Nitpick: This is the intro?!
[Continued] Page 2
While consistency is important, the introduction of the game should be interesting at its core. Who wants to read something boring in the beginning, even if the later parts are interesting? No one and the same applies for games. Fable had an abysmal ending, one that captured the essence of freedom to do good or bad, but failed to capture the player’s attention. You are called a Hero but in reality what you do in the beginning is nothing of the sort. It’s your sister’s birthday and your father advises you to collect money to buy her a gift. You help villagers out with their problems such as moving boxes or ratting out a husband on his affair. It’s pretty mundane stuff and there is hardly any action to make you feel like a true Hero. Simply put, you’re just another kid on the block.
Fable’s introduction stage is a boring one that gives the feeling that you’re going to end up doing boring ol’ tasks from the beginning of the game all the way up to the end. It’s surprising that the set-up for the game is done this way considering the rest of the game is pretty phenomenal. The problem isn’t simply that the tasks you are given are boring, but the world itself is boring as well. The town you start out with in Oakdale looks surreal and feels something out of The Lord of the Rings. Conceptually and artistically, it’s visually captivating but once that initial view wears off, it’s just a boring town. There isn’t any neat architecture, no cool locations to find or explore, and it’s sunny all the time. This bland introductory segment of Fable is the pinnacle of boring and one of the worst introductions I’ve played in my gaming career. Whenever I do pick up Fable, I try to rush past this part as soon as possible.
Eternal Sonata is an extremely gorgeous looking game, and is one of my personal favorite JRPGs of this generation. Oddly enough, the introduction isn’t very good and can be borderline frustrating. This has to do with the bad combat system, poor narrative introduction, and the inability to set the proper mood of the game. The game’s introduction starts out with Chopin on his deathbed dreaming his final moments. In this dream, there is a shred of plot that can be made out: a mysterious girl destined to doom and a brother duo trying to survive on the streets. The game feels like a whimsical tale as people come together and journey onwards to whatever location for whatever reason. Although it comes off as whimsical, the plot is anything but. It’s actually much more political than it needs to be and much more philosophical. The introduction fails to bring up this deeply insightful narrative in the first few hours of the game.
The introductory gameplay in Eternal Sonata suffers just as much as the narrative. Rather than having an interesting gameplay from the get go, it opts for a much easier and dumbed down version that comes later on in the gameplay. As you progress more and more into the game, the combat system evolves into something truly exciting and fascinating. What we get in the beginning is a gimped version of the final product which doesn’t set a good precedence for the beginning. Even I was a bit put-off by it in the beginning but thankfully I stuck with it until the end to experience true combat bliss.
All things that end have a beginning. Those games that you hold in high regard had to have started from somewhere. Sure it’s possible to like a game even though the introduction was terrible, however, you’re more likely to enjoy it if the introduction was something cool, amazing, and fascinating. This is my point. Introductions matter to people and as a result, developer should focus hard about what introductions they should craft for their game.