Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Delusion Of Choice: Narrative Bending In The Walking Dead [Part 2]

[I'm continuing my thoughts on this excellent zombie-filled adventure game series. Incredibly vague spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of The Walking Dead]


Part II: "Fuck You Kenny!" - Thoughts On Building Connections Between Players & NPCs

I tried giving him the benefit of the doubt. I really did. He seemed like a decent enough guy at first. Loving husband and father. Adorable southern twang. But after two major back to back disappointments during the debacle at the barn, I think I'm done being reasonable with Kenny. In fact, I'm on the verge of outright leaving him for the zombies, next chance I get.

You should understand, I play my video games like I'm the second coming of Jesus. I don't lie, I don't steal, I turn water into wine if it's ever an option. In every conversation with another non-aggressive person I react with the patience and forgiveness of a saint. That's just how I was raised to be...in video games. Obviously having a good relationship with every possible character you come across is only ever going to benefit you as the player.

But dear god, I am so fucking done with Kenny. He pushed me to the point where, whenever my character had the opportunity to yell at, demoralize or undermine him, I took it. And I love it. I'm off of my usual video game autopilot right now, not just picking the option that gets me the most "friendship points" or "alliance strength" or whatever stat I know the game is tracking after every dialogue option I choose. At this point, I don't give a shit what harm comes of it. I'm done letting Kenny ruin things for my character, and the rest of the group. Especially Clementine, the little girl I'm protecting.

At the end of the second episode of the game, the group comes across an abandoned car full of supplies. Kenny dives right in, while my character stands back, judging him. Several options for dialogue appear on the bottom of the screen. There's a neutral response, a mostly negative response, and one outright sneer.

"You're really on a tear today, aren't you Kenny?" I tell my character to say to him.

The screen flashes a prompt, informing me: "Kenny will remember your words", and I shout at the screen: "GOOD, HE'D FUCKING BETTER!"

I love that on top of the game tracking my decisions with other players and keeping tabs on our relationships, it's gone one step above and beyond and caused me the player to have very personal reactions to the scripted NPCs. Great stuff.

Still To Come (I may wait until after I play Episode 3 for these)

-How To Make Death An Actual Threat
-Oh My Darlin' Clementine (Or: Please Don't End Like Mass Effect 3)
-And probably more!

And if you haven't read it yet, check out Part I.

-Matt

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