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12/08/2017 07:36:19 •••

MOTHER - or, why actual writers shouldn't make video games

In 2010, Michael Samyn and Auriea Harvey, founders of an independent game company, said that not only are games "not art", they're, for the most part, "a waste of time". Naturally, I disagree. Games can be art. After all, they can move us. They can make us laugh. They can make us cry. Hell, this game's tagline is "No crying until the end". I seriously doubt that back in 1989, Itoi-sensei & co thought they weren't creating a work of art.

So, yes, MOTHER is a piece of art. An art piece painted with the wrong brush.

There's a reason why most video games fail at compelling narratives - it's hard to have good gameplay and a great story at the same time. Quality storytelling and interactivity do not mix well. Gay children on the playground, playing hide-and-seek, are not crafting art. Which is fine. The point of play, whether cordless or electronic, is to have fun, not win a Booker prize. Some of the most praised games - Tetris, Mario, Bejeweled - have practically zero story, while very story-centric games, like visual novels, are little more than illustrated audiobooks.

MOTHER, unfortunately, falls into this trap. The plot is bizarre, creepy, charming, and touching, but the play is a dull rip-off of Enix's Dragon Quest. Indeed, the JRPG format limits the game's attempts at narrative, constraining it to short text boxes which most players will likely skip through. The most interesting story elements, counterproductively, are the most scripted; e.g., the final Gyiyg fight. If the best plot points of your game are the ones where the player has no control whatsoever, then why make a game in the first place?

MOTHER was an attempt by a writer to create a well-written story in an alternative medium, a medium not exactly known for its quality stories. Unfortunately, it's a deeply flawed attempt. The strong story detracts from the tedious gameplay, and the boring gameplay detracts from the intriguing story. As a film, anime, or manga, it would've been amazing. Instead, it serves as an example as why some experiments really don't work too well. Overall score: 8.5/10.

12/08/2017 00:00:00

I have to tell you, your review doesn\'t seem to reflect a score of 8.5:

\"Unfortunately, it\'s a deeply flawed attempt. The strong story detracts from the tedious gameplay, and the boring gameplay detracts from the intriguing story. As a film, anime, or manga, it would\'ve been amazing. Instead, it serves as an example as why some experiments really don\'t work too well.\"

That sounds more like a 6/10 or less to me. What was good about the game?

12/08/2017 00:00:00

The plot and characters, particularly Maria & Gyiyg. It was enough for me to give the game an above average score (I was going to give a 7.5 originally).


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