Posted 12 May 2008 - 06:26 AM
an interesting idea, but it's far too simplified to have any sort of artistic significance. everyone knows that sparing a person is preferable to killing them, and labeling the outcomes either "win" or "lose" is heavy-handed and clumsy. there are some really good mechanics at work though that only a game could offer.
first, the player is not told how to spare the victim. most players will assume that their options to finish the game are either to shoot the victim or to wait until a message tells them they made the right choice. they will not consider pressing esc, because that is the button to exit. the player does not want to exit; he wants to win and be rewarded for winning and be told he made the right decision. in this way a slick dynamic is at play: patience vs. justice. ("should i wait until i win? this is taking a while. maybe i should shoot him and get it over with? but look at his pathetic eyes! i can't shoot a man like that! but this is taking so long!", etc.)
next, the visuals are very effective at getting the player to recognize the victim's piteous situation. the player can see only his eyes. the player can see only through a gun's vision. the player is vertically higher than the poor victim, a common trick in cinematography to suggest power.
the thing about not being able to change your decision is a nice addition.
i personally tried pointing the gun in the corner for a few minutes with the hope that the victim will be able to escape if i'm not keeping close enough watch. when i returned the aimer to him i was disappointed to see him still there tied to a stick. the game wouldn't let me passively wait for something to happen. i had to make a decision.
it's important for games like this to be made for the advancement of games as an art form. however, works of art are significant because they offer unique glimpses at humanity and what it means to be human, something this game does not do. the execution of this game (sorry, no pun intended) is deep and interesting but it tells us nothing we don't already know. obviously we should spare the victim if we can!
VERDICT: i was thinking about the game's mechanics when i should have been thinking about the game's message, solely because its message was so thin. it fails to suggest the complexities of good or bad or any shades of gray. the game is a step in the right direction but until game mechanics are used to explore meaningful aspects of human nature in ways that only videogames can, no progress will be made.