Nonlinear narrative | video games

Video games

Some video games mimic film non-linearity by presenting a single plot in a chronologically distorted way instead of letting the player determine the story flow themselves. The first-person shooter Tribes: Vengeance is an example of this; another is Sega's Sonic Adventure.

A nonlinear plot structure may or may not be combined with branching:

Some games tell their nonlinear story without the player being able to change any (or very little) of the plot structure. For example, Uncharted 2 begins in medias res, with the lead character in the aftermath of an accident that the player only reaches several hours of gameplay later.

Indie game Fragments of Him also begins in medias res but, in addition to the nonlinear beginning, it later jumps between characters to build the story and character relationships in a nonlinear fashion, and a subtle branch means that players may see the stories in a different order if they walk into a different room at the beginning.

Indie developers Dennaton Games use non-linear passages of time in their game Hotline Miami 2 in the same way Pulp Fiction is written. For example, some segments of the game take place before the events of the Prequel. It is used for dramatic effect in most cases, some characters have already had onscreen deaths but the player will not realise it until a later chapter of the character walking blindly to their already shown death.

Often game developers use the idea of character amnesia in games. It helps give the game a beginning because the audience only has the understanding that there is a history before the events of the game take place. Furthermore, by creating a nonlinear storyline the complexity of game play is greatly expanded. Nonlinear game play allows for greater replay value, allowing the player to put together different pieces of a potentially puzzling storyline. A fitting example of character amnesia is the 2005 video game Façade. In Façade the player is put into a situation that lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes in real time, yet the events recalled seem to have a basis in years of dramatic history.[14]

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