One trend in gaming in recent years is the addition of audio or video logs hidden in the environment, whether they are terminals, cassettes, thumb drives, or disks. This idea of leaving behind some easter eggs that may give insight into the story is a great idea, and allows the gamer to not only explore but also become more invested in the story and lore of the game. One might think that audio logs are a completely new development, but in reality this concept has been used for years. In fact, a form of video logs is one of the best parts of my favorite game of all time, Final Fantasy X.
First, a brief overview (without major spoilers) of the plot of Final Fantasy X: the main character, Tidus, finds himself on Spira, a foreign land who is plagued by an evil monster called Sin. Tidus meets Yuna, a priestess whose father was the one person who has ever defeated Sin. Tidus joins Yuna on the odyssey to once again defeat this evil creature.
Along this amazing journey, the player can find “video spheres” in the environment, often hidden on secret paths, tucked behind corners, or in chests behind powerful monsters. These spheres, called “Jecht Spheres”, are essentially video blogs of Yuna’s father’s journey to defeat Sin, and it follows the group through all of the same locations that Tidus and Yuna are travelling through.
This use of audio/video logs is one of the most ingenious I have ever seen; I became so much more invested in this story as I followed another group of adventurers who were encountering the same problems that my group was encountering, and without spoiling anything there are some very important characters in these video logs that really augment one’s understanding of the main story, so much so that I don’t know how I could have appreciated this game as much without these video spheres.
Video and audio logs are a great new feature in many games these days, but sometimes I feel like the stories told on these logs do not tell enough about the main story in the game. If I am going out of my way to find these logs, I want to be rewarded with pertinent, interesting information. At the same time, it cannot be mandatory to find these logs to enjoy the game, so developers must walk a fine line.
The video spheres in Final Fantasy X toe this line perfectly, and make the game much better as a result. Audio and video logs are a great feature in games, but they are by no means new. Great games with audio and video logs have been coming out for years.