Tears of the Kingdom: Push and Pull, Part 1

Being recently immersed in playing Tears of the Kingdom has led to some frustrations here and there. In an attempt to make those frustrations more than mere feelings, I begin a brief series of essays on a few ways in which certain systems conflict with each other. The first of these essays will focus on the weapon system and how the game and the player can have different aims about how the player is supposed to treat their weapons.

The Game against the Story

Have you ever played a game where an important and valuable item was taken away…only to be immediately given back? At first glance, it may seem weird for a narrative to effectively mess with you in this way. And yet, the cause of this scene – and anything similar – can be understood as part of a more fundamental problem of design. One which creates a tension between creating a sense of impact for the story, while making sure a game remains fun for the player.

The Player vs. Creator Challenge

Tough content in video games can be a bit divisive. Some people love a really tough challenge, and others can hate the repeated failure that comes with it. But even when we talk about the toughest content in games, we can still run into problems of design – problems where it feels like something wasn’t meant to be completed. In this essay I’ll be exploring how the drive to make a game difficult can effectively go too far and create something genuinely unfun.

Analysis and Opinion

Have you ever finished a game, and as the credits scroll by think about every bit you liked and disliked and try to review the game for yourself? There’s a fair chance the answer is “no.” And yet, if you’ve ever watched someone else play a video game, they will almost certainly do precisely that. In this essay I intend to explore that particular facet of performance and the possible pitfalls that we can run into when analyzing a game we’ve literally just completed.

On Storytelling: Bloodborne

Bloodborne offers some of the most confusing writing in any FromSoft game. Its story is told in a style that is not merely minimalistic, but barely even there. And yet, for those who wish to dig down into it, there are various themes that can be pulled from it. In this essay I will be doing a thematic analysis for Bloodborne and analyzing its world, narrative, and mechanics to pull together a core message for the player.