In interactive films, users experience exciting adventures, solve murders or explore dark secrets.
It has been almost 40 years since interactive films first became popular in the West. What really began in 1983 with “Dragon’s Lair” and the progressive spread of modern technology was soon to be forgotten. Today the genre is celebrating a small renaissance.
A knight named Dirk
In Don Bluth’s (84) playable 1983 cartoon, brave knight Dirk sets out to rescue Princess Daphne from a dragon’s clutches. The simple story unfolded before the eyes of the players, who had to react at the right time – today often referred to as quick time events – so that Dirk survived the fantasy adventure.
Really filmed sequences in video games (Full Motion Video or FMV for short) later enjoyed increasing popularity, especially with the spread of CD-ROM drives in home computers. Games rely on videos or mixed forms in which real acting stars can be seen. The “Star Wars” icons Mark Hamill (70) and Malcolm McDowell (78) appeared in “Wing Commander III”, published in 1994. “Star Trek” darling George Takei (85) joined in 2008 in “Command
Video games that ran completely in the form of a film almost disappeared – perhaps also because the freedom of play was very limited. While gamers can often move quite freely in modern adventures, there are at most limited possibilities for interaction in games that are filmed completely or for the most part. Despite this, FMV games have made a comeback in recent years. Exciting mystery, criminal or detective stories are particularly suitable for the format – players puzzle along and try to uncover the secrets of the stories.
Murder and modern dating – a selection
“The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story” was only released for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4 and PS5 in mid-May. The FMV adventure, directed by Koichiro Ito, centers on mystery writer Haruka Kagami, played by Nanami Sakuraba (29), and the Shijima family.
As entertaining filmed scenes unfold, players gather clues to solve murders that have occurred around the family over the past 100 years (1922, 1972 and 2022). They connect the information to form hypotheses and ultimately get to the bottom of the truth behind it all. Similar to the series “American Horror Story”, members of the cast take on different roles in the epochs.
Also in “Contradiction”, released for PC and Mac in 2015, players go in search of clues to unravel the secret behind a mysterious death. However, special attention is paid to conversations and interviews with local residents, which, as the title already suggests, become entangled in contradictions.
Also in 2015, “Her Story” by Sam Barlow caused a stir in the gaming world and was showered with various awards. Players search a database of video clips on PC, Mac, iOS and Android. These show Hannah Smith (Viva Seifert, 45), whose husband has disappeared, being questioned by the police in 1994.
Developer and publisher Wales Interactive specializes largely in FMV games. The portfolio now contains more than ten such titles. Released in 2020 and available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS and Android, and Mac, Five Dates stands out from many other productions as it is an interactive romantic comedy about dating in the digital age. The actress Georgia Hirst (27), known from “Vikings”, will also be there.