This morning, I was watching Super Bunnyhop’s review of Until Dawn. It was good. Not as good as my review (shameless pandering!) but good. However, there was one thing that caught my attention – his statement that the game has no replayability value, thus making it not worth a full retail price. That got me to thinking about something – I game for reasons all my own. I’m convinced of this. Why? Because when I see that someone says that a game has no replayability, I can’t help but disagree. I think the game is great to replay. While they start out as assholes, I grow to care about the characters in that game because I helped shape their narrative. Found a way to save everyone, and I felt pretty good about myself. It was a long road that got me there, and it was worth it. So, what makes a game have replay value, in my eyes?
For most people, replay value seems to come from when they can do different things. Try new stuff. Find new ways to do old stuff. Or, with games like Mass Effect, do different things in the narrative. A pity the series had such a shitty ending that ignored our choices, but whatever. The key element of replay value comes from when a game can give the player new things to do and new ways to experience a game. While those things can be nice, that is NOT what I consider replay value.
I am a story-seeker. No matter what the form, it is a good story that I want to see. Books, movies, tv shows or anime (though not lately with anime. A lot of new stuff is total garbage), a good story is what I am looking for. That’s where video games come in. Here is another avenue for good stories. Stories that have rich and developed characters and make me think or feel certain things. That is the entirety of why I am. It’s why I don’t get hung up on whether or not a game is part of a genre that is overflowing. Like how people gave The Evil Within shit because it is like so many other games. I liked it because it was interesting and had a story that kept me going. Not to mention a return to form with Resident Evil 4 style horror. It was good. My favorite games are the ones that get me to feel and think things that I didn’t before. They engross me in the story they are trying to tell. That’s my nirvana.
When I think of games that have the best replay value, they are the ones that suck me into the narrative the most. Why do you think that I have been so in love with Life is Strange? These characters mean something to me, and so does the narrative they are trying to tell. It’s why I am eagerly awaiting the last episode, whenever that ends up coming out. They are speculating early or middle October. Worth the wait. Though it won’t be easy. A greats story in a game is everything. It’s why I think that The Last of Us is one of the greatest games ever made. It tells a brilliantly-paced story, without a single piece of exposition dumped on the player. Everything you learn is from little clues, dialogue and character interactions. That kind of realistic narrative is everything that I love about Naughty Dog’s work. That company can do it like no one else. It’s part of why I hope they never do a sequel to that game. They can only make the story of Joel and Ellie lesser by making it longer. The way they ended it was enough.
I see gaming as capable of creating truly engrossing stories. It’s one of the few mediums that can capture it like no one else. Gaming can do what film could never do. It can even give books a run for their money, if the story being told is good enough. This medium allows players to shape and see stories in their own way. It can connect with you on a deeply-personal level because this medium is one that you help to create. You shape it, give it form. The stories can be as rich or paper-thin as you like.
So yeah, that’s how I see replayability. And the way I see it, Until Dawn has it in spades. But that’s just me. I play games for reasons that I guess are all my own. I have met very few people who have this same viewpoint. It can be a little lonely. Make me think about how I do most everything for reasons all my own. Not easy to be that way. The path is lonely and most people think that you’re a pretentious hipster. Alas, I know no other way to be. That’s just how I roll.
Until next time, a quote,
“Geez, Max, is there anyone you’re helping?” -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange