The Things We Play.

August 22, 2015

Actually, it should be “The Things I Play”. I’m always making adjustments or justifying the title in the first paragraph, it’s getting a little annoying and I’ll try doing it differently. Probably going with “MORE ACCURATE TITLES”, what do you say?

I tried to start writing today’s post super early – like mid-afternoon – and wouldn’t settle for any particular subject so I decided to play something for a while, waiting for ideas to come. Today’s pick was “The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter”. During the game it came to me how different my taste for games is nowadays, especially when compared to what I used to play right before coming to Vancouver. I’m not saying I don’t like the games I used to, I still like shooters – a lot! – but I’ve grown pickier about them. Good visuals aren’t enough to captivate me anymore, and decent story is a must, along with not-absolutely-linear levels/missions.

The last good shooter I played was FarCry 4, last year. It might be THE LAST shooter I played, actually. It does have astonishing visuals and a pretty decent story – very similar to FarCry 3, indeed, but that isn’t a bad thing at all. I think I’ve written about this before, how I used to love games that feel like movies and then realizing that games aren’t movies, hence they can share some similarities, but if the narrative is too narrow and the player’s actions and choices don’t affect it at all, what’s the difference between actually playing it or watching someone playing on youtube?

Based on that, I’ve gotten more interested in games that have a strong visual style – not necessarily in a realistic manner – such as Transistor or Limbo. I’ve played A LOT of indie games this year. More than all the years before summed up together. And I’m enjoying it, because they can be bold in ways traditional blockbuster games can’t. They can have ZERO EXPLANATION of how to play, no sort of hints that’ll make you lazier about making choices or figuring out puzzles, strong visual styles, LOTS of dialogue, many different ways of getting to the end, no end at all, tougher enemies, darker themes, real choices that affect how the main narrative will turn out, and so on.

A few days ago I was playing Life Is Strange. It doesn’t have amazing graphics but it’s so stylized that everything looks kind of dreamy. It doesn’t even have lipsync and has a ton of dialogue. The story itself is so compelling that you wanna keep going, exploring each corner of its world. It’s like a mash up of Donnie Darko, Butterfly Effect, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, vintage photography and teenage drama. I’ll probably get back to talking about this game soon, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s the kind of game that inspires you. I’m dying to see some real-life recreations of its universe, like a short movie, photos or something like that. It’s amazing, really.

I don’t know how to continue, since now I’m looking for Life Is Strange fan material. Enjoy the trailer above, and I’ll be back tomorrow with even less important matters!