It’s April Fool’s Month on Virtual Bastion! Join us as we celebrate all the silly and kooky things we love about games and gaming. In my final post for the month I take a somewhat sour turn. Because while silly pranks and foolish moments in games can be fun to experience, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes, when the joke’s on me, I don’t much find myself laughing, as in these three examples.
Be forewarned that SPOILERS will abound!
Assassin’s Creed – The decoys before the final assassination
One of the reasons I’m not a diehard fan of the Assassin’s Creed series is because I never finished the first game. And that’s because it made me feel rightly stupid. I guess I only have myself to blame for becoming all engrossing in the story of Altair, a 12th-century assassin with all the right moves. Yeah, I was probably a little too full of myself once I felt that I had become the most perfect and stealthiest of killing machines. And, okay, so maybe I should have been playing better attention and seen the point of no return coming because, after all, it was the final assassination of the game. It’s only fair that the game would’ve thrown a curveball, right? But after all the effort I put into getting to that point of the game, after all my hard work in the shadows, facing the prospect of doing away with four DECOYS before reaching the final target was just too much. In fact, when I discovered that I actually only killed the first decoy and there were still several more to go, I pretty much lost it. The game might have been laughing in my general direction, but I was not. Not even a little. I’m a little ashamed to admit it now, but I pitched a fit and never went back to the game.
L. A. Noire – Cole Phelps’s affair
So I’m a pretty big sucker for do-gooders in games. I like to do right with characters who are trying to do right by themselves. And upon starting L. A. Noire, I was met with the do-goodiest of them all: Cole Phelps. For a pretty good portion of the game, I took Officer Phelps as a stand-up guy. I enjoyed playing someone who believed in the good of humanity and just wanted to help others. Even as Phelp’s dark WWII past was slowly revealed, I still rooted for him as a guy who was trying hard to make up for the sins of his past. Only then along comes a nightclub singer named Elsa. In a game that’s pretty much all about expressions and emotion, I felt like a total fool upon realizing, too late, that married man Phelps and Elsa were somehow destined to have an affair. Ugh. Their relationship played out in a funny and disjointed way, and I felt incredibly silly for believing in Phelps in the first place. After that reveal, my feelings towards him chilled considerably, which is, I suppose, what the game wants you to do when you reflect upon Phelps’ ultimate end.
The Stanley Parable – that stupid, stupid apartment
The 2013 indie darling, The Stanley Parable, is a game that I both love and hate. It’s one that I think every person who plays games should wrangle through at least once, if only to consider the hobby of gaming within a different perspective. In essence, The Stanley Parable is a narrative on the perception of choice in games. Do we, the players, lead ourselves in games, or are we actually being led? Is there such a thin as “free choice” in video games? It’s an interesting question, and one that The Stanley Parable deftly handles…in perhaps the most frustrating way possible: by questioning nearly every move the player makes. For me, the real “haha, joke’s on you” moment occurred upon reaching a small apartment where the player could literally do nothing of consequence, which the voiceover made irritatingly clear. However, in the apartment, the “game” could do whatever it wanted, from rearranging the furniture to turning everything upside down to scattering about a hundred toasters. The humorously-tinged message was that, no matter what, players just might always be at the mercy of the “game,” (i.e. the developers), but the whole thing came off as preachy and unnecessary considering that was EXACTLY WHAT THE “GAME” HAD BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG. In other words…haha, not funny.
What are some supposedly humorous moments in games that you just didn’t find to be that funny?