Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Freedom of inFamous First Light

This week on PopMatters, I praise the freedom of InFamous First Light.

I'm actually quite bummed I never got around to playing First Light until it PS Plus offered it for free this month. I spent much of this article praising its approach to narrative and mechanical exploration now, unburdened by its predecessor, but never actually paid for the game myself. In some small way, I'm hope I offer up some support for Sucker Punch by simply talking about First Light.

If you haven't yet listened to our latest podcast, I recommend you do. Scott and I chat more about the idea of "Big Small" games, including First Light and Captain Toad included. After recording that podcast, I realized most of my favorite game add-ons push the boundaries of the normal game in significant ways. The Kasumi DLC for Mass Effect 2 added a new companion and a mission that moved from space epic to heist film. Likewise, Lair of the Shadow Broker brings a dark twist to a character in the series. While not as daring as First Light, it does offer a different side of the world than the core game offers.

The Last of Us: Left Behind, like First Light, also serves as a prequel to the core story, although it actually features Ellie as the primary playable character. Importantly, Left Behind is a coming of age story. While The Last of Us is very much an exploration of what fatherhood means in a world of extremes, and how Joel transforms throughout the game, Left Behind is a character study on Ellie herself. It's a strong piece of DLC and I appreciate the team's willingness to leave Joel's story behind entirely.

All that being said, I would still love to see more stories told in game universes without significant characters from a core game needing to carry the load. If anything, a willingness to tell independent stories in this "big small games" is evidence of a well developed world.

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