That Post-Great-Narrative Melancholy

I recently finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild and have already hit that feeling. You know the one. That feeling that accompanies the end of any great situation. A slight melancholy; a nostalgic sadness. I’ve taken to calling it the “Post-Great-Narrative Melancholy”.

This feeling occurs for all sorts of things, but I’ve most experienced it with media. Be it anime, books or – the most frequent – video games, PGNM is always destined to come after a truly amazing experience.

It’s a strange situation, feeling so down after something that brought you so much happiness. It’s like walking into a quiet office after leaving a busy city street.

It feels really bad to me to be honest. Having depression, I very rarely feel close to what I’d call happy, hovering around “Vulcan after being anaesthetised” most of the time. To have my emotions lifted by something for a while only to have it crash back down doesn’t exactly rub me the right way. It makes me want to avoid anything that might raise my emotions, lest I fall back again.

It’s an inevitable situation though. We humans always seek out even the tiniest amount of pleasure, and I’m no exception. As long as I’m alive, I will probably face the PGNM again. I guess it’s just a matter of learning to work through it (not that it is that easy).

Since I started this depressingly, let’s pick it up a little and I’ll talk briefly about a few things that have made me feel the PGNM before. It is, after all, a great marker of something’s success in making me happy.

The Witcher 3 is a wonderful game for lovers of fantasy. I never really got into the other two Witcher games, but I nonetheless loved this one. It’s enormous yet packed with content, every NPC having something to say, every location having a story. For fans of branching narrative, it is almost unmatched. I can’t think of any games that outclass it in that field, not even the excellent Pillars of Eternity or Divinity: Original Sin.

As stated at the start of this post, the newest Legend of Zelda game, Breath of the Wild is also wonderful. Like The Witcher 3, there is huge amounts of content available, with every little area containing something to do or see. The gameplay is a great mixture of traditional Zelda-style play and more free flowing, open world gameplay. It makes a great change to the Zelda formula, and everything feels satisfying; collecting fruit, hunting animals, gliding through the sky, climbing mountains, sneaking up on monsters, fighting said monsters, solving puzzles and cooking stat boosting meals. It all works so well, and all the narrative is fun, from the story to the dialogue given by even the most unessential npc.

To the Moon is the last on my little list. It isn’t open world or choice based like the others. In fact, it’s basically the opposite. It’s linear, relatively short in length, lacks any major action and focuses on only a few characters.  However, it is one of the best stories I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It is utterly, soul crushingly sad in some areas, heartwarming and hilarious in others. Out of every single story I have ever experienced, this game was the closest I have ever come to crying. It is truly amazing.

So there we are. A discussion of the Post-Great-Narrative Melancholy  (I’m going to continue using that until I find a better term for it) and a few recommendations for games to try that have made me feel it.

Who knows what will make me feel this way next? I can only hope the feelings I feel are worth the slump that comes after.

But then, that’s true of a lot in this life, isn’t it?

festina lente,

Logan, The Not-so-Dragon

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