Today on The Tattooed Book Geek, I am very pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for the recently (it was out on Thursday) released Defender (The Voices Book 1) by G X Todd.
Many thanks to Bookbridgr and Katie Bradburn at Headline books for allowing me the chance to be part of this tour and bring you all a top quality guest post from the author herself, G X Todd.
The guest post, is about the best immersive story telling in video games, how cool is that! Being a gamer myself (the only thing better than gaming is reading) when I saw this guest post title I had to request it and try and get the chance to post it, as luck would have it, it was still available and so without further ado, here it is:
The Best Video Games for Immersive Storytelling
My first experience with immersive storytelling in gaming was Final Fantasy VII on Playstation One. I remember renting it from Blockbuster on a two-day loan and desperately trying to finish it before it had to be returned. I think I slept for four hours in that forty-eight hour period. I didn’t complete it. However, I did develop an intense love for story-led video games.
I’ve played a lot of games since then, many with fantastic storylines running through them, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to concentrate on the games whose stories are unashamedly front and centre.
Oh. My. God. This game is glorious. I’m not even sure it’s right to call it a ‘game’, it’s more an experience. You play as a nameless nomadic-looking guy with a pointy head and funky little robe. (My ten-year-old niece played it recently and kept asking if it was a boy or a girl—I didn’t know. Why does it matter? It doesn’t, really, but kids these days are obsessed with gender-assigning, for some reason. It’s worrying.)
Anyway, the story opens with a far distant mountain and blinding column of light bursting from its peak and you know, straight away, that the mountain is your goal. And so begins the most extraordinary journey through golden-washed desert vistas, flying rug-fish, a magical scarf that grows longer and bestows the ability to fly, and warm amber-glowing submerged crypts that fill with water as you swim through them.
Journey is a largely solitary experience (unless you choose to play online, where you might bump into another lost pilgrim along the way) and it’s all the better for it. As you come closer to the mountain and its blinding beam of light, the journey becomes more treacherous. You struggle through hardship after hardship, but by the time you get there, weary and freezing cold in snow-covered tundra, the ending is… Well, it’s enlightening and uplifting and sad and poignant all at once. It is masterful storytelling and all without a single word of English, spoken or written, used anywhere in the game.
LIFE IS STRANGE
I became obsessed with this game. And by obsessed, I mean I read fan-fiction about it afterwards because I had such an awful game hangover. I even watched a guy called Cryoatic play through of the whole thing on YouTube. Life is Strange is an entirely narrative-driven gaming experience with the story changing and developing based on the decisions you make.
You play as Max, a young photography student, newly enrolled at Blackwell Academy. You have your own dorm room and classes to attend, people to chat to, and an old best friend who you fell out with years before. It’s life, essentially, but with a wicked twist. You learn, at the start of the game, that you have the ability to rewind time. Nifty, eh? It becomes particularly useful as the mystery of a missing student unfolds. But messing with time has consequences and the more Max uses her gift, the more she feeds the tornado which is set on hitting Arcadia Bay and destroying the town and its inhabitants.
During the story you have to deal with viral videos, bullying and suicidal students. You fall in love and become embroiled in the town’s drug scene (all dependent on the choices you make in each section). And as the story ramps up (with more abductions occurring and students’ lives weighing in the balance), you are left, at the end, with one of the most diabolical, moral-based choices to make of any game I’ve ever played. I remember swearing at the screen and throwing my controller down in a fit of temper. It’s a killer.
BEYOND TWO SOULS
This game was touted as the game to bridge the gap between video games and the movie-going experience. It even has Ellen Page and Willem Defoe providing motion capture performances for the two main characters. And it’s their acting chops, along with the industry’s fast-advancing technology, which really sets this game apart from others that have tried it before (I’m looking at you Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit).
Jodie isn’t a normal kid. She has a psychic entity called Aiden attached to her. No one else can see Aiden but he helps her by eavesdropping on important folks’ conversations or having some poltergeist fun and throwing furniture around. He’s very useful. There’s a huge story that revolves around Jodie from when she’s a young teenager right through to when she’s trained up as a CIA operative and sent out on missions (she has a very unique skill-set that everyone wants to take advantage of). Aiden isn’t from this world, though, and when the plane where he and all his kind exist begins to bleed into our world, Jodie has to do something to stop it or else bad sh*t is gonna go down. It gets truly epic by the close of the game and it’s completely thrilling to play—you really do feel like you and Ellen Page are in your living room, battling to save the world.
