A Dovahkiin’s Tale – Skyrim Review
Every once in a while a game comes along that pulls you into its world and you don’t want to leave because of its graphics or its story. Skyrim is that game for me. It has been awhile since I have been so immersed in a game at the level that I have been with Skyrim. I never really enjoyed Oblivion and Morrowind is one of my favorite games so I was on the edge coming into Skyrim and didn’t know what to expect. But when I started my journey I immediately fell in love with everything the game had to offer. Skyrim is a game that pushes the limits of its genre by making the game simpler but more complex than ever before. The developers in my opinion have made some really good decision on how to change the game to make it something new and refreshing while keeping true to the series.
Your first few moments in the gorgeous frozen landscape of the Nordic-inspired Skyrim are in a prisoner’s cart. Entering the small Imperial-held town of Helgren, the citizens stop and stare at you as the motley band of thieves and Nord rebels, known as the Stormcloaks, are marched towards their execution. You pile out of the cart and you watch as one Stormcloak’s head is lopped off. The lone thief in your band makes a run for it as a single arrow cuts him down. Trying to escape is definitely not an option. Stepping in line for the chopping block you will get to craft your character from several different choices of races, skin tones, facial features, etc (I feel the character customization could have been better but that is just me). Then, you are forced to place your head on the killing block. Just as the executioner prepares to deliver the killing blow, a black, scaly creature descends from the heavens and lights the Imperial procession on fire. Oh snap, it’s a dragon!
From the instant the dragon descends upon Helgren, you know this game is an Elder Scrolls title. It’s Western RPG done right. Skyrim follows the footsteps of its predecessor, Oblivion, but betters the execution in every way. The new combat system, while still blunt and awkward, delivers a visceral experience where every hit feels like it really should. The combat adds finishing moves that many players may recognize its relationship to Fallout 3. Skilling up also works differently than its predecessor in a number of ways. Yes the more you sneak, bash, smith, enchant, barter and get hit the more the associated skill will increase, the difference is that there is a new system of choosing skill abilities/traits and they have also taking away stat point distribution upon leveling up. Every time you level you get a skill point to spend on any of your skills that can unlock new attributes/skills associated with that skill. This lets you build your character the way you want. But the combat/skill system is far from the most impressive thing about Skyrim, it’s the scale of the world that will truly drop your jaw. To say Skyrim is awe-strikingly massive is one of the biggest understatements of the year. The game world is not any bigger than Tamriel from Oblivion, but the scale is augmented by the sense of verticality. Skyrim’s defining features are the majestic mountains and heavily-wooded forests, all teeming with innocent and dangerous life. A player could explore the vast landscape for hours before they ever fight their first dragon, and the wealth of dungeons, crypts, and spooky ruins hide some truly awesome loot. It also helps that many locations have unique side quests that automatically trigger when you enter the area for the first time. In one instance, I sought out a mythical horn in an ancient ruin. By reading a book that was simply lying about the quest zone, I got a secondary quest to find a legendary sword. It’s this natural and organic approach to questing that makes Skyrim a joy to explore and delve into. With only a few overarching goals (slaying dragons chief among them), you’re set loose to do as you will, whether it be igniting a civil war between the Imperials and Stormcloaks or harassing bandits in a cave hideout. The staggering choice you have is only limited by how much you want to explore the landscape, but I’d imagine most players will want to see what vast secrets Skyrim holds whether it be through adventuring, keeping the peace or causing some mischief with Daedric artifacts.
Speaking of the landscape, Skyrim is beautiful the new Creation engine creates some truly stunning vistas. If your rig can handle it, Ultra settings create an unparalleled RPG world that feels alive, gorgeous, and incredibly dangerous if one isn’t careful. Everything from the swords to the clucking chickens shows a high level of polish. The voiceovers, while not perfect, complement the setting well and the soundtrack is perfect. The subtle audio cues that activate at various points create a sublime audio-visual experience, demanding full attention and immersing players in a rich masterpiece.
What also makes Skyrim a masterpiece is the Radiant system. Radiant governs everything from NPC reactions to the character to dragon appearances. It even assigns randomly-generated quests based on your location and reputation. However, this occurs so naturally that you’d never know there was magic behind the scenes unless I told you. This organic design permeates Skyrim to its core and creates a game experience unlike any other that will be different than anyone else’s. The game changes depending on your actions as well as through your actions within story lines. You will hear new gossip, may have bounty in another city but be hunted while in another or even notice that one town has a severe dragon problem that they can’t seem to get rid of. The game caters to every choice you make and it really helps shape the world your character lives in.
The stories in Skyrim are pure gold, the stories are very in depth, have multiple paths, multiple answers, are engaging and are really strong both. The stories will take you to the highest point and the rock bottom of your characters life while showing you every corner of Skyrim in all its beauty and destruction. Both the main stories and the side quests have the ability to drag you in and send you on an epic quest that will surely test your puzzle solving skills, your characters morals, as well as your skills.
Now, while Skyrim is beautiful, it’s not perfect. There are some technical glitches, such as characters who fail to move to a specific location once a quest is given. I also saw some guards get thrown into the sky when giants hit them head on which is actually rather amusing. Oh yes, the giants. You might think you’re pretty awesome by slaying a dragon, but dear god, the giants! They’re almost unkillable and really mess up your day if you aren’t prepared. That’s less a technical flaw than a sometimes aggravating moment when you accidentally anger one of the lumbering beasts or their pet mammoths. Also the horses defy physics and can pretty much climb whatever they damn well please. Still, as those are the few complaints I have, you can be rest assured that Skyrim is incredible and that any issues are currently being fixed by the dev team as we speak.
Skyrim is a beautiful and well developed game that will take you on an epic quest that will engulf you into its world. Don’t be surprised if you go into a cave and emerge 2 hours later feeling like it has only been a half hour. Don’t be surprised if you tell yourself just one more quest or one more skill up. And don’t be surprised if you take a moment to look at the scenery before you kill a dragon. Skyrim lives up and exceeds everything that we had hoped for in an Elder Scroll game. We highly recommend this game and we really look forward to what Bethesda has in store for us in DLC.
This was a review by Luigi and Hllivingloco
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About Luigi Guarnuccio
I am a Multimedia Gamer. I have been gaming all my life and it is my main source of inspiration for my work as a designer/developer.