Sometimes a story being vague can be a benefit. One of my favorite parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is tying the story threads of separate movies together to see the grand tapestry of everything building towards Infinity War. Having scenes and character interactions only hinted at can make a world feel larger, and encourage speculation. The greatest example I can remember is in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Cap, Black Widow and the Falcon are interrogating the recently revealed to be HYDRA Agent Jasper Sitwell. Steve Rogers asks who Project Insight is targeting specifically, and he responds with “You! A TV anchor in Cairo, the Under Secretary of Defense, a high school valedictorian in Iowa City, Bruce Banner, Stephen Strange, anyone who’s a threat to HYDRA. Now, or in the future.” At that point, Doctor Strange had been rumored to be in development, with President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige had mentioned it as a prospect in the future. With this throwaway line, it not only confirmed the character to exist in the universe, but cemented him as a force that SHIELD/HYDRA had been monitoring. By incorporating lore into dialogue, it made the universe feel richer.
Although I started by talking about Marvel movies, (which I will probably do in every post) this article was meant to relate to video games. In the most recent episode of the Giant Beastcast, Giant Bomb East’s weekly video game discussion podcast, critic Austin Walker talked about the thin story lines connecting From Software’s titles Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, and Bloodborne. These games are illustrative of this type of non-linear storytelling. A stray item description in Dark Souls can give information that seems useless on its own, but when tied to the larger lore of the world, reveals truths about characters and bosses that can be found nowhere else.
Each Souls game has its own deep well of lore explanation videos, with YouTubers reading every item description and even taking some of the environmental storytelling (e.g. a desk knocked over, blood stains being dragged through a doorway, graffiti on the walls, anything that can communicate that something has happened that paints a picture of the story of that particular room) into account. Darks Souls III comes out on April 12 worldwide, and with it comes a new wealth of lore to dive into, creating connections across games. Bloodborne was the first Souls game that I committed to getting deep into the lore of. Embedded below is an example of the lore videos that the Souls community has created. Do you like stories that let you infer more events or hidden meanings? Let me know if you have examples of this type of storytelling in the comments.
Image via GameSpot