You may have remarked on my absence from blogging, to which I’ll say “correct,” and refuse to elabourate further. This isn’t about me, but about a feat of bottled lightning that has justifiably sent a shockwave through gaming hobbyists (I refuse to use the terrible and unspeakable slur, “gamer”), myself included, after having finished a full playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3 and having ugly-cried no less than four fucking times.
“Reviewing” any fiction format involves a degree of subjectivity, so I’ll briefly make my tastes plain to help you gauge the usefulness of this spoiler-light review (knowledge given in marketing or learned very early on). Rarely, a story will squeeze through my ADHD with a tight enough vice grip simply by virtue of exploring a fascinating premise. Severed is a recent example from sci-fi TV–bifurcating one’s brain such that their memories formed at work cannot be accessed outside of work, essentially creating a stuck-in-purgatory version of you to do your job while the “outside you” effectively goes to sleep and passes a work day in the blink of an eye–what a clusterfuck of ethical and logistical problems, of which the show delights in exploring. I say “rarely” because, unfortunately, not many authors adequately explore their weird world-building premises to shake off my brain fog, and the story bounces off me. Most of the time, when a story has truly seized me by both shoulders, it’s because it successfully conveyed a character-drama that I found personally compelling in some way: Veronica Mars when I was a teen, drawing from the titular character’s seeds of distrust in avoidant authority figures; The Cleric Quintet, with its priest of knowledge pursuing answers amidst the political pressure to enforce normality; Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, its dueling duo personifying the titanic struggle between knowledge from experience and the ambition to push the envelope just a little further for progress’ sake. The genre matters little to me when I’m drawn to the characters.
So that’s my taste in fiction thus far: Either conceptually interesting and explored in ways that pleasantly surprise me, or a personally gratifying character struggle that tugs at my heart strings. Games have the added difficulty of attempting to do either feat, while also presenting some kind of mechanical… well, game, which successfully reaches my lizard brain and tricks it into releasing the happy chemicals. Baldur’s Gate 3, then, might be the first work of fiction to hit all three of those boxes, and I’m asking 10-ish minutes of your time to tell you why you should buy and play this game: