Feb 27 2014 3:30pm

Gaming Roundup: Kill A Friend, Save The World in Gods Will Be Watching

Gods Will Be Watching

It seems that gaming and moral dilemmas have undergone a unique sort of marriage lately. Most games of yesteryear were content to focus on the simple choices, if any at all—good, bad, you’re the guy with the gun. But recent years have forced gamers to ponder their in-game decisions a little more thoroughly.

Games such as the Mass Effect and Walking Dead series, Heavy Rain, MGS, The Last of Us, and even the Bioshock and GTA franchises have ascribed heavy moral consequences to in-game choices that in some cases directly impact your playthrough. A Norwegian high school is using The Walking Dead games to teach ethics. Falling into this vein of video games is upcoming indie effort Gods Will Be Watching—a dark, difficult point-and-click adventure premised on forcing you to make difficult choices as often as possible.

Developer Deconstructeam conceived the game in 72 hours during an indie game jam last year, and continued work on it thereafter, turning it into a more robust offering. This led publisher Devolver Digital (of Hotline Miami acclaim) to come on board. Gods places the gamer in the shoes of the aptly named Sergeant Burden, a man in the unenviable position of being at the center of a number of intergalactic tensions that frequently force him to make decisions for the greater good at the expense of his crew and his own psyche. When it comes to base survival, there are no easy choices—a point the game makes abundantly clear as you are faced with sacrificing your crew (or not) to preserve peace, or offing extraneous passengers to preserve rations for your own survival.

Whether the game will be successful or not on launch remains to be seen, but it’s always refreshing to see developers willing to try something new—one of the biggest boons of the indie gaming community. Gods Will Be Watching releases in June for PC, Mac, and Linux. Pre-ordering now saves you 10%.

In other gaming news this week, the Thief reboot tanks, Naughty Dog talks The Last of Us sequel, and Persona comes to North America. Read on!

  • Sadly, Eidos’ Thief reboot appears to be a giant miss. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, GOG has the original games on hand for all your replay needs.
  • What is indie studio Failbetter Games working on for Bioware? We don’t know yet. They won’t tell us. But we hope they will soon.
  • A lot of fans want to revisit the universe of The Last of Us, but would a sequel affect the perception of what many currently see as a perfectly-told story? Writer Neil Druckmann told Reddit earlier this week that there’s about a 50/50 chance we’ll see a sequel. If it comes to fruition, we hope it’s an entirely different story set within the same world.
  • Any child of the 90s remembers the heated Nintendo vs Sega console wars. Whether your poison was Genesis or SNES, Game Gear or Game Boy, Dreamcast or N64—it was a good time to be a kid. Well, Seth Rogen is penning a movie on the topic shortly (assuming he can squeeze it in between his work on Preacher.)
  • Any Persona fans out there? If so, good news! Atlus is releasing a wave of Persona games in North America, including the hotly-anticipated Persona 5.
  • How do you archive an entire virtual universe? That’s what the archivists over at MoMA are hoping to find out with CCP’s Eve Online.
  • In perhaps the least surprising news item ever, word has it that Ubisoft’s upcoming RPG, South Park: The Stick of Truth will be censored outside of North America. Censored scenes include an abortion minigame and a lot of anal probing.
  • Developer King has abandoned their ludicrous quest to trademark the word Candy in gaming, at least in the US.
  • Interested in making your own game? Get GameMaker Studio free for a limited time right now. Scoff all you like, but recent indie hits like Hotline Miami and Spelunky ultimately were built using this software.
  • Finally, the latest round of layoffs in gaming came by way of Sony’s Santa Monica Studio, creators of the God of War franchise.

If there are games you’d like us to cover or other angles you want us to examine, please let us know @tdeluccior @pritpaulbains.

Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE let Seth Rogen do this right. I want to see this, I want to give you my money, so please, no date rape, no rape jokes, no fake gamer girls! OK? Is that too much to ask Seth?
Walker White
2. Walker
As I said last time, it has been so long since the last game in the franchise that Thief is being compared against Dishonored, and not the other way around. And it has been found wanting. Shame.

Eidos did really well with Deus Ex. Hopefully they can keep that franchise going.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
@2, My friend who's tried it says the controls(PC) are nonsensical.
Walker White
4. Walker

Are you talking about the PC port of The Fall (the iPad game)? Because I am referring to Human Revolution. And the unacknowledged sequel to Human Revolution that everyone knows is happening.
Pritpaul Bains
5. Kickpuncher
@4 Walker - I believe @3 was referring to the new Thief. Too bad - I also was hoping for much more from it.

@2 Aeryl - I have slightly more faith in his ability to deal with this movie correctly than I do in his ability to deal with Preacher. I'm really really wary about Preacher.
Christopher Morgan
6. cmorgan
Re Thief: It seems that the game is pretty polarizing. Folks like Rock Paper Shotgun and TotalBiscuit love it. In fact, TB reviewed the PC port and said it was ont of the best ports he has seen for PC. Fully rebindable keyboard, 2 keys per action, as well as a TON of graphics options.

That said, other reviews haven't been that kind. A lot of folks seem very pleased with the actual hub world, but are slightly disappointed in things like mission design and very disappointed in lip synching/Story.
Christopher Morgan
7. cmorgan
Re the whole moral choices in gaming: The reason they work in things like Walking Dead, Mass Effect, and Last of Us is that we really care about the characters. I think that the problem with GTAV was that it was more shock than anything, and it doesn't give you an option to bypass it. You have to torture a person as Trevor to advance the story.

The key to things like this is good character and story work. Otherwise I just won't care what I do. This happened to me part 2 of The wolf among us. I was mad on Bigby's behalf at the twist the game delivered, which made beating the snot out of a prisoner shockingly easy. But then TellTale is very good at that. I'd do anything for Clemintine as well.
Walker White
8. Walker
The most damning complaints about Thief are about the linearity. Dishonored was a much easier game than the early Thief games (because of all the superpowers you got from runes). But every single mission could be solved in a huge number of ways. The same is true for Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

But the amount of player choice in Thief appears to be lacking. It is certainly a challenging game, but there are not a lot of different ways to approach a problem.
Pritpaul Bains
9. Kickpuncher
@7 cmorgan - Good point - good writing and good character work make all the difference in whether or not those choices work in a game or not. I think GTA IV might be a better example of effective moral gray than V.
Christopher Morgan
10. cmorgan
Ah, fair point. I missed IV, Played GTA3, then didn't pick up another till V.
Christopher Morgan
11. cmorgan
@8, That's something TB mentions in his review too. He is a huge fan of Deus Ex series, and did enjoy Human revolution, but he mentioned both it and Thief suffer from the lack of options.

But he admired how well Stealth is done in Thief and how good the game is at actually discouraging combat.
Walker White
12. Walker

I refuse to believe that Human Revolution lacked options. It had just as many options as Dishonored. The problem was that certain options required a specific build, and you could not respec. This is why I hoarded skill points and only spent them when I absolutely needed them.

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