On The Fence Between Game and Story

(This entire post is in response to a fellow blogger of Crystal Prison Zone. I would suggest reading his entry first before reading my own not only because mine is simply a comment that had gotten too big for the comment box, but also because he’s a pretty dang good writer and makes his points rather well.)

Monkey and Trip from Enslaved's Art Book

There’s a gameplay mechanic in Ninja Theory’s Enslaved, a game which plays as a somewhat clumsy hack ‘n slasher with some auto-platforming a la Uncharted, that works much, if not completely like an escort would in most games. Due to a helmet placed on Monkey’s, the player, head, the player must protect a girl named Trip and escort her back to her home, and if the player fails to ward enemies off of Trip, she and the player will die. Thankfully, Trip can pull her own weight by providing the player with an upgrade system that ups basically all of the player’s abilities, decoys that will distract enemies, and tech-saviness that gets the duo through many a door and obstacle, all of which are unavailable to a player if Trip is not around. Better than most escorts, but still typical? Perhaps, if not for the fact that this mechanic links up with the story in a fascinating way. In a chapter about halfway through the game, a grief-stricken Trip leaves the player and runs through an enemy-infested area. With the threat of Trip and subsequently the player’s death looming overhead, the player must charge through the enemies and work their way back to Trip before the worst can happen to her. This is just one of many examples in video gaming in which narrative and gameplay are intertwined, and it’s an example that I use quite often in defending a game that tells a story that is not part of point ‘n clickie or unInteractive Fiction. Read the rest of this entry »