It’s going to be hard to sell this game from the tagline I’m going to give you. Are you ready?
“After your wife develops early on-set dementia, you decide to spend the summer in the Shashone National Forest, watching for brush fires and coming to terms with your life.”
Sounds boring, right? First of all, it really isn’t. Second of all, the visuals of this game are simply gorgeous and you could spend hours just basking in the beauty of Firewatch’s environment without ever having to worry about the quality of the gameplay. You have your own lookout tower, a walkie-talkie, a typewriter (because you’re an aspiring author), a backpack and provisions. You’re all set.
If you think you’re going to have a nice, relaxing break from the outside world, though, think again. Pretty soon, Delilah (your only contact for the duration of the game), calls you up on the radio and gives you tasks to do—hiking out to investigating some girls illegally setting off fireworks, for example. You learn Delilah’s story as you go, and the story of the father and son team who stayed in your lookout tower the summer before. You find a disposable camera and take pictures of the wildlife and scenery. You find a ripped up tent and abandoned backpack, a fenced off area and a secret camp full of government-like tech, and you begin to realise there are some very shady things going on in these woods. Can you trust everything Delilah is telling you? What about that body you find down the mineshaft? See? Firewatch is a compellingly addictive gaming experience, which transforms from something relaxing and carefree to an enthralling mystery adventure over the course of a handful of hours. And it keeps you guessing right up until the end.
These are games that I rate extremely highly for their stories, but they don’t quite fit into my definition of immersive narrative games like those listed above (mainly due to their differing gaming styles). However, I 100% recommend them all.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Red Dead Redemption
Defender (The Voices Book 1)
‘On the cusp of sleep, have we not all heard a voice call out our name?’
Defender by G X Todd is an imaginative thriller that draws on influences from Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman to create a new world – where the biggest threat mankind faces is from the voices inside your own head. If you loved The Stand, you’ll love Defender, the first in a four part series.
In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.
The moment locks them together.
Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.
These voices have purpose.
And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.
Defender is available to purchase now:
About (taken from her blog) G X Todd:
Welcome, welcome. My name is Gemma but abbreviations of Gem, GT, GX, Toddy, Tood, etc., are all absolutely fine. (Or, just flash an X by crossing your arms in an ‘X’ fashion and yell “GXT!!” at me, which my bro’s friend does every time he sees me. I’d probably answer to that, too.) I’m an author and mobile librarian from the West Midlands in the UK, and I’ve been put on this earth to write stuff and eat Mint Chocolate Aero.
Here are a list of key words/topics you will be seeing a lot of in my blogs: books, publishing, writing, pyjamas, PS4, libraries, podcasting (I help host ThankBookFor podcasts with Tom and share hosting duties on Writers in Cars with Gilly McAllister), editing, not seeing daylight for many days, LEGO builds, movie watching, music, diets (not sticking to them) and healthy pursuits (probably not pursuing them), and road trips in the States.
My first book, DEFENDER, is coming out on 12th January 2017, published by Headline. It’s the first book in the The Voices series, which is a…quadrilogy? …a quartet? I should probably check what they’re called. Anyway, there are four books, each one being released every year in January for the next four years. Just to pre-warn you, I’ll most likely be doing a whole lot of blogging about the run-up to publication and the activity around DEFENDER’s release date when we hit the latter part of 2016, but I’ll try not to bore you all, I promise.
I have a wonderful agent by the name of Camilla Wray (from the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency). I believe she is actively looking for talent, so do shoot off a nicely polished submission to her. She really is swell.
So buckle your seatbelts, folks, it’s a pretty big adventure I’m about to embark on. I’ll pay for gas if you get the nibbles for the road (peanut M&Ms are the best – the crispy shell stops ’em melting inside a hot car). And always remember: use your indicators/turn signals before pulling into and out of traffic. It’s the sensible thing to do.
Find G X Todd:
Well that concludes my stop on the Defender blog tour, I hope you all enjoyed the guest post and I wish G X Todd the best of luck with her book, it sounds awesome! 🙂
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