Mar 032014

by marufura fufunjiru

Imagine you’re a 14-year old girl (or boy – doesn’t really matter) who grew up in a violent environment. In order to survive you had to learn some fighting skills, you know how to use weapons and you were strong and lucky enough to still be alive to help a friend who’s critically wounded. You went out to search for medical supplies and having found enough of them you are on your way back to him. Only one last door keeps you from reaching him when a bunch of soldiers with firearms attack you from behind. What would happen? You’d be dead in a second, right? Damn right, dead – game over!
Left Behind, the DLC for The Last Of Us, for the most part did so many things right. Much better than the main game. There was a lovable main character who I really cared for (not the asshole from the main game because of whom I several times considered quitting the game for good). When Ellie stood in front of that door she couldn’t open and the only possible way was through water (in freezing winter) I spent a long time trying to find alternatives. I looked for other routes. I tried to blow up the door with a molotov. I was so immersed that I really really tried to avoid walking through that ice-cold water. One part of me cared for Ellie that much. She was my friend. The other part of me was her. I didn’t want to wade through that fucking cold water, damn!
Left Behind did so many things right. It told a story about a vulnerable human being. A believable human being. Someone like you and me. Ellie was silly, funny, dumb, full of fear and hope. She was a strong young woman now and a careless teenager then. In a dangerous, hopeless world she found her moments of joy and love (that kiss was one of the best, most touching scenes ever in a video game).
How I loved this DLC!
Until she became a walking battle tank that is. Really, Naughty Dog? Are you fucking shitting me? Isn’t immersion one of the biggest strengths of video games compared to other art? How can you do that? How can you kick me out of your game like this? If I want to be a god of war I can always play, well, God of War for example.

Imagine you’re playing Call of Duty and there is a mission where you have to collect flowers to decorate the grave of your late hamster…..
I don’t give a shit about realism in video games. I love the Katamari series where you roll up skyscrapers and even whole planets. I love the Tales series where you have powerful spells to defeat invincible opponents. They are all not realistic. But they play in a coherent world. I roll up shit from beginning to end, I destroy the most powerful foes throughout the whole game. Nothing breaks immersion.
How can a young, inexperienced, vulnerable, in no way combat trained Lara Croft kill dozens of soldiers? Tomb Raider was a very good game. But without this immersion breaking nonsense (and with a lot more puzzles) it could have been a great game – game of the year material. And how can my beloved Ellie become such a joke of a weapon of mass destruction?
Really, dear game developers, this immersion breaking bullcrap must finally be left behind!!!