I want to be evil but not too evil

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the idea of summoners and necromancers. Skeletons are cute and the idea of resurrecting fallen (potentially enemy) warriors to fight by your side is a great idea and I love the whole thematic around it. However, when it comes to games, I feel like there aren’t enough games that let you do something that is so immoral. In a way, reviving corpses is desecration, after all, right?

Similarly, I love it when games let you perform choices that are immoral in a way, even when I myself in real life (at least the human that I pretend to be) would never do anything like that. In Fable, for instance, you can decide if you want to be an angelic hero of justice… or you just slaughter people, rob the poor, take bribes, and sacrifice people to the Chapel of Skorm in order to gain your lovely devil horns and your demonic aura.

And I know, I know… Being bad is… bad. Obviously. I’d never kill anyone in real life or I’d perform robbery… but the aspect of being this character that you could never embody in real life is actually quite intriguing and I feel like there are not enough games that let you do. Of course, you have these few titles with two different endings that let you be “bad” or “good” and it influences your ending which then… blablabla… Bioshock 1 and 2 did that btw where you could show mercy on people and rescue the Little Sisters or you could kill them and harvest the little brats and it would give you a different ending… but I feel like those games aren’t going far enough. You basically just have two choices: Right or wrong. Good or evil. But there are a lot of things beyond good and evil (great game btw) that let can’t just be seen as inherently evil or good. Robbing people would be bad but what if you redistribute the money you rob to the poor to enable them to live, for instance? Or what if you have to kill someone to save someone else (like with the Trolley problem)?

Games often try to make you believe that there are only two choices and that you can’t be in the middle or go even further… it’s a bit of a habit that some companies have to make it easier for themselves, and I find it somewhat lazy.

Catherine Classic does a great job by letting you achieve one of nine endings ranging from “very evil” to “very good” and it has some neutral endings in the middle… but the problem with that game is that it still abides the traditional values of “good” (aka marrying, only having sex to reproduce, no fetishes, etc.) and “evil” (aka Lust, hedonism, cheating, fetishes, etc.). You have to answer some questions and based on your answer it (sometimes rather randomly) assigns a value to your Karma that basically influences your ending. Your texts with either Katherine or Catherine also influence your ending… and generally, the game wants you to think that going for Catherine is bad and that going for Katherine is good… despite there being plenty of things that are wrong with Katherine. Just a hot take, I guess.

Overlord does a great job of letting you chose what to do. You get to become an “evil” Overlord and either save towns and be celebrated or enslave them and be hated and feared. You’re not just some bad guy but you’re actually THE Overlord that rules Hell itself… or at least your dark domain. The game lets you perform whatever choice you want to perform as you’re kind of the hero of your own story. The heroes that are in the game that oppose you, more often than not, seem to be twisted themselves and resemble caricatures of hero tropes, which is a great take, in my opinion. Dungeon Keeper lets you experience the story of some sort of evil being that is creating the living space for the undead, the monsters and the other evil beings that get threatened by those pesky humans. Fable lets you be a devil. In Skyrim, you can be an outlaw.

My point is that these games don’t judge you for being bad but they don’t condone it. When you perform an evil deed, you’ll notice and the characters will treat you differently. Fable has this weird thing where you get booed and insulted by everyone if you go for an evil playthrough, even though everyone is afraid of you… which is kind of silly in a way. In Overlord, you actually receive rewards for being the good guy and saving people and stuff. In Skyrim, you can murder bandits and nobody will judge you, even when murder is bad… and you can join a creed of assassins… which is quite cool, y’know? In Carrion, you’re the monster that is escaping a research facility… and you murder everyone… and that’s cool. The game WANTS you to be evil and I love that!

But how far can you take this? I feel like there are boundaries that you shouldn’t cross, I’d just love it if we could still move more freely into this chaotic evil kind of playstyle in games where you’re the villain and do bad things but don’t take it too far. I feel like it should be possible for you to be the bad guy in games without getting judged for it by the developers and without the game putting you at a disadvantage. I’d love it if games would more often get into that mindset of this evil lich or other villaineous beings that try to conquer the world. I’d love it if you could play as a skeleton (like in Skul or Osteoblasts) more often instead of this scrawny Prince Charming that saves the day yet again.

Obviously, games shouldn’t take things too far. I don’t think that you need to show how someone slowly thrusts a knife into someone’s throat (talking about The Last Of Us 2 btw) or how your character tortures someone by pulling out their fingernails or by breaking their fingers one by one (like in GTA V)… I also don’t think that you need to murder children (I’d never do that in Bioshock btw) or that you need to r*pe women in games to be “evil”. You don’t need to kick puppies or burn people alive in order to be able to play out that fantasy. I think games don’t need to go that far but they still should allow some sort of freedom. They should restrict the player when it comes to things like the points mentioned above but also allow you some freedom of choice when it comes to “do you want to be evil or good or somewhere in-between?” and I feel like I haven’t seen too many games that pulled that off well. Beholder has some interesting mechanics and ways of letting you do things that aren’t ethical to potentially save people… and it also allows you to do similar things to do bad things or punish people or frame them. Meanwhile Catherine Classic was quite obvious when it came to what choices the game wants us to make to achieve certain endings.

So, frankly, I’d love to be the villain in more games. I’d love it if I could be that demonic character that conquers the world or that heroes want to defeat… I’d love it if I could play games with characters like that more often and I’d love it if games would let me have that choice without pushing me onto some sort of path that is rather obvious.

