Towns That Tell a Story



  • Since I'm unoriginal and a thief by nature, I wanted to steal an idea presented by Kyle in this week's Frame Trap - towns that are more than just window dressing. What are your favorite cities to explore? What stories do they create that have stuck with you?

    I recently booted up Persona 4: Golden and it had been 8 years since I had visited Inaba. My memory isn't wonderful so a lot of the shops felt new (well, some of them are because I played the original version) but it still felt comfortable - even if a deadly fog persisted in the town and people were being murdered. Nearly every NPC has something interesting to say that changes as the game progresses and even shop keepers have unique and quirky personalities. You can't help but feel the town is alive in a way most RPGs fail in spectacularly. Helping characters in the town not only provides story elements, it actually levels your social links and helps you make stronger Personas. Inaba... Just good vibes all over.



  • I think The Citadel, from Mass Effect is one of those places to me.

    The explorable area may not have been all that big, but it always seemed massive in my mind because they did a great job with the environment and sky box. You meet some of the most memorable characters there, and interact in an environment where multiple alien life forms are supposedly living and interacting with each other, like a star trek kinda atmosphere. It was cool. It had mysteries. I always loved going back tho the Citadel.


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    @TokyoSlim YES! I loved The Citadel! really enjoyed spending so much time just running around there!

    As I used to be heavyly addicted to WoW I must say that Stormwind were a brilliant city! maybe not the best to get around to the places, but I loved the atmosphere of the place! the npcs, the music and the people there! I have spent hours and hours in there doing stuff or just hung around and spoke to friends!

    Whiterun from Skyrim! It felt old, scandinavian and freaking werewolfs! what more do you need? :D


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    @Lotias Whiterun feels like straight up Edoras from the Lord of the Rings, and I love that!



  • @Lotias I had houses all over Skyrim but only one that truly felt like home... Whiterun.



  • Each of the town and hub areas in Ocarina of Time tell their own stories while feeding into the main plot of the game. It is also really cool to go back as Adult Link and see what has changed in the seven year jump.



  • When I think about towns that tell a story I think of the Dragon Quest series. Each town has something unique about it and usually has a problem that must be solved by the party. They solve the problem then move on to the next town making it feel like an anime in structure.



  • I spent a whole lot of time in Hamelin from Ni No Kuni. It was so unlike any other town in that game, like a peek in to a pig filled industrial era. Of course I'm also partial to Iwatodai and Sumaru City from Personas 3 and 2. Urban and quirky.


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    @Ruaidhri18 Yeah! I got this really nice vibe to it!

    @SabotageTheTruth Same here! in the end when I wanted to go home, I always went to Whiterun, also that was the only house I fully upgraded!



  • The Assassins creed games have lately become history city simulator, I take most time exploring the setting, than playing the story.



  • I don't know if this counts as "towns" and this probably isn't exactly what you're looking for but if I recall, that town in Persona 4 is also a main setting so I'm gonna roll with this. The following are settings for games that take on a life of their own. I have never played any open world action game or RPG or anything that put so much detail and atmosphere into self contained places like these:

    Butcher Bay - The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
    The entire max security prison has an aura of despair and violence but to narrow it down, the original section at the beginning in general population oozes with atmosphere. You can fully walk around your prison ward and take on side missions, talk to the prisoners, go into cells, fight with people. Screams from behind closed doors. Moisture on the walls and limited light except in the courtyard. Amazing to play.

    Arkham Asylum - Batman: Arkham Asylum
    Most people have played the original (and best) in the Arkham series. I saw this is the best game because it, again, is a self contained title. You get to uncover, the rediscover new places to proceed through the asylum. It almost feels like the video game version of Die Hard where you spend a whole day in Arkham stopping the Joker, but you never leave. Even once the game is over, energy still emits as you uncover backstory for (Amadeus?) Arkham as well as solve Riddler puzzles. None of the sequels had the atmosphere that Asylum had.

    Rapture - Bioshock
    You feel the horror stuck inside your pod as you arrive in Rapture. The place is dark with light only funneling in from the ocean. Deformed people screech, you walk through puddles that litter beautiful carpets and walls with an art direction akin to 1920s Atlantic City or something. So much beauty but so much decay and madness. This is the most atmospheric game setting of all time if you ask me. I'll never forget Rapture.

    Sevestapol - Alien Isolation
    This is the next best thing after Rapture. This space station begins to feel so familiar by the end of the game, but that in itself doesn't mean the terror of the foggy and dim corridors is null. The sounds of doors opening, or the glow from old CRT computers all help the station take on a life of its own. The abandonment from the staff and the survivors slowly being killed by the alien makes each return to a prior hallway much more eerie.


    Like I said, you probably weren't looking for this answer but akin to what you posed, "towns that are more than just window dressing," I'd say that these are nothing of the sort. Are they towns, no, but they aren't like some games where you battle in a generic jungle or an RPG game where you are exploring a borderline empty sprawl with nothing except some loot sprinkled in between. These settings are the richest I've personally played.



  • @michemagius said in Towns That Tell a Story:

    I spent a whole lot of time in Hamelin from Ni No Kuni. It was so unlike any other town in that game, like a peek in to a pig filled industrial era.

    Oh god yes. Everything from the soundtrack to the areas around the city just work so well in conveying the atmosphere of "industrial" with a sense of pollution. Let's get a Syndrome on it somehow.



  • @GoTaco Actually, Rapture is a damn fine pull. Lots of stories all throughout that place.



  • Novigrad in Wither 3 its cool how the city evolves into religious fanaticism over the course of the game.



  • @FutureCorpse said in Towns That Tell a Story:

    Novigrad in Wither 3 its cool how the city evolves into religious fanaticism over the course of the game.

    Novigrad also gets my vote! Except it's more of a actual city than just a town. So many memorable characters live there and as you said you get to see the city evolve. And even can take quite a big part in shaping it. But even the small towns feel lively in the Witcher. The world is designed to be believable, even in fantasy setting.



  • @Budi yeah you pretty much hit the nail on the head.



  • I liked Whiterun, but I feel like the companions and main questlines only stopped there: they didn't truly take place there. I really liked Windhelm. Not only do you have the rumor about the Arentino kid and murder mystery quest (those are always fun), but there's the Dark Brotherhood contract to kill the Shatter-Shield daughter. It's a really cool quest, because if you kill her, her mother kills herself too. As morose as that sounds, I though it was a really cool payoff to a quest, suicide note and everything.

    Elder Scrolls games are fun. Good, clean, sadistic fun.



  • @FutureCorpse said in Towns That Tell a Story:

    Novigrad in Wither 3 its cool how the city evolves into religious fanaticism over the course of the game.

    Weren't they burning mages when you got there? What was the evolution there? Triss' storyline?



  • @Haru17 said in Towns That Tell a Story:

    @FutureCorpse said in Towns That Tell a Story:

    Novigrad in Wither 3 its cool how the city evolves into religious fanaticism over the course of the game.

    Weren't they burning mages when you got there? What was the evolution there? Triss' storyline?

    Yeah, when mages leave the persecution shifts to non-humans.



  • @Budi Oh... right. I guess I forgot that because not-Gimli is still there.