Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Stealth and Stabbing

Another thing I've noticed I've not done in a while is a post on video games, and right now is probably a good time to do one as I've recently started playing Dishonored. Dishonored is - if you've somehow managed to miss it - a "first person stealth action-adventure video game" (according to wikipedia), about a guy - whose name is Corvo Attano, not that it really matters - who has been wrongly accused of killing the Queen of the fictional land of Dunwall and is trying to put the rightful heir back on the throne which has been usurped by the former Royal Spymaster.

It's a fantastic game, but contrary to what the title and the entire intro may suggest, I'm not going to really go into it. What I want to pick up on is the classification of "stealth action-adventure" which I shall refer to as saa for the rest of this post. What!? Well that's actually a bit of an oxymoron. Today I found out that Assassin's Creed is also classified in the same way, which apparently proves a friend - who I was arguing with as to 'Sass Creed's genre - and I wrong. But who on earth came up with that!?

We came up with the term hybrid hack-n-slash shooter for this particular genre, which still makes no sense on the surface but bear with me. Saa games tend to have shooter-like controls and mechanics but are at their core very stabby stabby - or hack-n-slash - thus the term "hybrid hack-n-slash shooter". So this sort of makes sense. But saa?

Stealth is a rather self explanatory concept: do stuff without people noticing you do it. It doesn't matter if they notice after because you'll be well gone. Action-adventure is also rather self-explanatory, pointing towards a game with lots of well (duh) action and adventure. Now I'm not saying for a second that the two CAN'T overlap, just that they don't do so very well. I expect my stealth games to REQUIRE stealth and my action-adventure games to necessitate lots of fast paced combat and activity. 

Neither 'Sass Creed nor Dishonored - and I'm sure many other saa games like Metal Gear Solid and Deus Ex (not that I can tell you, despite how much I've discovered I like this genre I don't get to play them much) - require stealth. Sure, in 'Sass Creed it makes it harder if you're less stealthy, and is Dishonored being stealthy and killing less means a lower chaos score at the end - and a nicer ending - but there isn't any real incentive to be stealthy - and more stabbing tends to equal more fun in these games ;). Meanwhile, the presence of the stealth aspect stops these games from being proper action-adventure games (which I personally like as I tend to dislike straight action-adventure games).

So, if "stealth action-adventure" doesn't fit very well and "hybrid hack-n-slash shooter" is lengthy and requires explanation, then what should we call them? I think we need a new genre here. Both of these terms try to pigeon-hole the genre into other genres, and if the terms don't fit them we've learnt something - don't call it that. You wouldn't try to keep unlocking a door with a key if said key didn't fit the lock on said door would you? So stop defining genres that way.

That's my two cents, not that anyone will probably care, but hey!
See you next time,
Schy. 

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