The Advantages Of Clumsy Controls
We game in a time when smooth controls and sleek gameplay mechanics dominate the many reasons provided in interviews and articles and previews to play and experience the given game where we had armaments with little or no recoil in the past when playing Quake, Doom or even the much loved or hated Command and Conquer Renegade. What mattered was that we had fun.
Well thought out gameplay mechanics and fun controls are aspects that I admire in any game and I place these traits much higher on the agenda when playing a game than the crisp and ultra-realistic visuals. However, we have games where clumsy and clunky controls are an important part of what make the specific game special or even more immersive given the setting / genre or situation.
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Having played a portion of Octodad: Dadliest Catch over the weekend, I finally grasped the way in which the controls work after scratching my head wondering how the controls functioned from only having watched gameplay videos. The controls are clumsy and frustration is part of what makes it unique and fun, at least to me personally. It makes sense – you are an octopus wearing a suit in the role of a father doing day to day family duties. How will smooth controls convey the necessary notion of difficulty good old Octodad has to deal with each and every day? Simple answer: it won’t. The game has a very unique feel and premise. I admire the developers for not including fluid controls – an unorthodox thing to say, but it works. This game is something to experience even if it is just for the silly controls and unintended disasters; you’ll maybe even find a message within the game about family life and the tremendous worth a single person can have.
My obsession with Papers, Please enters the fray yet again. The controls are not frustrating or clumsy, but the interface forces you to create your own system in order to work efficiently. Altering this interface or simply increasing the size of the area you have to work in can easily cause the game to lose the surprisingly authentic feel of being in this cramped up border checkpoint booth. The interface and limited workspace is what one can expect in an office. You won’t necessarily have a massive desk in order to work though all the needed paperwork at a decent pace, but it is expected of you to work efficiently nonetheless.
It just goes to show that the conventional sleek interfaces and / or will not always make for a better game if you want to create the sense of what it will be like to be in a small checkpoint booth, to be an octopus on dry land while maintaining a level of secrecy and even being unwieldy or inexperienced in a survival horror game, because you are a real person and not an idealised muscular tough guy able to break someone’s arm with your pectoral muscles alone.