Today is Valentine’s Day. To some it’s the most romantic day of the year – a chance to tell that special someone how much they mean to you. To others it’s a jaded marketing ploy to rinse your wallet for over-priced chocolates and cards that contain messages so saccharine they’d make Willie Wonka crave beef jerky. Here on GR+ we’re a bit of both, so to celebrate we’ve dug into the archives and selected the very best of our ‘Why I Love’ series, which warmly embraces the most joyful, unusual, or just downright entertaining aspects of our favorite games. Why spend your night with a loved one, when you can get more joy from being locked in space with a misunderstood cannibal, eh?

Why I Love: The cannibal of Tharsis

“The crew in Tharsis has no personality or backstory, except what you can perhaps interpret from their pained expressions as they take damage or hear the ship breaking apart. But I can’t help but feel like Sofia the cannibal is a plucky underdog of a space farer. There’s absolutely no plausible reason she should be there in the first place (I really wonder about her job interview), and I’m not sure how her skills will improve first contact, but whatever. If I can only get one person safely down to the surface of Mars – a common outcome in Tharsis – it’s gonna be her, dammit.” Susan Arendt

Read the full article here. 

Why I Love: Firewatch’s forest fire

“Rather than take the easy route by settling for what people might generally think a wildfire looks like, Firewatch commits to the accuracy of its vision, recreating a breathtaking natural disaster in all its terrible glory. I wasn’t exactly distraught at the lack of life-like forest fires in video games before now (what are you going to save the world from out in the brush? Juniper allergies and poison oak?), but seeing something so familiar perfectly and lovingly rendered warms my heart.” Ashley Reed

Read the full article here.

Why I Love: the sentient, smart-alecky Terror Mask in Splatterhouse

“Splatterhouse’s writing may not have won any industry awards, but I absolutely love the dialogue between the Terror Mask and Rick, who plays the conscientious straight man to the wise-cracking, bloodthirsty relic that’s fused itself to his face. The Terror Mask’s many quips, disses, and snarky observations are just as punchy as the game’s combat, and made all the more hilarious by Cummings’ impressive, extensive filmography. I’d put Rick and the Terror Mask right up there with Shadow of the Damned’s Garcia Hotspur and Johnson on the list of ‘delightful duos from eccentric, cult-classic action games who can somehow make light of the terrifying, extremely life-threatening hellscape they’ve been sucked into’.” Lucas Sullivan

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Why I Love: Batman: Arkham City’s quietly reflective end-game

“At this point, we get a real Batman simulator. Not the snapshot, action-movie version, but a feeling of what it’s truly like to be the Bat, out on patrol, unseen and unheard in the darkness of the sky, night after night after night after night. There’s no longer any prescribed narrative drive dictating our actions. No more waypoints to guide us, or any scripted, false urgency trying to push us to the next objective. There’s just the cape, the darkness, the criminal element somewhere far below, and whatever we decide to do next.” Dave Houghton

Read the full article here.

Why I Love: Morrowind’s mass transit system

“The rest of Morrowind is all about you: what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it. That’s the point, of course. You’re the hero of prophecy and whatnot, so of course you’re the most important driving force in the game. But I appreciate the reminder that the world ticks on regardless of my personal needs and whims.  The silt striders keep flying whether I’m there or not, the boats keep shuttling passengers around the outer rim of the island. They’re there when I need them, but they’re not only there because I need them.” Susan Arendt

Read the full article here.

Why I Love: Kazuma Kiryu’s suit in Yakuza

“Even when he’s surrounded by yakuza who behave like what you’d expect, career criminals using violence for personal gain, he adheres to a classic ideal of honor and protection that was never the reality of the Japanese mafia. “For me, being yakuza is a way to live,” he says in Yakuza 5, without a shred of self-awareness. The suit and the man wearing it are hopelessly anachronistic, not born out of any real era of fashion but a rose-colored idea of a better past.” Anthony Agnello

Read the full article here.

Why I Love: the finger-chopping scene in Heavy Rain

“You’re chopping off a part of your own body for a clue that may or may not lead to your kidnapped son, Shaun. It’s a very permanent, very painful thing. And there are no guarantees it will yield results – only the word of the Origami Killer who is manipulating you remotely. It’s a test of your emotional threshold, and the impact it has on you depends on how committed you are to the core premise of being a father who is hoping to rescue his son.” Andy Hartup

Read the full article here.

Why I Love: Crash Bandicoot after 20 years

“Crash Bandicoot was my first time playing a game where it felt real. A technical marvel at the time because of the way it maximised the power of the original PlayStation, the ‘Sonic’s ass’ game (named because of the view of our hero) is full of fluttering butterflies and beautiful levels. I was enraptured by the idling animation where Crash would throw around Wumpa fruit. This was the first time I’d played as a character who got bored. The subtle difference between his celebratory happy face when he reached the end of a level and the exhausting wipe of the brow if he’d died was like a miracle. ” Louise Blain

Read the full article here.

Do you have a cherished, if unusual or little-heralded, gaming moment that you’d like to confess? Tell us all about it in the comments below.



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