This series is a long time coming. Gaming is just a huge behemoth, with billions of players every year. It has been a huge part of my life.
So, this series, I will talk about what I believe are the best games I’ve ever played, or at least the video games I have enjoyed the most. Sometimes it is not about the quality, but about how much fun they are to play. That’s all that matters, right?
Firstly, I apologise for my absence since my last post. I know it has been a while. Things kind of hit a downturn in the last week, and my health has taken a major hit since. Struggling with the mind is one of the loneliest places to be in the world, and everyone needs a safe outlet.
As I’ve said before, two of my main outlets to escape my depression and health problems is writing and gaming, which I feel ties in very nicely with each other.
So, let us begin! First of all, I am only allowing myself 1 game per franchise, which I think has to be done. Or many games of the same franchise will just take up spots, most likely. Secondly, I am limiting this to the PC. I’ve grown up on the PC from the very beginnning. But hey, my list, my rules.
Number 20 on my list is. . . .
That’s right? Number 20 on my list is none other then Black and White, which became one of my top gaming experiences as a child.
This game came out in 2001 by Lionhead Studios, maker of Fable and the later disaster known to everyone as Godus, the failure of 22Cans. Oh Peter Molyneux, you never change. Lionhead Studios sadly has closed down as of April 26th 2016. Despite its many problems, I remember this company fondly, mainly for this game, and it dominated my teenage years for its originality. They just do not make games like this anymore, which is a crying shame. Imagine a remake of this video game in 2018?
Ah Peter Molyneux, you over-hyped everything you created, and this game was no exception. He was a brilliant thinker, but has made considerable controversy in the gaming world for over-exaggerating the features in his games, many of which never made it to the final, published release. I have nothing personal against the man (except perhaps for how terrible Godus turned out to be on PC), but he made things very hard on himself. Black and White though was overall very well received in the initial stages, before later reviews began to emerge, and overall reception was mixed.
However, I still found deep enjoyment in the game, and hundreds of hours were spent playing this flawed, but mostly enjoyable sandbox-god game. It’s one of my favorite PC games of all time, not so much for its technical prowess (Though during the time of its release, it looked fantastic), but it did what so few games offered. Even now, it is one of the few god-sims available. You can still play the game, but it requires a lot of tinkering to make it run on modern systems.
It’s certainly under-appreciated in the present day. It is a hidden gem which I think everyone should play at least. Lionhead Studios, the guys behind this game, has shut down as of this year, leaving a sad memory in my heart. They eventually collapsed under the weight of their expectations, but games such as Dungeon Keeper, Fable II and this game make me remember it fondly, and even “almost” make up for Fable III and the appalling video game Godus.
Essentially, the game is a god-sim, where you control the lives of your little subjects and do anything you want to them. Me? I’m a prick of a god, and enjoy torturing them. I reviewed its sequel Black and White 2 in my second edition of Flash Game Reviews, but this game just had an edge in overall depth. BW2 was dumbed down a lot, and while many features in the first game weren’t as polished as they should be, it is still an enjoyable experience.
What do you do in this game then? Well, in Black and White, you take the role as a god over a village of people (who demand everything and breed like rabbits, an annoying mix which is frustrating at times to handle, not to mention the bugs which occurred at times), take over other villages while playing quite an extensive campaign which can last dozens of hours, depending on your skill.
I say extensive, which is half a lie. There are only five lands, but each one is dense and packed with things to do. All of them were immersive, and I never got bored playing them once. (This is in far contrast to its sequel, which despite its bigger range of features, skimped out on in the campaign, I feel. Was kind of a disappointment.) There are several mods and custom-made maps you can download and play as well, which heightens the gameplay. Remember, if you can mod the game, it goes huge lengths towards making the game better!
You feed your villagers, keep them housed, they pray for you and you fund this with Prayer Power at your Temple, which is converted into Miracles. Casting Miracles is always fun and you can do anything from water forests/give food and wood to your people, to torturing and killing them with fire, lightning and storm. You can even pseudo nuke stuff with the Megablast miracle, though its expensive and hard to get, only in Land 5.
There are skirmish maps, but always the same and hard to get into, though there are plenty of mods available for it. You also get a creature who you nurture into your own, though this is often buggy, and you can teach it miracles too. Many different creatures await your control and you can swap them throughout the game if you want, but there isn’t really much difference between them, except a couple of options like speed/intelligence.
Your creature is the biggest part of the game, and theoretically you can teach it anything you can do. It can dance, learn miracles, gather for your villages, and so on. However, in playing I found this to be buggy at times, with many of the miracle learning exercises to be extremely slow and had a habit of “forgetting” at times. Once, I spent 5 hours teaching my creature (An ugly looking, evil Zebra) the Megablast Extreme miracle. It reached 100%, then tried to cast it, Boom, back to 0%. That was a frustrating bug, though it didn’t happen often. It was a huge shame though. it would have done brilliantly in murdering that stupid god Nemesis on Land 5. . .
You can be good or evil in this, whichever you want. You don’t even need to do any missions if you don’t want, and there is no time constraints; the world is your oyster. Of course, you don’t get some of the fancier bits like making buildings (through buggy scaffolds, the game wasn’t fully utilised to use this), or making miracles until Land 2, but the option is there if you want if you want to just hang in the first land. I’ve spent close to 50-60 hours in the first two lands alone. There is also an expansion pack Creature Isle that has a considerable amount of content, though focuses solely on the creatures itself. Another thing worth looking at, though as both games are now vaporware, you should be able to download it from anywhere.
Overall, Black and White was over-hyped and overrated as a video game, plagued by shallow systems and a buggy AI, but I still found this a great game even in the current age. Why? It reminds me of more enjoyable times, it’s still good to kick back and relax in the world (old graphics but looked amazing back in 2001) and it sits fondly inside as one of the games which helped me greatly in my childhood. Try it out sometime, it’s one of the most enjoyable games of the 2000s, if you can get past the quirks.
GOG.com, please put this onto your site. . .it needs some love.