My husband is currently playing a game on the Switch called Octopath Traveler. I am far less than thrilled with it, but he is invested enough to keep playing.
While the combat is uninteresting, it requires you to grind, and the graphics are a throwback to 1993, my husband is sold on the story line, wanting to see how the game designers wove all eight stories together.
I told him we could just look it up, and when that didn’t work, I explained how I would have done it based on what parts of the story I have. We’ll see if I am right.
As he was playing, the game commit a cardinal sin in my book: it made choices for the player character, bad choices, with cut scene powers.
In this case, the game forces the scholar go to a haunted house alone with an untrustworthy person that he knows has been following him.
And, no, you have no choice.
Instead of, you know, going to the same haunted house with the other seven other members of the party. Or maybe just the four they let you have in play at the same time. And did I mention that one of those seven members is a powerful cleric? With a holy light spell?
Once at the haunted house, the untrustworthy person betrays our scholar and takes him out with a single blow. Because of course she does.
Mind you, this is the same scholar that just fought a dragon three battles ago. And won.
Disappointing to say the least. This is the second time we’ve been seriously disappointed by the storytelling in the third chapter. And it wouldn’t have been difficult or expensive to make a few tweaks to make a believable story.
All this reminds me of the game Fable that came out a long while back. We bought it, super excited at the premise of a different story line when you made good versus evil choices. Yes, we were disappointed with that.
Fable had a plot you were *supposed* to follow, but it didn’t make you…And so, we went off the rails and explored the world. Searching for treasure. Renown (or whatever it was called then). Experience orbs. Basically, treating it like it was Skyrim a decade before we had Skyrim.
Bad thing was this game was notorious for its “cut scene powers”. The number of things it “made” us do for a game that as supposed to be all about choice…
Perhaps the worst was by the time we were finally forced back into the plot, we were ridiculously over-leveled. The plot was weak, but if we wanted to open new areas, we had to play along.
So we played along.
Our biggest eye-roll moment came as we were leaving the colosseum after having won some tournament and two of these bird people captured us with cut scene powers. The same mobs we’d been mowing down five plus at a time before the colosseum.
Um, yeah. Sure. Right. They *totally* capture us.
I *hate* cut scene powers. Cut scenes are useful. I especially like them when developing companion characters. But unless plot ones are done well, they yank me out of the immersion. The reason I play video games rather than watch movies or television is for the illusion of control. I want to choose my character’s destiny, pick their path.
Might be the same reason I like to write.
Of course, cut scenes seldom are for cool reasons like me riding a dragon. They are usually to capture me, throw me in a dungeon, or some equally contrived reason that removes my free choice. Because that’s totally why I spent all that time hunting down Daedra to craft the best armor and weapons in the game.
Perhaps more important to the gaming companies, I don’t pay money for games that steal that choice. There’s a reason I had to Google to see if there was anything after Fable 2.