How does the tone of a game affect your enjoyment of it, and how much should a series’ tone shift over time?
There’s an argument that the art direction of Diablo 3 was too ‘light’ — an argument I find strange because there are still mounds of corpses, blood and gore strewn across walls and floors, and whole hosts of demons exploding out of every corner to destroy and consume all things. But for whatever reason, the idea that the game was somehow ‘not dark’ made it somehow not Diablo for some players.
I’m glad to see that these players seem to feel like Diablo 4 has managed to be dark enough to suit their idea of what a Diablo game should be. And to be fair, there are some quests I’d call very dark — the tone of the quests within the game contribute to an overall sense of oppression and create the impression of a world on the verge of slow disintegration. The tone of the game so far (keeping in mind I’ve played only 20 or so levels and haven’t even finished exploring the first zone) feels like it leans heavily into the splatterpunk and also apocalyptic vibe of the Diablo series.
And this has me wondering if for some players, an otherwise excellent game in terms of gameplay could be ruined by simply not meeting player expectations as to the tone of the game. Could a decision about how ‘bright’ or ‘dark’ to make a game, whether in terms of art production, story tone, or even just the occasional side quest that doesn’t meet what players think of when they think of the game. Something as small as introducing a new type of Power Armor (the T-60 series) in Fallout 4 was enough for some players to claim that the game ruined the series’ lore or otherwise made it unplayable. I find that absurd, but I can see that others do not.
So now I guess it’s time to ask you — do these elements ruin or enhance your enjoyment? What does tone mean to you in terms of a video game, and can it ruin a game for you?
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