Beneath any innovative game usually lurks an exceptional game mechanic. Without changing something fundamental, a sequel, or any game for that matter, is just retreading old ground.
These innovative mechanics don’t work for everyone though, and the unique spins introduce to a game have been derided as often as they've been loved. Getting that reaction is exactly the sort of thing we want from games though, trying out fresh ideas and hoping some stick.
I’ll kick things off with one make and one break mechanic of my own.
The one that made a game for me was Her Story’s investigative mechanic. If you’re not familiar, Her Story is a simple mystery that unfolds on a single old-school CRT monitor tucked away in a police station. You can click around it to discover extensive interview tapes with a suspect in a murder investigation. The hook is that you can type in any words into the search bar and it trawls the tapes for any matching dialogue. It makes Her Story a wholly unique experience as you’re uncovering the story your own way, flitting around the timeline and attempting to piece it together. It’s simple, it’s intuitive, and it makes you feel smart.
And the one that broke a game for me was Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System. For me this was one of the shallowest mechanics papered over a game that was otherwise indistinguishable from Assassin’s Creed. It didn’t take me long to see through it, essentially boiling down to a name, weakness and strength generator. The moment I had a mission to kill four lieutenants was a real low point. I’d already popped a few off, so in order for more lieutenants to roam the battlefield, I had to purposefully kill myself so others got promoted. It felt fundamentally broken and didn’t create the personal tales I felt Monolith claimed it would.
Those are my two, but what are your ultimate make or break game mechanics? Is there a certain mechanic which can instantly turn you off a game? Let us know below!