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So here's the premise of Illusion of Gaia.

The main character is a boy named Will. The world is one that's in a weird, hard to define, age of exploration. Like there's planes and gun powder, but the majority of what you see are really primitive looking places. Explorers are specifically after ancient ruins to find wealth and possibly hidden power. Like I said, it's vague but there's sort of a reason behind the world being so ill-defined. As a young child, Will went with his father on one of these expeditions to the Tower of Babel. Something happened and the party was wiped out. But Will survived, just with no memory of what happened. He returned back to his home and life went on almost as normal.

Then one day he discovers a portal to a pocket dimension called the Dark Space where he's told by a vision of Gaia that he must go on a journey to find 8 (maybe less, I forget) Mystic Statues. With them, he can climb the Tower of Babel and stop a comet that will destroy the world. The comet comes once every 1000 years or something and has the power to physically change the world as the one who stands in it's presence desires. Will gains the power to change into different forms like Freedan the Dark Knight and Shadow an energy being. Basically over the course of the game it becomes clear that the world was changed by someone using the comet to make it the way it was and the end of the game is Will restoring the world to the modern era, though he has no memory of it.

The game has stuck with me for a lot of reasons. First, the fact that it managed to dump all these ancient places into a game and truly made it a globe trotting adventure. You explore Inca ruins, Nazca, Angakor Wat, The Great Wall, and made up places like Mu. There's also a real dramatic part to it too. You only play as Will and his transformations, but he's joined by a whole crowd of friends who have relationships and backstories. Most of them are kind of boring, but there's some interactions that have stuck with me. Like one dies very early on and then is turned into a whale. Which was weird. Two of them fall in love. You learn a guy you met in the middle of the desert was hiding out there because he hated the fact that his family were slave traders. Will has a love interest who ends up being key to the end game, which is generic now but for 1994 was some advanced writing for a video game. There's even a pet pig that kills itself to feed a starving village.

It's a really weird game, I'll admit. But weird in a good way when you play the whole game and see the whole picture. It was a top-down action RPG that was more linear than anything, but it provided a great challenge that took many hours from me on weekends.


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