Filmmaker Magazine recently ran a fascinating piece about a VR thriller called Broken Night currently playing at Tribeca.
VR is in and of itself an engrossing platform to study. I’ve never gotten to experience it firsthand, but I would love to. What made Broken Nights sound especially intriguing though, was its use of choice-based gameplay.
I’m a huge fan of decision-based games. It’s almost weird to go back to traditional storytelling games after a long stint, starting with Until Dawn, of engrossing myself in decision-based games from Heavy Rain and Beyond two Souls, to Life is Strange, Fallout 4, and almost every title Telltale Games has produced. I think the first traditional game I played after my choice-based marathon was either The Last of Us, or the Uncharted games 1-3. It was weird, especially The Last of Us, because while Nathan routinely chose to do what I’d have done anyway, Joel and I were often not on the same page, and he kept doing things in cutscenes I would have definitely avoided if I was playing The Wolf Among Us or something. It’s not a bad thing though, The Last of Us is a great game, it’s just a different type of storytelling. Similarly, Broken Night’s choice to let player decisions influence the retold story of the wife, but not the true ending to the story isn’t something I think takes away from their VR game at all. While I would disagree that branching stories with different endings get “gimmicky” quickly, it’s true telling “16 or 32 good stories with different endings” that impact the player is difficult, but if you can pull it off, like Heavy Rain, which doesn’t even offer game-over second chances, but instead a multitude of game endings, you get a truly fantastic experience.
I think their company’s ultimate goal with their choice-based storytelling, however, couldn’t be more spot-on. Interactivity is, at the heart, all about “getting the emotional impact of the story,” and Broken Night sounds like a VR story it would be fantastic to experience.