Welcome to Grand Thrash Auto, where we have some of our favourite metal musicians discuss their five favourite games!
One of the main reasons we started this series upon launching a gaming section on our site is to explore the crossover between metal and gaming, but it’s becoming clear that the most fascinating aspect is that it gives people an opportunity to explore the games they hold dear and express why games have so much to offer as a creative medium. After Bismuth‘s Tanya Byrne took us on an exploration of existential sci-fi questions and the way that enquiry becomes active through gaming last week, for this instalment of Grand Thrash Auto we have Espi Kvlt, who has lent their venomous vocals to several killer black metal projects, taking a deeply personal look at the games they love.
From watching family members play games growing up and later being able to experience that joy for themself, to taking their name from a beloved video game character, to journeys of self-discovery found within RPGs, Espi’s five choices are a reflection of the way in which video games can leave a real lasting impact on our lives.
Fallout: New Vegas
“As someone who grew up watching my dad play the Fallout games, something about Fallout 3 just didn’t quite connect with me the first time I tried to play it. It didn’t feel very “Fallout” to me. So, I decided to skip it and see if Fallout: New Vegas was better. I was met with what continues to be my favourite game of all time. New Vegas takes the heart of the original series and implements it into the new style that Bethesda was attempting to achieve. Your actions feel meaningful, your relationships with other characters (for me, Rex in particular) feel real, and there is a virtually unlimited number of different ways to explore the wasteland. I replay this game every single year and it never gets boring, even if I do playthroughs that are identical to ones I did in the past. The story is captivating enough that it keeps you coming back to it again and again, just like a great novel. And I never get tired of wiping that smirk off Benny’s face in new ways.”
Silent Hill 2
“While I love (almost) every Silent Hill game and could’ve justified putting many of them in this spot (I do have a tattoo from Origins, for instance), Silent Hill 2 is a unique entry in the series in that it deviates from the main storyline, providing a game that stands entirely on its own. The gripping story and the reveal at the end will stay in your mind for days questioning James’ actions. I actually hated James for a long time after I played this, and it wasn’t until I recently replayed the game that I grew a soft spot in my heart for him. But James’ story and Pyramid Head stalking him aren’t the only things that make this game fantastic. One character, for instance, Angela, is another reason this is my favourite Silent Hill game. Her story is one of sexual abuse with a monster to match horrifically and perfectly. As a survivor myself, I related to Angela in ways I have never related to a character in a video game before. Her monster became my monster. That room with the pipes bursting into the holes was such vivid imagery that haunts me to this day. Her Silent Hill being perpetual hell flame was sadly relatable. There is simply no game with a story that compares to the weight and horrific beauty of Silent Hill 2.”
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
“It is probably noticeable that I have two Bethesda games on this list. I also have two massive tattoos for both Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. Hence why I used to joke that “my favourite game is Bethesda” until they disappointed me time and time again and now, I can no longer make that joke [it even took Obsidian coming back to perfect Fallout! – ed.]. But it is true that I adore Fallout (minus 4 and 76) and I adore The Elder Scrolls. The first time I played Morrowind as a child I was blown away when I attempted to sell something I’d stolen to a shopkeeper and he knew I’d stolen it from him. My little mind could not comprehend the AI before me. When Skyrim came out it was even more mind-blowing. The reason I have Skyrim on this list is because A.) I adore the dragon lore and love Alduin and Paarthurnax as individual characters and B.) the replayability of Skyrim is amazing in quite a different way to New Vegas. While with New Vegas I have explored every nook and cranny and still never get bored, with Skyrim, every time I play, I discover something new. In one playthrough I’ll join the Dark Brotherhood and in another I’ll become and marry a werewolf. I have never had two of my Skyrim playthroughs be anywhere close to the same, and it is why I hold Skyrim up as the one of the greatest examples of roleplaying games (coming only just behind New Vegas).”
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
“Let’s start with the obvious: you get to play a vampire in this game. Anyone who knows me knows I love vampires and literally identify as a “cryptid vampire” or just “vamp” for short when asked about my gender. I have always been extremely into vampires, but oddly enough, I didn’t play this game until recently. Unlike Vampyre, where I felt the actual mechanics of playing a vampire were lacking and frankly dull, this game truly makes you feel like you are a bloodsucking immortal while you play. The characters are amazing – I particularly fell in love with Jeanette and Velvet and ended up dying my hair red shortly after playing this game after having it dyed black for about twelve years before. I ended up concluding about my gender after cosplaying as Jeanette from the game and having the fake teeth in and feeling a similar sense of euphoria as I felt when I bind or stuff my pants. This game is more to me than just a game. It took me on a journey of self-discovery and self-love, and I came out of it an entirely different person with my gender puzzle finally fully complete. Let me be clear, the game itself is also fun and the story is entertaining. I recommend it to you even if you aren’t hardcore vampire obsessed like I am. Also, it has a great soundtrack that includes Lacuna Coil.”
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
“Anyone who has played this probably already knows what I’m going to say first: That twist! This is the only game that has ever had a twist so mind-blowing that I actually started audibly screaming and immediately had to go tell everyone I know. Playing as Revan was an absolute delight, and as a hardcore Star Wars fan, I feel this is the best Star Wars story that exists and hopefully one day we’ll see Revan on the big screen. The gameplay is also incredibly fun and even though I’m not usually a fan of combat systems like this – that clunky old-style third person – I was having such a great time with the story that it didn’t bother me, and I was actually able to talk my way out of a lot of fights. Any Star Wars fan needs to play this game, it is the epitome of what a good Star Wars story is.”
Honorable Mention: Pokémon Crystal Version
“While I was assigned to discuss my five favourite games, I simply could not end this list without mentioning Pokémon Crystal. Pokémon is the series that got me both into video games and anime. My very first game on my first console – a pink Gameboy Color – was Pokémon Red. The reason I love Crystal version in particular is because I find the second generation of Pokémon to be the best and I loved tracking down Suicune in Crystal. A lot of people don’t know this but my name – Espi – was actually taken from my favourite Pokémon, Espeon. Espeon makes a little “Espi!” sound in the anime and I thought Espi sounded more like an actual name than Espeon so that’s what I decided to go with. Pokémon will always hold a special place in my heart as being the game that got me into video games, and I am so proud that my artist namesake comes from it.”
Thanks for reading. For more Grand Thrash Auto pieces, click here!