Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
The Totally Hipster Elements in inFamous: Second Son

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 15 Apr 2014 16:00
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inFAMOUS Second Son

If you ask me, this all misses several opportunities to explore gameplay concepts and let the gameplay drive the story. Imagine for a moment that maybe having a conduit power doesn't automatically come free with being tougher to kill than a cockroach when you're only wearing slippers, nor with standard projectile attacks or the one ability to blow shit half to hell. How about, each power just does one thing, appropriate to the substance it draws from. And instead of each substance providing a slight variation on the usual suite of abilities, Delsin Rowe has to piece together a single suite of abilities from all the different substance powers.

So maybe your concrete is what makes you tough and hard to kill, and you can also create pillars and stepping stones out of it to help get around speedily. Smoke (well, it's basically just fire, let's face it) is your standard offensive attack that also fuels your hover thrusters. Maybe 'video' can influence electrical signals and exert power over the media, allowing for broadcasts, hacking of personal electronics, and everything else Watch_Dogs is supposed to be about. And then there's neon, which glows very prettily. And maybe at a pinch kill someone with inert gas asphyxiation, as long as they've been sitting still for a while.

For one thing, this all might make it easier to depict the plight of conduits as something we should sympathize with. Oh no, the government is imprisoning and taking away the personal rights of this specific group of people. Oh no, what bastards, why's that? Because every single one of them basically has the ability to nuke the city if they feel like it. Or if they just get really cross or have a particularly good wank. Oh, you know what, fair enough. It'd be much easier to hate the evil government lady if she was bringing the pain down upon gormless sadsacks who can just about fart noble gases. Maybe you wouldn't even have to show her making people's bones explode.

But there's another way this approach might inform storytelling. The critical path of each inFamous game tends to involve the main character assembling a team of random johnnies to work together against the common threat, and with the scenario described, suddenly Delsin becomes a one-man symbol for that whole process. Sure, maybe farting neon or screwing with the TV signals aren't going to let you take the world by storm in themselves, but when those powers are combined, there are no limits to what we can achieve. Well. No limits to what the one guy with the absorption powers can achieve, anyway. But hit me up, Sucker Punch, I think there's a Saturday morning cartoon in this.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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