With all of the nonsense that goes on in the games industry these days, it can be rather easy to lapse into resigned melancholy when thinking on its future. For me, I often can’t help but wonder if everything is going to wind up being subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and free-to-play cash grabs like Diablo Immortal or Destiny 2. I wonder if the days of truly beautiful games and the ability to hang onto them are coming to a close. However, just when those thoughts threaten to overwhelm completely, a game like Skate Story comes along and shows that there’s still some real magic to be found in gaming.
Skate Story isn’t out until 2023, so we’ve got a long time to wait before seeing what it’ll actually be like. Yet, I can’t help but be optimistic for this one. The otherworldly aesthetic, the wonderful mix of fluid motion and low-framerate animation, the band doing the soundtrack and the themes at play all point towards something truly special; something that may end up being one of those rare games that pulls one wholly into its experience. Again, this may just be me getting blown away by an exceptionally well-done trailer, but I just can’t help it! I want the magic I’m feeling here to truly carry through into the final product!
The last game (and trailer before it) that struck me like this was GRIS. It wasn’t a particularly game-y game, and it wasn’t a feast of intricacy and incredible scale like Elden Ring, yet GRIS has stuck with me much more strongly than other, supposedly superior titles. GRIS did for me what all truly great art should do for its observers/participants: it evoked some real feelings from me.
I wasn’t just empathizing with a character or rooting for or against someone, I was sympathizing with what was happening in the game and making the emotions my own! Only a couple other games have managed that in the past, those being Transistor and Nier: Automata. The other two didn’t look capable of such from their trailers, but GRIS did, and so does Skate Story!
Going back to what I was saying in the beginning, I don’t actually think that all modern video games are terrible; far from it! It’s just that its very easy to look at them as mere products to be consumed and discarded, and it’s very easy to think that that’s the kind of attitude that goes into their development. Even fantastic AAA games still tend to have a certain “this is a product” air about them thanks to the marketing and hype machines surrounding them. I just typically don’t expect such a game to really connect in that way, at least not how they used to. It might just be a function of getting old, but the feeling is there all the same.
So, yeah it may be that Skate Story doesn’t end up being at all like I hope it’ll be. For now though, I’m glad to have found out about it and am glad to have been reminded that there is still incredible beauty and vision to be found in gaming. It’s also nice to have been reminded that one should never write-off the indie space, as it’s still, and may be forever more, the place where most new ideas come from.
How do you feel about the state of modern gaming? Have you ever seen or played a game that restored or reaffirmed your confidence in it? Have you ever had a game truly touch you somehow?
Image from the Skate Story Steam page