• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

A retrospective on Gothic (2001)

BySean Clark

May 11, 2020
Official Gothic poster

Before I discuss why Gothic is my favorite game of all-time, I must establish what I enjoy and prefer in video games. Story is the most important aspect for me, especially in action-adventure and role playing games (RPGs). While gameplay and graphics are important, the story and the atmosphere the game establishes is crucial for my investment in the game. The main exceptions to this are sports games as I can create any story and competition I want. With that established, I will now discuss why Gothic is my favorite game of all-time.

Gothic 1 Gameplay (720p) - YouTube
Screen cap of the Nameless Hero meeting Diego.

First, Gothic is a game you may not have heard of. That is normal as it is a game that is not well-known in the United States. It is an RPG developed by the German company, Piranha Bytes and it came out in 2001. The game takes place in a medieval setting and the kingdom is at war with orcs. You control a nameless hero who is thrown in a prison colony surrounded by a magic barrier that allows entry, but it won’t let you escape. The prison colony was developed to provide the king with magic ore in his war against the orcs. However, the convicts killed the guards and took control of the colony. They exchange the ore with food and other essential items with the king. Your character, with an unknown backstory, is thrown in the colony and tries to figure out a way to escape and make some friends along the way.

It’s my favorite game of all-time due to the strong story, unique setting and character progression.

Gothic Part #23 - A visit to the Not-So-Free Mine
Screen cap of the Nameless Hero talking to Gorn.

The game is seperated into six chapters and the structure and progression make the story a strong aspect of Gothic. The story isn’t clear at first as you are thrown into this prison colony with no equipment and no allies and that is amazing. You have to explore on your own and figure out how to survive and get by in this strange world. You determine what kind of character you want to have and make decisions that you think would be best. Once all that is established, the game becomes a linear story game and that works very well. The first chapter makes you establish yourself in this world so the later events will have more of an impact. Also, the story progresses in a way that will surprise first-time players. It is quite a journey and even after playing it again for about the tenth time recently, it still made an impact. To top all that off, since the main character doesn’t have a name or backstory, you can use your imagination to create a name and backstory for him.

Gothic/The Old Camp — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and ...
Screen cap of the Old Camp.

The unique setting is amazing and my favorite in gaming history. You are thrown into a prison colony run by criminals and that is not a typical setting in video games. They are not good people and there are quite a few characters that are jerks to you and there is nothing you can do about it at first. On top of that, it’s not a prison where you are confined to a certain space. You are free to explore wherever you want but as your character progresses, more areas will open up. This allows great immersion into this world and that makes the gameplay very satisfying. When I play, I feel like I, myself, am in this world trying to survive. It’s that immersive. The music, composed by Kai Rosenkranz, is one of my all-time favorite soundtracks as it perfectly represents the atmosphere the character is in at a particular moment.

Gothic Part #10 - The Minecrawler's Nest
Screen cap of the Nameless Hero learning how to take out the secretion from the Minecrawlers’ Mandibles.

Lastly, the character progression is one of the most satisfying of all-time. At the start of the game, your character has nothing and is weaker than everyone else. There are many characters that are way stronger than you at the beginning and when they bully you, there is nothing you can do but take it and try to get stronger. The moment where you can finally stand up to them is extremely satisfying after everything you went through to start the game. Also, one amazing aspect is that the fighting animation changes as you learn skills. For example, at the beginning, you hold a one-handed sword with two hands as your character has no idea how to fight. However, as you learn how to fight, the animation changes and it allows you to hit faster and have longer combos. I have rarely seen a game that does this and that is a perfect way to progress a character. The game literally teaches your character how to fight and it makes a huge difference. It is not like most games where you just learn new abilities and deal more damage. The way you fight literally changes and that makes the character progression even more satisfying. I cannot recommend this game enough.

The story is excellent, the setting is amazing and the character progression is satisfying. The music is wonderful as well and the voice acting, while not the greatest, is serviceable and hilarious at times. If you want to check out this game, you can download it on gog.com as it is compatible with the newest versions of windows unlike the Steam version. It is a PC only game. Even though I experienced a few crashes over the many times I have played it and the frame rates were not the best, it is still a tremendous experience and I highly recommend playing this game.

Rating: 10/10