While I’m in a bit of a ranty mood, I thought I’d add more fuel to the fire by complaining about games at large. I recently mentioned the fine-looking game Zeno Clash for it’s lovely art direction, and in this post I’m going to attempt to convince you all that we need to be asking for more games like them.
Firstly, I’m going to list three of my all-time favourite games. Here we go:
- Grim Fandango
- Team Fortress 2
What do these games have in common? Well, apart from the loving touches of Tim Schafer with two of them, the unique and interesting art design and inherent humour. Nothing in any of these games is uniform unless it is especially intended to be. In Psychonauts, for example, each character is very different, and even the most minor ones you can find have a definite back story and, well, character. Now take Half-Life 2. It is, both in the opinions of the world and my own, one of the best games of the past few years. However, each citizen is completely interchangeable from one scene to the next. So much so, that the default setting when creating levels for the game is to have a random civilian spawn rather than a set one. They all look the same, have the same voices, act exactly the same.
Storytelling is another area that needs revamping in most modern games. Recent attempts to do this, i.e. Bioshock, have not been as successful as I would like. I, for one, am wholeheartedly in favour of a return to the Adventure genre. And by this, I mean adventure in it’s proper form, not as some kind of mutant arm hanging off the diseased body of platforming games, or the misleading shroud around third person shooters, but actual honest-to-god, dialogue inducing adventure games. Psychonauts is probably the closest you’ll get to this in the modern era, but a proper example of what I want is Grim Fandango. All the puzzles contained within GF can be solved purely by logic, removing the annoying habit of rubbing Item A against Items B through P until something happens to further the plot. And the story is told inherently through your actions, rather than through extended cut scenes or audio logs or diary pages.
As a result, I am calling upon you, be you readers, developers, zombies, pirates, whatever; ask for more diversity in your games. I don’t mean the option to have a poorly coded vehicle section in your FPS, and I don’t mean to have the illusion of free choice in your more sub-standard RPG, but in the storytelling, the art work, the characters, the environment. The idea of a video game is to detach from reality – must we settle for mundanity in the virtual world as well as the real one?
And the writing of this is in no way connected to my brilliant idea for an adventure game featuring a wise cracking owl and a literal drug mule. Although some money to make it a reality would not be declined.