If you’re going to be playing a modern action/adventure video game, you are likely going to die a number of times. You get into a fight and a brawl that you thought was going to involve four bad guys suddenly becomes a brawl that involves fourteen has a shot at becoming a fight that you end up losing.
Hey, it’s part and parcel with the process of playing the game.
Well, what Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor does is that it takes this part of the game and incorporates it into the gameplay itself.
This thing that used to be obnoxious (dying in the middle of a fight) becomes something that actually progresses the game along.
So the game is full of a kabillion monsters. When you die at the agency of one of them, you learn that the monster had a name. Being Mordor, this is something harsh. Olrok. Thrak. That sort of thing. Well, after they kill you, Olrok or Thrak or whatever says something to the effect of “They’re going to give me a promotion for this!” and, sure enough, they do. He then becomes Bone-licker Olrok or Slashface Thrak. As time goes on, he might kill you again (or otherwise gain in power and stature) and become Bone-licker Olrok the Mad or Slashface Thrak the Ruinous.
And so you see this guy who was once practically a nobody extra in a video game become A Named Boss who, seriously, you start to *HATE*. There was one guy I was fighting who just KEPT SHOWING UP. I was in a fight and I turn around and it’s him again. And he killed me again. And then again. And then again. A dozen times (no exaggeration), he was responsible for my downfall in one way or another.
I reached the point where I said “forget the story, I’m going after *THIS* guy” and spent two or three more lives being killed by him… before, finally, I GOT HIM. I put the controller down in my lap and called to Maribou to tell her that I had killed My Nemesis.
A unique(ish… procedurally generated, anyway) bad guy that wasn’t part of the main storyline at all but quickly became a reason for me to yell at the television and curse my sausage fingers as I died at his hands yet another time. For a moment, he became the most important part of the story for me.
They worked out a way to turn losing a fight into a reason to, seriously, keep playing just a little bit longer.
And that’s just brilliant.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is “Untitled” by our very own Will Truman. Used with permission.)