I was going to write today about the earth-shattering news story of the week – a story that shook the industry to its core, caused much gnashing of fanboy teeth and unleashed wails of soul-shuddering emotive power from those lovingly awaiting the Best Game EverTM – that The Elder Scrolls VI been cancelled. However, after some sluggish, just-woken-up reasoning, I put together the evidence (namely that the fifth Elder Scrolls game isn’t even out yet, let alone the sixth) and concluded that I had just dreamt about the previous story. Ah well.
Sticking with the Tamrielic theme, I’ll write about Morrowind instead. This is a game that is very, very special to me. It’s one of those defining features of my childhood, something that will be as prominent in my memory in fifty years time as the Lord of the Rings movies and my first read through Paradise Lost. Taking the road from Balmora to Pelegiad, scrambling up Red Mountain during an Ash Storm and getting lost in the snowdrifts of Solstheim are all cherished memories wrapped up in my reminiscence of that game, which in turn has left a mark in my recollection of the last ten years as indelible as those from lunchtime football at school, Christmas Eve in the cathedral and the craziness of Holiday Club week in the summer.
It’s been a good long while since I played the game. There’s something of Narnia in my conception of it. My adventures on the isle of Vvardenfell – such glorious adventures – are done; I’m too old to go back. The one time I tried to restart the game and play with another character, it felt strange, like I was trying to exploit this gorgeous world and draw more out of it than my allotted share. I’ve replayed Knights of the Old Republic 2, a game I hold in equal esteem (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time completes my triumvirate of favourite games), many times over, but Morrowind has this bizarre, repellent quality, whilst simultaneously calling me back.
Just an hour ago, I downloaded Morrowind Overhaul, a mod-pack bringing the games graphics and audio as close as they can get to being up-to-date. When a similar pack, Morrowind 2011, was released a few months ago, I pondered, wondered if I could return to a Vvardenfell flourishing anew in front of my eyes, not just in my memories. Before I made a decision, Morrowind 2011 was pulled after complaints that it was using certain mods without their creators’ permission. So I had to leap on Morrowind Overhaul when I heard about it: I’m not taking another risk.
So there it is. It’s on my hard drive. I’ve got the install FAQ. The box of my copy of Morrowind is sat on the shelf just to my left, being one of the select few games I decided to bring home from university for the holidays (I may not have played it in years, but it still seems to follow me around). If I wanted to, I could be playing again in, what, an hour?
But I don’t want to. I can’t bring myself to reinstall the game. I’m nervous about even picking it up that plain, slightly chunky black box. Perhaps I will soon enough, but not yet.
Nostalgia is a strange thing. Sometimes it’s the most blissful thing in the world, mellow and comforting. This once, however, it’s unnerving.