In the beginning, you awaken to find yourself being carted off along with three men. Two across from you and one next to you, silenced with a cloth gag. A dialogue begins with the clearing of your vision, casual talk between the two Nords across from you, and it becomes clear that you, as well as the three men on the cart, are prisoners. When you soon arrive at your destination, a dragon arises seemingly out of nowhere and begins terrorizing the town, unintentionally giving you cover for your escape.
Depending on the choices you make and the quests you complete, you will almost inevitably fall in line with one side of an ongoing civil war while simultaneously attempting to rid the land of its new dragon problem, leading up to a final boss battle that will supposedly end the reign of fire and destruction the dragons wrought.
This epic tale is that of Skyrim: Elder Scrolls V. Accompanied by music, audio, and visual effects are graphics that, for their time, largely measure up to the term “immersive”. There are hundreds of voice lines recorded in dozens of voices, ranging vastly in pitch and accent – not to mention the sound effects. When wind is blowing or rain is spattering in-game, not only can you see the effects in the world around your character, for headphone users the sound of it engulfs you, only fading out when you move to another area or enter a dangerous situation.
Aside form the main story-line, there are a multitude of side quests and mini quest lines to complete, as well as dozens of locations to uncover and explore. The world of Skyrim is huge for being largely contained within the borders of one fictional country, and it only gets bigger with the help of DLCs and mods. Vanilla Skyrim, itself, is over 100 hours of gameplay – if you’re willing to go the completionist route and want to discover all of the possible quests and locations.
For me, personally, playing the game was almost a religious experience. Back in 2011, when I played it for the first time on my Uncle’s computer, I was obsessed with the world that was a continuation of Oblivion. I delved deep into the lore, and was delighted when I was given my own copy some months later. I played Skyrim obsessively, coming home every day from school and immediately dropping everything to fight monsters, explore caves, and experience a more outdated form of adventure – everything I had wanted in my own life then, but am very glad for not experiencing now. When I finally dragged my then highschool-aged self back to complete the main quest line, I was thrilled with the conclusion I reached (Paarthurnax stayed around to hang out, of course), and for a time I stopped playing. I was done with the game, satisfied with my decisions, what more was there to do? Some time later, I went back to play the game again, but after the first time I completed the main quest line, everything fell a little flat. The world was no longer as exciting to me now that I wasn’t experiencing it for the first time, and I felt compelled to desert the main story entirely for another taste of the freedom and magic that had once captivated me so.
Ultimately, I would give this game a 3.5 of 5 stars. While playing the game as a kid, I was enamored with it, but coming back to it later on opened my eyes to some of the more glaring problems (famous Bethesda glitches, anyone?). It would be really cool if there was more diversity in the body types of the characters in-game, and if my computer now could handle the game without giving up and dying, and I hope that in the future they make another game with an even bigger map to explore!
Skyrim: Elder Scrolls V was available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 starting November of 2011, and has very slowly started spreading to other consoles. Common equipment used with the game ranges from earphones and headsets to computer mice and controllers. Skyrim has an age rating of 17+, and includes sexual themes, violence, gore, and on-screen usage of drugs and alcohol. This game is not for everyone. Player discretion is advised.