I spent last night playing Shadow of Mordor and I’m really digging it. I have to call out the tutorial as being especially well done. Any game like this has to teach you how to swing a sword and stuff but this one puts a great spin on it. You “learn” to sword fight by teaching your son how to fight. Talion is talking to his son while they spar about the importance of countering an attack and all the while you are the one learning these mechanics. Then when it comes time to teach you how to sneak around the game asks you to sneak up on your wife and give her a kiss. It’s such a clever beautiful little moment that I could not help but smile. In so many games the tutorial is just wasted space but here it’s used not only to teach you about the mechanics, but to teach you about Talion.
As a husband and a father this stuff really resonated with me. My guess is that if you’re not married and you don’t have kids, this scene probably doesn’t carry the same emotional payload. I can tell you that as a young man this stuff would have gone right over my head. Once you’re a parent though you end up gaining access to this hidden band of information that was there all along but you were never tuned into it. What I love is that I’m seeing that parent’s perspective pop up more and more in video games. The first time I can really remember being hit with it was in Heavy Rain. The scene in the mall when you lose your son had me crying. I lost my youngest son at Disneyland for about 30 minutes, and I can tell you that it is a terror unlike anything I have ever experienced. The last of Us is another great example of a game that punched me right in the Dad gut. I’m sure it’s a great game no matter who you are but my God, as a father that game is just a masterpiece.
I just enjoy when that stuff pops up in my games, especially in a game like Shadow of Mordor where I honestly didn’t expect it. It probably wasn’t necessary and my guess is there will be a lot of kids who play the game that might even dislike it. I can’t honestly say I don’t blame them either. It’s not for them. That’s okay, they have the rest of the game to run around and be Talion the Orc slayer. I love that too but I appreciate that I was given even just a few minutes to be Talion the husband and father.