I Choose You! – a look at CYOA Video Games

As we make the leap from Choose Your Own Adventure books into digital video games, we lose the ability that makes CYOA books so special: the ability to go back and re-do some decisions and experience all possible stories. I did some digging around and encountered some video game formats that allow the player to recapture that ability despite being a video game.

The first is a genre entitled FMVs, or Full Motion Videos. The games themselves are shot with actors portraying the story. Albeit the cheap and campy quality of the story, the player is allowed to take control and redo decisions.

Here is an example of one of these FMVs called “Fox Hunt.” The player is given control of Jack (the protagonist) during the transitions between cutscenes. There are moments in the game that you are led down a path and have options (for instance: when driving in a car chase, you can move left or right). One of these options leads to the death of Jack, and the game spawns you back to the same area as you before to make new, safer choices. In addition, the times between the cinematographic spaces allows for free exploration of the world; some that even effect the outcome of the story.

The second is an interesting title called “Life Is Strange”, published by Square Enix.

This game follows a girl named Max who discovers she has the power of time reversal. With this interesting game mechanic, you can rewind your actions and pick up new bits of dialogue, story, and character growth. In addition to having this rocking female protagonist, Life Is Strange manages to have this mechanic that captures the imagination of CYOA books, the wanderlust of point-and-click adventures, and the action that we expect from our video games.

Is this the kind of video gaming that we should be excited for? While Life is Strange received praise for Max and the usage of this innovative technique, it faces the wrath of some gamers who fear change and feel that this ability dilutes action in the game.

0 thoughts on “I Choose You! – a look at CYOA Video Games

  1. I just started playing Life is Strange side by side with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and I have been very surprised at how much more I enjoy the time rewinding mechanic in the former. I find tying the mechanic into the development of the narrative is deeply affecting, whereas in Sands of Time it could have easily been replaced by a do-over button. I’m very surprised to hear that some people dislike that gameplay feature so much, because I find it very interesting.

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