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Linear is Not a Dirty Word

Sickeningly Linear?

I was watching one of those popular YouTube commentators the other day, playing through a game that he was reviewing and he said something that struck me. He described a game as “sickeningly linear” and wrote it off there and then as a “Bad Game” because of this.

But I say no! Too long have linear games been vilified and derided. So let’s look at why some people like to poo all over them, while others like to give them cuddles (keep these two activities separate).

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Violence is the Pinnacle of Freedom in Games, not Narrative Choice

The large majority of games are violent. Not in the Manhunt, suffocate-you-with-a-plastic-bag-while-stabbing-you-in-the-neck sort of violent, but rather the core of many games involves some level of destruction. Even the most innocuous and unthreatening games like Super Breakout or Space Invaders see the player shooting something or destroying something. And this is A Good Thing.

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What Makes a Good Video Game Villain?

(This article contains spoilerific spoilers for Baldur’s Gate 2, Final Fantasy 7 and Dragon Age 2)

“The pain will only be passing,” we are informed. “You should survive the process.” Should.

With David Warner’s masterfully delivered opening lines we’re introduced to the coldly detached and ruthlessly calculating Jon Irenicus. It’s not long before circumstance carries you away from his underground lab, but his far-reaching influence is felt again and again as the game progresses.
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