New Uplifting Adventure Games, Part deux

Posted on November 8, 2007. Filed under: Games, Musings |

Moral dilemmas ensue today! Yesterday I posted about a wonderful diverting and refreshing Adventure Game, Frasse and the Peas of Kejick. I said then that the hero of the game is a little blue man. In my game of the day, today, one of the first fellows you see is a big tall green guy named Lord Horrible! Game developers must like to play with colors!

I will get back to my other topics after this today–particularly as few in my immediate blogging vicinity share my obsession with computer adventure games. sigh. 😦

But, I simply must talk about Chivalry is *not* Dead, for a variety of reasons. The game was just released last month, and many of us have been waiting eagerly! I’ll admit right off the bat that one of the first acts the gamer is required to perform is to stab a guy! Yikes! Violence! I’m committed to posting only (primarily) about non-violent games here, so why am I talking about this one?

I won’t give away the plot(s), I promise, but the stabbing situation comes up very early. If there is a way to avoid killing the castle guard, I haven’t found it. I went back eight times and used every dialog and action choice there was. If you find another way, please let me know!

However things get better once the guard is dispatched…or do they? Well, this is the fascination of Chivalry, and why to play it. Every step along the way is fraught with moral choices. There are good guys (gals), bad gals (guys) and ambiguously awful–or nice, folks, depending on how they are approached. One reason I’m playing and talking about this game is because it’s from developer Deirdra Kiai, and I am a fan of her games, as well as her writing. She maintains a blog (even though some of her friends think that’s not cool 🙂 ) where she discusses the social implications of gaming, as well as other topics of interest. I’ve loved her previous games, (all of which are available for instant no-charge download at her site, and which I’ve discussed here).

So, I will just play any game she produces (even if I do have to stab this guy, eeek). I admit my morals are shifty and ambiguous, which is a perfect state for playing Chivalry. What is good? evil? right? wrong? To what lengths shall we go in order to achieve our objective?

The game has a “branching” story line, with several different endings, depending on the choice of dialog and action you make at different points in the story. I would recommend that you play the game through once, just making whatever choices seem the best at the time. Then, if you’re interested in further moral exploration, save the game whenever the location changes and explore all the choice points from each. I did this to see if I could get though the whole thing without choosing anything nasty or deceptive (well, except for that unfortunate stabbing-the-guard thing…). I’m not telling, but I did find some of the branches startling and refreshing.

Graphically, the locations are simple, clear and colorful. They advance the story without detracting from it. The music is catchy and appropriate, although doesn’t outshine the great scores in Ms Kiai’s previous two major games. There is a musical “event” that takes place that I love…’nuff said.

To conclude, I applaud Ms. Kiai for innovation in exploring socially conscious gaming, and causing the gamer to think about choices we make daily, long after the game is over. I have felt like the main character, at times–even been called names similar to his by “the other kids”. (I’ll leave you to discover his name yourself). And I have worked for Lord Horrible in the past, or someone I would have been pleased to plaster that epithet upon at the time. So, is there right, ultimately, or wrong? Or simply the best we can do at the time?

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6 Responses to “New Uplifting Adventure Games, Part deux”

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Thanks for the review!

For the record, there actually is a way to get past the guard without stabbing him. (HINTS: Don’t exhaust ALL dialogue options; instead, choose the ones that you think will get him to open up to you. Also, in some circumstances, you may be able to make use of that coin purse of yours.) However, whether the alternate options are any better than stabbing is debatable. 🙂

[…] review of Chivalry is Not Dead has been posted by my anonymous musician/philosopher friend over at MusEditions. Unlike the majority of feedback I’ve gotten about the game so far, s/he (I’m not […]

In a word the one thing that has deterred me from becoming a gamer is “violence”. I’ve only played one game thus far that lacked it but the game didn’t have enough going to keep me hanging in. I’m referring to Nations States.

I haven’t clue what socially conscious gaming truly means and I sincerely doubt that playing the game will make me any more conscious about choices we make to avoid violence the that we witness every day on the streets, in households, in the news, in schools and even in hospitals.

However, if I ever do have an inclination to try on the gaming world for size again I will know which game to choose to try on first thanks to your post.

Hey, brightfeather, thanks for your insight. I surely agree with you that the large majority of computer games are very violent. There are lots of people who play games primarily in order to “shoot things”. Kind of an in-home shooting gallery. But it’s more than that because some of the scenarios can be quite gruesome. I have never enjoyed that sort of game (like, never), and didn’t even enjoy shooting galleries at fairs and arcades. An argument can be made for war strategy games as an intellectual exercise–but that’s still not for me.
I’ll admit I like the fairy-tale adventures. I like story and I like a few puzzles thrown in. I’m not the least bit interested in a game that does not have a good story that makes me care about the characters. I like games which have fantasy elements. I like doing magic. And I like happy endings, or at least philosophically provocative endings. The games I’ve posted about have all or most of those elements.
Bottom line for me: Do I feel better or worse when playing the game? Does it leave a bad taste in my mouth, or leave me feeling uplifted in some way?
I must say that I rarely witness violence on the streets or in the news or anywhere, so I’m not looking for a game to help me deal with those things “out there”, but to help me explore my own values.
I’m familiar with Deirdra Kiai’s commitment to socially conscious gaming because I’ve read considerable heartfelt material about it on her blog. I would agree that playing *Chivalry* or most other games would probably not be the defining moment of a new awareness–although I wouldn’t rule it out, either. She does get me to think, and reevaluate presumptions and used beliefs–as do you!

Deirdra, thanks very much for the visit, the advice, and the warning! You intrigue me when you say that the non-stabbing options may not be any better. I will redouble my efforts, as the moral ambiguity has me thinking about judgment in “real life”. Whew!

An update:
As of November 25, I’ve played the game several more times, and did indeed find at least two non-violent ways to enter the castle. Yay. I just needed a bit more patience and perseverance. I appreciate the designer’s encouragement.


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