Player: James Campbell
Everyone at school wouldn’t shut up about this game, even the kids that never touched a video game in their lives. It felt like a century before the news hit me, but I’m not here to play for their sake. I’ve been a gamer my entire life, holding onto a controller before I could even walk. My room is a gamer’s sanctuary, my escape from the awkward bubble I find myself trapped in day in and day out.
I’m ashamed of myself for letting this game slip under my radar. Usually I’m the one who has all the intel, the one who memorizes every new game release month by month. Sales for this game have started bringing the greatest developers to their knees, as hordes of people flock to Polaris Studios’ newest title, Leikur.
It’s about time I gave this game a shot.
My vision is blurred for a few moments, and my body is numb. VR does that to you all the time, so I have already accustomed myself to it. When I reenter focus, a bustling metropolis surrounds me. People engulf the street I stand in, socializing. I take one deep breath to take in the skyscrapers around me. The air is fresh, but chilling. It reminds me of my home, Chicago.
And yet, this world is nothing like Chicago. The edifices seem even more massive in comparison, and the train tracks above me levitate over the ground, rather than having support beams lift them into the air. This place breathes new life into my sour home, and it feels wonderful.
“Excuse me,” someone calls behind me, poking my shoulder.
I turn around, and it is a man, slightly taller than me, and stronger, but not by much. I guess us Tempests prefer lanky and agile. He yells through the echoing voices of the city, “Exile, there you are!”
I hesitate for a moment, confused, then remembering Exile is my in-game name, and that I’m supposed to have no memory of anything. Simple enough considering I have no idea who this man is. “Um, hello. Have we met?”
“What do you mean ‘have we met’?” his brows furrowed in anger, “We’re on the brink of convergence and you’re here breathing in the air of Starlight City? Danos has been searching all over for you!”
“Starlight City?” What a name for a Chicago-inspired city. You would be lucky to see the stars with the lights of the city obscuring them. “Sorry, I don’t remember anything other than my name.”
“What!? You lost your memory!?” He paces quickly. “Not you too! It’s an epidemic!” He is only raising his voice now to be heard over the loud city breeze pushing past our ears. “I need to get you to Lord Danos right away.”
“Lord Danos?” I reply, and we begin walking eastward.
“The Tempest Lord Danos? Ring any bells?”
“Listen, if I don’t even know your name,” I intervene, “how am I supposed to know a lord who isn’t standing in front of me?”
“Just follow me,” he looks down at my feet, “Great. You’re missing your gravity boots too.”
“Forget it, we’ll walk. And I might as well remind you that my name is Uriah.”
Uriah is definitely not a name anyone would choose for their IGN. Uriah has to be an NPC, but he doesn’t seem like one. His movements and gestures are fluid and dynamic, as if a person was controlling him. The steps he takes are loose but balanced. In other games, an NPC like Uriah would have stiff, static advances, easily discernable to other users. Here, humans and NPCs seem to blend together.
We walk several blocks through Starlight City and Uriah is sulking and cursing under his breath. “Are you alright Uriah?”
“It’s so slow walking around this city on the ground. Where did you put your gravity boots?”
“What are...gravity boots?”
“Look up, at the walls of the buildings,” Uriah points upward at the building next to us, and my head follows. Above me are people dashing across the glass of the skyscrapers, gracefully jumping to another while keeping parallel to the skyline.
My jaw drops; the incredible amount of detail in this game is unrivaled. I know I wouldn’t have thought of “gravity boots” and “jump from building to building majestically.”
Uriah looks at me again, “Wow, you really don’t remember anything.”
“Not a single thing,” I answer.
But I’m certainly ready to “remember.”