Play for the Story, Not the Game

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

The narrative and storytelling techniques in video games are generally a big factor in whether or not I enjoy said video games. In fact, there are definitely some games where I enjoy the story more than the gameplay itself. 

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I am a writer. Not just of blog posts, but also of stories, short ones and novels alike. As such, I’m always interested in the narratives of video games I play. I love to devour a game’s story just as much as I love to devour a good book.

With that said, there are a good handle of games that I would be perfectly happy with reading like a novel. I play these games for the story and the characters rather than the gameplay itself. Sure, the gameplay mechanics may be amazing, but if the story has snagged my attention, the gameplay is always going to be second fiddle. Fantastic gameplay mechanics will not redeem a game with a dull story line in my eyes.

Take Undertale and Deltarune, for example. There is so much lore and theories behind the developed stories of these games. Especially in Undertale’s case, there are multiple ways you can take the story through your actions, whether or not you decide to do a peaceful or violent run-through of the game. And if you played it through a second time? There are characters that remember your first playthrough. There are characters that remember if you killed them before. I didn’t care much for the game’s battle mechanics, but I continued to play it to see how the story ended.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is another example. War and faith are the general themes of the story, like many Fire Emblem games, but I was intrigued by the characters and definitely impressed with the voice acting. It was enough to keep me playing until the end, even though I found some of the battles repetitive and the dungeon sequences unappealing.

The most recent game we played through was Gris and we went into it knowing that it was a game with minimal enemies (if any at all). I picked it up first for it’s gorgeous art and stayed for the music and haunting narrative of trying to figure out the main character was searching for. My sister and I both teared up at the end once we realized how heavy and bittersweet the story was.

Thinking on all of this, it’s no wonder that I’ve gotten a newfound appreciation for visual novels and simulation games.

How important is story to you in games? Or do you prefer amazing gameplay to the story? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Dungeons & Dragons

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

Dungeons & Dragons was always something that was at the back of my mind, but it wasn’t something that was popular — that I knew of — around where I lived. Most of my friends weren’t exactly into video games like Rachel and I were, so I didn’t have as much hope for D&D.

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Dungeons & Dragons has existed since 1974, which sounds wild considering how little I had heard of it growing up. Of course, the few times I had heard of it was due to how “nerdy” the game was, even compared to video games.

For years, Dungeons & Dragons wasn’t really a thought in my mind until I realized that it was fairly popular with a couple of YouTubers that Rachel and I watch. Rachel and I spend what little downtime we have trying to catch up with “Dice, Camera, Action!” while now trying to stay up-to-date with “Trapped in the Birdcage.” The players in both those groups are fantastic, as are the Dungeon Masters with their storytelling abilities and antics.

For my birthday, Rachel got me the D&D Starter Set and, while it’s brilliant, I’m not sure where to start. It’s fun to go through and imagine different scenarios with characters I’ve thought of but haven’t fully fleshed out with character sheets because I don’t fully understand the character sheets, and… yeah. The dice are a really pretty blue!

Rachel and I are hoping to, sometime soon, have enough time to each make a character or two and just have a practice session, if you will, between the two of us. We both love creating stories and D&D seems to be another fun, creative way to do so.

Then, of course, there are all sorts of D&D video games to check out…

What do you think Dungeons & Dragons? Have you ever played? Any advice for new players?

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Storytelling in Video Games

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Being November, it’s National Novel Writing Month! For those of you who may not be aware, Rachel and I also write novels, and we ramble a lot about them on our personal blogs. Because we enjoy writing, we both have been participating in NaNoWriMo for a few years now, and we thought we’d extend that enthusiasm to gushing about video games’ stories.

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Writing and video games are two major passions we both share. That’s partly how this blog came to be in the first place. We wanted to combine the two. We read a lot and there are some amazing stories out there, but some of the most amazing ones are in video games.

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Sure, there are a few predictable stories, such as the recycled story of the Mario Brothers saving Princess Peach (when she doesn’t save herself, of course), but then there are others like the Legend of Zelda series. An entire franchise revolving around the legend of chosen ones by the goddesses, forever doomed to be reincarnated and repeat history as two oppose one for peace and domination.

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The Legend of Zelda is the legend of stories (sorry, I had to) in the video game world. Yet, some stories are complex such as that series or as simple as Luigi’s Mansion. It’s almost the same as most Mario games, but there’s a different hero. Those slight, simple changes make for fun stories as well.

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Excellent example! One of my favorite story lines has to be Ace Attorney series. The first trilogy surrounding Phoenix Wright was especially well-written. Each episode not only has its own story, but many of the episodes have ties together, such as in Trials and Tribulations. The characters have fantastic developments throughout the stories and I get warm, fuzzy, writerly feels just thinking about it!

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I’ve been trying to think of awesome storylines and there you go, mentioning Phoenix Wright. The Ace Attorney series was the inspiration for my own series of mystery novels. The way the games tell a story is brilliant and I’ve incorporated a similar way to tell the stories in my mystery series.

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Then there are games that allow players to develop their own story lines, like the Sims franchise and even Pokemon games. While Pokemon tends to have a plot in the games, it’s pretty open-ended with how you play, and it inspired people to create their own challenges and stories, like Nuzlocke and Type challenges. These story lines grant the players to open their minds to creativity and it’s amazing.

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There are games like the Legend of Zelda that have amazing storylines and then there are games as simple as Pokemon or Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon that have no “real” plot to it. Video games can be simple or complex, but they tell unforgettable stories nonetheless.

What’s your favorite aspect of video games? Let us know in the comments!