This will be my final blog post in a pre-God of War world. On Friday, I will be slaying beasts in 2018’s reboot of the God of War series. The reviews are already out and, by all accounts, Sony Santa Monica’s latest adventure is a modern classic.
The types of phrases being muttered from games press:
“Best PS4 exclusive to date”
“A step forward for narratives in video games”
“Game of the year 2018”
All of this written about an axe-wielding demi-God! I won’t lie to you – I’ve bought into the hype. There are only a few times a year when critics flood to Twitter to shout unanimous praise for a game. Even rarer for a non-Nintendo game. It’s hard not to get excited. I want to be part of the zeitgeist. I want to remember ‘the day God of War released‘.
Taking the day off work to receive my Nintendo Switch and play Zelda Breath of the Wild was the last time I felt this jazzed for a new release. That was a little over a year ago. Gaming took a step forward that day, and I’m hoping to feel the same on Friday.
There is a problem, though. When these sorts of marquee titles come out, I always want to show sceptics that games are special, and have come on leaps and bounds over the years – no longer are they androcentric power fantasies. But yet again, the best games – the ones with the best graphics, best design, best gameplay, biggest scope – have endless amounts of violence. Even the family-friendly-Zelda series is centred around slashing and bashing. The Last of Us was a zombie game – a very good one, but still just a zombie game. Red Dead Redemption is about killing people. The Witcher 3 is about killing. Fallout 3, killing. Mass Effect 2, shooting. GTA V, where do I start? The list goes on.
Now, we have Kratos – the God of War – killing things yet again! Sure, we have a few winners here and there that are suitable for showing your non-understanding parents like Journey, Portal 2 and Gone Home, but when are big-budget games going to delve into human stories without resorting to violence as a default for gameplay?
I would love to explore an open world like those found in The Witcher 3, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Red Dead Redemption, on an adventure not routed in endless murder. Instead, there could be elements of mystery, romance, comedy, etc.
There are glimpses of this found all over the indie game scene, but I want it to creep into the mainstream. I’m sure some gamers will read this and say “but what will you do in the game if you’re not slashing, shooting, punching, kicking…?“. Well I don’t have the answers for you. Maybe we could start merging the non-shooting genres? Mix a dancing rhythm game with a dating simulator. Mix Guitar Hero with The Sims. Mix a racing game with a walking simulator.
There’s room for story-based games on our store shelves. Gamers are ageing, along with their taste in games. We have parents and grandparents buying and playing games. The shift in genre will happen, I’m sure of it. I just wish it was around the corner… and not the corner of the internet that this half-baked blog lives in!
Best wishes y’all.
P.S. I don’t hate violence in games. I just want a new way to kill time (pun not intended).