The Inner Turmoil of Tone versus Gameplay?

Video games are becoming more adult. That is to say, developers and publishers are working on trying to have video games as a medium be more well respected, deal with more adult themes, and be represented in more of an artistic light than they used to be. However with that mission as we age into a newer generation of consoles are seeing several issues.

The most notable issue from my perspective is the idea of tone versus gameplay. A recent example of this is the rebooted version of Tomb Raider. You play a character with very little combat experience, who is not accustomed to seeing a lot of death. The developers hyped up the tone of this game to no end. How this character would evolve over the game, but still be resilient in only doing the actions she was doing due to the circumstance.

Where this tone hits the wall is when it meets gameplay. In the game while you do a decent amount of puzzle solving, general adventuring, you also do a lot of killing. It makes the personal development of the character feel really hollow when after murdering 15 enemies, you get forced dialogue about how she questions her actions.

Tomb Raider is not the only game suffering this conundrum. Whether it is Nathan Drake questioning his motives and wanting to turn back only to still go on forward, Grand Theft Auto where your character converys interest in getting out of the crime life only to continue the crime life, and Assassins Creed where you are put into forced missions trying to imply the "scale" of battle only to be able to murder 20 guys in a single combat.

There is no mistaking that gameplay is at odds with the tones and themes of our video games more and more as we go on. While independent titles have the luxury to explore other avenues, such as Braid which tricks the user into misunderstanding the tone of the game, others sometimes explore whole new avenues of gameplay to try and match the tone or theme they are trying to convey.

The only recent AAA title I can recall that at least attempted to tackle this issue was Dishonored. You were given the tools to play the game your way, the more of a murdering psychopath you were the more they tried to reflect that in the game and world around you. While it was not executed in the perfect solution, all this left me wondering what is the answer?

I personally don't have it. But I do think this is a question developers should be asking themselves. When making a modern game that is attempting to deal with more mature themes they should always consider if the context of the gameplay matches with the themes they are trying. More and more we are seeing that gamers are getting sick of iterative gameplay as it is. I think now is as good as time as any to evolve the impact of gameplay onto the tone of a game while we continue to evolve the tone of our games.

What are your guys thoughts on this?

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