Successes and Failures in Popular Game Stories
This feature seeks to highlight specific aspects of a game’s story, such as adherence to a unique structure, its character development, or its usage of theme. Stories that handled these aspects well are discussed in the Critical Hits section; stories that struggled are discussed in Weak Points.
Resident Evil: Village:
Setup and Payoff
Resident Evil: Village uses setup and payoff to create tension surrounding the mystery of the protagonist’s unique abilities.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon:
Yakuza: Like a Dragon uses both kindness and cruelty to make the audience sympathize with its protagonists.
Disco Elysium uses broken things as symbols to emphasize the theme of redemption.
Hades integrates the protagonist’s goals into its structure, marking the end of each act with a change in direction.
Final Fantasy XIV: Character
Final Fantasy XIV establishes its villain’s character through an arc that forces him to make difficult choices.
Final Fantasy VII:
Final Fantasy VII’s memorable opening succeeds by weaving in character, setting, theme, and conflict.
Prey (2017) maximizes its setting, a labyrinthine space station, by using it to illuminate the plot, the characters, and the theme.
Guilty Gear Strive:
Guilty Gear Strive uses its gleefully absurd tone to illustrate its themes while staying true to both genre and franchise conventions.
Chrono Cross’s story struggles to get off the ground due to a lack of goals, stakes, and urgency.
Although Mother 3 is a much-loved cult classic, its irregular structure, perspective switches, and time skips result in an inconsistent pace.
Final Fantasy VIII:
Setup and Payoff
Final Fantasy VIII’s most infamous plot twist is a failure of both setup and payoff.
Persona 5 has all the elements of a strong story, but a bloated third act keeps it from reaching its full potential.