A game I’ve been playing a lot of recently is Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. It’s an open-world action/adventure game, where your goal is to forge alliances and build up your Viking settlement to take control over England. As the newest installment to the series, the game brings another layer of lore to the series’ overarching struggle between the Assassins and the Templars while introducing a new world and storyline. Valhalla’s Viking narrative provided an interesting perspective on the meaning of family and the influence that destiny has over your life. One of my favorite parts of the AC series is the way that almost everything in the world is climbable.
The way the characters physically climb structures and leap between platforms gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and gives you a sense of how the physics work. As you progress, the game trains you to think like an assassin- seeking out the high ground to see potential routes and how to control angles while running across buildings so you don’t jump straight off the top of a cathedral. As you gain new abilities, new options for how to approach situations become available, ranging from double takedowns to summoning a wolf to distract enemies. This all contributes to the technicities that the game affords, particularly the idea of the game providing an escape through the sense of exploration that the climbing mechanic encourages. There’s a quote from the Dovey and Kennedy reading that stuck out to me; “It is in playing and only in playing that the individual or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self” (33–34). To me, this explains why I feel drawn to open-world type games- they give me a way to express a desire for discovery that I don’t often show in reality.
Dovey, Jon, and Helen W. Kennedy. Game Cultures: Computer Games as New Media. Open Univ. Press, 2011.
IGN Early Look Let’s Play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExQcn_ZvBmA