I really don’t like when game design refers to “dungeons”. Perhaps not as much as I actively hate some things, but it’s up there in terms of massive turn-offs.

Some people enjoy games that force a sense of claustrophobia and loneliness. I am not one of those people.

  • I like being able to take a step back from the problem and see if there’s another angle to take it on from.
  • I like to be able to play at my own pace.
  • I do not like being trapped.

If a game gives me the option of sticking with my current equipment or venturing into a dark hole to ferret out something better I’ll choose to make do. More often than not what it actually says is “Down you go if you want to progress in the story” but that’s a different subject, really.

If it was a raised construction complex from which there was virtually no escape then I’d be much happier. The same game design applies but without the feeling of being attacked by unseen enemies or being buried alive.

As it happens I’m not actually a claustrophobic person. I’m not afraid of the dark either. But in person I can physically move around things and interact with the world in ways other than “use weapon on enemy”.

It’s also to do with the idea of eliminating any pretence of a coherent game world. I’m not venturing into a building to find something, I’m stepping into a closed game environment where there will be challenges to overcome before I’m able to leave. In all likelihood there will be enemies that can use the environment to their advantage (even if my perception stats should make me the real threat).

Once the immersion is destroyed I find myself thinking “This isn’t fun, what can I do instead that will be fun?”

Much like if I’m watching a TV show that follows the “return to the status quo” model and a character is in peril. If it’s not handled well I’ll generally find myself thinking “I wonder how they’ll get out of this one” rather than “Eek, I hope they make it out!”. This is thankfully less common these days due to the rise of “anyone can die” narratives.

Returning to the original point – I dislike the laziness of resorting to such an old trope.

The player character must now fight his way through the subway tunnels to reach the override controls!

You mean beat the dungeon?


Can’t I fill it with flares and throw in some gas grenades to deal with the problem?

No. You’ve got to go through it section by tedious section. There might even be some traps!

Why don’t you just put my movement on rails then and we tackle the damn thing Time Crisis-style if I’ve got no damn choice?

If we take your freedom of movement away you’ll not feel immersed.

That’s totally how it works and I’m in no way uninstalling this game now.

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