Monochroma: Yes, Video Games Can Make Great Stories

As a writer there’s one thing I love more than anything else in a video game: a darned good story. The average indie game lacks any depth of story, and most AAA titles are full of clichés. Truly good stories in video games are rare. But you get the occasional title that reminds you how good video game stories can be. One such title is Monochroma.

Two brothers are idly playing. The younger brother runs after a kite and you gradually begin to find yourself wandering away from home. Your brother falls and injures himself and you have to carry him back. But as you progress, you learn that there’s much more going on behind the scenes. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

In case you somehow didn’t catch on from the title, this is a monochromatic game, which is awesome. Monochrome games tend to be very atmospheric, and this is no exception. The gameplay is a side scrolling affair full of puzzles. It’s set in a dystopian world. That bit kinda makes me sigh. Dystopian worlds have become the bangers and mash of stories these days. Dystopia: it’s cool, yes, but after The Hunger Games, Divergent (terrible book by the way) and about ten hundred million other dystopian books, movies and games, the mind gets a little bored and the imagination turns sour. Dystopian was once fresh and exciting (thanks George Orwell). These days it’s as fresh as McDonalds.

But, let’s put that aside, because despite that one cliché, the rest of the game and story feels new and unique.

You move through the levels of the game, passing through different environments that include a sawmill and a zeppelin. The puzzle become more and more complex and you sit there scratching your brains. You’ll also accidentally kill your brother a few times. Things get emotional, and the game starts to pull on your heartstrings, which it does exceptionally well. It’s difficult for a video game to be emotionally provoking, but Monochroma is precisely that. You get invested in the story, and you get emotional, and that, in my eyes, makes this an exceptional games (after all, how many games have ever made you feel genuinely emotional?).


So what about the gameplay?

It’s simple, and it isn’t particularly new. But heck this isn’t a game about gameplay. It’s about drama.

With that in mind it might come as a little bit of a surprise that there’s no dialogue between characters. Instead there’s silence, an eerie silence which perfectly matches the visuals. You feel the bond between you and your brother and you genuinely care about the characters. And—this bit I am actually amazed to hear myself say—the characters are believable. I mean, they’re not Raskalnikov-esque, but they are deep and realistic and you do feel yourself becoming attached to them. And that might just be the best thing I’ve ever said about a video game story.

Monochroma: It proves that video games can deliver gripping stories

So let me wrap this up. Monochroma is excellent. Truly excellent. This is the type of game that proves that video games can do stories, can do believable characters, and can access your psyche and your emotions.

All in all, a fantastic achievement. Please, head over to the game developers website and show your support for this fabulous game.


OVERALL: 9 out of 10 (mostly because I don’t give 10 out of 10s).









Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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