The anthology narrative is a fascinating storytelling concept for its unconventionality. Instead of a larger singular narrative, a series of short stories are compiled together often only connected by a theme, a premise, or a shared character or event. Juxtaposition helps facilitate the audience’s ability to find connections between the works. The mechanical focus of most games lends itself well to loosely connected stories, but today’s game takes more of an arc-based approach. The first of Freebird Games’ currently unnamed series: 2011’s To the Moon.
“Spectacle” is often used to describe an experience that is captivating in the moment, but often lacks the depth for any deeper interpretation. Video games more so than any other narrative medium can get away with shortchanging their narratives for a greater emphasis on visual and gameplay spectacle. A great example of spectacle over narrative substance lies in Final Form Games’ indie shoot ’em up Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony. An improved version under the title of “Jamestown+” was released on PlayStation 4 in 2015, but this article will be covering the 2011 Steam release.
Few franchises in gaming are as iconic as Tomb Raider. With a string of hit games in the late 90’s, Lara Croft dominated the action adventure genre, but the turn of the millennium brought with it a downturn in both sales and quality which finally forced the series to go dormant in 2008. During the interim, another franchise heavily inspired by the tomb raiding of old rose to prominence: Uncharted. So when it finally came time for Lara Croft to make her long awaited return in the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, the odds were stacked against her. So how does the reboot fare?
The Ratchet & Clank series is unique when it comes to platformers for focusing less on the actual platforming, and more on destroying everything in your path with a vast arsenal of unique weapons. The formula hasn’t changed much since Ratchet & Clank’s 2002 debut, but with such a solid foundation it doesn’t necessarily need to. Perhaps the series’ biggest distinction is its approach to narrative with colorful characters and emotional storylines earning comparisons to Pixar films. This focus on narrative gave way to the Future series, which brought us today’s subject: Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty.
While thinking about the narrative of Flower, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another game I had played some time ago. In presentation it was considerably more abstract, but in narrative it was more grounded… sorta. That game was Mike Bithell’s indie puzzle platformer, Thomas Was Alone, released on Steam in 2012.