It’s safe to say, the terms “retro” and “nostalgia” have walked hand-in-hand for quite a while. But when we think of “retro” in games today, we think of a certain graphical style, gameplay and music.
Like the demanding bunch of gamers that we are, we always want something new in the gaming scene, even though we miss certain aspects of old games. This desire from us has certainly made for an interesting challenge for game developers. Exploring how nostalgia has become a relevant factor in many modern games, implementing the retro element has shown that games are indeed developing – but why do we choose to look back, rather than forward?
As the generations for said games grow up, so do our preferences for what type of games we play. Games such as Thimbleweed Park, Owlboy and Stories Untold have emerged from the indie-scene as very popular games, and have so far done a great job to fulfil some of these needs. In terms of retro-style gameplay, Thimbleweed Park provides a classic form of a point-and-click adventure, with an interesting touch on the dialogue. It is funny, weird, and intriguing, and definitely something worth looking into.
I’m not just mentioning Owlboy just because Norwegian developers made it – something that I am totally unbiased with, of course – but because it is also a good example of how a contemporary made retro game works perfectly, both in form and function. Sprinkled with well-written dialogue and lovable characters, Owlboy offers a really nice retro experience for both older and younger generations of gamers.
So why is this resurrection so fascinating, and why do we need it? The answer is fairly simple: the first gamer generation has grown up, and the gaming scene today is not what it once was; simple and straightforward. The desire for that element has become substantial, and game developers, especially, are taking this into careful consideration.
Stories Untold is a game that should be praised for the way that the developers have chosen to implement the retro element and is a fairly unique example of how they have tried to immerse the gamer into a world that blends retro and modern together. Stories Untold offers a fascinating gaming experience, where you play through different chapters, following a story that includes several forms of gameplay. The story is unique and is definitely recommended if you are looking for a game that is a tad different from what you may have experienced before.
The games mentioned show us that the resurrection of the retro element in games is highly effective and successful. We have come to a time where people start to discuss how “games have changed since we were kids,” and start to desire certain aspects of how gaming used to be – how they looked, how they sounded, and how they felt. Well, one of the awesome things about game development is that we can basically do whatever we want. A lot of games have been travelling in time lately, to a point where a certain generation of gamers feel like they have been before. This genre – I will dare to categorize it as such – is one that will always be relevant, because there will always be a time and place for looking back.
Will there be a time when gamers do not fully comprehend the meaning of “retro”? Yes, definitely. I have watched several movies in black and white, and that does not mean that I automatically experienced the time when televisions went from black and white to coloured. It will be interesting to see how the term develops, and what game developers choose to do with it as generations pass.