Archive, Daily Rant, Video Games

ARCHIVE Day 101: Modern Choice Based Adventure Games

Original Release: June 16th, 2018

Consider this my ‘RIP Telltale Games’ post. Even though they treated their employees like garbage. Still, good luck to everyone from the studio that are currently out of a job.

Detroit: Become Human came out a little while ago. I haven’t played it, but from what I’ve seen it looks pretty neat. It seems like it’s a big step up from the last game the developers worked on, Beyond Two Souls (which I really disliked). So, with games like these fresher than they’ve been in months, I’m gonna talk about them.

Have I justified today’s topic enough yet?

Adventure games go back almost as far as video games themselves. Before the modern game existed, we had text-based adventure games (which are still fun as hell, if you ask me). Then we had point-and-click adventure games, such as Day of the Purple Tentacle. Now, we have the Telltale games and Quantic Dream games.

These games are much less about thrilling gameplay and more about the stories they have to tell. As such, the gameplay is very minimal, opting for simple timed dialogue options and quick time events. Because of this, the strength of the game entirely depends on two things: it’s presentation and it’s writing. If one of those things are weak, the game as a whole will suffer.

Take the Telltale games, for example. While not all of their stories are huge hits, the unique Telltale engine has built a distinct style of cell-shaded adventure games. As such, they have the presentation down pact. Then there’s the stories, which more often than not are pretty interesting or highly emotional, such as the first season of Walking Dead, the Wolf Among Us (my personal favorite) or season two of Batman (because season one was meh). Plus, their episodic nature makes the game more easy to digest in small chunks.

Then we have Quantic Dream, whom I like significantly less if I”m honest. Heavy Rain is an alright experience that pushed the graphical boundaries of the PS3 back in the day, and the story was… alright. And Detroit: Become Human looks to do the same with the PS4. But Beyond Two Souls was just… a bad time.

Let me explain. The story of Beyond Two Souls was a poorly plotted mess that jumps all around the timeline of the main character’s life. This creates a unique style of storytelling, where you have to pick up all the pieces and put the story together. It’s not until you finish the game that you can play through the whole thing coherently. Here’s my problem: all the different cuts go to completely different periods in her life, so instead of being intruding and thought provoking, it just gives the player mental whiplash. If it juggled the child story, the teenage story and the adult story in a coherent pattern, then the game would still create the intrigue without snapping the audience’s neck. But instead they opt for completely random jumping around time.

Plus, the game has no consequence. If you mess something up, your character will be fine. You cannot die and get a game over, you can’t permanently change the direction of the story with your choices (except for the ending) and you can’t go outside the boundaries in any way. Now compare that to another game of this ilk, Until Dawn. In that game, if you messed up at all, a character could very well end up dead for the rest of the game. As such, you have a real sense of weight and consequence to the plot: if you fuck up, these characters are fucked. Because of this, it’s far easier to get invested in the plot.

A story without consequence is boring and terrible. Beyond Two Souls is a story without consequence. I despise it for that.

Ultimately, these games are still games. As such, the actions of the player should have some repercussion. If I decide to shoot the android holding the child hostage, I should have to deal with the consequences of that action.

Was that a good enough segway for you?

Detroit: Become Human seems like a good game (again, I haven’t played it). But from what we’ve seen, it looks to be scratching that itch that Beyond Two Souls simply couldn’t for me. Especially since you can lose one of the three main characters within the first ten minutes of the game if you screw up! That’s awesome! Stuff like that is exactly what I want out of these games!

Adventure games have been around forever, and they look like they’ll be around forever. With their steady improvement over the years, it seems like they’ll only get better and better. Until, y’know, first-person-shooter games rise again to dominate the market. Or worse yet…

Battle-royale games.

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