It’s hard to deny that, these days, video games have been an absolutely, almost insanely large industry. In fact, a lot of AAA (high profile) games have higher development budgets than blockbuster films (Grand Theft Auto 5 being a prime example). On top of this, the medium itself has matured beyond imagination when compared to its humble origins.
Most of this is down to the fact that the people who played games like Mario and Sonic when they were kids have now grown up into “adults”, sort of.. So the medium has been forced to grow up too.
Gone are the days of games being limited to side scrolling platformers or Pac Man clones. Now we have high octane thrill rides based upon the horrors of World War 1 (Battlefield 1), truly atmospheric horror games that will legitimately scare you (Resident Evil 7) and breathtaking epic adventures that will take you across galaxies (Mass Effect) or through lush and open worlds full of discovery (Horizon Zero Dawn).
But honestly, for those of you who don’t play games, it can still seem like a childish waste of time, or something that seems so overwhelming that you just don’t know how to get started. That’s why, today, I’m going to talk about 7 “gateway” games that can help you get into gaming in a steady and easy to manage way. Why? Because games are incredibly fun, can be a great bonding experience (especially if your partner enjoys them) and are actually a much better activity for your brain than just watching TV, because TV shows are passive entertainment where as games are active (you actually have to think and react). So, here we go; 7 great games that can act as gateways into the gaming world (and damn, that was a long introduction).
We’re going to start of with a relatively recent game that can only be described as “art”. All you have to do is watch the video below to see exactly what I mean.
With absolutely stunning visuals, an amazing soundtrack and really easy controls, Journey is a great game to get you started on your.. ahem… journey into video games. What starts off as a simple, yet truly beautiful single player game eventually turns into an online co-operative game where you can only talk to each other using sound emotes, which just adds to the majestic nature of the game.
The plot is simple, so it’s really easy to get into, and you’ll find yourself swept away by what the developers have managed to create!
Final Fantasy 7
Okay, so now we’re going to take a step back to 1997 (unless you want to wait for the upcoming HD remake of this absolute classic). Final Fantasy 7 was a game that not only introduced the JRPG (Japanese Role Play Gaming) genre to much of the western world, but also introduced a lot of the world to what video games can actually be!
As you can see from that 1996 trailer, it’s a pretty epic game, especially for the time it was made! The graphics are really dated, that I won’t deny, but this is a game that will truly show you what an epic storyline can be! Originally released on the first PlayStation, it spanned 3 whole discs! But don’t let that put you off!
The combat is turn-based, meaning you carry out your actions, and then your opponents take their turns, and then you take yours again. So it’s a nice and easy way to get used to thinking and reacting tactically, without the stress of everything happening in real time. On top of that, the characters are so well written that you’ll fall in love with them. The storyline is crazy, but still really engrossing, and the tragedies of the plot will hit you hard! This game caused so many people to laugh, smile, shout with a sense of accomplishment, but also weep as the plot drove forward.
If ever there was a game to get you started, this would be the one. And, as mentioned earlier, they are currently working on an HD remake of it, although the battles are being changed to real time, instead of turn based. Here’s a gameplay trailer for the remake, so you can see the difference.
Oh, and in case you wanted to know how important this game is to people who played it, here’s a reaction compilation video from when the remake was first announced.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Right, so this one is more for the horror movie/TV show fans among you. Amnesia is a first person horror game that is easily one of the creepiest things you’ll ever experience! But, it’s also easy to control, simple to get into and has a plot that involves (funnily enough) amnesia, so having it as one of your first games can actually add to the enjoyment!
As that trailer shows, Amnesia has both quite and relaxing areas to allow you room to catch your breath, but also some really heart pounding sections, which makes it a great introductory game for the horror genre. Add to this the fact that the controls are so easy to use, and you’ve got a great first game for horror fans!
Oh, and there’s no combat or fighting in it whatsoever! So you don’t need to worry about being good at aiming or anything like that! It’s basically a really scary version of hide and seek!
The Last Of Us
Sticking with the horror genre for this one, but with added adventure and survival, The Last of Us is a game that can only be described as one thing; a masterpiece! This is a game that has literally won hundreds of awards! Just check out this Wikipedia page for a list of them! It’s a harrowing tale that you just want believe, making most blockbuster movies look like a poorly written children’s book!
