Modern adventure games feature large amounts of violent action. However, the newest Indiana Jones game could change that and bring in younger players.
In the early days of gaming, titles like Pitfall gave way to the adventure game genre. As the medium moved towards 3D, the genre evolved thanks to games like Tomb Raider, one of the earliest examples of blending an exhilarating story with adventure gameplay. However, the genre’s success is as much tied to the sense of action that permeated each game.
Most adventure stories are tied to swashbuckling action and last-minute decisions that save the hero from certain death, but video game adventure titles also include massive shootouts and tactical strategies to help break up the puzzles and traversal segments. While this has become the standard, Bethesda’s upcoming Indiana Jones game could change that stigma and, in turn, help bring younger audiences back to adventure games.
The genre has always toyed around with the real-life dangers that follow adventuring. However, these moments are often played as more upbeat, with certain perils happening quickly and forcing players to think fast. This is still implemented in games like Uncharted, where Nathan Drake is depicted as an accident-prone hero. On the other hand, Tomb Raider ramps up the consequences of adventuring by consistently showing each death animation to ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. While this strategy works for the character, other games ran with this idea and showed the tragic deaths of these heroes in detail. While mistakes in games often lead to character deaths, Indiana Jones could play into this by cutting away before the gruesome moment, just like in his films.
Another standard of modern action games that could change with the new Indy game is the constant shootouts. Most third-person action-adventure titles feature a cover system for players to utilize while fighting in massive firefights. It’s become a standard in the Uncharted franchise and promotes a tactical way of fighting since one man can’t defeat an army head-on. While it works, it can sometimes make the hero seem to enjoy the carnage as they rack up a body count in the hundreds. The Tomb Raider franchise tries to mix this up by adding stealth elements, but its large focus on Lara’s comfort in taking a life paints her in a much darker light.
What makes Indiana Jones such an entertaining hero is how he gets out of bad situations. While he is no stranger to taking lives, he often uses his brains over his brawn. The films show this with him using daring feats to get out of situations that end up placing the villain in a bad spot. For example, one foe in Raider of the Lost Ark spends so much time fighting Indy that he never notices the plane propeller coming for him until it’s too late. While the fedora-wearing hero isn’t afraid to shoot first and ask questions later, his main focus is survival rather than fighting. Implementing a similar gameplay style where Indy isn’t trying to kill but quickly eliminate or evade enemies could help bring in younger players who love adventure but don’t care for shootouts.
The adventure genre has a knack for reeling in audiences of all ages. That’s why even after 40 years, Indiana Jones is still an icon for the genre. Most other similar titles have focused on the violence that comes with adventure. But Bethesda’s Indiana Jones has the unique opportunity to reinvent the wheel and show that there are different ways to deal with combat in adventure games that focus less on body counts and more on survival and quick-thinking. As a result, it will also be easier to introduce the game to a younger audience.
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