Welcome one and all to our Saturday club feature “Controversial Club”. As so much of our content is positive, charming and a lovely read, we thought we’d start a weekly article where we can get a bit of rage out, or just generally be dicks!
I introduce our controversial club, a place where we can all write about things that get on our nerves, rub us the wrong way…
As we approach the launch of Detroit: Become Human, and await Telltale’s next story, a bit of a bizarre thought crossed our minds… Are games such as Telltale’s, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls REALLY classed as ‘games’ rather than ‘interactive movies’..? Let’s discuss!
I officially hate this shit. What, you need to know more? Sure, just follow this intricate QTE and watch me perform a series of actions that you cant see because you’re inputting buttons that are blocking your view. See what I’m getting at here? Movies are movies. Games are games. The two shouldn’t mix since both are already great in their own right. Cinematic games don’t work the same way video game movies don’t work. That lack of real interactivity. I’m talking examples like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Life is Strange. Some awesome stories there and great characterization all ruined by stupid QTE’s and gameplay sections where you can make your playable hero spin around like Crash Bandicoot on speed. Boom there goes all your tension. Make it a TV series or a movie and leave the controller out of it. I’m looking at you David Cage…
Games are an art form, and that means they have to experiment. Just because a game isn’t focused on gameplay, doesn’t mean it’s not a game – And what’s more, games are the only place we can explore this new and exciting method of creative expression.
Some people (William…) would like to say that games are games, film is film. But that’s ridiculous – If we accepted that music is music, and film is film, then we’d never have gotten the modern music video – And given how much of an impact Childish Gambino had this week with the video for ‘This is America’, I think we can all agree that music videos are a massively positive addition to the creative world.
Games like Heavy Rain, Life is Strange, and anything TellTale have made in the bast decade have provided us with a new experiment into storytelling. And when I say that, I don’t mean ‘They’re a new way of telling video game stories’, I mean ‘Video games have branched into a form of video game our entire species hasn’t seen before’. Reducing interactive cinema to “Just QTE’s” is about as dumb as reducing platforming games to “just walking to the right”
Everyone here at Respawning basically spent an entire week talking about nothing but the new ‘God of War’, a game that greatly benefits from the slow crossovers between cinematic thinking in video games. If no-one had bothered to make the experiments into these crossovers, we simply wouldn’t have the AAA beauty that that game gave us. Nobody would want to fund an unproven concept, after all.
And that, my friends, is why we must always support new ways of presenting art. We all benefit from it in the end.
I have only played one cinematic game. Beyond Two Souls had some features that were interesting but it was obvious it was more of a concept rather than anything that was meant to be a game. Almost to the point where it was trying to be more of an art piece rather than a game. I may have ruined it for myself though; a few years before I played the game, I watched a member of the Yogscast complete a playthrough. I watched it as a film with a commentary over the top. As a film, I thought it was brilliant, it was just hours long that where being watched in half an hour stretches. I think that as long as a game like this has a solid enough story but has enough controls behind it to make it a game, then I’d be up for playing more. As long as I don’t spoil it for myself before I play it.
Unfortunately, the only ‘Cinematic Game’ that I’ve ever played is the infamous Asura’s Wrath… And honestly I loved the crap out of the game’s story, characters and fight choreography… But as a GAME? It was utterly terrible.
Now, don’t get me wrong, being able to play an interactive part of an epic story does feel good, but in the end of the day you just end up realising that you’re just pushing a combination of buttons to watch a character do something – I know, I know, that’s the basis of all games! But, the difference between other, more interactive games is that, at least in many others, your inputs have kinetic feedback – You do an action appropriate for the button; with cinematic games, you can push X or something and end up dodging an attack, counter, and send an enemy flying into a rock… All from one push of the X button.
For me, it’s not the premise of cinematic games that disqualifies them as being true ‘gaming experiences’ – It’s the lack of control and kinetic feedback that does.
Are cinematic games games? If they’re stuff like, say, Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Until Dawn…then yes, they are in my opinion.
As I said in our previous club on whether or not video games are art, I think a video game is a game when it has interactive choices that affect the narrative, as well as a fail state. All of the previous examples fit that criteria: What you do in the game does affect narrative outcomes – different endings, choices you make affect what happens in certain scenes – and you can definitely die in them.
I feel some people are a bit weary of these things being games because they are a bit more limited in their scope than many other game types (I hesitate calling something like this a ‘genre’ of its own). But maybe that means it’s just not a game type they themselves are into? We all have different tastes, after all. It’s perhaps fairer to think of these games more in comparison to, say, interactive fiction as opposed to FPS and Simulation titles – these games are much more focused on conveying a story through a gameplay experience first and foremost. But we do still have input.
Now, if these games negated your choices entirely and you couldn’t die, you’d have a much stronger case. In that regard, Telltale’s Walking Dead: Season 2 comes pretty close to being a non-game (Honestly, what the fuck was the point of saving Sarah?).
Cinematic games aren’t really my cup of tea, but I’m not saying that I dislike them mainly since I’ve never played one… But a cinematic game to me is an experience, an art form if you will, and is one that is meant to be enjoyed and to be engulfed into the story. Now that being said do I think a cinematic game are actual games? Well yes and no. Let’s start out with the yes – To me a game is another form of escapism and a way to get away from the world, much like reading a book, a game is a form of interactive media and one that keeps your mind active and aware; a game is something to be enjoyed and to just have a good ol’ time, with that being said cinematic games do exactly that, they pull you in and take you into the world of that particular game, they are fun and can bring you on an emotional journey… However cinematic games miss one critical thing as to why they aren’t bog standard games. The sense of urgency and the freedom of creating your own story or even just shooting at everything and anything and thinking damn I’m a badass.
Games like Heavy rain, Telltale games and even walking simulation games like Journey or The Unfinished Swan are experiences, and great ones to be had, but they miss what makes a game a game; cinematic games are more books than games, maybe even a hybrid of the two and for me the reason why I don’t play cinematic games is because sometimes I just want to blow shit up for the fun of it and just go crazy and do dramatic and amazing things… But with cinematic games they are limited to the story and the experience you get out of it.