Jedi: Fallen Order and Marvel’s Spider-Man: How To Do A Cinematic Game Right

Image Source: Insomniac Games

As computers have become more capable of displaying images of higher and higher graphical fidelity, video games have become more cinematic. This can be a really great thing! It means games can place a greater emphasis on narrative, create more complex environments, and craft an overall more immersive experience. However, I’ve noticed a trend over the past decade or so of AAA games prioritizing an experience that “feels like a movie” above all else, which rubs me the wrong way. If I’m sitting down to play a video game, it’s because I want to play a video game. Games are such a unique medium with so many incredible possibilities borne from interactivity. Shouldn’t we be embracing those possibilities instead of sweeping them under the rug in favor of walking from cutscene to cutscene to emulate a moviegoing experience? I think so. So do Insomniac Games and Respawn Entertainment, apparently. I think Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018) and Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) strike the perfect balance between cinema and gaming, creating some of my favorite gameplay experiences of the last five years. 

What is it about these games that make them work so well for me? I think it’s because they don’t value story over gameplay or vice versa. They craft a story that goes hand in hand with the gameplay used to deliver it. I’m going to say the hack game reviewer line here, sorry, but they really make you feel like Spider-Man and a Jedi, respectively. Spidey’s web-swinging feels absolutely incredible. There have been multiple instances of me hopping on my computer just to swing around New York, picking up backpacks of Spidey mementos, and enjoying Yuri Lowenthal’s fantastic performance as Peter Parker. Fallen Order’s snappy, almost Dark Souls-esque lightsaber combat is fun and rewarding, and the Metroidvania-inspired world design makes exploration a blast. I swear I was coming down from the high of defeating Ninth Sister for hours after beating her. If that doesn’t show how good the gameplay is, I don’t know what will.

Just because these games have fantastic gameplay doesn’t mean they skimped on the story, however. Insomniac’s Peter Parker is maybe my favorite take on Spider-Man ever (I’m sorry, Andrew Garfield!) and his relationship with Dr. Otto Octavius both warms and breaks my heart. The inclusion of stealth sequences where you play as Mary-Jane Watson and Miles Morales flesh out their characters as well as New York as a whole and give us a new perspective on the Web-Slinger himself. Fallen Order tells a gripping story of redemption and adds a host of new, lovable characters to the Star Wars universe. Also, any Star Wars story that goes to Dathomir gets bonus points from me. I have an unhealthy obsession with the Nightsisters. 

Spider-Man and Fallen Order are exactly what I want out of cinematic games. You get the best of both worlds: crazy fun gameplay intertwined with engaging stories, combined to craft an unforgettable player experience. 

Also, I want my own BD-1. Like really badly.