Extra PunctuationPlot InversionsExtra Punctuation - RSS 2.0
It might be my imagination but it seems like triple-A games have been putting more emphasis on story lately. There was Spec Ops of course, and while Inversion's dialogue is cliche-ridden and its characters bland it does seem to be at least trying to make an effort. The plot features two fairly massive twists, one revealing something about the world and the other something about the characters. I'm going to put my plot analysis hat on again to take a closer look, so just like with Spec Ops be warned I'm going to spoiler it up big time stylee. I'm not so bothered if you choose to read anyway this time, though, 'cos Inversion's kind of crap. But I'd better give the massive spoiler warning anyway because of my tiresome social conscience. Hey! Massive spoilers! Warning!
I won't spoil the first twist regarding the world, I think, because it ends up being pretty pointless in the grand scheme of things, and doesn't change anything about the basic plot skeleton: Your world is being invaded by foreigners and you're trying to get your daughter back. All the characters can do to the big world twist is briefly react to it and then carry on with what they were doing.
In my Spec Ops review I mentioned that a good videogame story is one driven by the decisions and personalities of its characters. A bad game story is one where the characters only ever react to stuff, follow orders from authority figures, or do things because they've "got to" without further explanation. In this case, they've got to save the main character's daughter. Never mind the well-being of anyone else's kids or the world in general or whether the reward accurately reflects the risks that are undertaken. Maybe this is one of those things you need to have kids to understand, but when our hero finally gets to the child prison near the end, and all the imprisoned children have hope at last and bounce up and down in anticipation of rescue, all this asshole can do is walk straight past them all or demand to know where his one specific child is. You could at least unlock the doors before you go, you prick.
Which brings me to the second twist. The final, ending twist that actually recontextualizes shit. Throughout the game you're assisted by your hot-headed Hispanic co-op partner because there are certain obligations that exist when you go about ripping off Gears of War. At around the start of the second chapter, after the two of you escape the POW camp and make it back to your home city, the first thing you do to find the daughter is go back to your old home. Obviously she isn't there, sparking an odyssey through the ruined city, another enemy camp and eventually the enemy headquarters following the string of leads.
But here's the twist. In a flashback we see right at the very end it's revealed that your hot-headed sidekick friend found your daughter's corpse under a collapsed ceiling back at your house. And he didn't think it would be conducive to your quest to mention it. Your quest to find and rescue your daughter, that is. Now, I do appreciate the effort. This is a better twist than the other twist because it recontextualizes everything that's come before it. Unfortunately it recontextualizes every character as either really dumb or evil and really dumb. Why the hell would Mr. Sidekick conceal from Mr. Protagonist the fact that they'd already failed the quest?