David Cage Presents…”Interactive Drama” – Rim Shots

So here is the start of something new: a weekly article in which I can vent in a controlled format about anything gaming that earns my ire. I will take multiple shots at video game rage inducers (each followed by a short explanation) and attempt not to froth at the mouth in the process. Without further ado, here goes the inaugural Rim(ithel) Shots!

First, let’s start with a little background.

David Cage is the founder of the video game developer Quantic Dream.

Now, this particular developer began writing story driven games using “interactive cinema technology” with Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in North America).

This means that the story adapts to your actions and decisions.  We’ll cover why this idea no longer applies in a moment.  Frankly, my first shot is screaming to be written, but it will have to wait.

The Interactive Drama

The games developed by Quantic Dream and David Cage pioneered a gaming genre known as Interactive Drama, focused upon storytelling, emotion and innovation.

Again, the operative word here is “interactive”.

Huh.  Well…

THE LAST TWO GAMES THEY RELEASED WERE BARELY INTERACTIVE AT ALL

Both titles, written by David Cage, force the player to complete scripted events in order to move forward (which is an odd concept for games based on choice).  (i.e. In Heavy Rain, you cannot go downstairs in your apartment until you get dressed; You must help your wife with the groceries, etc.)

YOUR CHOICES DO NOT MATTER

This is perhaps the most infuriating part.

In Heavy Rain, there are several endings in which the Origami Killer is revealed.  The killer is the same person in every single one.

In Beyond Two Souls, the most recent title, you are told to knock over one object using your powers.  However, you are forced to knock over two more, and then given the “choice” to completely smash the room.  If you do not, the characters react as if you did.  So…how is that a choice?

THE GAME LIES TO YOU

This one refers specifically to the horrible nonsense in Heavy Rain where you can press a button and hear your character’s thoughts.  Huh…so why then, when you are playing as the killer, is he so very keen on gathering more information in order to find himself?

Read that sentence again. I’ll wait.

Do you see the problem? David Cage has written this internal dialogue to directly lie to the gamer.  At that point, you are no longer investigating the Origami Killer, you are being strung along to the conclusion he wants you to reach.

DEAR GOD THE QUICK TIME EVENTS

Everything is a quick time event, from brushing your teeth to drawing a message on a piece of paper.

There are no consequences for failing at these, you simply restart them.  Cage has actually spoken out regarding failure in video games.  He believes that for the player to fail in a game, it is “a state of failure more for the game designer than from the player”.

What?

If you cannot fail at a task in a video game, then what is the point? He is leading the player to a contrived ending that he wrote, so he has taken away all interaction.  The player is not allowed to approach situations in different fashions than the prescribed.  How is this interactive?

IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO MAKE A CHOICE IT MAKES ONE FOR YOU

I’m looking at you, Beyond Two Souls.  At several points, the player is given a choice of response to the action.  If you do not select an option within a few seconds, the game chooses for you.

Again, is this interaction?  The answer is a resounding, “no”.

A long way to go

I must admit, this type of writing absolutely drives me up the wall.

I absolutely understand the necessity to drive a story forward, but to dress it up as choice?  Unacceptable.

If David Cage wants so much to tell these stories, he should make a movie.

The quick times events are insulting, in my opinion, like a teacher lecturing in class who simply pats a child on the head when he or she asks a question.

The bottom line is this: Beyond Two Souls and Heavy Rain are movies.  I cannot bring myself to call them games.  The quick time events are….like a sticker that David Cage placed on his movie with the word “GAME” written on it in bold letters.

I really do not enjoy being treated like an idiot.  I know a movie when I see one.  To try to fool a player into believing he or she has a say in where the story goes is just awful and I believe David Cage should be ashamed.

I just sighed as I finished that sentence.  I do not even know what else there is to say.

Exasperatedly Yours,