segunda-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2016

Merging narrative with puzzles

A few posts ago (here, here and here), we discussed about puzzles, how to create them and what makes them challenging and immersive. Today, I want to talk about how a puzzle can be an interesting narrative component inside a game.

We have lots of examples, but let’s focus our attention on one specific series of games, so we can think about how puzzles can intersect with an action game: let’s talk about Resident Evil’s fourth edition.

This game (and many others of this genre) focuses its gameplay in a balance between action scenes full of despair and introspective moments, where the player must take a breath and calmly think of how to solve certain puzzles. In the example below we can see this: it’s a puzzle that uses lights inside a church. After the enigma is solved, the player triggers a new scene of action.

In a game like Resident Evil 4, the puzzles create a kind of a break in the frenzy action with zombies and other creatures. Those moments are very strategic to calm down the players and prepare the story for the next step.

Different from other shooting games, Resident Evil’s series uses the puzzles as a tool to its storytelling. Each mystery solved leads to an important narrative piece to explain the main plot. Another point deserves a highlight in RE4’s case: the gaming producers use different kinds of puzzles to test players’ “powers”. As Koster (2005, p.152) reminds us

“The toughest puzzles are the ones that force the most self-experimentation. They are the ones that challenge us most deeply on many levels – mental stamina, mental agility, creativity, perseverance, physical endurance, and emotional self-abnegation”.

There are many possibilities and many combinations. Let’s discuss more how puzzles can merge with different kinds of gaming plots.



KOSTER, Raph. A theory of fun for game design. Arizona: Paraglyph Press, 2005.