Building interiority through choices

I played Noblesse Oblige by Harris Powell-Smith a while back. It’s a really cool game in the Crème de la Crème universe, which I’ve written about before — I’m a fan! I like how Powell-Smith deals with sequels to choice-based games, too, which can be difficult to pull off. A good choice-based game can give a player a lot of agency and potentially end up in lots of different places. A sequel could require keeping track of all the possible threads from the previous game and spinning those out into more and more threads — designing branching narrative structures for a single game is already challenging, and this approach to a sequel would only amplify that challenge. For this game, you pick up a new character in a different part of this story world, rather than directly picking up where you left your character from CdlC. We get to learn more about this fascinating semi-futuristic, semi-rustic feudalist world by exploring another character’s story.

Both Noblesse and Royal Affairs (the third game in the CdlC universe) prompt you to upload a save file from the previous game, but I’m not sure the extent to which this changes the story lines and possible choice paths. I did a bit of digging and didn’t find too much, aside from this thread on reddit. According to one player, details from your CdlC run are mentioned:

Ultimately, though, this is a different story with new characters and concerns. I won’t get too much into the story here, but I will say that it’s got a Wuthering Heights thing going on, and I’m all for that.

One aspect of Noblesse that I didn’t really notice in CdlC is how many of the choices serve to build a sense of the player-character’s interiority without leading to any immediate action or resulting in any effect on the game world. In most choice-based games, the player makes choices about the next action the player-character takes — what to say next, where to go, what to do. Most of the choices in Noblesse follow this mechanic, too, to be clear, but there are a healthy amount of choices that seem to be more for the sake of encouraging the player to embody the player-character. Early on, you decide if you’re taller or shorter than another non-player character, what kind of hair you have and if you brush it before bed. In addition to the physical traits, you consider why you flunked out of university, and what your relationship is like with your parents. These choices prompt the player to think about things that are tangential to the narrative itself but introduce subtle details that flesh out the interior world of the player-character and help the player to live more fully in the world.