This essay was originally written for a class on Game Feel, which heavily referenced Steve Swink’s book of the same name.
One of the greatest things about games as a medium is their power to allow the audience to relate to the situations going on in the game by having the situation happen directly to the audience through gameplay. In a book, you can read about how characters feel and empathize with them; in a movie, you can see it. In a well-made game, though, that feeling of empathy comes from within you. In the heat of the moment, it’s almost like you’re actually there.
Most games will attempt to make their player feel a certain way to engross them in their world and cause them to feel certain emotions towards the characters in it. In Assassin’s Creed, you can climb anything—just like a real assassin! And when one of the members of your brotherhood dies, it’s devastating, because that death has real gameplay implications. Games can instill emotions in you through well-thought out rules.
Gods Will Be Watching subverts this by using its ability to instill feelings in its player not as a way of engagement, but as a way of disengagement—and it’s one of the best video game stories I’ve ever experienced.
Gods Will Be Watching, described by its publisher Devolver Digital as “a point’n’click series of dramatic puzzles about survival and moral dilemmas,” is an adventure game in which the player takes on the role of Sergeant Burden, a high-ranking member of Everdusk, a benevolent organization that operates “without any political or religious background to justify their actions; just common sense.” Burden’s mission is to calm the conflict between the galaxy’s all-controlling Constellar Federation and the violent rebel force Xenolifer. Continue reading