Shakespeare’s Hamlet is not exactly known for being a feel good romantic comedy. Characters are more likely to meet quick and grisly deaths than be adequately wooed into a relationship. This hasn’t stopped Golden Glitch Studios from making conscientious decisions regarding consent in their upcoming adventure game, Elsinore.
The game tells the story of Hamlet with a bit of Groundhog Day sprinkled in for good measure. Ophelia has had a terrible vision foretelling the deaths of everyone in Elsinore Castle. The player finds themselves, as Ophelia, trapped in a time-loop, reliving the same 4 days leading up to the massacre. They must gather evidence to change the future through point-and-click gameplay.
Backers recently got their first hands on with Elsinore in the form of a beta build. In their most recent Kickstarter update, Golden Glitch thanked backers for their help in troubleshooting the beta. They also gave some insight into the new features on the way for Elsinore.
There’s Always Time For Love
“Right now, some folks on the team are developing the romance content branches, which will allow Ophelia to pursue a relationship with 5 different characters, both male and female. The player can opt into one, all, or none of these relationships as she chooses.”
Elsinore isn’t a typical choose your-own-adventure sort of game though. Rather than making bold dialogue choices to advance the story, players are required to diplomatically change the fate of the castle. This is done by subtly collecting and presenting bits of gossip, rumors, stories, lies, and even hard evidence to the proper characters at just the right time. Golden Glitch felt that Ophelia’s typically passive role in the overarching story shouldn’t carry into her romance choices.
“We decided early on that we never wanted any player to feel as though Ophelia was engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with a character without the player’s clear and enthusiastic consent.”
In order to work within this idea of consent, the team has implemented a feature specifically to address this issue. Wanting to avoid an off-putting selection menu, they instead created a consent box which will give Ophelia (and the player) the ability to opt in or out of any romantic encounter.
Girl, You Can Do Better
Players will be able to choose whether or not to pursue a romance each time a subplot becomes available. This allows players to revoke or grant consent during the course of gameplay, regardless of their first selection. It’s useful, not just for ensuring that players don’t feel forced into unwanted sexual encounters, but also for giving them greater agency in how they choose to play Ophelia.
It’s a wonderful decision that traditional RPGs often overlook. Players typically have to lock-in a love interest and then put up with them until the end of the game. Sometimes your first choice isn’t always the one you want to end up with, no matter how good they look slaying dragons.