When we play a new IP (Intellectual Property), we tend to find what this new endeavor has to offer. From characters, voice acting or written dialogue, to level design and music, we wonder what we are playing and if we will get into it. Most times, we look for the familiarity of it all. When a game feels like another game, can we call it original anymore?
Most times, we see a new game in a genre that developer and publisher have released. While the argument of Remakes and remastered has come to fruition, originality has taken on a different form in the discussion. We love comparing things to other great or terrible games and most of the time, it’s the mechanics and layout. This becomes serious for some players because if it meets their expectation, they might pick up the title.
Comparing originality is what a person see in a game that they can easily recognize. From a modern standpoint, originality has a checklist that may guarantee its success. Horizon: Zero Dawn received Zelda comparisons while Breath Of The Wild received comparison to a bunch of Open World games. Most indie games at a point had more Super Metroid related discussion although it introduces something original not seen in that genre (look at Guacumelee).
For something to be truly new with no comparison, it has to create a subgenre. For most of us, the last one we had was the Souls genre. It comes from the Role Playing Genre and it has a list of being difficult, co-operative or single player, and unexpected. Life bar, status bar, and magic bar are the three mains you’ll improve and the replayability is high because of the death and memorization you will endure. You do level up and progress but it depends on the longer you survive.
At the time, nothing was easily comparable to it. Demon’s Souls stood out as this niche title and birth this subgenre of its own. Now when similar IP’s come out, the mention of ‘Souls’ and what that all contains, get checklisted and that takes the originality factor of that game away and ends being a copy that comparison or a game that is paint by the numbers.
When I want something original, it has to have its own lane and story to tell that feels creative and imaginative. It has to have a score that will get me interested in looking for that person or group work in music. It has to have a heart and characters that are fully developed. Most of all, it has to be unpredictable. No playing it safe. No depending on a twist. Just a story that matters and resonates with me. An art style that is fluid with the framerate and if they want to use voice actors, give them direction to bring this world to life.
So as new titles appear, we can easily enjoy it. Let’s just not try to compare it too much and allow it to be.