The last two games I finished were epic role-playing game “Final Fantasy XIII” and relatively short survival horror title “Alan Wake.” And while the two games have very little in common, they share one trait: Both are story-driven, single-player experiences that will draw in players with their elaborately constructed alternate realities.
When I played “Alan Wake,” though, one feature in that game jumped out at me as something that should be included in any game that aspires to good storytelling: the ability to rewatch in-game movies once you’ve viewed them in the context of the game’s story.
Every gamer’s been there. You fight for an hour and, just when you get to some elaborately crafted cut scene that really advances a game’s plot, the phone rings, or someone walks into the room where you’re playing and starts talking to you. Maybe the baby’s diaper needs changing, or maybe you just didn’t hear a key line quite right. Whatever. Dealing with distractions is part of being a gamer with relationships and responsibilities.
That’s why, when I saw that “Alan Wake” allows you not only to rewatch every movie, but also relisten to any music you’ve already heard in the game, and view any manuscript pages you’ve unlocked, even when you start a new game, I was ecstatic. This basic feature really ought to be in every story-driven game going forward. Its omission is especially a sin in a 50+-hour epic like “Final Fantasy XIII,” where the in-game movies have near-Hollywood production values. More of this, please, gaming industry.