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Focus on the Frightful: The Good, The Bad and the Satisfying

I’m sure it’s happened with you. You’ve just gotten done watching a movie, reading a book or playing a game and just been…satisfied with it. It’s a bit of a different feeling than finishing and thinking a book or movie was good. Or bad. Or really bad. I’m going to try to separate which is which.

The Bad

I’ll start with the bad because it’s a little easier to define. Good and bad can be somewhat subjective but there are things beyond that, that can point out a movie or book as being bad or good.

A book can be poor because of poor grammar, poor sentence structure, plot holes, and just all around poor quality. Then there are the more nebulous ‘bad’ things such as poor characterization, poor plot construction and poor word choice. Some of these are a major deal breaker for some readers while others can overlook them to enjoy the story.

A movie can be bad because of many of the same issues. The only difference in this is that poor acting and effects can really damage a movie, as well as the previously mentioned issues. Again, watchers have varying levels of tolerance to some of these issues.

A game can be much different in these regards. Especially back in the day when plot was scarce and bullets were plenty. Games do have the advantage in not being bound by plot, good writing, voice acting and characterizations. All you really needed at a certain point in time was good gameplay but as games evolved, so has the storytelling aspects and good voice work and plot. A game can still fail due to lack of these things and, above all, poor game mechanics and gameplay that just isn’t fun.

The Good

When a piece of media is good you can feel it. You’ll talk about it, write about it and generally enjoy it. ‘Good’ can be more subjective than ‘Bad’ sometimes. What strikes one moviegoer (or reader) as ‘God’ can be another person’s Bad. For instance, a particular actress playing a part might be great for one viewer but put off another.

Good is so hard to define. It’s so much easier to notice the bad because it’s more discordant. When everything is working well with the other parts, nothing stands out, exactly. It flows together so well that it can be hard to pick out the really well done areas.

The Satisfying

It’s pretty rare that I finish a game and feel really satisfied. My little annoying nitpicker’s heart can usually find something it didn’t like. Sometimes it’s a major change (like Dark Fall: Lights Out taking a turn for the sci-fi) and other times it’s a lot smaller like a couple of bad line readings.

But when I finished Until Dawn I was satisfied. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it’s because I had a lot of input on the game’s decisions and it actually felt like they mattered. As opposed to some other choice-based games. In a lot of them you do get choices you make but most of the time they’re either strict moral choices or you get a choice but it ultimately doesn’t affect the story all that much. So it felt very satisfying to finish a game where my choices mattered and my skill as a game player actually affected the wider plot.

If I read a book that I find satisfying I can easily talk about it for days and will still be thinking about parts of it much, much later. Dialogue, certain chapters, they will all remain in my head.

The same with a movie. I can easily talk forever about my favorite movies forever. The nuances of scenes and the dialogue. How well the actor/actress portrayed the character.

Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

This isn’t really to say that every movie I love is a great work of art. In fact, many people would classify Warlock as so bad it’s good (or just plain bad). And that’s why reading and writing reviews is so interesting. Everyone has a different take on things. Everyone has their favorite lines, scenes, chapters, levels. And that’s awesome.

Published inFocus on the Frightful
┬ęSci-Fi & Scary 2019
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