When Quantum Break came out two years ago, it brought a twist to video game story-telling: long, live-action episodes, akin to a television show. This new idea was met with mixed opinions across the gaming community. Some thought that it was well-made and complimented the gameplay perfectly, while others felt that it took away from the gameplay itself and that it was poorly produced.
Regardless of how anyone felt about it, though, I believe that at some point in the future, game developers should consider giving this idea another shot. Quantum Break's iteration may not have been perfect, but it did show us the potential.
A new layer of depth
One of the biggest advantages that a companion TV show like this would provide for games is the ability to explore characters in the story that would normally get little screen time otherwise in the game. Most video games place the protagonist in the spotlight, while leaving the minor characters in supporting roles. There's nothing wrong with that, but often times I think to myself that it would be nice to learn more about these other people in the story.
With this companion episodes, though, the writers have a perfect medium in order to explore those characters. Since the protagonist will get most of his or her development during the video game, writers don't need to worry about the main character in these mini-films. Such was the case in Quantum Break; instead of following Jack Joyce, the hero of the story, the TV show episodes for the game instead chose to expand on the antagonists of the story.
By doing this, we got to learn who these people were, why they were doing what they were doing, and we got to see everything from their perspective. These are all things that could have been relegated to small segments within the game, but then that would take away from our time with the protagonist.
Potential goes both ways
As great as I think this design can be, it's also critical that it's done well. Otherwise, it can end up being harmful to the experience. One way that this could happen is if the episodes are too numerous and frequent. If this ends up being the case, then people who enjoy the gameplay and not the episodes will likely be annoyed that they'll be constantly pulled away from what they enjoy.
The solution to this is to make the episodes something you can skip. However, this leads me to my next point: Making sure that the episodes are not necessary in order to understand and follow the main story. Because not everyone will like the TV show aspect of the game, the content within them needs to be non-essential so that people won't miss anything crucial to the narrative by skipping them.
It's also worth noting that making this idea a reality is undoubtedly a very expensive process, too. It's already expensive to develop a game, so setbacks from producing a live-action companion show will make the overall project even more costly. It's unlikely that companies will pour this much investment into a title unless they have very strong confidence that it will sell exceptionally well.
What do you think of this concept? Do you think that more games should try to make it work in the future? Let me know.
Quantum Break is available on Xbox One for $19.99.