For much of this console generation, open-world experiences have reigned supreme. Publishers want to give players more bang for their buck, meaning larger worlds, more content, and a much lengthier experience. However, while this has been quite the boon for open-world titles, it hasn’t been so kind to linear games. Some might have a negative connotation with the term “linearity.” According to Josef Fares, the Creative Director of A Way Out, this is troubling.
In an interview with VentureBeat during Gamelab Barcelona 2019, Fares spoke on his concerns about the negativity surrounding linearity in games. His connection to linearity seems to stem from his love of film, which often excels at affecting the audience on an emotional level. Open-world titles, in many respects, don’t often stick the same landing. Fares told VentureBeat,
I’m emotionally touched by many movies, and those are entirely linear. People think that linearity is supposed to be bad, but for me it’s the opposite. Both should exist. Not just open worlds. There shouldn’t be anything negative about saying “linear.” It’s a question of fits which game. People aren’t finishing open-world games. Truly, they’re not. And when you’re making these games you end up having to copy and paste to make them that big.
When asked about his thoughts on games with multiple endings, Fares said he liked them. However, the fact that most people never reach the end of such experiences is “sad.” While there are a few people that do replay these types of games to see every possible option, there “aren’t that many.” Fares would much rather “focus on the experience itself. I lean toward something more like The Last of Us, which is a totally linear experience, but it really affected me. I want to experience something like that from start to finish.”
He continued, discussing that many of his worries are caused by open-world games being considered the ideal kind of game to make. Obviously, Fares strongly disagrees with this notion.
I know there’s something really cool about having different experiences as you play, and that’s fine. Those games should be there. But the problem I see is that those games are being hailed as the way to make a game, and that’s what concerns me. People regularly say “linear” like it’s not good. Why? Come on. The Last of Us is one of our best games ever. I need both. I prefer linear games, because I want to have an experience from beginning to end and enjoy it. I do like some open world games and RPG games, but you have to recognize that people say “linear” is something negative, and I don’t like it.
It’s no secret, then, what Fares’ Hazelight Studios is hard at work on. While the team has yet to unveil its next title, Fares recently teased it will be similar to Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and A Way Out. Therefore, fans should anticipate an linear experience with a narrative focus, and a two-player component of some kind.
Josef Fares on Negative Connotation of Linear Video Games Concerning