A game that I occasionally return to without fail is Maplestory. Although I don’t know if “love” is the right word to describe my feelings toward the game, it has a fond place in my memories.
Maplestory is an MMORPG that allows players to create characters of a variety of classes and explore vast landscapes spanning multiple continents, planets, and even timelines while uncovering the storyline along the way. To me, Maplestory is primarily a fantasy submission game. The map, NPC, and monster design along with the background music draw you into the fictional world, allowing you to momentarily forget the stresses of everyday life. In terms of progression through the game, there are various mechanics that provide players with the agency to build their own playstyle. At the core, characters progress through leveling by gaining experience from slaying monsters or completing quests. By leveling, the players are rewarded with stat points and ability points that they can distribute to customize their character’s skillset. For example, the standard recommended distribution would provide you with a run-of-the-mill character that does average damage, but a different uncommon distribution would give you a character that does more damage but requires more currency to be viable. Speaking of currency, the other key factor of progression is character equipment. Equipment hinges on your ability to acquire it, which most commonly depends on the amount of funds you have. The equipment itself is complex and has several of its own mechanics, such as upgrading or set effects that increase the power boost it provides to your character. Although the amount of resources (both experience and funding) required to progress increases exponentially as you level up, some players choose to limit themselves even further by not using any of their skill points.
While many people play the game purely for progression, I enjoyed Maplestory more for its fellowship. There is a genre of quests called party quests, which are akin to raids and dungeons in WoW. In party quests, you work together with other players to solve puzzles, eliminate mobs, and kill bosses. Players also hang out on popular maps and show off the ways they’ve decorated their characters. Unfortunately, the reason I no longer “love” the game is because updates throughout the years have changed the culture of the game causing many of the remaining players to focus purely on progression and the fellowship aspect has mostly been lost. Now, rather than playing the game, I find myself more often just listening to the soundtrack simply because the music is so serene. Maplestory was, and maybe still is, an arguably good game that creates every single one of the eight aesthetics through its numerous mechanics and has given me many warm memories.