It’s an emotional roller-coaster that you won’t believe until you experience it! Seriously! The characters are so well done, and so realistic, that you’ll truly come to care for them! But since this is a zombie game, you know there’s always going to be heartbreak! But even shows like The Walking Dead won’t prepare you for the strength of the narrative in The Last of Us!
What makes this even better (and scarier) is that the virus in it (Cordyceps) is actually a real virus known as the “zombie ant virus” that actually exists in real life! It affects various different insects through spores that the Cordyceps fungi produces! So this is actually one of, if not the most realistic idea of a zombie apocalypse, ever!
Now, the controls may take some getting used to, but trust me, it’s worth it just to experience this epic story. If there was ever a game that could show you the level of storytelling that this medium can produce, then The Last of Us is it! And if you do play it, I’d love to hear how it affects you… And it won’t take long to do that! So please, let me know in the comments below!
Mario Kart 8
Moving on from those two horror games, we’re going to the complete other end of the spectrum now! Mario Kart 8 is the latest iteration in one of the most successful party racing games ever! And by that, I mean games where you can sit down with your partner or friends, start up a race and just have some fun! This is, by no means, a serious game!
It’s just downright fun to play, easy to use and utterly hilarious! You’ll be tearing around the tracks in no time, launching mushrooms at each other and feeling like a pro almost as soon as you pick it up!
There’s not really much to say about the game that the trailer above doesn’t already show you, so I’ll just say this; if you’re looking for a quick to pick up, easy to play bit of mindless fun, then Mario Kart 8 is the game you’re looking for (and yes, that was a Star Wars reference).
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The newest game on this list, Zelda: Breath of the Wild is on the new Nintendo Switch, and is the flagship game of the console at the moment. It’s also the latest entry in the insanely long running Legend of Zelda franchise. The great thing about the Zelda games, however, is that they are so easy to get started with!
Breath of the Wild is the first of the Zelda games to be open world (meaning you can just go wherever you like), and it’s massive! The art style is a bit cartoony, but then, Zelda’s always been like that. It’s part of the charm. But don’t let the (beautiful) graphics give you the wrong idea; this is a mature, intelligent game with a great storyline and really fun gameplay!
It’s also a great gateway game because it’s super easy to control, let’s you build up your character whilst also building up your skills at playing the game, and gives you a really awesome experience on top of it all! I would definitely recommend getting a Nintendo Switch and buying this game, if you can afford the console!
Of course, if you can’t afford the Nintendo Switch, you could always buy an older Zelda game like Ocarina of Time, since it’s been re-released on the Nintendo 3DS.
The final game on our list is a delightfully funny puzzle game that really needs you to use your brain! Portal is a first person puzzle game that involves you creating 2 connecting portals to move between different sections of various puzzle rooms, trying to complete each puzzle in order to move on to the next room. Simple, right?
As the trailer shows, you can put the two portals almost anyway, allowing you to interact with each puzzle in a variety of different ways! And to make it even better, the controls for the game could not be simpler! After all, you only need to move and shoot the portals! In fact, as shown by the trailer at 1:56, you can have some real fun with the portals as well!
It’s a simple game to pick up and get started with, but the fact that you really need to think about what you’re doing will give you a great example of the different between active entertainment (like gaming) and passive entertainment (like watching TV).
And That’s All Folks!
Those are my top 7 picks for gateway games that can help you get into and understand how far gaming has come since the days of Super Mario, Pac Man and Sonic! I would definitely recommend giving them a try and seeing what gaming is all about these days!
Too often I hear people saying it’s a waste of time, childish or some other nonsense, without having actually tried to play games themselves. Hopefully these 7 have, at least, piqued your interest, and at best, made you want to give them a go! Plus, if you have friends or a partner who likes to play video games, then you should definitely give these a try! After all, if a gamer offers to play a game with you, then it means they really, really like you!
Have these games piqued your interest? Would you be willing to try them out? Are you already a gamer and have your own list of gateway games or opinions on the games in this list? Let me know in the comments below!