Welp… I think Horizon Zero Dawn has spoiled me for videogames.
Last night, a week or so after finishing Horizon, I fired up DooM on the PS4. It was one of the games I had been itching to play, having been in its original incarnation a game I played a whole heap. I think that was to do with the jump from Wolfenstein to DooM in terms of how it looked and what it could do, as well as the context: age, friends, activity at the time; those all affect the nature of one’s memory, and feelings about something remembered. I was also terrible at platformers, and at puzzle games, so the “run around, kill things, pick stuff up” gameplay appealed in its simplicity.
Fast-forward to 2017, last night, playing the latest iteration of DooM, having spent maybe a month immersing myself in the world of Horizon, and the brilliantly-developed character of Aloy. A few minutes into DooM I just turned it off in disgust. There was nothing. Ok, props: it looked amazing; controls were fluid; demons were pretty awesome.
But … why?
There was no why.
Sure they’ve cobbled together a story, I suppose, but: scientists messing around; corporate wossname; open rift in reality; demons come through from Hell; you’re the only one left and you have to kill them all. I can’t see there’s any more than that. In 1993 that was fine, and I enjoyed it immensely. Today… I just couldn’t get engaged in killing the waves of demons, without a sense of where it was heading. (Apart from not getting killed by them; yes I recognise that would be a pretty stellar motivation in reality.)
There was no who, either.
In DooM you’re a big bad macho marine type who kills stuff.
In Horizon you’re a thoroughly-developed character with strength, vulnerability, a distinct moral compass and complicated set of motivations. And the story is so strong that together with the strength of the character (and also the well fleshed-out non-player characters in the game), I really felt myself caring about what I was doing. I had an emotional connection, and a real sense of purpose and motivation even when there were waves of hostile machines and big boss machines and such.
So for me, DooM (gawd it really pains me to say this) has just ended up on the scrap-heap. 😦
Here’s hoping that Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice does better…
I think it should, as everything I’ve read does suggest really strong story and characterisation. If not, I guess it’ll be just Tekken until Horizon the Frozen Wilds comes out in November. 😉