Nostalgia is a harsh mistress.
We wouldn’t respect her if she weren’t, wouldn’t kneel before her if she weren’t such a magnificent bitch-goddess. To attempt to consummate the desire for Nostalgia is to at once invite frustration and further desire. In response to our thirst, wine flows from her breast, but it’s syrup-sweet and it leaves us hungover and parched.
I have very complicated feelings about playing Legend of Kyrandia.
What strikes the eye about Kyrandia is that it’s gorgeous. Fantasy, if you ask Skyrim, means you’re in a drab land. You’re fighting scores of desperate humans and wild animals who’ve just been driven to madness in their hunger. Spells are controllable bullets that follow all the rules. Look, I have less of a problem with the aesthetics of polygons than some do, but I also know that gamer culture, geek culture, this is the culture that looked at Wind Waker, one of the finest-looking videogames of all time, and dismissed it as so much faggot shit. Which lead to the dead-eyed homunculus that shuffled through Twilight Princess. I’m not That Guy: I’m not going to say that Things Were Better Back In The Day. But I know that, while you can show off a snazzy system by slapping as many polygons as possible on there, back in Pixel Times, the quickest way to show off you had a flashy monitor was by displaying every one of the 256 colors that you could.
Look, I hate Game of Thrones because I find it dull and lifeless. Because I want fantasy to have some of the fantastic. I don’t care about the dreary, shallow ice ball that is Skyrim. But the very first shot of Legend of Kyrandia is a bird’s eye view of the land, and it’s lush, and it’s green, and it’s beautiful. And as we’re taking in Kyrandia–surely as idyllic fantasy land as was ever thought up–a narrator tells us that the land is in danger. We see portions of the forest being destroyed. Trees dying and exploding.
We will see the destruction of Kyrandia from ground level most of the game. But we see beauty here, and we see a fraction of that beauty being destroyed, and we know this will happen again and again until the whole thing burns down.
In one shot, Kyrandia does something that Skyrim, with all of its bloat and its bombast and its self-importance, never once managed to do, found utterly impossible to do: It makes me give a shit about the world I’m supposed to be saving. Kirkwall, Skyrim, Cocoon, Hyrule–they can all fucking rot for all I care. Only reason I’ve gotten to the end of most of that shit was because I already paid my money–I already owned the game and just wanted my money’s worth.