Are “Edgy” Games Becoming Formulaic?
Note: This will be pretty spoiler-heavy for anyone who hasn’t played Red Dead Redemption, The Walking Dead, and Bioshock Infinite. Everything else is purely speculation.
Every once in a blue moon a game comes along that makes me excited about being alive. Red Dead Redemption was one of those games, then The Walking Dead game, then (most recently) Bioshock Infinite. The next big exciting title that really has me pumped up is The Last of Us. While watching the latest trailers and gameplay footage, however, I suddenly found myself noticing a pattern- a sinister pattern.
All of the games I’ve loved that have been met with critical acclaim and/or extreme hype, have some major things in common. They all star a charismatically good-looking yet humble adult male (not so young) protagonist with a dark past that involved said character killing humans. That character is good at heart and looking to redeem himself on top of any other objectives. He becomes attached in a fatherly way to a young woman (in Marsden’s case it’s his son, but he does start out working with Bonnie Macfarlane), the protection of whom overwhelms his every goal and leads to his ultimate demise. It’s a great plot, revolutionary even, but it’s starting to get tired- hell, Joel (the leading man of The Last of Us) is played by Troy Baker, the voice of Booker DeWitt (the leading man of Bioshock Infinite)!
I know, I know- The plot is good! Why criticize a good thing?! I hate to say it, but I will be quite pleasantly surprised if The Last of Us kills off Ellie (the girl) instead of Joel (the man). It’s just that I’m worried. If the repetition keeps up, everybody will catch on; then every game that gets churned out will go through the same familiar motions and boredom and monotony will cast a shadow over the gaming lands. This is not to say that there are only games with this story line. But this story line is quickly becoming another “grizzled space marine” as far as gaming tropes go. I want something that will surprise me- more twists and turns. Game stories have come a long way from Pong, but it’s time for them to mix it up again. I’m sure the game writers can think of something that will blow everybody’s minds.