Sometimes a good story should just stay tied up, no ass-pulls or retcons for a sequel in sight. Of course this isn’t the case usually thanks to the fact that some people really like their money, undoing whole narrative impacts along with its characters in the hope of turning a few games into a franchise. Now let me just say right now I’m not a huge fan of the Assassins Creed series as my leaping backstab itch was scratched and never flared up again. However they do generally do something that I think more series in games and generally media should: new games set as a in-universe story.
You got a great set-up in gameplay and the characters are fantastic but you don’t wanna mess with the characters after the finale. Instead of making a new game that alters anything you create a game set in the same world, just following a different story. Maybe you show crosses between the first games adventure, having their actions alter yours or cause events before or after the events of the previous game to explain details.
Why was that bridge broken? Oh because your new character was running from guards and brought it down. That plot point you didn’t understand or these characters who seemed meaningless, given new life and meaning through the eyes of a different protagonist. It is similar to how some games let you play two different characters in a single story for different perspectives, just as different games rather than different character selections.
This sort of design choice expands the universe and allows for new additions without having to tie them altogether with the history of the characters previous games. I’m never happy when a game causes plot holes or inconsistencies but when you have a huge game series it isn’t exactly easy to keep track, sometimes creators should just try it elsewhere without the baggage. Of course it is still possible to ruin consistency by not paying attention to two characters simultaneously in a narrative but the potential for success I feel is much greater than that of failure.
I can’t stand when games continue a characters story beyond its peak. You don’t like it. Hell I bet the creative minds behind it don’t like it but the suits are breathing down their neck for more cash and they need an answer. A great answer is to give them what they want without trying to glue on more pages to a finished book, expand your world with a fresh take and let other characters be.
Not only does this way of doing things keep finished books finished, it means open books don’t get thrown out the window. If you have a plot that you have left open but don’t want to have to address it in a sequel as you expand upon the core concept you had originally, put us in different shoes. I like many hate going to the next iteration in something only to find out it adds bugger all the narrative or world, however if it is made clear it isn’t supposed to by following another I can deal with it.
Addressing the narrative in other games poorly is what the spin off Kingdom Hearts games did for many, with Chain Of Memories explaining who the hell Roxas is on a GBA game of all things, along with messing with the information given in KH2 within Dream Drop Distance. I don’t see exactly why those games had to even have our titular character in, we can still talk about his story if necessary without actually being him. That is what a good side-story is all about.
If something sells, it is clear a business would want to make more. If making more would be damaging to the established situation, work around it instead of butchering narrative integrity. Make your game world more resonating with stories beyond the character we know/have known. The number one thing that makes a game immersive for me and I suspect many others is a world that feels real, brimming with all the extras that make a universe exist beyond the view of the in-game camera. Make a story better by complimenting it with another riding alongside and flesh out the world even further.
Sequels should never exist at the expense of what the original brought about.
What sequels do you think ruined a story? What series would you like more in-universe games running on similar mechanics or even a few new ones? What makes a game world immersive to you, be it the people or the wildlife or the lore? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.