just as important to the story as Noctis. They each have their own desires to see Noctis reclaim his throne (their homeland). It isn’t just out of duty that they do this, but a sense of fraternity.

These characters are brothers. While that may just sound like words, as we become invested in this road trip and Noctis’ struggle, we learn to depend on and trust Ignis, Prompto and Gladio. They joke with each other to lighten the mood, keep each other on track to reach Altissia, aid each other in combat, and care for each other, whether it is with a shield, camera or cooking knife.

Final Fantasy XV

Each character expresses their affection for one another in different ways in Final Fantasy XV.

There are some great character moments between Noctis and the others that occur when camping at specific spots or staying in certain hotels. The moment where you run on the beach with Gladio to prove who is faster or the time when he tips you off about a legendary fish to catch illustrate how well Gladio knows his friend and the big brother-little brother relationship they have.

There is also a beautiful moment where Ignis asks Noctis to wake up early to cook with him and we learn why Ignis takes on the role of chef for the trip.

While all of those moments are poignant in their own way, the most touching scene is when Prompto confesses to feeling inferior to his friends and is amazed by being on the trip at all. Noctis responds perfectly to Prompto’s melancholy confession in an aloof manner as only he can, “You should know better by now. You think I just make time for any old loser?”

Final Fantasy XV

Come on, loser! You know I love you.

It may seem like the entire trip will be sunny and nothing could ever shake the bond between these men. Yet, it is a testament to the storytelling and the depth of their friendship that you spend a significant amount of time in conflict with your brothers. It isn’t some petty argument that sets off the disagreement and acrimony, but it makes the reconciliation all the more cathartic.

Once the trip comes to an end and there are goodbyes to be said, we ache and we hurt. We don’t want to let go because we’ve become brothers with Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Prompto.

Good Boy

Unlike Watch Dogs 2 and Final Fantasy XV, it is harder to articulate fully why The Last Guardian fosters this sense of belonging.

Much of that is because Fumito Ueda’s games need to be experienced to truly feel the unparalleled emotion, atmosphere and immersion. What makes The Last Guardian and the relationship you build with Trico so special comes from more than a few choice moments. The whole experience is what creates this sense of belonging.

While the characters in the other games rely on each other, the main characters can take care of themselves. The Last Guardian allows you to feel a part of a perfectly symbiotic relationship.

Neither the boy nor Trico could escape alone. They need each in order to achieve this goal. Trico is big, strong and able to leap great heights, but he is an animal. The boy is smart, crafty and nimble, but he is also fragile and unable to protect himself.

The Last Guardian

The boy and Trico have a symbiotic relationship in The Last Guardian.

Trico needs the boy to get to spots he cannot reach, feed him, solve the castle’s puzzles and destroy the wards put in place to keep Trico from escaping. The boy needs Trico to protect him from the dangers of the castle, reach heights he otherwise couldn’t, and give him raw strength.

It isn’t always an easy relationship. Trico is an animal and prone to do what he pleases, but Trico does care about the boy. The first time the boy has to trust Trico completely is when he runs into an impossible gap. If Trico doesn’t catch him, he’ll fall to his death. There is a huge worry that Trico will get flighty and do cat-bird-dog things, letting you fall. It is such a triumphant moment when the camera slows down and he catches you in his mouth and transports you to safety.

The Last Guardian leaves you feeling a part of a tremendous partnership, and it is something you have to experience to fully grasp.

Bring the Horizon

Video games can immerse you in a way unlike any other medium. They transport you to another reality and can make you feel like you are living those moments. Last year was busted, and the rough times might keep coming. However, if you need a reminder that you are not alone and the bonds we form are what keep us strong and safe, these three games can reaffirm those positive feelings.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
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