THE END IS NIGH: EXPANDING THE STORYWORLD WITH VIDEO GAMING

In today’s Apocalypchicas Watch we look further into one of the platforms the Watchmen franchise expands its universe through – namely the video game Watchmen: The End is Nigh Part 1 & 2.

So this week I got my hands on the video game and played it all the way through.

Now you might think “what? I didn’t even know they made a video game!”, and it actually makes a lot of sense, because it became a flop.


Commercially
it was scheduled to be released matching the movie’s calendar: Part 1 of the game was release when Watchmen hit the theaters, and Part 2 was released when the DVD came out. Here we already face one of the problems, that most of the video game tie ins to big franchises face (which is also generally applicable to other types of tie-ins, especially tie-in novels). The video game was not really popular and the developers Dead Line Games, a Copenhagen based game company, filed for bankruptcy the same year it was release, thus Watchmen became their very last game.

The gameplay was okay but nothing new or revolutionary. Like other action-brawlers, you play with different fighting techniques whether you choose to play as Rorschach or as Nite Owl. Their style matches their persona. Rorschach is a true brawler; he plays dirty and picks up the villains own weapons after disarming them. Nite Owl have a more technical style of fighting as he is equipped with electric gadgets and knows Kung Fu. If you are two players you get the opportunity to play the game co-op, which also give you the possibility to experience the levels differently as Rorschach and Nite Owl often split up and each make their own way through the levels. Another nice thing about the game play is that you often have to actively work together with your partner, otherwise you are outnumbered by the villains. Contrary to many games, the other villains don’t just stand and stare, but actually help each other out during the fight. So you must do so too.

Levelwise the game is bad… really bad. The levels are very boring, repetitive and extremely predictable maze design. The level of freedom is very low as each level is a fixed path, mostly just made up of squares with a pretty graphical layout. There is nothing hidden to discover in the levels and only one way to get through the level.
The game would have been so much more entertaining if they had put some work in the details of the level design, so you could get more immersed into the game world. Given its a detective storyline I find it strange that you cannot do any forensic work in the game. You just fight your way through the same set of gangbangers on and on, and whenever something important happens in the story there’s a cutscene.
The only extra the game gives the player besides just beating up the bad guys is a few mini-games where Rorschach coaxes locks.

Generally the game could do with much more drillability in order to get properly immersed into the universe. Because of the way it is built up you always keep a  distance to the characters and the world around them.

Storywise the game is actually good. It ties up a lot of loose ends from the movie: it explains why the Keene Act was passed and why Rorschach and Nite Owl stopped being partners. The villains of the game are all canon mentions from the graphic novel (Underboss, Jimmy the Gimmick (p. 168) and Twilight Lady (p.217)). The original narrative of the game gets the chance to expand the universe, by letting the player explore the stories of very briefly mentioned minor characters.

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An interesting aspect of the game is the grande finale. The outcome of fighting the Twilight Lady is actually optional, as the game offers you two different endings: When you finally defeat all of the minions, the final battle with Twilight Lady begins. However, this battle splits the two partners. Rorschach is willing to kill her, while Nite Owl’s more nuanced morale (and old affection) won’t let him do it. This results in a intense battle between the two partners. The player gets to choose the fate of Twilight Lady, depending on whether it is Rorschach or Nite Owl who wins the battle. If Rorschach wins, he kills Twilight Lady. If Nite Owl wins, he slams Rorschach through the glass roof and spares the Twilight Lady’s life ordering her to leave the city forever. No matter what happens to Twilight Lady – living or dead –  the story ends with Rorschach and Nite Owl ending their partnership. Rorschach works alone underground and Nite Owl partners up with the Comedian, leaving the player just around the flashback in Watchmen where Nite Owl and the Comedian tries to stop the riot in the streets.

All in all, the game has potential, however the gameplay and especially the level design  seem very rushed in production and become very repetitive. As a player you do not really do anything in the game other than beat up the henchmen with different moves.  At every corner a generic group of henchmen shows up – you beat them – and behind the next corner practically the same group shows up again and you beat them – again. For the same reason, you eventually get tired of hearing Nite Owl say “Here they come Rorschach ready or not”.

It seems like they focused too much to make a good prequel story for the video game while completely neglecting every ludological aspect in a game that makes you want to care about the story at all. If the gameplay and world does not suck you in and lets you explore it, a good story in the cutscenes can seem completely irrelevant.

Concludingly I will say that Watchmen: The End Is Nigh is a waste of potential. If they had not rushed the release to match the cinema and dvd release they might have made a game that could have kept an ongoing interest in the Watchmen universe.
If they had made a good quality game that could gain some actual popularity they could have expanded the video games with sequels exploring more of many the character’s past history. Combining a well designed game play with a more open world/sandbox game design they could have distributed extra knowledge and clues for the hardcore fans to search for through the levels getting deeper into the storyworld while enjoying playing the part as a vigilante.

