Games are often praised for their gameplay, narrative or aesthetic, and rightly so. Those are what make a game worth playing. But to truly make a game feel special, to turn it into something that players really love, attention to detail is essential. I’m not saying that these little things can make or break a game, of course they can’t. But I think what they can add is often overlooked. Without wanting to sound melodramatic, the little details are what can give a game its soul. So here’s a list of some of my favourites. These will mostly be from more recent games because I want people to be able to see these for themselves.
Beard Growth – The Witcher III
Geralt of Rivia is no doubt one of the most complex characters to ever grace a video-game. His daring escapades now span three huge, action packed games. And yet what I want to talk about here is the way that his beard grows in real-time as you play The Witcher III : Wild Hunt. It grows very slowly but have patience, it will eventually be a thing to behold. Or if you want to go for the clean-shaven look, you can visit one of the barbers found in most towns and cities. I don’t know why exactly, but this feature made me like Geralt just a bit more.
The cast of Overwatch have become some of the best-loved characters in gaming. Every recent convention or event has been awash with Overwatch cos-players. People love these characters and I think a huge part of that is the way in which they interact before each match. Every hero in the game has unique dialogue for each map and other hero, and most of it is not only a joy to listen to, but often reveal little bits of character back story. Blizzard clearly put a lot of effort in here.
Batman Arkham Asylum’s Tattered Cape
Over the course of the game Arkham Asylum Batman goes through a hell of a lot. You go up against everyone from Poison Ivy to Killer Croc, not to mention the hundreds of standard goons you go up against on the regular. So is it really a surprise that Batman’s outfit ends up looking a little worse for wear? As you play through the game Batman’s cape and suit gradually take damage, to the point where eventually you’re hardly wearing a cape at all. It’s a really nice touch that lets you see the effects of the night on Batman and his outfit.
This is another example of a developer (Bethesda) going above and beyond. There are a huge number of books in Skyrim and every single one is worth reading. Many of them are small in-jokes but there are just as many that truly enhance the world and story. My personal favourite (that I found) was the Yellow Book of Riddles. Here’s a little excerpt, “A man says, “If you lie to me I will slay you with my sword. If you tell me the truth, I will slay with a spell.” What must you say to stay alive?”. See if you can work that one out.
These are of course but a few of the many small flourishes that game developers have included in their games, I’m sure you can think of a few more yourself. It’s always nice to see an indication of real love and enthusiasm for a game, long may this tradition continue.