That Time of Year

If I were a religious man (which I am not), there would be one thing that would be my religion; the thing that most made me feel like I was at peace with myself. Would it sound completely strange to say that it would be a video game that would make me feel like that?

As hard as it may be to digest for some of you, this is actually the case with me. It has developed into a bit of a yearly ritual that happens around this time. Sometimes I wait until the first snowfall and other times I wait until around my birthday (which is this year).

I’m talking about a little video game called Parasite Eve. In this day, I could be referencing the trilogy but I’m talking about the very first game released on the Sony Playstation back in 1998.

I’m not going to delve into a whole synopsis of the game and it’s story here. I’ve spent far too much of my time investing into understanding the story, separating from it what was fact and fiction and then bringing it all together. If you want the story, look it up online or buy the game from eBay or the Playstation Network.

What I will say about the game however, with 100% sincerity, is that it is my all time favourite video game. It has stood the test of time where others that would otherwise claim that spot have failed horribly (most notably Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VII).  The interesting thing to take away from that statement is the reasoning behind it as it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint why this is the way it is.

I could easily prepare arguments as to why Parasite Eve is amazing on the typical levels that we constantly find ourselves comparing and contrasting video games on: graphics, audio, control, replay value, cinematics, longevity, etc… By those same metrics, I could make a list for you as to why Parasite Eve sucks. After putting some pretty serious thought into it, and by that I mean more than I really should have, Parasite Eve strike a deep chord with me. It’s revealed through the story occasionally as the plot progresses and may only be apparent if you’ve either paid attention or can relate to the main character on this level.

It’s the feeling of solitude.

Not just the feeling but the way the atmosphere was expertly crafted to help drive that feeling home is what really stood out to me.

The first time I played the game was around this time in 2003. That same year, I stayed at my dad’s house for a night and on that night, I played the game for nearly 27 hours straight. In the following weeks, I found myself researching the science behind the story and trying to figure out what was close to actual science and where the line for fiction was interjected.

But then there was the art. Tetsuya Nomura did some seriously amazing work depicting the characters. Yoko Shimomura had to have performed her best work on this game (rivaled only by Legend of Mana); the soundtrack here is one that I still hold in extremely high regard and listen to on a regular basis.

I have a bad habit of replaying games over and over again. This is true with movies as well. It’s slightly different with video games though. Typically I’ll replay it once or twice and then never touch it again. This was the case with Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII and Legend of Dragoon. All three of those games could very easily sit on the top of my favourite games list but the problem is that they didn’t stand the test of time whereas Parasite Eve has.

Since 2003, I’ve made it a point play the game in its entirety using a new file at this time of the year. This is going to be the first year that I’m going to be doing it on my PSP because my Playstation took a dump. Tonight is going to kick that process off. And I’m super fucking pumped.