“I’ve always felt that ’game over’ is a state of failure more for the game designer than from the player,” Cage told Joystiq during a Gamescom interview. The developer, whose next game is the supernatural thriller “Beyond: Two Souls” explained that the Ellen Page-starring PS3 title would instead provide consequences for player failure instead of the end of a scenario.
What that means for gamers is that instead of having to restart an encounter where you’ve messed up as psychically-powered Jodie (Page), you’ll instead lose out on a branch of the narrative (or simply experience the narrative in a different way).
Before you counter, “Well, that doesn’t make sense for all games,” Cage realizes that for some games, a losing scenario is essential: “In an action game, I can get that – why not? It’s all about skills. But in a story-driven experience it doesn’t make any sense.”
Death and failure was certainly an option in Quantic Dream’s earlier effort, “Indigo Prophecy,” where failing one of the game’s ubiquitous QTEs could set you back and force you to retry that segment of the story again. I’m not pointing this out as a dig at Cage–in fact, it feels like narrative design has come quite a bit further since the release of that game on the PS2. There’s a bit more deliberation about how the “Game Over” screen is handled–even if designers are still split about what the solutions are on that front.
Speaking as someone who’s worked in narrative-driven games, how failure is handled is one of those conversations that begins (sometimes contentiously) at the beginning of the design process. Consider Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” which was in many ways a narrative triumph, but having to replay the few skill-based sections because you couldn’t quite aim the twitchy cursor to stab a zombie felt punitive and kept you away from the core mechanic of the game. By contrast, you have “Mass Effect” which discreetly partitions off the narrative and action sides of the game, so there’s no fail state in the story but there is when you’re running and gunning with the Normandy crew.
“Beyond: Two Souls” will be available on the PS3 October 8.
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