Now there’s a pretentious title!
Not long ago, on the DPAD Dependency Forums, I created a topic stating that I thought originality was essentially dead in gaming. What I really meant was that original story-telling was dead. Or, at the very least, dying. A good, well-plotted story with exciting characters and well-written dialogue is especially hard to come by in games, yet I feel that narrative is what drives games forward and makes certain ones stand out from the crowd. In a world where every other new release is an FPS, the better story will outlive the bigger gun.
I’m not about to suggest that storytelling is the be-all and end-all of games but it has to improve, lest the gaming world becomes as barren and uncreative as Hollywood. So that’s what this feature is going to be about. Stories in videogames past, present and future that reach out and tug your heartstrings, squeeze your adrenal glands, or scratch your furrowed brow.
We begin with Deadly Creatures – a February 2009 release on the Nintendo Wii.
Developed by Rainbow Studios, Deadly Creatures succeeded where most games of last year failed: it had atmosphere, and it had a good story.
Two men (voiced by Billy-Bob Thornton and Dennis Hopper) are hunting for gold in a non-specified American desert when they uncover a chest filled with the stuff, left over from the Civil War. Naturally, betrayal and murder soon rear their ugly heads and only one of the two is left standing. Standard stuff, then. This is a story template that’s been around for centuries, so why am I making a fuss over it? Because you play as the only witnesses to the crime: a scorpion and a tarantula.
Now these aren’t Disney-fied, wise-cracking, best-friend arachnids. They’re realistic, survival-of-the-fittest, designed-to-kill arachnids! So really they couldn’t give a damn about the murder they witness. Why would they, when a huge rattlesnake has its hungry eyes on them? While they’re trekking across huge desert landscapes in search of tiny bugs to feed on, do they break a sweat about the human plight? No, but as fate would have it the humans (some would say the true Deadly Creatures of the title) commit their act on the arachnids’ turf. So as you fight against nature for your very life, you end up repeatedly crossing paths with the murderer. Never interacting, though, just watching.
This storytelling technique is rarely seen in books, movies or television – let alone videogames! If somebody can think of another literary example whereby an event unfolds, witnessed by a character who has no intention of interfering but whose own path will interect with the perpetrator until an inevitable confrontation… well, I’ll think of something really cool to give you.
That’s my Story Mode for this week, I promise the subsequent posts will be shorter! Please feel free to share your opinions by dropping comments here or finding me on the DPD Boards (where I am also known as The Hylian). Thanks for reading!
The Hylian – His Boots are Made for Hoverin’