Monday, 23 January 2012

What am I supposed to be doing in Skyrim?

It was inevitable that this would happen, but I’ve finally decided to sit down and write a dedicated Skyrim blog post. To be honest, anyone could write a web entry about Skyrim if they have played it for 20 minutes. Heck, play it for 20 hours and you would probably struggle to fit your experiences into a book, let alone a blog. This game is huge, bigger and more open than any other mainstream game that still provides a narrative. This opens up a problem.

If Skyrim were a building it would be a huge skyscraper, fitted with interesting architecture and thousands of corridors. There would be several lifts and staircases but they will not all have access to the same floors. Also, each individual tier of the structure would not be labelled and each room would only be marked by a number on the door, whether it was a conference room or a maintenance cupboard. Most rooms have delicious cakes in them, but occasionally you will open a door and get mauled by a tiger.

My point is that you could spend years wandering around Skyrim and not quite be sure of your main objective, destination or current risk level. Things start off deceptively simple, but before long your quest list will have 12 entries in it and you will no longer be sure which one is the main objective. A game like this with seemingly endless and mostly fun tasks is a brilliant thing, but I’ve started to lose track.

Every time I set out to accomplish a task, I’ll talk to someone on the way or investigate a cave I pass and then suddenly realise my quest list has grown even more than before. You come across new jobs, favours and adventures by accident and your journal starts to look as bulky as a phone book rather than a convenient, wallet-sized to-do list.

I have no idea which quest entry is the main story now as I continue to work my way through Skyrim as everybody’s go-to guy. Sorting through your quests is like picking through a ball of cotton filled with broken glass. Trying to separate the main thread from the others that are perfectly woven around it is painful.

This may sound like a complaint, but it really isn’t. Skyrim is the game that keeps on giving, continuously surprising me with random, yet seemingly deep content that is hidden in the strangest of places. It makes me curious about how much I haven’t found yet in my 35 hours of play. It also makes me wonder if I’ll ever get to see it through another character’s eyes or if I’m just doomed to stalk around as a sneaky archer-type forever. How do you decide when you’ve completed the game?

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