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Narrator 2.0

Developers keep finding new ways to tell stories through games, and Supergiant Games comes up with a surprising idea which is, at the same time, a look back and a step forward.

Their next release Bastion includes the voice of a narrator.

It’s a look back on the origins of narration because it brings back the figure of the bard or storyteller. And I hope it is also a technical and creative step forward because, if they get it right, the voice will need to adjust appropriately to whatever is happening in the game. That in itself is not a technical challenge, because all elements in a game always have. Graphics, sounds, scores… they all respond to what the player is doing, so why not also the voice? The real challenge is to write texts that cover every situation while keeping the character’s voice (the narrator has a tone halfway between emotional and street-savvy), a reasonable length, etc.

The big problem comes when looking at the feature from a business point of view, as it renders the game very difficult to localize into other languages. As the narrator speaks during gameplay, subtitles wouldn’t work. And we’re talking about an enormous amount of audio, which would result in a very expensive dubbing.

Apart from that difficulty, the concept strikes me as very intriguing, and I think the voice gives the game a nice air of legend. What do you think?