Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interactive storytelling - What we've missed (part 1)

*Note: I understand I am writing on a simple blog about my hobbies. Yes its out there, and I can take criticism. At least we get to share what we love and dislike about certain subjects in a responsible manner.
This entry I am going to share what I think have been letdowns in storytelling thus far.

Metroid Other M:
By the title you already know its an epic adventure, with drama, action, and suspense.
What did it miss?
For one, the music as a whole was a let down. Yes, there is a mix of orchestral and action oriented tracks. But they don't involve or engage the audience, it feels empty and abstract. Even some of the music cues don't even kick in unless its a cutscene. And we've known since day one there is always music surrounding Samus and her adventures. When has it been totally silent with atmospheric sound fx!? Metroid Prime emphasized that dynamic with their first person design.

Castlevania - Lords of Shadows (Part I)
Hits: Epic story, music, and characters
Music? It is all orchestral, there is mix of tension or suspense but that's it. There has always been an emphasis on all sorts of music with this series. In the past, Konami released several orchestral editions of game soundtracks in that format. But there was something there that was capable of capturing what made the series work. I honestly don't know why it feels so empty to me.

Misconnect on extending the tale:
I give the developers kudos for expanding this unique "prolouge" chapter for the series. But I find it a bit unfair not to include the rest of the game playable. In fact, it was in two parts, so those indulged with the adventure would have to buy both extra chapters separately, not a fair idea. On the positive side, Konami is planning to re-release a directors cut of the game (complete edition) and box set.
Upside, a finished game, downside, price gap.

Resident Evil 5 & 6
Awhile back it was about survival and horror, now its become a full on action/adventure game. Sadly not all of its fan following community loves the new direction. However, the games are expanding on the idea concept, but they are becoming a bit shorter. On the spin side, the alternative difficulty levels in each game push fans to their limits. But the main campaign needs more to expand on.

Oddly enough, both V and VI are broken up into chapters like a novel. Where each can be explored at your own leisure. Adapting with the times of random in-game saves, to avoid frustration. Awhile back, a save was a much needed checkpoint in case you had to drop playing and quit. For some its a helpful tool, and others would love to keep the ability to save on their own.

Metroid also shares this same concept design shift in gears. For years it has kept the save state open, giving players the choice to save at various save stations. Other M presented an issue, a massive bug would freeze the game. Metroid Prime 3 actually had real time saves (a big shift in gears).

Devil May Cry (alt punk rock Dante) or new DmC:
For longtime fans getting to see the series redone is both startling and an adventure. The downside?
This so called new DmC tosses away every conventional design the older series retained. Becoming a platformer, hack n' slash mess that it wanted to avoid being in the first place. Although not everyone is a fan of the change, at least it keeps the series going.

Capcom was in such a rush to release the game, the usual unlockables were made downloadable content instead. *Bloody Palace, Xtra missions with Virgil (etc)

To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the game for a few reasons:
1) The design: From the get go, the in-game world is constantly in flux. When the shadows creep in, the world gets darker. (*For one, Silent Hill had the right formula, it doesn't work so well here.)
2) Characters: Dante and Virgil are the main key guards of the series, with Mundus (yeah that baddie from DMC1) Everyone else are new fresh faces, although they retain key compromises of the series. Something about this new cast of characters keeps the series alive but its not the same story anymore.
3) Music: In past games the music was involved in pushing a player to keep going. Here its taken on a more aggressive sound (to match Dante's angst). It may not be for everyone, but its a fresh start. If the music was more involved, and didn't sound like it was stuck I repeat I would have liked it more.

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