There are many types of great games out there, and one facet of game creation which seems to be a deciding factor in a game’s reception is whether the game is story-based, and, more specifically, how central the story is to the gameplay. There are a lot of amazing games out there which are very story driven, and there are also a lot of great games which are much more freeform and give the player a lot of reign over how the story unfolds. Let’s dive in and take a look at the pros and cons of story-based games versus freeform games.
On the story-based games side of the discussion, pros are things which really give the game a very desirable feel because they make it into something we want life to be like. Story-based games give you more structure to follow, and that carries a sense of intrigue as to what will happen next, giving you a real sense of purpose in the game. These aspects of story-based games give you both a drive to keep moving forward and a well-lit (metaphorical) path to follow to continue discovering the game. These pros of story-based games highlight the ways in which these games give us the structure and purpose that we so often wish we had in real life and that we can turn from gaming to experience.
The cons of story-based games, however, are that you have much less freedom as a player and you cannot always explore everything you would like to. It is generally expected that you will follow the story, and often, if you don’t follow a specific path, you won’t be able to experience the full game and achieve all of the possibilities, which can be a bit of a bother if you are the type of player who likes to be able to see everything in the game and try out ideas that won’t necessarily pan out. To be fair, the structure of the game will still give you plenty of options to explore, but if you do enjoy being able to explore all over the place in games, this con of story-based games is something to keep in mind.
When it comes to freeform games, the pros and cons are pretty opposite those of story-based games, because both types of games really do give you a completely different gaming experience. The pros of freeform games are that you have a lot more control over how the game is played, and what happens is really dependent on what you choose to do. This is excellent for players who love to explore any and all aspects of a game, make choices that aren’t always obvious, and choose their own path without having to make too many specific moves. There are still things you need to do to keep moving forward, but the way you decide to move forward is almost entirely up to you.
However, the cons of freeform games are that it can be very easy to get distracted by so many options and get a bit lost. With no specific end goal, you have to remain self-motivated to achieve anything major, which can take a lot of focus. This isn’t always an issue: if you are super into a game and you’re pushing yourself forward, then freeform games are perfect. The issue arises if you’re ever playing to relax into a game without having to focus too much. Getting a bit lost every now and again can still be fun, but it can be a problem if you are stuck in a place without a way to move forward.
Overall, the pros and cons of story-based and freeform games show that neither game type is better than the other, they are just better for different types of people. Sometimes, you want a game that gives you a specific structure, so that you don’t have to plan it out too much, and you can just relax and go with the flow. At other times, it can be so nice to not have to do anything in particular and just make it up as you go along in a freeform game. When it comes down to it, both story-based and freeform games are excellent, it all depends on who you are and what you’re looking to achieve in a game.