In which, we process a bunch of thoughts on videogames stream-of-consciousness style. We let readers decide if any of these thoughts warrant further development. Warning: mid-game spoilers to Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1:
Clementine Kicks Puppies
Fortunately, Clementine doesn’t literally kick any puppies in Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 1. [Spoilers:] She does, however, stab a fully-grown dog to death. Or at least my Clementine did. It was kinda optional. The other option was to just let the dog stay impaled on rebar after you fought it off. I mean it wasn’t the dog’s fault exactly. It was just so hungry it lost its darn mind. Kicking puppies is a trope; a shorthand for “do not trust this character because they are bad.” But as this scene depicts a veritable puppy punting, it also serves as a subversion of this trope by obligating it for the benefit of a likable protagonist’s survival.
It shows us that Clementine is kind of a BAMF for a tween lass, sure. But it also makes us question what humanity has she lost by the forces of her environment. Yeah, I know, that’s kinda Walking Dead’s theme. But as a player, it’s really up to you to protect Clementine’s integrity. And sometimes that means putting down a dog that would otherwise suffer.
Deep Friendship Love in Last Of Us: Left Behind
Last Of Us’ new prequel DLC is pretty good at a lot of things. One of those is showing off raya.
Ever hear of raya? It’s one of seven Hebrew words for love. It’s like this intense and whole-hearted kind of friendship. The concept stuck with me and it’s something I’m looking out for.
I never saw that kind of love expressed in a game until playing The Last of Us: Left Behind. We knew it was gonna do friendship and loss (based on what we find at the end of the main story). But we didn’t know it would be a tear-jerking demonstration of deep raya. Plus, it’s so clearly interwoven with the gameplay and the moment-by-moment actions I’m taking in the game. Like finding a joke book and reading jokes to one another. Or restoring power to a lost arcade and discovering what’s inside together. Or any of the other dozens of things post-civilization teenage girls discover when they see a living mall for the the first time ever. It’s deep and good. That’s all we’re saying for now.
Alpha Protocol: Deus Ex’s Wacky Little Brother
Alpha Protocol is kinda my new favorite game. It takes Deus Ex’s obsessive EXP-hunting stealthiness and mashes it with a “How do I get them to like me?” social meta-game. Sure, it’s got more pimples than tenth grade me (which is really bad). But the core grind of sneaky abilities and sucky shooting made each on-foot mission sugary-stressful.
When talking to in-game-humans, it’s about figuring-out how people liked being talked to. Kinda like real life – minus the real-time feedback of “+1 relationship (liked)” or “-1 relationship (disliked).”
Forgetting Remember Me
So if I’m a skinny white girl in Future-Paris with a tool to mess with enemies brains, what do you think I want to do? Brawl with street thugs? Jump from pipes to dumpsters or wherever the orange triangle tells me to? Go pixel-hunting through 3D videos? No. None of that. I want to investigate the world! Experiment with my brain-wipey powers!
But noooo… the game makes me brawl and press X through clearly-labeled obstacle courses. Boring. And just like that, I want to go play more Alpha protocol. Or anything else. Forgettable.
Cast Your Votes!
Or don’t. Sometimes it’s nice just to throw ideas to the wind and see what has any weight. If you think any of these thoughts warrant development, leave your citation in the comments down yonder.