why the game’s most ridiculous mechanic is good, actually
I’m sure not many people read this headline and roll their eyes. Indeed, I cannot blame you; there is a reason Qtythey hate However, I’m here to convince you that when used correctly, every game developer’s little guilty pleasure can actually be fantastic.
QTEs (or their Sunday name, Quick Time Events) consist of bombarding the player with split-second button presses. Their first known use is usually in classic laser disc games dragon’s lair and road blaster. That said, laserdisc games were more like movies with buttons than games. It would take another 10 years for QTEs to fully migrate to more traditional games like Sega. Die Hard Arcade Where Shen Mue (Shenmue director Yu Suzuki coined the term “Quick Time Event”).
So why aren’t these smaller events so popular? To understand what a good QTE is, we must first give some examples of bad QTEs.
Imagine spending 20 hours crawling through the bowels of an Orc Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Talio’s story of revenge finally comes to an end as you prepare for an epic and decisive encounter with the Black Hand of Sauron. You finally reach your mortal enemy… and the entire boss fight is a button-mashing sequence that replaces the game’s pre-existing combat. This atrocity is the last thing you do in the game. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth; undo the work of many previous fantastic watches.
So this is the first (and most obvious) game for a bad QTE: a game changer. It was a big deal during the seventh generation of consoles, replacing big sequences or boss battles with interactive cinematics using the game’s well-established mechanics. The fatal blow Arkham OriginsNavarre Unexplored – the list goes on. There are times when QTE combat works. Resident Evil 4The knife fight with Krauser comes to mind, but the point was that it wasn’t your last encounter with Leo’s rival and was more of a silly cutscene.
Resident Evil 4 brings us to the other worst offenders in the QTE realm: Instant Death QTEs. Decided to put the controller down to watch a cutscene? Oops, you missed the button prompt and we’re dead! It’s time to review everything. And, of course, you can’t ignore it – that would be stupid. One of the worst offenders is the original Bayoneta game full of those mid-stage deaths (deaths that affect your rank at the end of levels got worse).
A little less boring, but more common are the “mundane QTEs”. Think God of war; How many times did you have to hit the square button to raise the door in this game? A good mash can be used effectively to create tension, but what’s the point when there’s no tension? These slow events feel like filler, and Shadow of Mordor has the opposite problem: instead of replacing gameplay with cutscenes, they replace cutscenes with gameplay.
Bayonet Being one of the worst offenders is pretty ironic, since developer Platinum Games is the crème de la crème when it comes to using good QTEs.
Let’s take an example from Platinum’s masterpiece – Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. As things begin, Raiden is tasked with fighting a Metal Gear Ray. Now, in Metal Gear history, when Raiden last fought Rey, he was armed to the teeth with seemingly endless rocket launcher ammo.
This time, the White Devil is armed only with a sword (and his cyborg body). After a moment of crying at his opponent’s feet, Rey’s giant arm suddenly flies towards Raiden… and you block it! Butt kicks in and requires you to frantically mash the X button. When he decides to lift this monster 70 feet above his head like Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 3, you immediately step into Raiden’s shoes.
Timing, tension, purposefulness – this is exactly what I was talking about with the “mash to open the door” instructions. Instead of turning a cutscene into a pointless game, Rising takes what could easily be a cutscene and makes the moment more impactful with player input.
After completing Resident Evil 4, director Shinji Mikami created the cult classic hand of god; a game almost exclusively about fists. When you punch people, the main character, Gen, gains power. When you have enough power, you can activate the titular God Hand, which allows you to hit people faster. When you blast enemies with your combos, you can stun them, which in turn allows you to perform North Star-like punches by mashing buttons. Again, mimic the character’s movements with your input.
Later in the game, you meet Azel: the owner of the Devil Hand, which – you guessed it – allows the owner to strike very quickly. Since the hands are even, Azel and Gen have a chance to get into this flurry at the same time. This leads to the same mash-em-up gameplay, but now with the added context of fighting to master your equation. indeed see who can shoot the best (or shoot the fastest). Mechanics, narrative encounter.
Another platinum masterpiece – Awesomeness 101 – filled to the brim with good QTEs. The “Mash A to Protect the Earth” finale is great, and it’s bolstered by a cast of supporting characters who clash with you. Often with the use of your “merge morp0h” mechanic, time will be slowed down to perform these feats by a split second. It would be easy for the game to sit back and watch these moments, instead of you yet Feel like a part of the action at The Wonderful 101. It also helps that almost every QTE in the game has a humorous cutscene in place if it fails. Such incentives in failure – not like instant kills in Bayonetta.
Many players mistakenly associate QTEs with laziness. And I can’t say I’d ever blame them if they played Shadow of Mordor once and scrapped the mechanic for good. But really, not all QTEs are bad. Actually; I think they are fantastic when used correctly. When used to complement and enhance the game, not replace it, they are a balm—a moment of reflection, or a climax, or a relief.
And like the 2022 versions Bayonet 3, sound boundariesand Kirby and the Forgotten World everyone gets the message; by placing them carefully and tactfully. So, with perhaps anticlimactic button-mashing boss battles long behind us, we’re entering a new QTE renaissance.
Let’s hope this is not a quick, timely event.