The Elder Scrolls has always had a dedicated following, but given the success of Oblivion and the expectations for its sequel, I assumed Bethesda would play it safe and deliver a slightly enhanced continuation of the franchise. Instead, I walked away feeling I had played the next evolution of the series.
I wasn’t so optimistic as the game opened. Skyrim’s story begins with a political prisoner’s beheading at a public execution. This sequence is worrisome, not because my character was the next in line to feel the axe, but due to the choppy narrative flow. The intensity that is supposed to accompany this scene is stripped away by robotic character animations, confusion over who is talking at any given point, and uncomfortable lulls in the pacing. Making this scene feel real requires just as much imagination as a Dungeons & Dragons session. Cinematic storytelling has never been Bethesda Game Studios’ strong suit, and I find it surprising that the team decided to make it such a prominent component in Skyrim’s introductory moments.