Okay, so I know this is slightly off-topic compared to everyone else’s blog posts, but I recently played a game and I really want to talk about it and Professor Clayton said we can write about something else if you want to, so…
Basically, I watch a podcast/video series called “Extra-Credits.” It’s a series that examines issues, problems, and ideas in the game industry. They occasionally do a video-series called “Games you Might Not Have Tried,” and they did a special one for Halloween. One game in the video immediately stood out to me and I had to try it right away and I’m glad I did.
The game is called “No-one Has to Die” and the premise of the game is simple. You are a person who has access to a security computer for a company. The building is on fire. There are four people in the building. Save them. However, unlike what the title implies, you have to sacrifice one person per level so the others survive. But what makes this so great? Also, I really recommend that you don’t read this until you play the game. Please. Please play it now. I linked to it at the end of this article. Skip down there and play it. It really needs to be experienced.
Unlike every other choice system in a video game, this game does not present you with any ulterior motives. In series such as BioShock or Mass Effect, the choice system is its own metagame. “If I do this, then it will benefit me in the long run.” No matter what, you always have a that question in the back of your mind when you play those games. You can not make an altruistic choice. However, in this game, it doesn’t present you with any other motives. It is simply your choice who lives and dies. In between levels, you talk to the people trapped in the building and you have to make the choice of who lives based off of nothing but these interactions. Do you save the CEO of the company in hopes of getting more information, do you save the arsonist in order to bring him to justice, do you save the man who shouldn’t even have been there, or do you save the woman because the man begs you to save her instead of him. Secretly, there is a hidden route that lets you save everyone, but the game gives you no indication that this exists.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this game does a choice system correctly. You have no indication of what your choices mean which means that your choices are based entirely upon your emotional connections to the characters. You feel guilt when you sacrifice someone, and sadness when (in what will probably be your first playthrough) you have to sacrifice either the man or the woman, right after they all but admit their love for each-other. This is a choice system that more games need to use, because this actually works and I hope to see this in a mainstream game someday.
All pictures from No-one has to die (seriously, you should play this…)