The Game Is Just Straight Up Lying To You
Sometimes, games just straight-up lie to you. There are two famous examples that aren’t glitches — these are totally intentional lies made to put players on edge. Commonly, in Telltale games like The Walking Dead series of adventure games, you’re told that characters will remember your actions. This happens all the time — and often, it happens to characters that will die soon, or no changes are programmed into the game. These messages are just there to give you the feeling that all of your choices are important. Some of them absolutely are, and some aren’t.
Then there’s a special permadeath mechanic in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The game warns you about permadeath — but its a total fabrication. The system doesn’t actually do anything. Similarly, games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories test your psyche. Some of the choices you make matter, but others are completely meaningless. Just to add flavor to the game, and make the choices that do matter more special.
And Sometimes Prompts Lie Too
One of the most common tricks used by developers. At the start-up screen for countless games, you’ll get a message that says “Press X to start.” — or “Press A to start” or any of the endless variations. Many games will start no matter what button you press. This is actually so common, I can’t even begin to list everything that does this. Just start trying it on all the games you own and you’ll see just how common it is.
Tricks To Hide Loading Screens
By now, we all know what tricks developers use to hide loading screens. Slow elevators in Mass Effect, doors that take longer to open in Uncharted games, and Gears of War uses cooperative special events to give the console time to load data off the disc. Well, there’s one trick I’ve never seen anywhere else.
In Jak & Daxter, in particularly huge levels, Jak will just spontaneously trip and fall on the ground when the game needs to stop and load. While that’s a hilarious little detail, it is way more immersive than stopping the game dead in its tracks for a loading screen.
Light And Color Guide The Way
An extremely common trick level designers use is placing a bright light where you need to go — Half-Life uses lights and unique elements to signal players which direction they need to go. You’ll see this everywhere, sometimes with a literal spotlight.
Other games use colors. Horizon: Zero Dawn and Mirror’s Edge use yellow and red respectively to denote places you can climb and progress through the level. Mirror’s Edge literally highlights the path in red if you get lost. It’s a simple unobtrusive solution.
Destroy the illusion and discover some of the most fascinating ways developers trick us. Get more on the next page.