I feel like that could be great. I feel like that’s something that I’d enjoy and that other people could potentially enjoy playing as well and that games need to explore more often. Obviously, we don’t need a game where you just assault people and r*** them and whatever. I think that certain boundaries are obvious to anyone.

Edit: I’ve added the example of Carrion to one of the paragraphs as I love that game and I forgot to mention it despite intending to. #fixed

What do you think? Do you know any games that do this quite well? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Thoughts on the Game of the Year Award

So, yesterday, Belghast actually published a post on his games of the year 2020. His list featured a variety of games that I have either been eyeing or that I’ve watched or even played. I definitely recommend his post!

But this lead to me thinking… what is a “game of the year” anyway and why does it have to be just one and no more than one title?

In my opinion, the title of “game of the year” should go to a game that really coined a year. A game that you couldn’t escape from no matter where you went… a game is omnipresent on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and on all other streaming platforms, media outlets and websites. I feel like a game like that is probably hard to make. A game that doesn’t get outshined by other games despite being released before any other games. I feel like that would be a game of the year.

The Game Awards nominated six games for the title: Doom Eternal, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ghost of Tsushima, Hades, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and The Last Of Us Part II. In the end, I had to google who won and apparently Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us Part 2” is now the game of the year 2020 which actually surprised me.

The surprise mostly came because I didn’t really realise that it came out this year. At the same time, the hype wasn’t that big around it, if I remember correctly, and it wasn’t as present on Twitch as Ghost of Tsushima, for instance. On top of that, I also heard a lot of bad things about TLOU2 and the one instance of me watching a stream of that game… was not good. I’ll post on that eventually as well but uh spoilers and stuff.

Anyways, that resulted in me checking up on how nominees are selected in the first place and what kind of authority the game awards are to be able to just decide what game deserves that title… and well, apparently, that’s a stupid question. I mean, The Game Awards apparently are kind of a big deal and I just wasn’t aware of that, really. There is an “international jury of over 95 global media and influencer outlets, selected for their history of critical evaluation of video games” in place that decides nominees based on a lot of factors, also including categories like esports and accessibility. The producer of the Game Awards, Geoff Keighley, himself is not a member of the jury and doesn’t vote on winners or nominees. As far as the nominations go, the jury I mentioned above votes via ballots and votes on their top five titles. Based on those votes, five titles are nominated each year. In case of a tie, there will be six nominees, just like this year! 

Alas, it makes sense that there are titles by big studios like Nintendo and Square Enix while also smaller studios like Supergiant Games represented in the top six, this year. Hades probably would have been my vote as I didn’t play any of the other games (although, I did buy Doom Eternal and will play that soon). I’m not too fond of remakes, especially after what they did with Destroy All Humans earlier in 2020… and I don’t own a Switch so I won’t be able to play ACNH anytime soon. I don’t own any consoles, making it hard for me to play Ghost of Tsushima or TLOU2. In the end, I only played Hades (as far as the nominees go) and would probably have nominated Lightmatter, Drake Hollow, Risk of Rain 2, and some other titles.

Obviously, “The Game Of The Year” is not a game that coined the year… but I just feel like the title kind of implies that. It kind of implies that it’s THE game of THAT year. When you’d talk about 2020 in gaming you wouldn’t be able to talk for two minutes before bumping into that game… It is the game of the year after all… So maybe I’m a bit hung up on that name or the title or my definition but it doesn’t seem like it actually means what it, in my opinion, entails or implies.

When I think of titles that coined the year, I’d probably think of Fall Guys or Among Us. I literally couldn’t escape Among Us for the longest time, so I played it as well, got burned out, and eventually, it came back to me when friends from my old high school chatted me up and wanted to play it with me. Even Ms Magi who doesn’t really play any games was aware of Among Us and did install it on her phone at one point, resulting in us having conversations about it… although she wasn’t too captivated by it.

Anyways, Among Us probably wouldn’t be eligible for nomination since it came out two years ago… or it didn’t get nominated. 

But there’re also other categories and Among Us ended up being the “Best Mobile Game” and Fall Guys, for instance, also scored in quite a lot of categories. Hades won Best Indie and Best Action, which was lovely to see. It was great to see Carrion, If Found, Spiritfarer, Through the Darkest of Times, and some other indie games also seeing love. 

In the end, I don’t really think highly of game awards like that but I love seeing that Indie Games stand close to other games in categories like “Best Action” or whatever. I love seeing a lot of games that I’ve watched or played be nominated for big awards like that but I don’t really care about the winner, to be honest, unless it’s a game I’ve never heard of – in which case, I’d google and potentially wishlist it. So, while I enjoy seeing the nominees, I don’t like the actual award being handed to a title, as I most likely would wrap my hands around my head and wonder why that specific title got that specific award. 

This sounds like I’m constantly whining about why my favourite game didn’t win or whatever but in reality, it’s just me complaining that “of course The Last Of Us Part 2 got the GOTY award” for a minute or two before sipping my coffee and moving on. It doesn’t really matter much… I mean, there’s going to be a GOTY edition of this game that I probably won’t play. Again, more on that soon. But in the end, it doesn’t affect me. I don’t have these annoying friends anymore that would just try and annoy me by saying that they were right and that I was wrong or whatever. Honestly, I don’t care really. I just moan about it once and forget about it two minutes later as I browse who else got nominated for the indie titles that actually interest me. 

Congrats to the winners. Congrats on the nominees.
Happy New Year to everyone else!

Cheers.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.