Video games have always had a special place in my heart. From weaving unforgettable stories to creating characters that are so real you remember them years after you’ve put the game down – they’re a form of both escape and entertainment that have changed people’s lives all over the world.
But it’s not just the story and the characters that make video games special. There’s also the places. Being whisked off on far away adventures from the comfort of your bedroom is an experience like no other. That’s why, here at Screen Streams, I decided to round-up some of my all-time favourite video game locations. Journey with me into the realms of digital wonder, won’t you?
Hollow Bastion (Kingdom Hearts)
Just look at that pretty slash ominous castle, just looming in the distance over our fave heroes. From the very first instance you touch down in Hollow Bastion, you know that shit’s about to get real in-game. Some of the most iconic moments in the whole franchise happen right here: you fight Maleficent, you turn into a Heartless, you fight Riku!Ansem… shit really does go down.
Sure, it’s crazy to navigate, what with its ridiculous amounts of lifts that go here there and everywhere and bubble teleports that take you through the undergrowth of the castle… but that only adds to the charm. You can team up with the Beast, explore the libraries where Belle resides and get lost amongst the endless labyrinth of pretty corridors. There’s also that amazingly atmospheric music that trickles away throughout your time there. Bliss.
Just don’t get me started on the so-called ‘Radiant Garden’. Don’t do my beautiful Gothic castle dirty like that.
Chorrol (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)
The entire land of Cyrodiil is pretty beautiful, let’s be honest. The Imperial City, shining and grand. The forests, filled with flowers and creatures. I spent hours trekking across Cyrodiil’s grassy plains back in the day, exploring every nook and cranny of the map.
My favourite place to go, though, was Chorrol. A small, quaint little town, complete with a grand oak tree outside the Mages’ Guild, it always seemed… tranquil. There was also that neat little painting quest, too, which was always fun. Every chance I got, I’d buy the house here, ready to make Chorrol my home once and for all.
Badlands (GTA: San Andreas)
San Andreas blew my mind back when I was younger. The seemingly massive map, the crazy missions… Good times. My favourite thing about San Andreas, though, was the Badlands. It was the first GTA game that let us explore an actual forest. Pine trees, mountains, little villages and some hilarious missions to boot, The Badlands was definitely a highlight in one of my favourite games of all time.
There were also those myths. Remember the infamous Bigfoot legend? Supposedly he roamed the forests… The amount of hours I spent wondering amongst the green undergrowth searching for the legend are uncountable. There were also ghost cars, UFOs and other crazy rumours flying around the web about the spooky-ass forest. Watching a ghost car roll down the misty hills as I played into the depths of night was something 12-year-old me loved.
Mt. Chilliad looks over the whole forest, an actual fucking mountain that you can drive up. I definitely didn’t drive off the top of it time and time again. Nope. Not me.
Seriously, if you didn’t stick on K-Rose and journey through the ominous forests in the dead of night to some sick country tunes, you haven’t lived.
Fallow Mire (Dragon Age: Inquisition)
I feel like most people hate the Fallow Mire. Hell, even my fellow companions groan and complain every time we have to trek across the gloomy swamp. But ya know what? I like gloomy. From the constant rain that pours down around us, to the lightning that snakes its way across the sky… it’s just so atmospheric. I mean, minus the killer zombies that are lurking in the water, it’s positively lovely.
Skyhold (Dragon Age: Inquisition)
Yup, more Dragon Age: Inquisition. I just love this game, okay? The castle is absolutely huge, with spires and rooms that go on and on the more you explore. It took me a little while to wrap my head around the navigation of the place: there’s the inquisition table, the undercroft, a tavern, your bedroom, a stable, spires and balconies… the list goes on. But I love my own little slice of land in Thedas. Being able to upgrade and decorate it – down to choosing your own throne – is also a massive plus. I love me a bit of customisation.
Ordon Village (Zelda: Twilight Princess)
Ah, this place is just so zen. The air is filled with the scent of unfulfilled adventure, the promise of a quest just waiting to be embarked upon. It’s such a quaint little place at the beginning of the game, where you can fish and learn the basics of the controls. I also loved exploring the village at night, in wolf form, chatting to the little chickens that were dotted about the place here and there.
Can they please announce a remaster for the Switch, already?! I need to replay my fave Zelda game of all time. Thanks.
Chloe Price’s Room (Life is Strange)
Yeah, so it’s a little messy and it probably smells like pot. Still, Chloe’s room is such a perfect representation of her character that it’s hard not to fall in love with it. From the scattering of fairy lights to the graffiti on her walls, it’s a place that so quintessentially Chloe it’s amazing.
Who doesn’t love Midgar, honestly? I feel like Midgar was such a key part of many gamer’s childhoods that it’s cemented itself as being special to all of us. Its dirty, run-down streets, Aerith’s quaint little home, the Shinra building… All of it is simply effortlessly iconic.
It’s also a pretty solid representation on the themes in the game as a whole: Capitalism, authoritarianism, the destruction of the planet itself… all wrapped up in those sub par PS1 backdrops. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. With its futuristic, grimy urban scenes, Midgar is a place that I’ll revisit time and time again.
I cannot wait to see Midgar in beautiful 4K resolution next year. The. Hype. Is. Real.
The Farm (Stardew Valley)
Stardew Valley is a quirky, cute little game that is positively dripping with atmosphere. The villagers, in all of their 8-bit glory, dot about the game doing their day to day business. The mines are filled with little critters trying to attack you. But then there’s your farm. The one place in the game you can choose to decorate, upgrade and build as you see fit. There’s nothing quite as calming as chopping down the trees, planting crops and tending to your animals across your little valley. I personally prefer the forest farm, and like it overgrown and messy. But that’s just me.
Columbia (Bioshock: Infinite)
Now, I’ve only played this game once. I really ought to replay it. But, one thing that stuck out in my mind about Bioshock: Infinite was the sky city of Columbia. I mean, it’s a city… in the friggin’ sky! How sick is that? It’s such a beautifully done, unique setting that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it from the moment I set foot up there.
Lilycove City (Pokemon Sapphire)
Confession time: Pokemon Sapphire is my favourite Pokemon game in the series, and Hoenn is my favourite region. From the tall, long grasses to the volcano to the oceans, it’s so diverse and filled with interesting Pokemon that I just can’t help but love it. My favourite place in the whole game, though, is Lilycove City. Especially when Kyogre is on a rampage and the entire world map is covered in rain. Ah, rain. My favourite weather. Trodging through the soggy streets of Lilycove with my pal Mightyena is a treasured gaming memory I’ll never forget.
Aaaaand that’s it for my fave video game locations! I’ve probably forgotten a heap load… there are just so many amazing places to explore within the digital confines of video games; each with their own personality and vibe. What about you, Streamers? What are your favourite places to explore in games? Let me know in the comments below!
Or, for more on geeky stuff, check out why I think Nancy Wheeler is the best character in Stranger Things.