Guess my app just has weird days. This blog has been drafted for a day or two, so apologies for that…

Completed a game called NIER just now. I’m not usually one for action-rpgs – I’m an old-fashioned turn-based guy at heart – but I found myself really enjoying the game. The mix of hack and slash fighting, dark magic and even some ingenious use of “bullet-hell” spell dodging made NIER a game unlike anything I’ve played before.

It had it’s downsides, though; sometimes the game would bog itself down in too much narrative. And by ‘narrative’, I mean the entire screen would fade to black and pages and pages and PAGES of text would follow. As each block of text scrolled to the bottom, I found myself praying that would be the end of it… Only to have the game go “Nope – surprise, asshat!”, and spew forth even more annoying WERDS 😦

Also, there seemed to be an awful lot of character-hate for the only female member on your team. Character-hate, for those that might be confused, is when the character’s creators go out of their way to brutalise the poor thing.

Now, as a writer, I know ‘Hurt your heroes’ is pretty much a commandment. But there’s hurting your hero, and then there’s kicking the crap out of them, repeatedly, with a rusty shovel of HATE. Seriously, this poor girl took so much punishment it’s no wonder she’s such a hard-ass.

But that’s not the problem – sure, by showing the hardships she’s had to endure, and continues to endure, we come to appreciate her attitude. We accept she’s a tough as nails survivor. But there are two other people in the party. Do you see what I’m getting at, yet?

Let me elaborate: another rule of writing, which goes hand in hand with “Hurt your heroes”, is the fact that conflict and peril builds character. We get to see our heroes overcome obstacles, watch them learn and evolve from the situation, whilst at the same time appreciating how they’ve changed, what they’ve become, etc.

BUT… Too much of anything is bad for you. And overplaying these writing rules is no different; when this female character was placed in peril the first time, our natural reaction is “*gasp* Oh no!”, followed by a sigh of relief when she pulls through.

The second time, we’re like “*gasp* Not again! How could she possibly survive THIS?!” Again, this is followed by relief when she pulls through, albeit maybe less so, because we’ve already seen her survive worse.

The THIRD time, your reaction is something like “*yawn* Oh, come ON! There’s two other guys, you know!” Because, just like that, the danger and the shock value is gone. We were expecting it because it’s happened too many times already. The sensation of peril has been irreversibly diluted.

When you’re dealing with a single MC, it’s natural that the majority of the bad stuff is going to happen to them. But when you have 3 main characters in the party, and all the terrible stuff happens to just one? It takes the sense of uncertainty away – we KNOW things are going to get worse, which is good. Peril needs to escalate towards the climax. But we also know most of the bad stuff is going to happen to her, which is bad. It damages the other characters when the chance of danger is stripped from them, and that’s a sad loss.

So, yes, NIER was good, but writing wise it had it’s flaws. Still, I’d recommend it to any fan of RPGs who’s looking for something a little different.

Rating: 4/5

Til tomorrow!

Dave

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