Letting players choose how they play their game is nothing new. Early Final Fantasy games let players free roam through the world and choose which missions to. Some games even give the player the choice of dialogue for their character. An interesting feature has been tried in some modern games is interactive storytelling. This is done by give the players choice in dialogue, decisions, and gameplay that affect the story of the game.
Let’s take a game like Heavy Rain for example. The player is given different dialogue options and is allowed to choose how scenes play out. These decisions directly affect the outcome of the story. Characters in the story can die during gameplay which directly change other characters will interact. This game gives players a lot of freedom to decide how the story will play out.
Another game that has this same feature is the Walking Dead game done by Telltale games. The interesting feature in this game is that players are forced to make a quick decision. As soon as the choices in dialogue or action are given on the screen, a countdown bar appears. Depending on what kind of decision is being made, the countdown bar may decrease more rapidly forcing a more instinctive decision by the player. The choices were also not marked in any way to show which ones were “good” and “bad” unlike Mass Effect. The only downside to the Walking Dead game is that the ending is not wildly different based on the decisions that are made.
The instinctive choices that Walking Dead create is something I really enjoyed. It forced me to make quick decisions without giving me a chance to think about the long term outcome. I would like to see a game with this kind of feature that had a larger impact on the story. Take the decision system from Walking Dead and implement it in a world like that created in the Mass Effect games. Show the players that their decisions make an actual impact on the game and changed the way the story is told. A game with this type of story telling may not be too far way.
Interactive storytelling is a very interesting way to allow gamers to experience their games. The games that hit their mark and really immerse the player give unforgettable experiences. I’m glad to see that more games are giving the player a choice in how the story plays out and hope to see it continue to improve in the years to come.