Since their inception, video games have been the center of constant debate. From whether they are appropriate for children to if they are a solid medium of art, the discourse has many facets. Even though studies have proved the former argument false, the dispute is going to be never-ending.
Concerning the latter, most of the titles nominated for Game of the Year are enough to disprove it. Video games have become much more than just gameplay in the modern era. Not only do games nowadays provide unique experiences with a brilliant undertaking, but they also have strong narratives to back them up.
When we talk about such narrative-driven games that have pushed the boundaries of artistic expression, PlayStation exclusives are titles we can’t leave out.
Since the first PlayStation came out in 1994, first-party titles have been a big part of its strategy. Through these games, Sony has perfectly conveyed the message that gaming is a beautifully artistic medium.
Over the years, we have got some brilliant franchises from Sony. These original IPs have told stories that are forever etched in gaming history. From Uncharted to Ratchet & Clank, the company has made genre-defining exclusives.
Most of Sony’s exclusives have been colossal triumphs, both commercially and critically. Like anything in the gaming world, however, these amazing titles are no exception to debate and criticism. One bone that gamers pick all the time when concerning PS exclusives is that they are more like movies and less like video games.
Anyone who has played story-driven Sony exclusives will know they use cutscenes heavily. Due to this, many people debate that Sony titles are crossing the fine line between a cinematic and a gaming experience. However, by using God of War Ragnarok, we will explain how this is not a flaw but a strength.
God of War Ragnarok Is Proof That Cinematic Storytelling Is An Asset
The biggest argument against games with substantial emphasis on story/cutscenes is that instead of playing them, you watch them. Sure, games are meant to be played, and that’s their main purpose. But if there is a balance between good gameplay and storytelling, what’s the problem?
Probably the best and most recent example of this is God of War Ragnarok. Recently, the new Sony exclusive came out as the sequel to the 2018s God of War reboot. It carried heavy expectations with it, and it’s safe to say the game delivered.
God of War Ragnarok broke franchise and Sony sales records. The sequel reached its first-week sales target with ease and became the fastest-selling first-party PlayStation game in history. It topped charts all around the world and also was the No.1 ranking game in UK’s 2022 boxed sales charts.
As you can probably tell from the sales, God of War Ragnarok was a critical darling. Topping the first game in the series was no easy task, as it was one of the best AAA games in recent memory. However, Ragnarok improved many aspects of the original while maintaining the core elements which made the 2018 title work.
Thank you to all the PlayStation fans who made God of War Ragnarok the fastest selling PlayStation Studios game ever, and congratulations to everyone @SonySantaMonica on this amazing achievement #GodofWarRagnarok pic.twitter.com/M3y7Uz2GCz
— Hermen Hulst (@hermenhulst) November 23, 2022
Probably the most important element of this was the story. What made 2018’s reboot of the franchise a success was its narrative-based storytelling. The gameplay itself was amazing, but what really made the title click was the story at the heart of it.
God of War retained the themes of family connections as the center of the narrative in the reboot. And it worked to perfection as the 2018 game beat Red Dead Redemption 2 for Game of the Year at The Game Awards. If you know anything about how good Rockstar Games’ sequel was, you will know how big of an achievement this was.
Like its predecessor, God of War Ragnarok told a heartfelt tale and was narratively magnificent. For sure, the gameplay improved a lot, and that resulted in a much better game. But, without the narrative-driven approach and the soul the story had, Ragnarok would never have been this good.
Critics held the same view, and this is why cinematic storytelling in gaming is a strength. God of War Ragnarok proves that video games are the best medium to convey any narrative. And as the reviews show, you can do it without taking the fun of video games out of it.
So, even though it’s true that Sony exclusives like God of War Ragnarok and The Last of Us Part 2 have a lot of cutscenes, they don’t dampen the gaming experience.
They perfectly balance the two aspects and provide a playable cinematic experience. Now, everyone can have their opinion on this but saying it makes the game a movie is entirely wrong.
PlayStation exclusives allow you to experience a vivid story and let you control it. Films do the same thing but without the latter. Hence, games like God of War Ragnarok are a much more engrossing artistic experience than the medium of film.
You are basically playing a product with the storytelling of an Oscar-winning movie and arguably the best game developers in the industry. So, you can totally stick to video games that are just gameplay with minimal story. But, saying overarching narratives and cutscenes hold the medium back and make it more like films is bogus.
Cinematic experiences like God of War Ragnarok and Spider-Man make gaming immersive and increase the emotional investment players have in the characters.
Therefore, you will relate to the protagonists and remember them just like people do with movie characters. In my opinion, video games just become more memorable, and there is only good in that.
Length Of Video Games Supports Such Portrayals
Another facet that supports cinematic storytelling in video games is the length they have. Your average video game is 12-14 hours long. When you compare it to the 130-minute average length of films, it seems like a lifetime more.
Hence, the length of video games allows the story to flesh out even more than movies without sacrificing gameplay. The longer time allows better character development, detailed world-building, and more emotional investment due to the time spent playing.
As a result, it won’t be wrong to say that video games are the best form of entertainment media when it comes to narrative productions.
Sure, you have to sit through the games watching cutscenes for a bit. But you are basically playing a movie and controlling the characters in it with the fun of video games added in. In my opinion, that is a flagship aspect, not a flaw.
Gaming as a whole is also elevated in the eyes of consumers when they have more than just gameplay with no story. The longer the game and the better its story, the more casual players will buy it to experience the tale. The only proof we need for this is God of War Ragnarok’s sales figures, and they are good.
Hence, such brilliant cinematic storytelling not only uplifts the gaming medium artistically, but it also makes it appeal to a wider demographic. Narrative-driven titles broaden the horizons of what video games can be. Thus going against such an approach just limits the genre and prevents it from being the art it is.
In its 25.5-hour average story time, God of War Ragnarok tells a story so brilliant it brings tears to your eyes. To say Sony exclusives would be better without the powerful scenes performed by brilliant actors is blasphemy. We need single-player titles with movie-length cutscenes for the good of gaming itself.
Gaming prides itself in variety, and cinematic experiences such as this are a big part of that. You can’t underestimate the layer of nuance they add to the medium. It’s up to you to like or dislike it, but their presence is necessary.
If you want gaming to be just mindless shooting and multiplayer games, you are welcome to criticize the excess cutscenes. But, if you want it to be a forum for wonderful stories about myths and legends, this aspect needs to stay. Hopefully, most will want it to stay.
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