Environmental storytelling is one of the hottest topics in gaming. The highly divisive Scorn was recently released. Its gameplay is notable not only for the way it drips with grotesque and erotic guts, but also for the fact that the screen contains no dialogue or text. The whole story Scone tells is that it does so by how you move through your environment and how you react to it. Storytelling must be earned, explored, and considered. There is no “correct” way to interpret it. It reminded me of Gris, even though everything else about the game is very different.
When we talk about environmental storytelling in video games, we usually think of it in smaller terms. We think of slogans sprayed onto buildings, decaying corpses, broken windows, and other signs of struggle. Environmental storytelling can affect us without us even realizing it. It may make us more nervous or prompt (whether prematurely or not) to let our guard down. It can be insultingly obvious. But even games that apply environmental storytelling liberally still have an underlying story. It is
Gris and Scorn are not. But Scorn seems to enjoy defying definition. It starts with the game’s worst and most complex puzzles, and as it’s squished deeper and deeper into complexity, it casts a constantly disturbing image at you: Gris is much more open. It operates on a 2D plane, exploring left, right, up and down on its journey, but it’s not hard to figure out where to go next. Its soft, pastel palette also seems to be much more approachable, soothing and open to interpretation.
Contempt is armed with highly loaded imagery, but seems to mock those who do not understand it. provide an opportunity to submit a personal proposal for Gris wants you to look at a picture, listen to music, read a poem, and tell me how it feels. Contempt, however, feels as though it requires specific knowledge applied via specific techniques, and the answers are presented in the form of fully cross-referenced essays.
Gris is a simpler story. A girl tries to sing but can’t, and wanders through various minimalist and gorgeous landscapes to regain her voice. The platforming is fairly simple, but you can’t take your eyes off the scenery in front of you, which enhances the overall experience. ) and apply them in a relevant and specific way. Everything is brilliantly stripped away in a way that makes you feel like you’re being asked to give a piece of yourself to figure it out rather than to find something new to complete the puzzle.
Both Scorn and Gris present empty worlds filled with very specific art styles, leaving it up to the player to interpret the story. The only difference is that Gris has no wrong answers and Scorn has no correct answers.
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