Gameplay. Many of the greatest games have almost no or a bad story. The reverse is just not true. If you want a good story you’re better off reading a book or movie. Even many of the supposed greatest gaming stories are merely on par with an average book.
I disagree with the idea that good gaming stories are average stories in other mediums.
That said, yeah, I would also choose good gameplay were I forced to pick one.
Catherine is a really great example. I thought the story and social simulator were pretty neat. I absolutely hated the puzzle system though, and it was a core feature of the game. The nightmare sequences centered almost entirely around this puzzle battle game, and I couldn't get myself to enjoy it at all. Fortunately, the developers included a Skip function if you play in Safe mode. It allows you to skip the levels, and focus on the social and narrative aspects of the game.
Without the Skip feature, I genuinely don't think I would have kept playing.
I've never really had that experience in reverse though. Even if I hate the story, I'll continue playing if I enjoy the gameplay.
Last edited by StyleTime on Feb 23rd, 2022 at 08:32 PM
Both can carry a game, with a slight edge to gameplay.
What constitutes a story you retards hate in a video game though? Because plenty of games have minimal or no story and are great because of gameplay. I'd argue that your Catherine example is more along those lines, a game where the gameplay doesn't appeal to you but you can skip it so functionally, just like a game with basically no story but great gameplay like Dead Cells, there is no gameplay. Not in any real sense.
I'd be interested in hearing what constitutes a gaming story you "hate", not just one that barely exists or you just don't care about.
There's certainly room for nuance here, true. With the Full Body expansion, the Catherine devs provided a solution for the polarizing gameplay of the original game. In that sense, you could safely ignore the puzzles segments. My focus was on how the gameplay impacts the experience though, and the Catherine gameplay was enough to stop me from playing the game originally. Yes, they eventually gave gamers a way around it, but it's still an example of unenjoyable gameplay rendering a game unplayable.
The stories I hate question is a bit complicated. I've never hated a story so much that I burn my copy or troll the sub-Reddit for a particular game, but there are narratives I dislike. The problem is, it's much easier to tune out a bad story once you realize you dislike it. You stop investing energy into it early on, so this gives the impression that it's simple apathy rather than "hate."
To simplify, there's games where I dislike the story as much as I disliked Catherine's puzzles. Admittedly, I'm probably somewhat uncommon -- I play a lot of B-level trash games, so I might run into dumber stories than the average gamer. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a recent example I guess. Or the entire Neptunia franchise (Nep Nep!). I may be being unfair to Neptunia though, as it definitely has its charm. I'm more annoyed with specific moments in the series I guess.
I could honestly throw several fighting games in there though. Or Shadowverse. Or Revue Starlight. Or Epic Conquest 1 & 2.
Games I play because they're fun to play, but I'd burn the stories alive if I could. Some of them have cartoon/anime spinoffs that I definitely won't be watching. I couldn't really bear just engaging with their stories on their own.
Last edited by StyleTime on Feb 25th, 2022 at 02:38 AM
I'll add a side note: I'm not saying any particular story or gameplay type is objectively bad or good.
I'm just saying that gameplay that is unenjoyable for me is a deal breaker. I can get past a story I dislike if the game is fun to play though. Ideally, you'd have both, but I'd pick gameplay if I had to choose.
Last edited by StyleTime on Feb 25th, 2022 at 03:03 AM
I can forgive frustrating gameplay mechanics if the story is excellent. 3 of the best stories, RDR2, Ghost of Tsushima and The Witcher III all had some infuriating mechanics in some form or another but are all phenomenal games.
Other games have great stories and solid mechanics but still aren't great games for other reasons...the last 3 Assassins Creed games as an example.
Then you get games that have truly tremendous stories AND gameplay but get slated for entirely different aspects such as The Last of Us part 2.
Gameplay has the edge but but can carry a game. For example, my top three games of all time personally are Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 2, and Bloodborne. RE4 is almost completely carried by gameplay, as is Bloodborne. Silent Hill 2, on the other hand, is the greatest story ever told in gaming (though the gameplay set pieces are also fantastic). I love them all for different reasons.
You also have the Telltale games, which rely completely on story. The first Walking Dead even won GOTY for it. There's also the first Last of Us, which has pretty archaic gameplay but a great story/storytelling to carry it to GOTY.
If I was forced to pick one at gunpoint though, gameplay.