Video games are an expansive, diverse landscape that encapsulates many different tastes, styles, and genres. For some, games are a great and amusing way to pass the half hour train ride they endure to get to work in the morning. For others, games represent a way of life, and are the ultimate form of interactive entertainment.
Games have become a massive industry, selling million of copies, and making billions of dollars, for developers, publishers, and retailers each year. Recently, people who have devoted their lives to videogames have also started to make money. Popular YouTube and blogging gamers have gotten millions of subscribers, and are visited by thousands of fans every day, all while making a very healthy profit. Like them, you also could register your own site, pick your niche in the expansive world of games, and watch as your popularity soars!
Even if you’re not ready to take that step, it doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the games that have touched the lives of literally millions of people all over the world. If you’re an action fan, you’re definitely welcome here, and to help you get started as a gamer, or discover some new, old classics, here are the four best action games.
Following in the wake of the moderately successful Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls sees the player take on the role of the Chosen Undead, a zombie-like creature cursed with the Darksign. With this curse, the player will never die, but is instead resurrected time and again, until finally, they go mad, or “hollow.” While traversing through the dark fantasy themed kingdom of Lordran, players will encounter other undead, demons, monsters, dragons, and other assorted horrors as they seek a way to relink the First Flame, and break the curse.
Dark Souls distinguished itself in a market saturated with actions games in several different ways. First it was hard – I mean, really hard. The game was so difficult upon release that it gave rise to the phrase, “hardcore gaming,” because only the most dedicated gamers would endure the punishment necessary to master it’s systems. But this mastery is very much achievable because, despite its difficulty, the game is incredibly balanced and fair. If you die, it truly was because you made a mistake, one that you can learn from.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
A legendary game from a legendary series, Symphony of the Night (SOTN) took everything that made the Castlevania franchise great, and improved it in every way. Playing as Alucard, the son of the legendary vampire, and series antagonist, Dracula, the player must explore Dracula’s fortress of Castlevania, in an effort to discover why the castle has reappeared in so short a time, battling ghouls, ghosts, demons, and monsters along the way.
While Castlevania has always been known for its challenging, addictive melee combat, SOTN took it to a whole new level, introducing RPG mechanics that allowed Alucard to grow stronger as he slew monsters, gain new weapons, armor, and magic, and explore the castle at will. This last innovation was especially important, because prior to that, the levels were always linear, and players only had a certain amount of time to make it to the end of a stage before they would automatically die. With SOTN, players now had the option to take as long as they wanted exploring Castlevania; in fact, certain areas of the castle were inaccessible to Alucard early on, and he’d either have to find the right item, like a key, or gain a new power, like turning into a bat, in order to progress.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
One of the best stealth action games of all times, MGS3 took the core of what made the first two entries in the series so popular and endearing, and made it even better. Serving as a prequel to MGS and MGS2, players took on the role of Naked Snake (who longtime fans knew would become Big Boss), and were dropped into Tselinoyarsk in the former USSR, to recover a Russian scientist who wished to defect. After a shocking betrayal, Snake is left near dead, but is safely recovered, only to be redeployed a week later to stop the traitor, and recover the nuclear device which they stole.
MGS3 kept the same core mechanics of stealth and gadgetry to avoid detection that had become the hallmarks of the series, but added in some new features that made the game both more challenging, and more fun. Dependent on the environment, Snake could swap out the camouflage patterns of his military fatigues to better blend in. He would also have to hunt for animals or food reserves, as his strength would deteriorate, either leaving him vulnerable in combat, or starving to death.
The game was also noted for its gripping story, flamboyant but endearing characters, and memorable boss battles. Indeed, the game features a boss battle with an aged sniper, named The End, that can literally last for days; although, in a twist that only the Metal Gear series could deliver, it was possible to beat The End without ever firing a shot (but that’s a secret you’ll have to discover for yourself).
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Part action game, part RPG, part gnostic reflection on destiny and morality, the Legacy of Kain games are regarded as some of the best told, and best realized, action adventure games of all time. This sequel to Blood Omen, the first in the series, had players assume the mantle of Raziel, a former lieutenant of the vampire Kain, who had assumed dominance over the land of Nosgoth, after he refused to sacrifice himself to restore the world. After sprouting wings, an evolution that Raziel gained before his master, Raziel is betrayed by Kain, and thrown into to the Lake of the Dead, where the water burns and destroys his body.
However, he is saved from complete annihilation by the Elder God, a mysterious, seemingly omnipotent, whose agenda is unclear. In his state of further undeath, Raziel is given a single task in return for his rescue from oblivion: hunt down the other lieutenants of Kain, as well as the master himself, and destroy them.
Soul Reaver was a technical marvel when it was first released, in which the player could not die, but could only temporarily have their physical body destroyed, while their spirit returned to the spectral plane. With this ability, Raziel could phase between the material and spectral planes at will, using this ability to solve puzzles and overcome opponents. Using a variety of weapons, including his claws, swords, tridents, and ultimately, the legendary wraith blade known as the Soul Reaver, which allows Raziel to snatch the souls of defeated enemies.