Tag Archives: replay value

Why “Lost Girl” Would Make a Great Video Game…

For the past couple of weeks, I have been tearing through the first season of Lost Girl, an urban fantasy television show originally airing on Showcase. That’s the Canadian channel that airs one of my favorite sci-fi shows, Continuum — so I was excited to see how Lost Girl played after I heard good things about it.

Kenzi and Bo
Kenzi and Bo

If you haven’t seen the show, here’s the gist: a woman named Bo, who has spent her life waking up to dead lovers, finds out that she’s actually a succubus — a supernatural being who feeds on chi. In other words, when she gets “hungry,” it means she’s horny — and when she sleeps with someone, she drains them of their life energy. But finding out who she is means meeting a whole world of other supernatural beings, called Fae. And she gets into all kinds of adventures as she tries to figure out who her parents are, where she comes from, and how she can use her powers to help humans rather than hurt them.

I kind of love the show. It reminds me of Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars in the sense that it’s a show with female leads who are bold and smart and witty. The show revolves around Bo and her human sidekick, Kenzi, running their own investigative services for people dealing with potentially supernatural problems. It’s fun to watch a duo of women instead of the typical male “buddy” cop show. And like Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, their gender is really beside the point in their episodic dramas.

But seeing Bo run around kicking ass and seducing people to get information out of them — sometimes with a single touch — I started thinking how fun it would be not only to watch it all, but to play it. In a video game.

Succubus Powers

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The power to seduce is often seen as an “evil” power in fantasy stories and comics, and it comes with strong sexist tones. Male heroes like Thor and Batman are faced with seductresses who nearly turn them evil or make complete idiots out of them — all because men are supposedly putty in the hands of a beautiful woman, and a beautiful woman can use the power of sex to manipulate men. I personally hate that trope.

Fortunately, Lost Girl turns that upside down. The main attraction of the show is the fact that protagonist Bo is a succubus trying to use her power for good. Not all succubi she encounters are like her — using seduction for selfish purposes is a lot easier and potentially more fun — but Bo has a good heart and hates hurting people.

One of the issues she faces early on is learning to control her power. She’s used to draining human men and women completely, leaving them dead in bed beside her. Now that she knows she is a succubus, her goal is to learn to control her hunger and take only the energy she needs. She might leave her lovers weak and tired, but at least they’ll still be breathing in the morning.

All of this would be excellent in a video game. First off, the video game could have all kinds of sex appeal, with certain characters available for seduction if the protagonist needs to “drain” information from them — or just create a himbo or something. I could see some players choosing a more “evil” play style that involves leaving bodies everywhere, while other players limit their feeding and use their wits to ask the right questions early on. This type of power would definitely lend itself to a new, creative type of thinking as players try to progress the plot.

The trick for the game developers would be in keeping the game classy. I’m not opposed to the game having a whole lot of sex scenes — that’s half the fun if you’re playing a succubus video game — but the game would feel cheap if players could just run around using powers to create their own porn game. It would help if the game limited how far random seductions can go, with several cinematic sex scenes built in that are actually integral to the plot, optional side quests, or part of a romantic storyline.

Two Paths

Lost Girl has all kinds of action.
Lost Girl has all kinds of action.

Another aspect of Lost Girl that would make a great video game is the divide between Light Fae and Dark Fae. These are two clans that live by very strict rules; they take care of their own, and they don’t cross into each other’s territory whenever they want. If a Light Fae kills a Dark Fae (or vice versa), you can bet it will be problem for the whole community — and depending on who is involved, it might even be considered a declaration of war.

When Bo is “discovered” as a succubus, she first has to pass trials to show that she is worthy of being accepted into one of the two clans. But when she passes these trials, she refuses to choose a side, instead aligning herself with the humans. This makes her a free agent in the Fae world, capable of associating freely with both but having no real protection from either side if something happens to her. Being neutral makes her homeless, at least as far as the Fae are concerned.

The alignment instantly made me think of a video game and how fun it would be to choose sides at the start of the story. Playing as a neutral protagonist would be fun, but I would especially love the replay value in choosing between the two paths and having different stories, follower characters, or side quests based on your decision.

Supernatural Mysteries

Dyson_part-shifts_(101)Supernatural mysteries never get old. I’m a big fan of the Lost Girl mythology so far, which features some interesting types of Fae not often depicted in other urban fantasy/supernatural stories. And having Bo and Kenzi working as detectives in this world of weirdos — some of them terrifying — is a blast.

