The Illusion of Choice and Today’s RPGs:
I was replaying The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and I reached this point when the crones of crockback bog asked me to go rid a small village of an evil that haunts it so they can give me information about Ciri, I went there and talked to the creepy tree who asked to be spared so she can free the children or else the crones will eat them.
Since the last time I played it I did not make the deal with the tree, this time I said…
“Let’s see what will change!”
…and that ended in the whole village I was supposed to save, dead.
That made me think… do we really have a choice in games like that? I mean I tried to save the children so other children, elders and people died, RPG games are designed to make you feel like you shape the world your way, while sometimes you feel like this is true – it is always limited to where the developers want the story to run.
Because well – they have a story, they give you a little space for maneuver but they cannot give you the whole freedom to shape the story, it is not possible because it is a game and it has limits, but at least they give the impression that you did, that’s what happened with the Witcher.
Now let’s take a look at the Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” where you choices are as precious as used toilet paper.
“Oh you saved Carly and Sacrificed Doug, Good let’s kill her 1 hour later, aww you choose to cut Lee’s arm to get more time, It doesn’t have any kind of effect on the story what so ever.”
Those are just choices, with no kind of consequences what so ever, the game is going one way no matter what you chose it is still going that way.
Now let’s come to the mother of all RPGs, The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim.
Skyrim is really interesting in that the main story of the game does not affect the game, it is not even important at all if you side with the Imperials or the Stormcloacks, the end result is the same (some Jarls here and there and the uniform of the guards change).
The beauty of Skyrim is the gameplay itself, the landscape, the mods, the fact that after 4 years of playing the game, you still find new caves you never seen before, it is like the developers knew they cannot have some deep story like Oblivion or Morrowind so they said give them an open world that they will never forget.
“Damn! I LOVE Skyrim!”
In the end let’s just say that if a game developers are going to make us choose an in-game life changing choice, please make us feel like this choice matters.
Note: This maybe the first article ever I don’t talk about my Eternal love ”Dragon Age” so let’s celebrate. On a related note, check this Dragon Age Inquisition Dragons post I wrote!