Who knows maybe the video game could have made Watchmen a true transmedia franchise that would have continued to this day, had they not rushed it through to fit a time schedule. After all, the commercial market for video games alone in the US was 22.41 billion dollars in 2014 and 155 million americans play, thus an enormous group of consumers to miss out on.

One can only wonder if it would have made a decisive difference.

List of references

“Dead Line Games Går Konkurs I Dag” Computerworld.dk
http://www.computerworld.dk/art/51716/deadline-games-gaar-konkurs-i-dag (accesed 24th of april 2016)

  1. Watchmen: The End is Nigh Compilation. Deadline Games. Playstation 3.

Entertainment Software Association. 2015. “Essential facts about the computer and video game industry”
http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf (accessed 24th of april 2016)

APOCALYPCHICAS TALK!

 

In today’s apocalypchicas watch a new concept has been brought to life: our first ever video podcast apocalypchicas talk!

Today we will be discussing why Watchmen  didn’t make it as a transmedia franchise (though successful at the box office).

Watch it as  a video or listen to it as a podcast while ironing your shirts (or whatever you like).

(side note: I am truly sorry about the giant watermark, but we’re not the wealthiest students and I completely overlooked that aspect of the free trial… oh well..)

Did you enjoy the video? click and discover more transmedia content about Watchmen in our previous blogposts!
WATCHMEN AS A TRANSMEDIA FRANCHISE

WATCHMEN TIE-INS AND MERCHANDISE

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN TIE-INS AND MERCHANDISE

#apocalypchicaswatch #watchmen #apocalypse #tie-ins #merchandise #watchmenfever

Tired of the previous blogposts with clever words on Watchmen analysis? Well, in today’s apocalypchicas watch, we try to give you an overview of some of the related Watchmen tie-ins. Take a look at these remarkable expansions of the universe. Some expansions keeps on unfolding the storyline while others just seem ridiculous. You might wonder what one does to make money. Here are some examples:

The Black Freightertales_of_the_black_freighter_dvd

Tales of the Black Freighter is a comic-within-comic film that Zack Snyder wrote after instructing Watchmen. It was originally intended to be featured within the Watchmen film, but was removed once the time span of the film began pushing 3 hours. So if you wondered from the comic books what the Black Freighter was, Snyder gives you the story in the film that was released only 20 days after the Watchmen film. A clever action to please the fans of the comic books.

Under The Hood

A second Watchmen tie-in is another story from the comic book that has been made into a film. Under the Hood explores Hollis Mason who was the first Nite Owl. It came out in the same DVD as Tales of the Black Freighter. This shows an effort into getting all the loose threads of Watchmen to weave seamlessly into the release of the film. What a nice way to connect the different stories and keeping the fans engaged and interested!

 

Watchmen Motion Comic watchmen-motion-comic

With Watchmen Motion Comic the comic books came alive. It was released between July 2008 and February 2009, ending just before the release of Zack Snyder’s film version in March 2009. In that way, the audience and the fans could get a small picture of what the film could look like. These motion comic chapters were able to download from iTunes and Amazon.

 

Watchmen: The End Is Nigh

WatchmenThe_End_is_Nigh_game_coverAnother platform that Watchmen steps onto is the video game tie-in. The first part of the video game expansion was also released on March 4, 2009 to coincide with the film’s release. The second episode was released on July 30, 2009. In this video game the players can play either as Nite Owl or Rorschach. The video game focuses on the events beforehand, namely the time when Nite Owl and Rorschach were crime fighting partners.

 

 

These tie-ins do in many ways seem to respect the source material, also called the ‘mothership’ of the franchise, which must be the comic books. On the merchandise side of Watchmen, they saw unlimited potential in the franchise. They made licensed costumes, toys and numerous accessories such as…

 

… but then, they took film merchandising one step too far

watchmen-condom

The condoms come in a package that resembles a matchbook with the Comedian’s iconic bloodstained smiley badge on the front, and the film’s name and release date on the back. When opened, the neon blue coloured condom is presented in a clear plastic wrapper with the tagline, “We’re society’s only protection.” You may wonder if they glow in the dark?

If you’re interested in how creator Alan Moore reacted on Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen and everything that follows, we suggest you read our blogpost about the conflicted relationship between the graphic novel and the movie adaptation.

This was some of the Watchmen tie-ins and merchandise, some more serious than others 🙂 Stay tuned for more Watchmen-fun when apocalypchicas watch broadens out the universe of the franchise!