All right, I’m about to do my first ever question of the month response! Let’s see how this goes. For those who don’t know, the question of the month is hosted by Later Levels, and a blogger creates a question every month and participants write their responses. This month’s question is by Adventure Rules and is as follows:
You’ve been tasked with making the Ultimate Video Game, but there’s a catch – you can only piece it together from parts of other releases. You can choose separate titles for visual design, sound design, storytelling, and gameplay. What four games would you use to make the Ultimate Video Game?
I love the idea of thinking about the individual elements of games and coming up with a perfect combination. It is, of course, possible to just pick my four favorite titles, assign an element of the game to each, and call it a day. Instead, however, I wanted to have a little fun with this. I’m going to focus each area of this fictional game around showcasing a title that I generally found flawed except for the specific area of the game I will be discussing. With my one limiting rule in place, let’s meet my ultimate video game elements!
Visual Design – The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
I disliked a lot upon playing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter for the first time, but I cannot overstate how much I loved the art style. Everything in this game looks so detailed and beautiful, but there’s something slightly haunting about the color palate and slightly decaying buildings. The atmosphere feels thick through the use of subtle fog effects, giving a subtle sense of foreboding as the game progresses, and that’s the specific reason for choosing this title for the art style of my game. A slight fog in a picturesque location such as this will create a creepy atmosphere that doesn’t quite reach for outright horror.
Sound Design – Transistor
I’m not the biggest fan of Supergiant Games, but they sure do know how to make a stunning soundtrack. Transistor feels like it fits the game I want to build better than their other games because the soundtrack always felt a little unsettling. Each track has a melancholy feel to it, which feels like the perfect atmosphere for my dark tale.
Storytelling – Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition has some major game design issues, but I love the story and characters. Ultimately, this is a fairly lighthearted game, but since the plot involves the potential end of the world, I’d like to take the game’s basic premise and character-based storytelling approach and fit it into my darker atmosphere. Imagine that instead of a beautiful castle, the home base for the inquisition is instead an eerie church near an abandoned mineshaft. It would be a small change, but that change would dramatically alter how high the stakes of failing are.
Gameplay – Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Finally, we come to a game that I disliked for everything except for its gameplay, which I found nearly flawless. The MMO-style combat is great in just about any game it’s put in, but the primary reason I picked Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for this is the leveling system. Being able to shift character classes between knight, rogue, and mage at will as the player levels up allows for some additional role-playing elements to a weighty story. The game I envision will have moments where the stakes are heavy, so being able to transition to a rogue-focused class in order to stealth more efficiently, or use fire as a mage seems like an appreciated additional level of strategy.
I didn’t start out this way, but the more I looked at the games I could choose from, the more that I decided I wanted to create a game with a dark atmosphere. Now, most games choose to become full horror games when they opt for darkness, but that’s not my intention. Ultimately, I want to create a game with some darkness and creepiness, but never turn it into a full horror title laden with cheap jump scares. Instead, I want a game about impossible odds where the fate of both the player and the world hangs in the balance set in a location that’s hauntingly beautiful and decaying with a slightly unsettling soundtrack playing in the background.
What is your perfect combination of video games? Let me know in the comments or write your own response for the question of the month!