Could the impact of Bioshock Infinite's story have been the same if it weren't a game?
DISCLAIMER: I haven't played the game since the month after it was released so my memory is about it is terrible.
But reading the review for Burial at Sea and, later, Tom McShea's review of Infinite made me think. McShea says that the gameplay and story are at odds with each other in Infinite while Kevin VanOrd states similar things about the new DLC, notably commenting that the FPS mechanics are an "afterthought" to the story.
Now all of this made me reminisce about the time when everyone (well, almost everyone) was hailing Infinite as the second coming of Christ. Its metacritic review score still stands at 94. Its story is unanimously agreed on to be one of the best produced at least in the last generation, if not the entire history of videogames (possibly going out on a bit of a stretch here). General opinion is not so cemented when it comes to gameplay mechanics and rightfully so. I think they're pretty standard for a triple A FPS.
BUT "standard" doesn't mean bad. It means good and entertaining while not being innovative. However, to be fair, the shooting elements in the game really do not thematically add to the story, as McShea said. While I would not say that the mechanics and storyline are at odds with one another, I don't see how the gameplay really added to the story or vice versa. It really puts the quality of Infinite as a game into question.
Now we have seen excellent examples of when a game can simply never be transported to another form of media because the mechanics and storyline interweave into a whole that can only be achieved by it being a game. This can be seen in the Demon's Souls series and Journey. Can anyone honestly imagine making Journey a movie or a book? It would be horrible!
However, my poor recollections of Infinite prevent me from putting it among those games. I can easily picture taking out the shooting mechanic and making the entire thing a movie or even a book. The themes would still be there and they would still have the same impact on you once you've watched/read it. If this, according to you, is the case, does Infinite deserve the acclaim it has gotten from the gaming community? It does set a new standard for storytelling in videogames, yes, by delving into themes videogames rarely delve into, but the fact that the story could exist in a different medium without diminished impact on the audience reduces its value as a game. Infinite's story is certainly a step in the right direction, showing how videogames can be about complex and mature subject matter and have beautifully written stories. However, at least according to me, a good story-based videogame is one whose story can't be told as a book or a movie.
What do you think?