Recoding Cliches

Posted 12:19 PM by

       Video Games, much like literature, follow traditional story arcs and stereotypes. However, developers have begun to use creative spins to surprise players. Some games have stopped using twists in the plot and instead have focused on the characters in order to make the story stand out. 

      “Night in the Woods” is a story driven adventure game about a college dropout named Mae Borowski. After leaving college to return to her small town Possum Springs, Mae spends her days rebuilding a connection with her high school bandmates: Greg, Bea and Angus. While walking home alone on Halloween night, Mae witnesses a kidnapping. The authorities refuse to listen to Mae’s story, and no one trusts her enough to believe her. Mae relies on her friends to help her investigate the kidnapping and unveils a hidden cult that has been using sacri ces to ensure a prosperous future for Possum Springs. Mae manages to take down the cult with the help of her friends but puts the future of her town in jeopardy. 

        Mae is a strong character that suffers from major depression. She does things impulsively but always puts others needs before herself. While she does stand out, Mae is never the chosen one. She was not picked to have a mental illness, or to see the kidnapping or to run into the cult. A common stereotype is the main character being the chosen one, but Mae was not chosen for anything. She just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and, with her friends, was able to help Possum Springs. 

        In “Oxenfree,” a supernatural mystery game, the main character Alex, along with her friend Ren and her new step-brother Jonas, arrive on Edward’s island to attend what Ren has called the party of the year. The group is shocked to discover that the party is made up of only two people: Alex’s late brother’s ex-girlfriend Clarisa and Ren’s crush Nona. As the teens break away to explore the island, Alex and Jonas discover portals that can be opened using Alex’s radio. Through the portals, spirits from another reality warn Alex and her friends that they will possess their bodies if they do not make it off the island by morning. Near the end of the game, it is all up to Alex to save her friends from the evil spirits, but she is too shrouded in guilt about her brother’s death to free anyone. 

       Alex’s character arch breaks the cliche of the tragic heroines cycle. She fails to overcome personal con icts to save the day. After Alex witnessed her brother drown and was unable to save him, she could not forgive herself. When the time came for her to cast her worries aside and save the day, Alex could not bring herself to let go of the past. Even with the elements of her supportive friends and their fates resting on their shoulders, Alex cannot apply herself to reach self discovery and complete her tragic heroines cycle. 

        “The Last of Us” is a survival game that takes place twenty years after the zombie apocalypse. Joel, a survivor of the initial outbreak, is known for smuggling items across the wall that keeps the humans separated from the infected. He is given the task of smuggling 14-year-old Ellie, the only person known to man that is immune to the zombie’s bite. Joel and Ellie become inseparable as they grow closer to the drop off point, but things go awry when Joel realises that the operation that will save all of humanity will kill Ellie. Joel ghts against everyone who stands in between Ellie and himself. Joel manages to save Ellie from the operation and take her to a safe haven where he can take care of her, but the zombies and the infection will always haunt their lives. 

        Joel is the stoic hero that is common in video games. He is strong, quick witted and cares only for himself. That is until he meets Ellie and she turns his life around. Ellie reminds Joel of his daughter that he lost the day of the outbreak and he begins to resent her for it. But spending time protecting her reminds Joel that he is a human, and he can’t lose his humanity. Joel breaks the hero stereotype because he takes moments throughout his journey to show himself as vulnerable and able to change. 

        “Outlast” is a first person horror game about an investigative journalist, Miles Upshur, who wants to reveal the mistreatment of patients in Mount Massive Asylum. Miles is surprised to find the patients have taken over the asylum and are worshipping a ghost-like vision called the Walrider. Miles undergoes horrific trials and trauma as he navigates his way through the asylum. 

         In the end, Miles submits to the insanity as he unravels the truth behind Mount Massive and the Walrider. Miles is an interesting character because at several points in the game he is given the option to leave, but each time he refuses so that he can delve further into Mount Massive. 

         While most characters strive for their happily ever after, Miles knew that the only way he could be happy was if he was able to free the patients by telling their story. Miles Upshur breaks the stereotype that everyone wants a happy ending, because Miles values the truth over his life.