I would love to know what’s going on over at Namco. It’s bad enough that they’ve released three titles with astonishingly similar gameplay in the last few months—Enslaved, Majin, and now Knights Contract—but the shameless way in which two of those three pay homage to classic literature has me questioning the taste level of its developers.
Both Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Knights Contract make deliberate allusions to classic fiction, the Chinese novel Journey to the West and German poet Goethe’s epic Faust respectively. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, while not appearing to be based on any specific story, also alludes to the mythic traditions of several South American cultures. The way that these story elements get worked into the game differs from title to title but there is a remarkable continuity among the three in which an AI-managed tagalong character is in essence the center of the game’s narrative thrust, while the player character is merely his or her protector or harbinger. This serves the function of deemphasizing the player-character as a source of agency while emphasizing their role as enactor, much like the situation that Janet Murray presaged with her Tinkerbell scenario in Hamlet on the Holodeck (“Immersion”, pp.100-125. MIT Press, 1997).