FMV (full-motion video) games were once considered a charming anachronism, a brief fad that coincided with the advent of CD-ROM games in the early 1990s. But developer Wales Interactive and its recent release Bloody shore seeks to change that.
The studio is renowned for its back-catalog of FMV games, including The bunker and Don’t knock twice. Bloody shore is the latest in a long line of releases from the award-winning developer to fully embrace FMV, demonstrating that there may still be a future for live-action “interactive movie” games, despite the genre’s fragile beginnings.
A brief history of FMV games
FMV games were born when CD-ROM became the industry’s medium of choice in the early 1990s. The dramatically increased storage space available on the shiny silver disc eclipsed the paltry capabilities of its predecessor, the humble floppy disk, and as such, the developers quickly fleshed out their games with enhanced soundtracks and pre-recorded video footage. Indeed, virtually every game released had some sort of cinematic intro streak, even though the game itself played in old-fashioned sprites.
Video games have long aspired to be “interactive movies,” and now that dream might come true. Arcade machines like dragon’s lair had attempted this in arcades using animated footage, but failed to take off due to the increased production costs and the resulting rise in prices for players of their machines. Now that prerecorded footage could be brought to home systems, there was a new opportunity to bring truly cinematic games to mainstream audiences.
Titles like The 7th guest have become unexpected bestsellers, with new technology allowing developer Trilobyte to create an unprecedented atmospheric haunted house in which to torment players with devilishly challenging puzzles. Starring a mix of pre-rendered animation and live-action cast, the game rose to fame for its memorable villain Stauf, brilliantly played by actor Robert Hirschboeck.
However, FMV games rarely attracted performers of Hirschboeck’s quality, and they became known for featuring cheesy acting and worthy scripts. Civilization 2 featured embarrassing pre-recorded scenes where the player’s advisers would make recommendations and bicker, including an “attitude advisor” remarkably reminiscent of Elvis.
the years 1992 Night trap courted controversy for its portrayal of teenagers plagued by home invaders, gaining massive negative publicity across the gaming industry despite its incredibly tame and campy content. Even the original resident Evil could not resist participating in the FMV law. The classic game included elements of live action, which are known to be hilarious and misinterpreted.
However, the genre seems to be making a comeback. The popularity of interactive television shows like Black mirrorThe episode “Bandersnatch” demonstrated that consumers still enjoy directing actors onscreen, and even The 7th guest was relaunched as The 13th Doll, a fan-made sequel with Hirschboeck himself reprising his original role.
Wales Interactive’s Bloodshore shows developer’s focus on FMV
Wales Interactive was established in 2011 and is based in the town of Pencoed in Wales. The developer has released over 20 titles to date and has won numerous awards, including the Appster’s Award for Best Independent Game Developer in 2014 and the Wales Technology Award in 2017 and 2018. Many of their games use FMV extensively, including including recent versions like I saw black clouds and Bloody shore.
One of the keys to the developer’s success is to avoid the main pitfall of ’90s FMV games: bad acting. The Wales Interactive title cast regularly delivers excellent performances, elevating games above the works that inspired them.
In the 2016 version, The bunker, developed by Splendy Games and published by Wales Interactive, the player takes on the role of a man who grew up in a fallout shelter in Britain following a nuclear war. The point-and-click title uses live action sequences throughout, as the player unraveled the mystery of the protagonist’s pent-up memories, encountering various troubled characters, and having a shocking ending. The acting manages to maintain the serious dystopian tone throughout, never deteriorating into unintentional comedy or exaggeration.
Bloody shore It also draws on an excellent cast for its impact, portraying a brutal online competition called “KillStream” where players fight for their survival and to earn a life-changing financial reward. The premise of the game bears similarities to the hugely popular TV show Squid game, as well as other Battle Royale franchises like Hunger games and, of course, the gaming giant Fortnite.
Critics praised the acting and story of the title, as well as the quality of the visuals, with the sets and live-action effects being well-designed enough not to detract from the immersion. of the game. However, there has been some criticism of the limited nature of the interactivity of the game; even if Bloody shore Features a branching path narrative and nearly 300 recorded scenes, its format inherently offers less replay value than other cinematic titles.
Wales Interactive has apparently committed to continuing to use FMV to support its creative and highly original stories. They are also clearly keen on pushing the boundaries of technology, with their games released on multiple platforms as well as support for virtual reality. As such, fans of full motion video, or simply fans of well-made and intriguing games, eagerly await the developer’s next project.
Bloody shore is available now for iOS, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X / S.
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