Innovation in adventure games: Mission Impossible?

After playing “Sunrise – The Game”, it became apparent that some game mechanics of adventure games aren’t realistic at all and if you alter them they can fail big time. Now it IS a refreshing idea that the character does not carry all kinds of things around with him, like the rest of his adventuring collegues (who generally don’t have any problems with stowing away a big broom, live animals and what have you in their trousers). It’s also a nice idea that he doesn’t take any heavy stuff. Another thing one can understand is that he doesn’t want to repeat himself when looking at things or talking to people (ironically, his comments DO repeat themselves after a while). It’s even conceivable that he doesn’t want to run all the time (he actually walks all the time).

But all these things put together to create a more realistic world and a logical behavior of a character stands in the way of what adventure games are about: You pick up all kinds of stuff to combine the objects or use them later. But “Sunrise” doesn’t want you to do this. “Sunrise” wants you to remember where things are to use them later. So reality stands in the way of gameplay.

Does innovation really have a negative impact on the fun aspect of gaming, especially with the rather rigid gameplay mechanics of adventure games? Fortunately there are examples in which new ideas work: The two games “In Memoriam” (or “Missing” as it’s known in the US) and “In Memoriam 2” (US-title: “Evidence”) play with the notion of hunting a serial killer who sent a DVD to the FBI. The data on it consists of multiple sick mini games which give clues to the whereabouts of his victims. What makes the game so thrilling is that you seem to play in real-time, that is you have to give your email-address and receive emails from other investigators and the killer himself. Most of the research (especially in “Evidence”) relies on finding information on the internet (some websites were specifically created for the game). The game is suspenseful, doesn’t need an inventory and is less linear as you can decide which puzzles you tackle first.

The same developer also did a game called “Experiment 112” which gives the player control over cameras on a ship. By using those he can interact with a female character who has to find a way out. I haven’t played it yet and it seems to suffer some control problems, but that’s some pretty ingenious idea, and it pushes adventure game mechanics forward.

Another important step towards more involved storytelling and dissolved genre conventions is of course “Heavy Rain”, but this should deserve a blog entry of its own as it defies any genre standards and might be one of the most important titles of gaming culture today.

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About nufafitc

Being an avid gamer, cinemaniac, and bookworm in addition to other things the internet and new media present, I'm also very much into DIY music, rock and pop in particular. Writing short or longer pieces about anything that interests me has always made me happy. As both an editor for German website "Adventure-Treff" and UK website "Future Sack", I like to write reviews and news about recent developments in the movies, games and book industry.
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One Response to Innovation in adventure games: Mission Impossible?

  1. Michael Stein says:

    You will get Experience 112 in 2 weeks. It’s a good game, even if it’s really buggy. I did not manage to bring it to an end because I was stuck in a big bug that prevented me to play on. Maybe you’re more lucky than I was. I think that meanwhile a patch was released.

    Anyway, lexis numérique stands for innovative gameplay. Some of the games work very well, others (like ‘Crime Scene’, german: Kriminologie) are totally annoying. They have good technical ideas, but most of the time they fail in storytelling. I’ve seen a presentation for a game that they are working on during the last gamescom fair and I’m still waiting for it. It’s about a house with a lot of appartments, where you can fly around the building, enter the appartments, alter the conditions inside, jump forward forth and back in time and see what consequences happen from what you did.

    If they ever release it, it will be a totally new kind of gameplay, like Little Computer People or They stole a million in the 80s.

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