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  • Investigating The Importance Of Narrative In Games

    - Randen Banuelos

  • The Story and Gameplay Build Off Each Other (Grim Fandango Remastered)

    Credits to IMDb

    There has been many a great game that has been able to, more or less, balance a well-executed narrative alongside interesting gameplay, and this is readily apparent in Grim Fandango Remastered, a re-release of the original Lucasarts property from the late 1990's. Playing as white-collar Grim Reaper Manuel "Manny" Calavera, players engage in a four-act drama that explores institutional rebellion, corporate greed, representations of the afterlife, and more all in a Day of the Dead-inspired art style. The story is riveting, surprising players left and right with new twists and turns akin to an intense telenovela. Characters are well developed over the four years the story covers, faceting personalities to make NPC's feel alive in the literal dead atmosphere, such as the sweet-turned-rebellious Mercedes. Grim Fandango Remastered tells an incredibly compelling story that does an excellent job crafting characters and establishing drama.

    One may fear that the gameplay of a narrative-heavy game like Grim Fandango Remastered might be unintuitive, but the game delivers on this side as well. Gameplay typically revolves around puzzle solving and exploration, combining items in the inventory screen to see what they can be used on in the current scene of the narrative. Many of the puzzles can prove quite a surprising challenge, but none are excessively difficult, providing a nice challenge to players of any skill level. While Grim Fandango Remastered may bore players with a preference for more high-octane, action-based combat like in a shooter game, this game still offers a well-designed, creative puzzle experience that blends well with current plot developments. As a whole, Grim Fandango Remastered gives players a memorable story that coincides intuitive puzzle design, providing an engaging experience that appeals to both narrative- and gameplay-oriented players.

    The Story Has Become the Game (Man of Medan)

    Credits to Steam

    A game can have a relatively minute story, or place action alongside narrative, but what happens when a story is the ultimate focal point of a game, with gameplay limited to just moving along the plot? Enter Man of Medan, the first entry in the Dark Pictures anthology being produced by Supermassive Games, the same studio behind the hit horror game Until Dawn. The story it tells is based on the tale of the Ourang Medan, a ghost ship whose crew all mysteriously died one night, wherein the game's protagonists are being held as prisoners by a group of pirates investigating the wreck for valuables.

    The narrative is intriguing enough for horror fans, although it leaves more to be desired as many characters' motives and actions either feel out of place or unprovoked, such as people randomly lashing out at other characters when the atmosphere was fine moments before. Pacing is another issue, with events in the story either feeling drawn out for too long or jumping from one action point to the next without time to reflect. This may not be major problems in other games, but because Man of Medan focuses so intensely on creating an interactive drama, these narrative errors glare out more.


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