So, this past weekend I managed to pick up Square Enix’s episodic game Life Is Strange on the PS4. I’d heard good things about it, and it fit in with the type of games that I liked to play. In all actuality, it reminds me a lot of Heavy Rain in that it is mainly a lot of quicktime style events and decision making.
Despite my enjoyment of the game and the genre, one thing that has pissed me off is the character of Chloe. For those of you who don’t know anything about the game, it centers on Max, a young photographer who eventually realizes that she has the power to turn back time and change events. Within the first chapter of the game, you meed her good friend from childhood, Chloe, who is probably the most angsty stereotype of a teenage girl I think I have ever seen in a game.
As a player, I think that we are supposed to feel sympathy for Chloe and her home life, coupled with her issues with trust and friends. But therein lies the problem. I don’t care about Chloe. In fact, I find her to be a jerk, and I’d rather Max didn’t care about her either.
And this is just one example in gaming where I think the developers want you to feel something for their characters, but instead, you feel the opposite.
Take The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for example. If you’d never played another Witcher game, and hadn’t read the books (which I hadn’t when I began playing it), you have no idea who Yennefer is, and once you interact with her, I think you might like her even less. Triss, on the other hand, comes off as a sweet and happy woman, one who most players find more appealing overall than Yen. And yet, the game makes it seem, through choices, that Geralt would be much happier in the end with Yennifer.
I think that if game companies want players to care about characters, they need to craft them in such a way that enables the player to make their own choices without being skewed heavily in one way. And if they do want the player to be skewed, they need to do a better job of the writing in order to bring players to that conclusion.
I think a fine example of a game that does that right is Dragon Age: Inquisition. In the beginning of the game, it is difficult to relate to the broody Cassandra. But the writing in the game slowly wears down her tough exterior to create a character that is fully developed. Even if you don’t care to romance Cass, in the end, I think most people agree that her character was interesting and fun to watch change.
Anywho, do any of you have any games/characters like this? Who did you feel that the game was trying to get you to feel for, and why didn’t you? Looking forward to your discussion in the comments!
~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer