Why I Don’t Hate Remakes

Time to close out the week with a kendo enthusiast, accomplished D&D dungeon master and manchester expert.

—Written by BrotherMiles—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

Good Evening Internet,

Let me start off by thanking Ryan for having me here and allowing me to yell into the aether. Love the work you’re doing here Ryan!

In the spirit of my argument.

In the spirit of my argument.

The thought I want to present to you tonight, Internet, is that remakes of your beloved games don’t have to be evil, nor does the act of undertaking the resurrection of an old franchise constitute a scheme to cut your purse. As long as the developer is using the original as an inspiration rather than a commodity then I am a happy man.

The main reason this has been bouncing around in my noggin is the extremely mixed reviews that greeted Thief (2014) upon its release, largely centred around the (let’s face it) fact that the remake deviates significantly from the formula of the original games. The question that interests me is whether or not this makes this new entry inferior to its predecessors.

Just to ruin the suspense, I quite enjoy the new Thief. Neither on the same level nor for the same reasons as the first two games, but enjoy it I do.

For those who haven’t played the originals, Garrett, the titular thief, is an antisocial lover of other peoples possessions (most especially those painted bedazzled) who enjoys long walks in the moonlight, pretending he’s a rat to elude the notice of talkative guards and helping his friends when he wants to feign that he has any.

Garrett being less than subtle.

Garrett being less than subtle.

His reincarnation is a wise-cracking anti-hero who (along with his cast of 90’s sidekicks) promptly sets off to save the princess and take down Big Government while Garrett himself gets a bad case of magic amnesia due to cultist complications.

If that sounds like a deviation from the older Thief games, well, it is. The reason that I enjoy both kinds of Thief games is that I, like many of you I’m sure, play videogames for several reasons and need different tools for my many and varied itches.

The first Thief games are perfect for a night alone to explore an expansive map, slipping past guards and developing an elaborate plan en route to getting your shiny on. The Dark Project and The Metal Age even more so embrace a careful, methodical approach to gameplay that lends itself to a calm intensity of purpose.

Thief (2014) on the other hand is my current go-to game for dumb fun in a stealth setting (See Deus Ex: Human Revolution for more). I’ve spent far too much time recently wandering around the main city map, stalking some random guard then throwing a bottle in front of him before hiding in a closet to watch his confused search. Not as deep as Grand-pappy Garrett, true, but nor do I want it to be. The frantic energy of Thief is what I’m looking for when sitting down to a play session.

In contrast to the earlier games I view this instalment as an experience rather than an exploration. The remake is extremely linear with few branches from the main path and I’ve heard this aspect of the game highlighted as the game’s major flaw. Yet what is here is polished and beautiful; by reducing the scope of the game Eidos managed to distill the experience into something more pure but less expansive.

“Nae!” say I, to those who deride a remake for simply being a remake… mostly.  Some remakes are bad, but they can be a lot of fun and can, with proper care, refine the series.

My favourite example of this refinement is Tomb Raider (2013), having shifted focus from Lara being a raging badass to her development into same did wonders for my enjoyment of the game.

Contrast!

Contrast!

The original Tomb Raider games show an approach to game development influenced by their times; the reboot can boast the same and I find it heartening that we’ve moved from zooming in on Lara as she stands in a corner to admiring her growth into a strong young woman with a robust determination to keep breathing. My point here is that having revisited this series and rebooting it with fresh eyes made for a better, albeit quite different, game.

I think it’s important at this point to mention that given the chance I will usually try a new IP before booting up a remake of an older game. However this can be quite the gamble with limited time in between work and life, so when I want to spend some time in a world I know I’ll enjoy a remake is oft my bet of choice.

In closing I’d like to indulge in a little self-reference and answer my earlier question. A remake is not inferior to its predecessors simply for the fact of its inspiration. This does not mean that the remake of a classic must always be as fun as the original, it means that it can be; and that the remake can be better or worse or quite dissimilar depending on the work put into the game. Simply put, don’t judge a game for the title given to it.

Thanks again Ryan and thank you Internet for allowing my rant into your head; talk again soon!

To start a conversation, send an email to
mtgmiles@gmail.com or tweet @Brother_Miles

 

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