Monday, December 10, 2007

Fateful choices

Recently, in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, in the middle of a story sequence before a mission, I was suddenly presented with a choice of two options in how a main character would act. I was rather surprised since this had not happened before in the game. As a whole, I am not certain that making the player face such a choice was a good decision by the game developer.

There were two major problems with the choice that the game presented: it was the first such choice, even though I am very deep into the game, and the consequences of the choice are unclear. Neither quality would be problematic on its own, but combined they detract from the game experience.

In the RPG Radiata Stories an equally unusual choice presents itself. At a seemingly random point in the game, two conflicting requests are made of the character, and the hero has to choose between them. However, the hidden consequences of the relatively innocent choice are made clear, when the game tells the player that choosing one or the other is a choice between two different paths through the rest of the game, and explicitly lays out the cost of each choice (losing access to different groups of recruited characters). The choice is sudden, but the consequences are known. Also, based on the scenes which occur right after the choice, the consequences would be clear even if it was not specifically spelled out for the player.

The RPG Persona 3 has many choices of consequence. However, these choices are not unusual, since the player is required to make them all of the time. It is impossible to know how important any particular choice is, or even if there is any importance. As such, the player never has any reason to dwell on any particular choice, so even choices with severe consequences can be made more easily, even though the consequences are unknown.

If you do not have many paces to make player choices in a game, then any choice given to the player seems like it should be very important. If the consequences of a choice are vague and unknown, then decision making is more stressful for the player. Both occurred n a severe form in Radiant Dawn, with the first choice occurring only with a very dramatic and tragic choice, and the consequences are not obvious, even several hours later in the game. I have gone a bit further into the game since that choice, but I am still wondering if I made the right decision, and the second-guessing and replaying the scene multiple times has reduced the dramatic impact of an otherwise great part of the game.

1 comment:

Master Knight DH said...

You probably know this by now, but those two choices? The one you choose affects only the next cutscene. That's it. Though the New Game+ does provide a third option that DOES affect gameplay. And naturally, you would do it without question.