The sequel the the incredibly innovative Ace Attorney series decides to turn things around. The final plot twist, which I spoil in the review and will not do so here, is incredibly audacious, and the result is a game where Phoenix Wright proves what kind of lawyer he is.
My very first video review! When I finished playing Ace Attorney, I closed my DS and said “That’s it. Video games are art”. I was blown away by the sheer storytelling ability of this lawyer video game series but it wasn’t until my second play-through that I realized what made it work so well.
If you’re reading this, you’re here a bit early! Thank you for your interest in video game stories and in my work. I’m currently building this blog and will ‘officially’ be launching in January 2017!
Welcome to my blog. Here you can find all of my video reviews of popular story-based video games, as well as some essays where I analyze specific literary tropes, themes and motifs that often show up in gaming.
My mission statement
My goal is to show the world how video games can tell compelling narratives, point out the potential pitfalls, and highlight the video games that have succeeded in telling stories that no other medium could tell.
Why do stories in video games matter?
For the past two decades, there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not video games are an ‘art’. I guess it should be pretty obvious that I, personally, consider video games to be art, but in fact my argument is a bit stronger than that: I believe that video games have the ability to tell stories just as well – if not better – than any other art medium.
What about gameplay?
Since my focus is on stories in video games, you won’t be hearing too much about the gameplay unless it somehow relates to the plot. Now gameplay is obviously crucial to a video game but I disagree with anyone who claims that “gameplay is always more important than storyline”. That’s too much of a sweeping generalization and ignores the incredibly creative video games that use their own gameplay to tell a story.
So how do video games tell stories?
While other mediums must present a story to an audience, video games allow the audience to play a role in the story. This makes a tremendous difference and presents video game writers with a serious challenge: many of the common literary techniques just do not work. For example, whilst it’s common in movies or books to have a story centered around the protagonist, in video games this is actively detrimental. Often this results in a boring story about a character who doesn’t develop or change because that would mean taking control away from the character. It’s also very difficult to have this character undergo some sort of ‘failure’ unless you create a ‘hopeless boss fight’ (many players despise that) or having this ‘failure’ contained within a cut-scene with no player involvement.
Fortunately, like many other artforms, design constraints lead to some creative ideas. To solve the problem I described above, video games can build their story around a non-playable character (Ace Attorney, Pokemon), rotate between several playable characters (Heavy Rain, GTA V) or – probably my favorite solution to this problem – having no protagonist at all (Final Fantasy VI, Undertale).
If you enjoy hearing, thinking and talking about video game stories, then I hope you enjoy my analytical essays and video reviews! And if you like my work, please share this blog and/or my video reviews!