Some games have blown my mind with the quality of their storytelling. Braid’s clever use of familiar cliches told us about how perspective changes everything. Red Dead Redemption told us an amazing tale worthy of Leone. Metal Gear Solid 3 made you pull the trigger on Naked Snake’s mentor, the best use of integrating gameplay into storytelling I’ve ever seen. But I’ve never come across anything like Thirty Flights of Loving. To be fair, I’ve never come across anything else labelled a “Video Game Short Story” either, but Thirty Flights of Loving’s storytelling prowess isn’t fundamentally anchored to its gameplay(or lack-thereof) structure. It’s a proof of concept. It’s not hard to imagine adapting the cinematic jump-cut style of storytelling to a game with adventure mechanics, and a creative designer could adapt them elsewhere. TFoL opens with you descending down a staircase into a bar. You are immediately given a taste of Chung’s quirky style of humour; Mecha-Presidente, Prohibition License, and so forth. As a long time Blendo Games fan, I love this quirky stuff. I’d also recommend checking out the turn-based Homeworld-type game “Flotilla” for more of this, along with a brilliant game.
The music playing sets the mood perfectly. Its tinny nature puts us in the past. This is the kind of bar you are intimately familiar with, despite the fact that you’ve never been in one. You pull a lever disguised as a photo and descend into a hideout. A plethora of cliches assault you. A giant map, boxes of bullets, two compatriots. Interacting with them begins a series of flashes that quickly establishes everything you need to know about the situation. You are part of a crew, these are your partners in crime, they each have specialized roles. But at the end there’s something else. Caterer? Best Man? Whose wedding is this? Was it a job, or something else? Are there social bonds in this crew that go beyond our business? It’s hard to say. You advance to the whimsical aircraft, and are suddenly transported to a room, with your female teammate clicking an empty gun at you, covered in blood, with the game’s title flashed over the screen.
Do you have questions? Does my summary so far seem insufficient? Then play this game.
Continue reading Thirty Flights of Loving →
Ever since it became public a few days ago, I cannot stop watching the trailer for Metal Gear Solid V. Every time, I search for the new clue that will unlock what’s going on. Are the super natural beings helping or hunting Big Boss? The first thing we see out of place in the gameplay trailer is someone who looks suspiciously like Psycho Mantis. Are the super natural things, all of which resemble things from Big Boss’ past, merely the result of Psycho Mantis digging into his subconsciousness? My good friend Nick and I have been discussing this trailer at length, pausing at moments and analyzing what we see. The scarred face man doesn’t have a tattoo on the back on his head, so he likely isn’t Hot Coldman. If Ground Zeroes opens with the infiltration of the Cuban base, and Mother Base gets raided while Big Boss is infiltrating the Cuban Base, then you likely play someone other than Big Boss during Ground Zeroes. I wondered why I couldn’t stop watching this trailer and dissecting it, then I remembered the last time Nick and I did something like this.
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In case you didn’t guess, Spoilers Ahead:
I’m not writing about Mass Effect 3 to complain about the ending. There’s been enough said about the subject that I don’t feel like I have much to add. Except that there is one logic behind the madness: DLC.
With Shepard dead, and no Mass Relays left, Bioware can write DLC that fits onto all save games. Characters can refer to the indefinite article “Shepard”, none of the crew will know exactly what happened, and you can have non-Shepard adventures on this convenient jungle world. The only thing bioware has to do to make the DLC specific to your own Shepard is change some lines, change which charaters are around. Without access to the galaxy at large, we cannot see the broad outcome of our actions.
Like I said, though, I’m not writing to talk about the ending. I need to preface this by saying that until now, I’ve been a huge fan of the dialogue wheel Bioware games. I never played the Dragon Age games, but Knights of the Old Republic remains one of my favourite games, as does its sequel. Jade Empire was an awesome game, and I was all about the Mass Effect games at first. I consider all 6 games to be a part of the same progression.
Continue reading Mass Effect 3(Dialogue Wheel 6) →