“Are PC Games All About the Terrain?” or “The Story Spectrum”
Jim Rossignol, one of the the stupidly intelligent (can that be a term?) folks over at RPS has an interesting argument, that PC games are “all about the terrain”. Well OK, it is less of an argument, and more of a thought, further fueled by the veritable Twitterati. However, I have played two games on the opposite end of a spectrum that I much care(d) about, which make me think that the best terrain alone does not a game make, and lack of other critical features can make it not worth your while.
Recently I played the first three episodes in season 1 of The Walking Dead. Stellar story, incredibly tense world, terrifying sense of dread. Now that I think back to the game in the context of this little piece, I realize that I remember little of the terrain, or if it had any major effect on me. I am sure it enhanced whichever situation it served as a backdrop for, but at the end of the day, story is what drove The Walking Dead, and I love the title for this reason.
On the other end of the spectrum is the excellent Torchlight 2, with a story so convoluted and under-developed, I literally stopped reading quest text by the second quest. The game won me over with incredible gameplay, deeply satisfying combat. Once again, when I look back at it, I have a vague recollection of the terrain, but that pales in comparison to the frantic button-mashing that took up 99% of my time.
What do you think? Do you think good use of terrain, or well-designed terrain can actually make a shoddy game passable, or it is just a background element for you?