Enslaved developer: story > gameplay

While discussing his upcoming title Enslaved with Videogamer, Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades said that story can be more important than gameplay.

Before your monocle falls into your wine glass, like mine did, know that Antoniades provides an interesting perspective on the matter. He explains that while working on Kung Fu Chaos for Microsoft, he was told to shoehorn a story into the game, leaving him convinced that storytelling didn’t have a place in videogames.

Things got changing when he began working on Heavenly Sword, though: “Working with Andy [Serkis] and everyone else, working with Weta and having people talk about story as something serious – not something throwaway like we do in games – was quite eye-opening to me.”

“I still see a prejudice, actually. I still come across a lot of people who say, ‘it’s a game and it doesn’t need a story.’ You’re trying to make a particular point of storytelling, trying to refine it, and somebody says ‘it’s just a game, it doesn’t matter.’ What’s more important – the gameplay or the story? If you’re doing a [story-based] game, it’s got to be the story, actually.”

Antoniades didn’t just leave it at that, as he went on to use Resident Evil 4‘s Mercenaries mode to paint an example of where a story’s dominance shines.

“I played it [RE4] from start to finish, I didn’t want to let go of the controller and I was driven through it. I just wanted to know what happened next. As soon as I completed it, you get those mini-missions, ‘kill x zombies in an amount of time.’ So there’s no story, it’s stripped out of all that and it’s just shoot however many zombies in however much time. And you realize – have I been doing this for the last 10 hours? Because it didn’t feel like it, as I’m bored within about a minute of doing that.”

“So there is something, there is an importance. There is a symbiosis where, if you get it right, both story and gameplay can be elevated. But it’s really hard to know when you get it right or not.”

I’d say Antoniades has a point; killing zombies in RE 4 had that extra oomph to it when you knew you were splattering brains for the sake of uncovering the conspiracy behind the Illuminati and not just an S-ranking.