The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
The news that Broken Sword is back (and on mobile) this week is great news. This classic series is pure gaming nostalgia for me and the Broken Sword games are the products of genius game design which has inspired today's greatest makers.
Back in the early days of Revolution Software and titles such as Beneath A Steel Sky, story and puzzle design came down to tiny teams plotting a player's adventure via pieces of paper scrawled with notes being slid around the dining table. Or, more often than not, being hatched in the brilliant mind of Charles Cecil.
These days it's far more likely for an AI to have written a game's plot from start to finish than it to be the product of a single person.
But while the rebirth of Broken Sword brings joy to my heart there's something deep in by memory that stirs less favourable emotions. And when I search for this niggle, try to get to the root of what's making me uneasy, one thing stares back from the darkness… The Goat Puzzle…
Oh, god. The bloody Goat Puzzle… It's easily the most fiendish, cunningly concocted, and just a little ludicrous puzzle of all time. And having been at the front-facing edge of games magazine craft at the time of its creation (i.e. the poor soul who had to answer the phone when a reader called) I can't count the number of times I had to talk a profusely thankful Broken Sword adventurer through it.
So if you don't know what I'm talking about, please, don't Google it. Just play Broken Sword (ideally upon its imminent re-release on mobile) and pray that they haven't watered down one of gaming's greatest moments.
Believe me. Even 27 years on, it'll be worth the wait.
I’m a big fan of interactive novels, and they're a genre that often goes unappreciated. The focus on narrative over gameplay is great for a specific subset of players, but for others it can feel, to an extent, like reading with extra steps.
Some mobile games have taken the genre and run with it, but arguably the genre has never had its big breakout. Interactive films such as The Quarry, Detroit: Become Human, or Until Dawn have proven to be massive hits, but interactive novels have yet to capture the attention of players at large - but all that could be about to change with the reveal of Netflix: Stories.
Netflix Stories: Love is Blind is a perfect first step into the genre - after all, interactive novels have successfully translated romance into gaming like no other genre with dating sims - but the company has a vast catalogue of first-party IPs which could lend themselves well to the genre, from horror to sci-fi to comedy. In fact, several of the company’s titles have already been adapted into games, and others are ripe for adaptations.
In fact, rumours have previously circled that several of the company’s hit IPs such as Squid Game and All Of Us Are Dead are in line for game adaptations. Stranger Things has already had several games, and been featured in several others, but among these is a now cancelled Telltale Games series - could we see the story presented as an interactive novel alongside the slate of upcoming spin-offs?
Licensed games already have an in-built audience, and with some of the most popular IPs of the 21st century already owned by Netflix there’s certainly a lot to draw on, and the company can potentially leverage the genre to tell any number of stories inspired by their existing properties, ranging from underground hits to international blockbusters. Love is Blind may seem like an odd place to start but it also arguably serves as the ideal launch point, leveraging the established strength of one of the interactive story’s most popular subgenres as a proof of concept, but future games within the brand are likely to go bigger. Soon, we could be walking the streets of Hollywoob alongside the cast of Bojack Horseman, exploring the Upside Down with the cast of Stranger Things, or fighting for our lives in the Squid Game.
The interactive novel genre may be low on gameplay, but the strong focus on narrative could be a draw all of its own - and with so many fantastic stories to draw from we could be about to be it take off in a big way.
The acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been quite the drawn out story with its numerous speed bumps, from PlayStation’s concerns about Call of Duty to the CMA highlighting cloud gaming.
Yet throughout the whole thing, Phil Spencer has reiterated that the mobile aspect of the deal is key for Microsoft’s growth in the industry. Now, I don’t entirely buy this narrative. If Microsoft wanted a significant mobile presence, it could achieve that far easier than acquiring Activision Blizzard for a massive sum of $68 billion.
Quite frankly, Microsoft could own a handful of mobile companies for less.
To me, it feels like they’re drawing more focus on mobile to downplay the significance of what else is included in the deal. While I don’t believe that acquiring King as part of the deal is quite as big a part of the pie as they say it is, there is some truth to the matter regarding overall growth. I think it’s less about Microsoft building a bunch of free-to-play games and more about growing its audience across various platforms. They’ve got console gaming, and Xbox has been very open to gaming on PC, so much so that they have GamePass for PC now, so why not get more people playing on the most popular platform of all - Mobile.
Once the deal is done, which it looks like it will be, I expect that we’ll eventually see Xbox attempt to bring its big game experiences to the small screen.