By Sweep 30 Comments
I'm not sure I have used this blog title before.
I'm fairly certain I have, but after writing 358 blogs on this site over the course of 4 years, I can never be sure. If so, apologies. Do not panic; You are not stuck in some infinite internet loop. Calm yourselves.
Incidentally, this is not a blog about Beyond Good And Evil. Sorry :(
The whole Paragon vs Renegade thing is something that I have written about before, though not for a while. In summary: I do not like that process, at all. In my experience, to take advantage of these systems and the rewards that they bare, you must commit to a single path entirely. For example in Mass Effect, choosing the path of ethical ambiguity meant you were deprived of both the extreme Paragon and Renegade answers that would pop up occasionally and, arguably, would allow the conversation to escalate to it's most entertaining conclusion. They grey road is, in many cases, the least rewarding. Such game designs are also, to any experienced player, condescendingly transparent. One of these choices will give you a good ending, one will give you a bad ending - it is seldom difficult to figure out which is which. Bioshock, for example, made it fairly obvious throughout that saving the little sisters would pay off in the long run, but at what cost? By making the decisions so linear, the element of choice becomes redundant.
And then some games give you alternate endings which are neither good, nor bad, and the result is underwhelming for a whole different reason - because your moral decisions were apparently meaningless. I'm still looking at you, Mass Effect.
There are, of course, examples that contradict this. The Witcher (more specifically the sequel, which is the only Witcher I have spent any time with) managed to instil a wonderful sense of ethical uncertainty. Your decisions sent ripples flowering off into the fabric of the world, some of them trivial, others leaving deeper and more meaningful scars on the world around you.
So why bring this up Sweep, you bellend? We don't need to hear this shit from you again.
When I play games that facilitate any kind of moral spectrum, I tend to pick my ethical alignment at an early stage, for the reasons previously stated. Usually I pick being an Evil Dude, because kicking guys out of windows is much more entertaining than helping orphans and letting the rest of the game's inhabitants treat you like a little bitch. But then I started playing the Walking Dead and... fuck, I'm finding it hard. Telltale have managed to place me in a situation where I am forced to act with a genuine moral integrity instead of simply choosing the actions that I believe (And secretly hope) will cause the most chaos and destruction. The Walking Dead makes me feel... guilty.
That's a big deal for me. Guilt is not an emotion that I frequently entertain.
The choices that you make are not inherently good, nor evil, but they are tough. The one choice that still fucks me up was at the beginning of episode 2 when you are asked to share out 4 portions of food between 8 people. I didn't want to give any food to Duck (he's Kenny's son, and he's fucking irritating) but... I couldn't not give food to a starving child. That just seemed... wrong.
The best part about the Walking Dead is that it lacks any sense of predictable linearity. You make decisions and, as in the Witcher, you don't know what this means for you, nor your group. You are having to react to people and, despite their stereotypical character roles, they remain unpredictable. The cast remembers your decisions, even if you don't, and they come back to haunt you. Usually when you least expect it.
But the Walking Dead goes beyond that, even. The game forces you to act selflessly because you actually care about the other characters. There were moments in Episode 2 where I gave pause to reconsider my course of action. For a little girl who doesn't even exist.
This, I think, is what makes a great videogame. And this is why you should go play The Walking Dead.
Also, it has zombies in it!