Some people do not care about narrative in video games. These people are (of course) wrong, but nonetheless they do exist. Fortunately, developers are a sharp bunch. They’ve found ways to unobtrusively convey a game’s story with players none-the-wiser if they so choose. Such is the approach Skookum-Arts is taking with their new 2D puzzle platformer, The Pedestrian.
We covered the Kickstarter campaign for this project a few weeks back. It still has a little further to go to meet its $21,000 funding goal. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should do that now and then come back, I’ll wait.
On the surface, The Pedestrian is a clever puzzle game featuring the bobble-headed puzzle-solving adventures of restroom signage. Honestly, I’d have already been sold on the project if the developers had stopped here, but Skookum-Arts decided to go further with the idea.
Holy Exposition, Batman!
Rather than just blindly forging onward they wanted to give their protagonist motivation. To give meaning and weight to their actions. Most importantly, they wanted to do this without resorting to overused cut-scenes or pace killing walls of text.
Their solution was to stick to simplicity. In a mini-update to their Kickstarter page, the Skookum team delve a bit into their use of the world to convey their story. Players will encounter the protagonist’s memories depicted as hand-drawn animations tucked into the backgrounds of the gameworld. This could be anything from a projector playing in a staff room to a discarded tablet on the ground.
This way The Pedestrian is able to deliver exposition without halting the clever gameplay mechanics that make it so unique. Additional story-elements (those related to the character’s current situation) will be incorporated into the game through integral animated interactions.
Ultimately it’s up to the player if they want to pause to take in the information and piece together the story. Personally, you’d be a fool to not want to get as much out of this game as possible. The developers clearly put a lot into it.