Luis Felipe Torres Meza

Playable tragedy

Squaresoft’s 1996 Chrono Trigger is a computer role-playing game (CRPG) of the action-adventure genre. It has been widely acclaimed for its story, and excels for conveying its story through game-play rather than exposition. In this talk, I will be exploring this through a detailed look at an untitled quest belonging to the episode titled The Fated Hour.

The quest begins when Lucca, a protagonist companion, finds a time portal that takes her to a moment in her past that she regrets. The quest continues to a climatic puzzle encounter, where players may or not succeed in averting the accident that rendered Lucca’s mother unable to walk.

The quest excels for utilizing its high difficulty to evoke a real-life feeling of guilt on players who fail to save Lucca’s, which arguably facilitates a form of identification stronger than the one seen in representational media such as literature. The quest’s success as one of the most memorable moments of the game seemingly exemplifies the need to expand the catalog of narrative modalities beyond the diegetic and dramatic (Ryan, 2001) in order to include what Juul (2013) called complicity.

This discussion hopes to further the understanding of complicity as a device that developers might use to diversify video game narrative content and/or adapt more complex stories to game-play.