Top 10 Overused Video Game Plot Points


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Top 10 Overused Video Game Plot Points

Hmm, this all seems veeerrryyy familiar. Welcome to and today we will be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Overused Video Game Plot Points.

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For this list, we will be looking at narrative elements such as theme, tone and character motivations that have a tendency to pop up at a startlingly recurring rate. We aren’t saying these narrative decisions are bad but maybe the industry should shake things up a little before we start tearing our hair out from frustration over seeing the same thing over and over again.

#10: America Saves the World

Good ol’ Murica! What would we do without them? According to video games, the entire planet is hopelessly lost if it weren’t for the guidance and protection of the United States. This trope is mostly seen in military themed video games such as the Call of Duty, Medal of Honor and Battlefield franchises. No matter the threat and how impossible the odds, Americans are always prepared to take up arms and fight back in a forceful and valiant fashion. Nothing against our buddies over in the U.S of A, but uh, there are tons of other countries in the world ready to fight the good fight should the situation arise, so why not give someone else a chance to shine?

#9: Secret Organization Conspiracy

Whether it’s a huge corporation trying to clean up their tracks after unleashing unspeakable evils on the world or the player actually working for a mysterious organization themselves, this cliché has been used more than once in the medium. The Templars in the Assassin’s Creed series for example are all about sneaking around and attempting to bend the world to their will. The Umbrella corporation from Resident Evil on the other hand seems to have no limits to how deep their conspiracies go, while Deus Ex draws inspiration from real life conspiracy theories to make the Illuminati their main antagonists. Sketchy stuff, indeed.

#8: Scientific Experiment Goes Wrong

Resident Evil comes up again because … well is there any better video game example of science going horribly wrong? After a deadly viral outbreak, the amount of nightmarish horrors consequently unleashed upon the earth are devastating. How about the DOOM franchise? The premise is basically that scientists thought it would be a brilliant idea to open a portal to Hell. To HELL! Who thought this would be a good idea?! Half-Life is yet another example of scientists screwing up in the most catastrophic way, as Gordon Freeman is the one responsible for pulling a switch that opened our world to a dangerous and powerful alien race. Y’all done goofed big time.

#7: Zombie Apocalypse

Resident Evil is like the living embodiment of most video game plot points, isn’t it? The events of Raccoon City are perhaps the most prominent example, but the concept of the dead walking the earth doesn’t stop there. We get it. Zombies make for good targets to unload bullets into, but the amount of times this has been done is becoming borderline excessive with being other examples Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising of the plethora of zombie themed games available on the market. The Last of Us did bring a unique twist on the format, but it was still at its core, fundamentally the same idea. As for Konami … what are you guys even doing?

#6: Revenge!

Whether to avenge a loved one or get back at someone who double crossed them (XREF), many video game characters have trekked through perilous lands and spilt buckets of blood in their search for vengeance. One of the most notable examples is the ruthlessly brutal warrior Kratos from the God of War series, who quite literally took on all of Mount Olympus as payback for the times the gods had wronged him. Max Payne is a man with a death-wish, relentlessly gunning down dozens of bad guys after his wife and child were sadistically murdered in his own home. It doesn’t stop there though. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Splinter Cell: Conviction use the theme of revenge as well to drive their narratives forward.

#5: Alien Invasion

Ever since Space Invaders, aliens make for great target practice as the abundance of them can provide tons of action and thrills for the player. Gunning down weirdos from outer space is fun and all, but how many times can we do it before it gets repetitive? The slew of alien themed games has us wondering if governments are trying to prepare us for an impending invasion or something. Resistance, Duke Nukem, Halo and more have had us unload so much ammo into the faces of little green men, that it has us genuinely concerned what real aliens will feel about this when we make first contact. They come in peace, but we take pleasure in blowing their heads off…awkward.

#4: The Chosen One

It’s time for prophecies to be fulfilled and for heroes to rise. There are variants to this plot point such as the legendary hero trope as commonly seen in The Legend of Zelda series, but it all comes back to your character being chosen by destiny, the gods or some other force to do great things. Most commonly represented in the RPG genre with games like Kingdom Hearts & Final Fantasy titles incorporate this idea of you being “the one” who will restore balance and save the day. While this does endow a sense of purpose and greatness on the player, how many times can we possibly fill the shoes of a chosen one?

#3: Amnesia

Usually used to fuel a sense of mystery and intrigue into the storyline, games generally use the amnesia trope to keep the player guessing as the action unfolds. Games in the horror genres are typically the prime suspects of this, with titles like Silent Hill, The Witcher and Dead Space all effectively taking advantage of this trope. Having the characters slowly piece information of the past together helps keep us invested as a player, as we too are also witnessing everything come together. However, since this kind of narrative structure happens so frequently, it has lost its lustre as our familiarity with it has unfortunately made things predictable.

#2: Save the World/Galaxy/Universe

Oh no! The big, bad villain has conquered everything and plunged the world into a state of darkness, all hope is lost! Well, until you step in that is. This tried and true story structure has been found in multiple games across nearly every genre over the years. We can’t really blame developers because when all is said and done, its simple and it works. Metal Gear Solid, Legend of Zelda and Halo are revolve around fight between good and evil in order to save the world, galaxy or universe from certain doom. It’s easy to understand and effective in how simple a scenario it is to get the action rolling despite being a tad overdone.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few more overused video game plot points…

Terrorists Have a Powerful Weapons

Uncovering Lost Remnant of Something

Rise Up Against Tyrannical Oppression

#1: Damsel in Distress

While the Super Mario games are the most common and frequent example of this, the damsel in distress plot line has trickled its way into other series over the years. Resident Evil 4 tasked us with rescuing the president’s daughter, Double Dragon has us rescuing our girlfriend and The Legend of Zelda has us curiously saving the fair maiden which the entire franchise is named after, shouldn’t she be the star of the show? The ladies are more than capable of fighting their own battles and while games like Bioshock Infinite have tried to subvert this trope, the game’s premise still revolves around escorting female protagonist Elizabeth to safety. This plotline isn’t going anywhere soon.

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