Thursday, November 7, 2013

Silent Protagonists and the Great Snore

I love playing RPGs, they are my favorite genre to play in all of video games genres.  But when I play an RPG(Or other genre of games games for that matter) I get sick of controlling a character who doesn't talk.  It never makes any sense to play as a character who doesn't talk in a game where everyone else spews their life story at you.  Note I'm not talking about games where you build your group of heroes from scratch since part of the idea of those games is that it's your story (Etrian Odyssey is a good example of this), I'm talking about games where you have established characters to experience the story.  It feels like game designers want to make the main hero to be the proxy for the player to be immersed in the story that is heavy in atmosphere already, and it's something I've been questioning as of late.

A great example is the MCs from Persona 3 and 4, they are suppose to be our proxy's to the story being told around them yet they feel flat.  They are both in wonderful worlds where the supernatural is around them destroying their perception of what they thought was normal, yet they are dead pan the entire time only making slight remarks when they are asked something.  What annoyed me the most with this is when the MC from Persona 3 sacrificed himself, and I really didn't feel anything about his death.  And this is why the proxy idea falls flat for me, if you don't have a personal point of reference how do you know what to feel?

Which is weird because a character death can be emotional to me, Nanako from Persona 4 had a really powerful death scene because you had a point of reference that they provided.  The scene was powerful because how everyone around her was sadden by her death.  We have a group of people who fought countless demons but the death of a friend they couldn't save broke them all down.  Yet the MC was pretty much "...", I would love to know what he was thinking at that moment.  Yeah he would have been sad but what would he have said?  Would he curse the person who put her in the TV, or would he have been mad at himself for not saving her in time.  We only have our own imagination to fill in for this, which would be ok if the game didn't give us a bad ending for thinking he would get revenge.

Another example would be Issac Clark from Dead Space, before the sequels we played as an engineer who slips on the action shooter helmet and we never hear him speak (A problem with most games of its ilk).  And part of the plot of this game was based around finding your wife who may or may not be dead, and it is lame because Issac never speaks and the game just tells us we should feel bad for him.  Why can't Issac speak so we know what he is thinking instead of being bold faced told?  This is a huge contrast to Solid Snake, who's "death scene" still haunts me.  Even if he didn't kill himself seeing him trying to build the courage to do it, and with the fear he was facing to pull that trigger was powerful image.

I have other examples like how Golden Sun has the "hero" be a mute and the "anti hero" talks, however in the sequel the "hero" finds the ability to talk and the "anti hero" loses the ability to talk for some reason or another.  Problem is I love the worlds these games can build, and the supporting cast that lives in it.  But when the person who is suppose to be the driving force has dialog that pretty much consists of motions and snippets of dialog choices it's not interesting.

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