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Simply put, [A Mind Forever Voyaging] was one of, if not the, first games with a serious plot. Instead of fantasy (Zork, Ultima) or sci-fi (Star Raiders, Starcross) the story was about politics and modern society. Instead of rescuing the damsel in distress, the goal of the game was to discover if a social policy would result in a better future for mankind. Your "character" was a computer that could simulate the future and you would "live" in that future to see what it would be like. This computer simulation had existed as a mere simulation, living as a man with a wife and child, for years and suddenly found out that it was a computer and that everything it had known was fake. In addition to having one of the best gotcha moments in gaming (anyone remember typing "Ryder" and the way the senator totally freaked out?) it also had one of the greatest endings in the history of videogames. Not only do you find out that the future would have been a disaster under this new policy, your reward is to be put back into the original simulation to be reunited with your "family" to live out the remainder of your life. I was in my early teens when I played this game and I still remember the tears in my eyes at the final paragraphs.
Trying to choose one game that has ushered in a new age of unprecedented storytelling is like trying to pick one book amongst all books for the same award. It seems almost impossible. However, after much deliberation with myself, I have settled on Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. While there were NPC's in the first Zelda, and in other games, Zelda II was one of the first games that really sought to breathe life into their townsfolk. NPC's walked around and seemingly had their own agendas. It gave the world a life of its own, instead of being a simple stage for Link's story to unfold upon. Now, this is a standard. Games rarely revert back to the days when NPC's were lifeless - standing in a cave waiting to give you a wooden sword with no personality or reason for their existence.
Fernando De La Cruz, 1st Playable Productions
Xenogears re-defined the term 'scope' as it applies to video game story telling. With a story that spanned thousands of years, and took on topics such as religion and the origin of man, Xenogears went where other games were afraid to tread. Lasting well over 80 hours, nearly every plot point and character was fleshed out completely, creating an epic and dynamic story that stands today as one of the greatest examples of video game storytelling.
Chris Gaub, Excell Data Corp.
Xenogears had such an intricate plot, with split personality and reincarnation leading to the best climax ending I have ever seen. And Yasunori Mitsuda's music plunged you deep into the story. I have yet to find another RPG that equals it
Mel Saint Marceaux, BNP Paribas
Planescape: Torment had the same emotional effect (which is not to say that it's entirely on the same aesthetic level) on me that The Brothers Karamazov did, a kind of feverish struggling with oneself that I very rarely experience through any medium, be it book, film or game. Furthermore, Planescape: Torment used an unusual approach in that it wasn't about saving the world, nor even was it character driven, but rather it seemed to be question driven, as if the whole game was a riddle. Essentially, it posed profound metaphysical questions with sublime eloquence.