My triumphant return to healthy status and returning to a job was subject to a rather slippery false start, which transitioned into more overtime than I know what to do with. As a result, I have had very little in the way of hours to devote to any game aside from chess, and I would like to take a brief moment to announce that I am poised for the first time with a material advantage over an opponent I have never been able to beat since we started playing each other. The atmosphere on the board is tense, so I apologize if I stray as I write this since my mind is running tactics and strategy mercilessly, waiting for his move notification. With that out of the way, I can get to what I really came here for, and that is the salivating little tidbit indicating that Bravely Default producer Tomoya Asano is already greasing the cognitive gears on the third title in the series. Delicious, but trilogies are risky things.
Square Enix had already trademarked the titles Bravely Second and Bravely Third, so the series was set to be a trilogy from the beginning. Second, as of this writing, has just seen its release in Japan, so a North American release, while certain, in this author’s opinion, is not even worth speculating about yet. Translations are nothing to be trifled with, as they can make or break a game regardless of greatness in other areas. Bravely Default rocked my world just so because the story and characters were compelling, even taking into account the groan-inducing moments, of which there were many. I expect the next two games to follow suit, without question, since these devs in particular seem to know what in the Hell they are doing.
Then again, there exists a sort of Trilogy Curse. I honestly do not know what else to call it, but it certainly seems as though every trilogy is a gamble of the highest stakes. The Mass Effect series might be one example, but to be honest, I do not agree that it fits the bill entirely when it comes to what I mean. Over the course of three games, a really great story unfolded, and I actually found some shits to give about many of the characters and their fates. Then, right at the end, the game tanked. I can not imagine any readers have already forgotten the collective cries of gamers everywhere, some demanding blood be spilled on account of being so let down. I would make a sports analogy about flubbed shots on goal in the final seconds of the game, but I do not sports much. I personally did not enjoy the ending, but I also let that slide since the other 99% of the series was simply terrific.
Imagine that sudden letdown at the end of Mass Effect 3 being dragged out across two games. That is more what I had in mind when I typed ‘Trilogy Curse.’ There is an expectation with a series, be it books, television, film or game, that the lifeblood of the story continue to flow at a sustainable rate, but I have always felt that game devs in particular have to meet much higher demands because of the interactive element involved in gaming, as opposed to simply having to sit there and take in the show.
The Dead Space series comes to mind when I try to think of a trilogy that had a slow, embarrassing death for me. The story did begin to lose its luster over time as more and more shallow excuses for characters were introduced, some for the sake of banking on a multiplayer element that seemed forced and uninteresting. Yet, that was not all that went wrong as the series went on. In the first installment, there was an enticing aspect of difficulty combined with atmosphere that I feel was never recaptured in the latter two games. In fact, things had gotten so bright and easy by the third game, I forgot I was playing Dead Space as I was dropping excessive amounts of extra ammo just to make room in my inventory for weapons I would use maybe once out of boredom. I am finding it hard to think of anything memorable from Dead Space 3, since by then I felt like I was just kind of going through the motions because I might as well see how the story ends, although that whole eyeball business in the second game is a wee bit hard to forget. So, at least they have that.
Part of me wonders if the trilogy carries such a risk of failure because of individual or collective speculation after the first third of the story is told. Fan theories have been a thing for a long, long time now, but the best example one could see of just how wild folks will let their imaginations go is in just about any A Song of Ice and Fire forum. When presented with a story that puts me in a choke hold early on, my mind will tend to run rampant with oxygen-deprived delirium and start writing the ending itself. This sets me up perfectly to be disappointed. Most of the time, I get it completely wrong and mistake my expectations as things that should be met, at least in some small ways since I know I will likely not guess the ending. On the other hand, in the rare case that I do guess the ending, then I will admonish the game for being predicable on such pitiful a level that it could have been written by some silly fool like me. I will not leave satisfied in either case, and that is entirely my fault.
Based on my previous articles regarding Bravely Default, one can probably imagine how difficult it is for me to avoid committing the folly of expectation. I would rather not ruin this one by wracking my brain about what the story or character reappearances might entail, then have that clash with the direction the devs want to take the game, which I can not help but assume is driven by love of what they have. Perhaps this is what folks mean by having a little faith.
Well, it is closing time. You do not have to go home, and you can absolutely stay here. I recommend you do, and share your thoughts with us on anything and everything, as I have a little news of my own that I have been sitting on until the moment felt right. It still does not feel right, but I am running out of time…in more ways than one.*
I will be stepping away from the writing desk soon to devote more of my energies into the Human Indenturing, Resources and Experiments Division at Lusipurr.com. It is my wish to return now and then with an article more substantial than my recent output, though that will have to be revisited once some rhythms and rhymes in the way of things manifest out of the miasma of responsibilities, ever humming with demands. While I will be riding in the company van’s back seat with all its mysterious smells and organic remnants, I shall be meeting you all in the comments section to bump and banter with the daily hubbub that is our beloved little site.
I do hope to see you all there!
*that sounds far more ominous than I intended, but I am leaving it. Spooky!