Sometimes, I think mediocre is worse than flat-out bad.
Recently I’ve been playing Vigil Games’ Darksiders II. It was one of those free games you get each month if you pay an extra fee on the Playstation, and thanks to generous family members I’ve had this service for several years now. Mechanically it’s a very satisfying game – a Devil May Cry-esque action RPG with Zelda-like puzzle elements. The story, however…
It starts with a fascinating premise. The main character is Death, the final horseman of the apocalypse, whose brother, War, has been framed for the crime of eradicating humanity. So far, so interesting. The game then shunts the player through a number of worlds in an attempt to find a way to restore humanity. But like a lot of games, especially in this genre, the narrative is secondary to the promise of getting to fight and kill lots of really cool bosses. What we get is a fairly tired pattern; I go somewhere (because I will find answers there), I don’t get what I was looking for, I fight a big monster, and then get a power up that will eventually let me get through the next dungeon or maze to once more not get my answers and fight the next boss that will give me something else.
Its not satisfying. I’m going to finish the game, mind you, because I can’t not finish it after as many hours as I’ve sunk into it, but I always feel a little bitter when I stop. I could have spent my time better, but at least I’m that much closer to being done with it.
I don’t want to write a story, podcast, comic or otherwise, that people have to slog through. I don’t want to write a Dragon Ball Z, where everyone knows that somebody is going to “unlock their potential” or “reach the next level” so that they can fight just well enough to beat the current bad guy. I want to write narratives that are surprising, and clever, and original, and most importantly, satisfying. To do that, I think, my heroes are going to have to figure out other ways to solve their problems besides punching them, unless they have a damn good reason.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Lulach Beryl: Magical Intern episode 10 is in production! Most of the lines are recorded, and I suspect this will be a fairly quick one to edit. We’ll hopefully have that out in a week’s time, provided nothing egregious comes up.