Interactive drama action-adventure games are filled with heavy realism not found in many games. They focus more on the development of a story and the characters within those stories. Interactive drama games play like the player is part of a movie and can directly influence how that movie plays out. Usually a cast of multiple playable characters exists, each equipped with their own backstory and several different endings. The decisions made during each character’s storylines usually interlace with the other characters’ story-lines and can sometimes change the entire outcome of another character’s story.
Because less of a focus falls on the action portion of interactive drama games, the graphics maintain high quality throughout gameplay. The lack of intense action does not mean there is none. Many of the action scenes require small, quick time event-esque commands, like pressing the square button a few times to break down a door. These do fall into the realm of quick time events, but the entirety of the gameplay relies on such commands, so it is difficult to differentiate in text.
The impressive part of interactive drama games is the realism they offer. In many games, characters are usually in another world, dealing with some form of epic adventure. In an interactive drama game, it is possible to interact with objects the way a normal person would, like watching television or getting a drink from the refrigerator. Interaction with other people derives from a character’s thoughts. While recent games provide options for different endings by responding to events that occur in the game, interactive drama games are shaped solely by those interactions, making them unique among all other games.
The realism extends through characters’ lives, backstories and relationships with other characters. Each of these games also has a degree of magical realism. This magical realism can be found in the technology or, in some cases, a supernatural ability. These are mainly used to make the plot interesting and do not take away from the overall realistic feel of the games.
The company currently at the forefront of interactive drama games is the French gaming company Quantic Dream. This company has been around since the late ’90s but remained relatively under the radar. Quantic Dream is viewed as a pioneering company in the gaming world, being the first to really develop any game of this kind of genre. The company struck fame in 2010 with its crime thriller game “Heavy Rain.” “Heavy Rain” won the PlayStation 3 Game of the Year award from both GameSpy and IGN. It is known for its story and innovative gameplay. The use of emotional engagement made it one of the most popular games in Europe and North America.
Quantic Dream has since created another heavily anticipated game, “Beyond: Two Souls.” In its latest installment in the genre, Quantic Dream nabbed Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe to be the two leading voice actors in the paranormal thriller. “Beyond: Two Souls,” released Oct. 8, looks to be another success. I will not be spoiling any of the plot or the twists in the game, mostly because I haven’t even completed it yet, but gameplay is strikingly similar to “Heavy Rain.” One main difference is the control of the supernatural elements of the game. Play for about 10 minutes and find out: It’s ridiculously fun to play with.
Like the other interactive drama games, “Beyond: Two Souls” has beautiful graphics and a compelling story. With the addition of the Page and Dafoe, the acting is believable and feels like watching a movie. Many of the scenes are long, so it feels like the player is, in fact, watching a movie. This does not detract from the game’s quality.
The realistic feel to the games in the interactive drama genre enable developers to capture the emotions of the player while they interact with the characters’ environments as a normal human would. Relationships between characters in these games feels very organic, although they obviously are not. For players who are not into slower games which don’t have action every second, these games probably aren’t for them. If players want a compelling story, realism and an innovative gaming experience unlike any other games on the market, then I highly suggest getting their hands on a copy of “Beyond: Two Souls” or “Heavy Rain” to get a feel for this new, developing genre.