We've had a number of movies based on
video games -
Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and
Wing Commander come to mind. Why not an
interactive movie that's a cross between a game and a movie? After all,
turnaround is fair play . . .
Released on DVD, Scourge of Worlds: A
Dungeons and Dragons Adventure is such a hybrid ?
an animated movie with over 20 decision points, six different endings and
over 1,100 possible story combinations. Loosely based on characters from
the granddaddy of role-playing games -
Dungeons and Dragons -
this interactive movie makes use of your DVD remote to let the audience
decide which way the characters go. Turn left or right? Go East or West?
Fight or flee? It's up to you but you live (or die) by the consequences.
The CG animation quality is equal to the
current level of game animation. But though the characters are vividly
rendered, there's sparseness to the settings -
it's like watching a re-run of Re-boot where the characters have
cool clothes and weapons but they're running around a less detailed forest
or castle or village.
If this is the future of interactive
entertainment, then call Scourge version 1. It's an innovative use
of DVD technology and its chapter-structure to offer up a non-linear
story. You probably do this today - jump to your
favorite chapters. But the main problem with a ?movie? like Scourge
is that the story comes to a complete stop whenever you're asked to
participate. It also gets quite talky as the characters decide what to do.
Their conversation sets up the next decision.
Run or hide? Take a prisoner or let him go? At these decision points, a
menu pops up with your options and you use your DVD remote as if you were
choosing a different chapter. Click play, and the story continues.
Unfortunately, you get the worst of both
worlds. For gamers, Scourge is not particularly interactive. Slow
paced, the movie is also disappointingly gore-free. At least in a couple
of scenarios I tried, getting eaten by wolves or stabbed by a sword
yielded no blood or viscera. Action scenes are short and when the decision
point menu pops up, it's like an unwelcome commercial break just when
you're getting into the stop and start action. Playing a first-person game
is infinitely more entertaining and involving than this "interactive
movie" ? so why not
play a game with a strong storyline?
For movie-lovers, the concept of
interactivity is cool but Scourge's approach isn't involving enough
to keep an audience's attention. Scourge is like the most basic of
games for people who don't play games.
We've all screamed at the big screen
when someone chooses the wrong door or when Jason or Freddy Krueger lunge
from the shadows. Imagine an interactive movie where the characters react
to voice commands? Until then, we've got Scourge of
Worlds ? an interactive experience that isn't movie
or game enough to be entertaining but is still an interesting peek at
things to come.
- Harrison Cheung