The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Let me try to put this game into context for you, because, let’s be honest, without first narrowing the frame of this review, I could literally talk and write for the better part of a day on all of the reasons why this is the greatest thing since both sliced bread and the second metaphor I think of. (Side note: The game contains both sliced bread and the second metaphor I can think of. You can eat both, and they are each physics-operable.) Without going into the fact that this game’s pedigree makes any royal family you care to name look like they grew up in a double-wide somewhere in the terrifying depths of Alabama, and without going into the fact that the game is, I kid you not, theoretically infinite, I will submit to you simply this:
After a long and hard day of questing (or pick-pocketing local nobility to see if I could—whatever you want to call it), I stumble into a tavern … somewhere. I honestly don’t remember; the game is massive. I saunter up to the bar only to be challenged to a drinking contest by some local yahoo out to debauch and deprave his night away. Of course, I accept! I am Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn for those of you not hip to the tongue of a dead race of terrifying flying lizards. I’m an adventurer! I’m the guild master of the Thieves’ Guild! I have honor to uphold, I’m made of sterner stuff, and I intend to show this medieval frat boy what real men (read: lizard-men, I’m an Argonian, after all) look like when they intend to do battle with their livers.
Long story short: I wake up in the middle of a ruined chapel to one goddess or another with a high priestess yelling at me, despite my epic legend-of-the-hierarchs-grade hangover. I find out from her that I came into her chapel the previous night, turned the place out, and then passed out on the floor in front of the altar. After making a sizable donation to clear the air, I find out that I’ve won a staff from the man I was drinking with and managed to lose both the man and the staff. At this point, the priestess directs me to a town I was heard rambling about the night before and bids me to get the hell out of her chapel.
I collect my things, find my horse, and then proceed to drag my slowly sobering butt to this town, where I find out that I rampaged through the place. Rampage here having the meaning of “stole a man’s prized goat and sold the thing off to some giants who happened by.” After managing to convince the man that I could only get him his goat back if I first find the staff, he tells me I left him a note that mentions a jeweler a couple towns over. So I make my way there. Upon arriving, I find out that I was set to be engaged (Who knew? I thought I’d be a bachelor forever) and I was so convincing that I talked the lady into giving me a 2,000 gold ring on credit, a ring which I had somehow managed to lose. After guiltily paying her, she tells me that I mentioned the ceremony taking place in some fort or another a county over. So I drag my now thoroughly sober (and longing for a drink, if only to make some sense of this) hide to this fort in the middle of nowhere. After fighting my way through about three layers of wannabe mages of all things (seriously, what did I get up to? My drunk self must really hate my sober self), I arrive at a magical portal to someplace by the name of The Misty Grove.
At this point, I’m following my footsteps out of sheer curiosity; I don’t even care about my former drinking buddy and the staff I’m owed for my night’s trouble. So I go crawling through the portal and into this grove. Not even knowing what to expect, I happen upon, of all things, a bar in the woods. Yep. So I walk up to the bar and find my old pal who challenged me the night before. We get to talking, and wouldn’t you know it: The man turns out to be none other than the Daedric god of hedonistic debauchery and revelry, the great lord Sanguine. He gives me his calling card, a staff of what can only be termed awesome power. We laugh, and he then proceeds to throw me out of his realm into, you guessed it, a tavern back on the mortal coil.
The whole thing was brought about by some dude challenging me to a drinking contest in a bar. Now this isn’t even going into the main quest, which I haven’t even managed to finish yet, or the Thieves’ Guild quests, which are a hoot. I’m also not mentioning my consumption of the souls of dragons or the fact that my dear lizard-man is somehow a werewolf (most disgusting transition ever). I also have yet to tap into the brotherhood of assassins or the college of magic-users, and I have a literal pile of side quests stacking up that I am ignoring. I sank over 350 hours into Bethesda’s last game, and lord only knows how much of my precious life energy this game will take from me before I have plumbed its depths, but I will give it willingly because this game is fun, tense, beautiful, and ridiculous. How can I put this delicately? Do you play videogames? Buy this game. There are many things in my life I will regret: things like what happened to me graduation weekend and the first time a druggie pulled a knife on me. All of the time I will give to this game, dear readers, is not one of those things.