We already have a lot of supernatural mysteries out there. I saw several on the bookshelves earlier today, and they’re what make Fables so fun to read and The Wolf Among Us so fun to play. But each one I read or watch or play has its own flavor, and a succubus video game would already feel refreshing for having a unique female protagonist. Throw in some little-seen supernatural characters involved in some hair-raising unsolved crimes, and you’d have a pretty amazing game. I’d definitely waste a few weeks on it. =)

— Ashley

The Joy in Replaying Favorite Video Games

Why do we replay games? It’s one of my worst habits — though I only call it “worst” because it leaves me with less free time to play the new games coming out. Obviously, some games try to get you to replay them with extra storylines, special unlockables, new game modes. We even give that special something a name — replay value — and it’s considered a big plus when you purchase a game.

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I tend to replay games when they’re beautiful, to spend more time in that world.

However, there are some games that are so big, it’s hard to find the time or willpower to replay them. The Witcher 2 is one of my favorite video games of all time, but I’ll be honest and say that diving into that difficult combat and detailed story is so intense, once feels like enough… at least for a long while. Yet The Witcher 2 is set up for people to play twice, because there are two very distinct paths you can take after a key decision. It’s like you play two-thirds of the game in one go, and then have to go back for that other third when you replay the game. I loved that when I first bought the game, but I ended up just watching playthroughs on YouTube to get a feel for the other path because who has time to replay such a long, intense game?

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DmC is another game I’ve been wanting to replay…

But as soon as I say that — who has the time? — I can think of several other games I replay over and over again for no real reason other than how much I love them. For me, it’s all about the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. I’m constantly in the midst of a playthrough of each of those, which I pick up and put down whenever I get the urge. I’ll play intensely for a couple of weeks and then leave it, sometimes for months, while I play other things. When I get that itch to kill darkspawn or hang with my Normandy crew again, I pick those games back up. And because I’ve played them so much, I know exactly where I left off. I have the stories memorized. There’s not a lot of novelty there, other than some missed conversations and alternative dialogue options — nothing major, really. But that makes the games easier to pick up and play after long absences, which only feeds that addiction to replay them.

Other games aren’t known for their replay value, yet I still find myself going back to them. The big game for me last year was BioShock Infinite, and I feel like I keep bringing it up here and on my blog and on Twitter even though most people were satisfied to play it, get to that wild ending, and put it down forever. I just bought the strategy guide for it. I completed a whirlwind second playthrough of the game right before Christmas, in just a few days’ time, and I’m ready to jump back in and 100% it ASAP.

Why do I want to replay a game like BioShock Infinite? Unlike The Witcher 2 and Mass Effect, it doesn’t have alternative storylines or any dialogue options. You don’t reenter the game choosing a new character class. There are no options. No surprises. You simply launch the game, play through Booker’s adventure, get to that ending — the one that has such impact the first time you play — and set it down. It doesn’t make sense to play it again.

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BioShock Infinite

But I was drawn to the beauty of its world. I wanted to spend more time in Columbia, as messed up a place as it was. I was also attracted by the game’s combat — something most people didn’t like. I already wrote about some of things I enjoyed about the game’s combat on my blog here; it boils down to loving the weapons and vigors enough to enjoy what would otherwise be lacklustre FPS action. And the fact that BioShock Infinite only takes about 10 hours to play through makes it even more appealing to replay, because at least I can justify that I’m not wasting too much time on it.

In the end, that’s what playing games really comes down to: time. I’m always saying, “Just five more minutes,” in the midst of an intense shootout before bedtime. Last weekend, I felt awful because I had to retry a Fire Emblem: Awakening battle several times to get through it — an activity that took me almost two hours… after I’d promised my sister I’d make her breakfast “in 20 minutes, after this battle.” I get excited to hear that an RPG takes 20 hours or 40 hours or 100 hours to complete — and then I have trouble finding that time as more and more new games pile up on store shelves. It’s easy to rewatch your favorite films for two hours or listen to your favorite albums over and over while you drive, while you commute, while you walk to the coffee shop, while you work out… but video games require a hefty time investment that’s unique in the world of entertainment.

This year, I have a New Year’s Resolution to finish one game a month. But I know I’ll be playing more than that at a time. I can’t help myself. There’s a part of me that would like to say I’ll break the habit of replaying video games, but I know that will never happen. The act of replaying a game is a statement about how much you enjoy it: You can’t get enough of it. You have to reenter that world, relive that scenario, remake that decision to take a different road. When video games are that compelling, they’re doing something very right. Going back to those favorites takes me back to a feeling of unadulterated fun that is really what video games are all about.

— Ashley