Games with canonical storylines and games with multiple story branches

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Do you prefer games with canonical storylines or multiple story branches?

  • Canonical

    Votes: 3 50.0%
  • Multiple Story Branches

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • Both

    Votes: 2 33.3%

  • Total voters
    6

Wazi the pa

Samurai Legend
Moderator
Site Staff
Oct 26, 2013
2,540
841
Australia
#1
I think it's a given that many of you people have played a lot of video games. From RPGs and first person shooters, to action-adventure and platformers, you get into them for a number of reasons.

But let's dive into one reason for this thread discussion: Story in video games, specifically the choice of story writing between use of canon material (accepted as part of the game's actual story) and multiple story branches (storylines catered to players as they play the game via major/minor gameplay choices).

For the sake of you guys understanding, below is a short summary of what the two are in relation to video games:
  • Canon - as vaguely mentioned above, this is for games that holds deliberate design choices in their stories; a fixed opening, middle, and ending. This single storyline is acknowledged and accepted by their respective writers and creators as the 'right' one. Any alternative telling of the game's story is considered 'fan-faction'. Examples: Final Fantasy, Uncharted, The Last of Us etc.
  • Multiple story branches - self explanatory, but this form of story-building in games is where players are able to make major/minor choices to change the overall narrative, resulting them to be put within an alternative outcome of the story e.g. If I kill the sacrifice, I will take his place, and if not, I will be tortured instead. Examples: The Witcher 2/3, Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls series, Dragon Age etc.
Do you prefer games with a canon storyline or games with multiple story branches? Why do you feel this way? Do you feel like you're in the game's world more than ever if you have the ability to change outcomes of the story? Would you be more invested in the characters and its world if the game had canonical story moments throughout?
 
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Wazi the pa

Samurai Legend
Moderator
Site Staff
Oct 26, 2013
2,540
841
Australia
#2
I would add my preference and thoughts to this topic of discussion, but I'll hold onto it and hear what you guys have to say first. It's interesting because I rarely hear from people on what they have to say about something like this. I can see the ups and downs for both though.
 

Lulcielid

Warrior of Light
#3
I generally preffer canonical stories over multy branching.

In my opinion multy branching is a form for writers to cop out from stickying with their writing consequences.

There's an exception to this, if the branching is only for minor things it's OK (i.e: deciding whether or not a random NPC lives or die if you decide to help him/her or not) but if it's for important things it's NOT OK (i.e: deciding whether a key character lives/dies or certain storylines happening or not).

There's one thing that I can give credit to the multy branching option, it gives more player agency and that's something that games as interactive experience should strive for (However, this is not and should not be 100% applyable to all interactive experiences but that's another topic).
 
Likes: Wazi the pa

SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
784
619
#4
For choice-driven stories, I have my own personal canon preference, and any other is counted in my mind as a "What if..." scenario. I prefer a solid canon to hold onto. It helps when avoiding confusion. I can handle reboots, just so long as they don't later try and tag them onto an existing canon.

Mind you, that's not taking into account the retconning developers can do, like the Xenosaga fiasco. And we didn't even get the DS remake that sorted out the continuity errors caused by Episode II.

Games that can offer multiple choices while preserving a canon are the best, I think, which is why I can appreciate the skill of the Witcher series' writers in pulling this off for a whole trilogy without making the ending feel cheap. And Drakengard is of course a wonderful example of playing with the formula, as the original game presented us with all these crazy and tragic scenarios. but that whole universe has a great plot conceit to explain why we can see all of these possibilities.
 
Likes: Wazi the pa

SilverGlyph

Balamb Garden Freshman
Feb 27, 2016
18
16
22
#5
I don't have a preference. At the end of the day, if the story is gripping, then it doesn't matter to me if the ending is fixed or not. It depends on what I'm in the mood for though.