Just the other day I wrote about Telltale Games and their choice and consequence. To be more exact I wrote about why I didn’t like the way they were implementing choice in consequence mechanics into the gameplay. I’ve promised to further elaborate on this providing the good example of incorporating choice in consequence without breaking the immersion of the game, so here we go.
I mentioned how I dislike there blunt and very obvious incorporation of the set mechanic. I said that the results are most likely to be “rigged” subconsciously by the participant who knows that he is being tested in some way. Knowing that you’re being tested can complicate things and messed with the player immersion. Given the choices that are clearly good or bad, selfish or noble makes the players create a fictional persona in their head and choose a solution for the current problem in game depending on how they would like their fictional characters that they’ve created to react to it rather than confronting it in a way that they themselves see fit. This usually and up with player choosing to go down a certain predefined path therefore always optioning for a specific way of problem-solving.
Some games even take this a step further by always assigning similar reactions and responses to same buttons on the controller, so for instance you will always press “Y” on your Xbox controller if you want your character to appear brash or violently or press “X” to be as much of a good guy as you can possibly be. I do know about you but being presented with this much control in a game where choices are supposed to have consequences is not very fun, at least not for me.
There’s a game that absolutely defined this whole thing of player profiling for me and is perhaps the main reason why I don’t really consider Telltale Games to be that much of a choice in consequence material. Now the game in question is honestly nothing special in terms of a videogame. It doesn’t feature any groundbreaking gameplay nor it’s an action-packed or a computer graphics spectacle, no. But at one point it definitely stands out from the crowd as a (in my opinion) masterpiece of choice and consequence gameplay. The game talking about is Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (SH:SM for future references).
Let me get this out of the way right now. I’m not saying this is the best Silent Hill game, I’m not even trying to compare it to other Silent Hill games, and simply saying that this game an exceptional job at tackling down hardships of successful choices and consequences gameplay. Whether it’s the best or absolutely the worst entry in the franchise is absolutely not the subject of discussion here.
Since I don’t want to spoil anything major I’ll be brief and because I believe that there are still people who haven’t got the chance but have always wanted to try this game, I’ll be very short.
From the moment you start playing every action you do is counting towards a hidden scoring mechanic that will directly impact how the game story unfolds, what you will be facing in the future and of course, how the game will end for you. There is absolutely nothing that will ever highlight a specific action, making it stand out from the rest. Everything you do (and I do mean everything, even some trivial actions are given some weight) will feel natural and of even importance and for the most part it’s because everything actually is taken into account, not just some major highlighted events. Were it not for the disclaimer about the game “psychologically profiling you as you play” at the beginning, there would be nothing at all throughout it to actually indicate that it has heavy choice and consequences mechanics.
What’s also both impressive and terrifying is the fact that this game is a horror game, and a very bizarre one, even when compared to other horror games, which makes the thought that the game will actively keep profiling you psychologically as you play it then using that information to change itself in order to create your own personal nightmarish world much more scarier and uneasy. If you’ve ever played or saw a Silent Hill game even for a short while, you know how bizarre and nightmarish these games can be. Even though SH:SM’s theme is entirely different than the rest of the franchise due to the fact that it’s actually a reboot, a reimagining of the original game it succeeds in creating just as eerie and unpleasant atmosphere as the previous games have (at least it did so for me).
The worst thing about this is that I have sworn not to spoil major game elements while talking about them which is usually fairly easy to do but, as this game is so much different than the others it’s literally impossible to mention even the tiniest of its ingeniously subtly implemented gameplay mechanics without ruining somebody’s first play through which something I definitely don’t want to do, not with this game.
What I will say is that the game has a combination of 3 endings and 3 epilogue’s which explain why the ending and gameplay was as it was in the first place so, a total of 9 combination of stories can be experienced from Shattered Memories (which makes the fact that there are no unlockable bonuses upon completion very lame, which then again makes the fact that I’ve finished it for countless times even though I knew that speak volumes about the game itself). If you value choice and consequence gameplay, do yourself a favor and try this game. It is available for PlayStation 2 Nintendo GameCube and Sony’s PlayStation Portable, and the best thing about this is that it’s also playable PC through an emulator for any of these three consoles.
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