(Post full of spoilers)
When I first played Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season One, back when it was released, it was an amazing experience. I wasn’t familiar with The Walking Dead franchise at all then, so it was just the game, and after every episode I’d feel like shit. Really depressed. And would get back into it as soon as the next episode was released. And I knew that something awful would happen again, that there’s no way the series is gonna end in a good way, but still had this damn hope that everything is going to be alright. And then that hope would get obliterated. And I’d get back for more. And with the release of the third season I decided to replay this, and the journey was as emotional as it was on the first run, even though I knew most of the things that would happen.
Can we just talk about how amazing Valiant Hearts is? It’s absolutely freaking amazing. I mean, just on an overall design level, it somehow manages to take World War I setting, puzzle adventure gameplay, cartoon stylistic, semi-gibberish voices in gameplay, heroic ‘hell yeah’ war moments, dramatic war moments, humanizing both sides of war moments, musical vehicle levels, and put it all together in a way that works and makes you go through one hell of an emotional ride. It’s so hard not to tear up. And the dog. Probably one of the best game dogs ever. But it’s not the dog I’m going to talk about. I’m going to discuss one of the last levels in the game – Chemin des Dames, and how it drives you to the edge.
When choosing what to write about Guacamelee!, it is natural to think of the combat system or the Metroidvania-style progression as the topics. I mean… they’re just SO well designed. Seriously, Guacamelee is a great benchmark and case study when it comes to those two things. It’s awesome. Go play it. Because what I want to discuss in this post is not one of those topics. I want to talk about the ending. Spoilers, obviously.
Welcome back to this 2-part post series about the Hero’s Journey. In this post, I’m going to talk about the game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and how Vogler’s rework of Campbell’s structure is applied to it. Please note that I’ll reference the previous post about Journey a lot, so please read it beforehand 🙂 That said, let’s continue.
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure first described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and later refined for modern age by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey. Campbell noticed and described patterns in our myths and stories, of the hero/heroine leaving their ordinary world to go onto adventure, and after going through trials and crises, coming back home a transformed person.
It’s a very archetypal structure that one can notice in many stories: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and thousands upon thousands of other works, including games. And I think why we as people are intrinsically drawn to this sort of narrative structure, is essentially because it’s about striding to a goal, facing challenges and getting to the lowest point upon the way, but eventually overcoming them and becoming a better person as a result. It’s what we encounter and go through in our daily lives, even though we might not realize it at first.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag at the moment of writing this post is my most favourite game of the franchise. It’s just so well-crafted, from mission design to narrative, world, how it all connects together. And maybe it doesn’t fix all the flaws inherited from other games (like the still very easy combat system), but as I’ve mentioned a couple times before, it’s not a barrier for some amazing experience and in my opinion Black Flag delivers it. The game is really a ’Best of Assassin’s Creed’ collection, combining all the strengths of previous titles in one cohesive package. But today I want to talk about the narrative themes of the game, as well as how they connect to gameplay.
Let’s just get one thing out of the way as soon as possible. Assassin’s Creed II has got a good story. It’s not as thought provoking as its predecessor’s, and it’s a simple one with a very straightforward character arc, but it’s still good. That being said, at certain points it suffers from bad pacing and poor writing (which seeps into the mission design and gameplay, which is one of the reasons I decided to tackle this topic before going to a more detailed Sequence 10 post). So I’m going to talk more about that today. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
Assassin’s Creed II is widely regarded as the best Assassin’s Creed game. And I love Assassin’s Creed II, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of awesome things about it. But there are also quite a few flaws that it gets away with, in my opinion, and having repeatedly argued about these topics with a number of people over a certain course of time, decided to make a small blog mini-series. I’ll start with Sequence 9. Spoilers to those who haven’t played the game.
So, the new Tomb Raider is out. In this new reboot, Crystal Dynamics has set out to create an origin story which shows us a realistic depiction of Lara’s transformation from a naïve and afraid college student to a courageous badass from the previous iterations (the Hero’s Journey, pretty much). Due to some statements that were made in development, this has led to quite a few controversies, but I’m not going to touch upon this. The real question is: did Crystal Dynamics succeed in their endeavor with Lara’s character? And my answer to it is, well… Kinda. For the most part.