How developers left violent combat behind to create kinder games

November 23, 2019
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Combat in all of its different forms is the pillar of most games, one that we’ve come to take for granted. But with the years, whether that’s due to hyper-realistic styles making the violence in games seem more gruesome than ever, or simply out of a need for more gentleness in an increasingly relentless world, the number of games that re-think combat or forego it altogether has risen. I’ve been speaking to the developers of several upcoming games to ask them why they’ve started to look for alternatives.

“Over the course of your life you just start to think about what you want to put out into the world,” Greg Lobanov, developer of Wandersong and the upcoming Chicory, tells me. “On some level, I feel a responsibility to make games about those things. If I’m going to put so much time and work and care into something, I want it to be something that spreads positive ideas.”

In Wandersong, weapons combat is replaced with singing – you take control of a little bard who uses his voice in song battles and to shape the world around him. Fresh off a successful Kickstarter, Chicory looks a bit like Zelda: you make your way through a forest and overcome obstacles with the help of a magical paintbrush. Lobanov sees his design choices not as replacements for combat, but as the idea an entire game is based around. He makes games about drawing or about singing, instead.

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