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What would a Daredevil game 'look' like?

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Do we dare envision it?

I've been watching the Netflix Daredevil series and so far it's good. It's so good in fact, it's made me rethink my entire opinion on Daredevil -- which prior to this last week had been an exaggerated shrug with maybe a sarcastic yawn thrown in for effect. It's not that I particularly disliked Daredevil or anything, I just never read or saw anything about the character that would make me like him either (the abysmal 2003 Ben Affleck movie probably didn't do much for Matt Murdock's case).

However, the surprisingly dark and well made Netflix series has sparked a new interest in the character in me, and like everything else I'm interested in, that eventually translates to me wondering what a game based around it would be like. The obvious answer is you make Arkham: Hell's Kitchen. Take a Batman game, paint the costume red, swap the Joker and Two-Face out with Bullseye and Stilt-Man (or whatever B-listers Daredevil usually fights), change the batarangs to those weird baton sticks, and call it a day. But let's try to reach higher.

Daredevil is blind. He lives in a different world than most of us, one made up of sound, scents, and vibrations. He's the man without fear, leaping over rooftops but never quite sure of his surroundings, there is always a chance he'll miss his next jump and end up on the pavement. There has to be something that a brilliant game designer could do to give us a (forgive me) glimpse of how Matt sees his world.

I'm no game designer (let alone a brilliant one), but I do love to spitball completely unmarketable, unreproducible game ideas. So I took my best crack at it and came up with a few ways to step into the shoes of New York's fifth or sixth most well known superhero.

Illustration by Reynan Sanchez

From the darkness

So the Batman games give us a great formula to follow for a third-person superhero action game, but Daredevil isn't Batman. He doesn't have the tools, the armored suit, or the resources to throw himself into the fray like the Dark Knight can. I'm picturing a more restrained affair -- a crawl through the shadows more focused on stealth and surprise than taking on massive scrums of 20 thugs at once. I would like to see a game that rewards patience and observation for Daredevil, a world that only reveals itself when you take the time to focus on it.

I'm thinking of something like Joel's concentration ability from The Last of Us, but turned to the max. A black and white world with occasional splashes of color that resolves in increasing detail the quieter and calmer Matt is, allowing the sounds, smells, and feel of his environment to paint a picture for him. A world you can navigate and use to your advantage to get the drop on criminal scum, but one that can also turn against you.

If you blow the element of surprise and end up in a scuffle, Daredevil's attention shifts to the most obvious threat. While the attackers you're trying to subdue come into greater focus to let you get your knife-deflecting, arm-breaking kung-fu on, the environment around you would slip away, evaporating into an impressionistic haze. Only the most obvious and loud elements of the environment (a subway car racing by, an industrial air conditioning unit clattering away) would be left to provide you an anchor point. Fighting on a rooftop would suddenly become a treacherous guessing game as you try to remember just how close you were to the ledge before you had to start dodging gunfire.

Again, I'll admit that I don't know much about the comics, so I don't know how true the Netflix series is to the source materials, but I like the tone and the limitations it sets. I like that Matt is not all that superpowered, that a group of four or five thugs are a credible threat to him. I think a stealth-action game that grounded itself on that level would work well. Besides, it would be a great chance to bust out something similar to the Nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor.

Daredevil doesn't have a supercomputer in his cowl or a genius hacker in his ear to solve crimes for him. He has to go with his gut and old-fashion legwork. A game that would let you target individual members of the underworld and threaten them into giving up their bosses would fit Daredevil's aesthetic. An open-world version of New York, where you play gangsters and criminals off each other to work your way up the food chain. By taking every criminal as a serious threat, there would be a real intimacy and sense of accomplishment when you manage to bring a mob boss or trigger-man to heel.

So, my idea is to make an open-world game based on a complicated, always changing, sense-memory representation of New York, filled with individual criminals and characters that interact with each other in complex ways. When you get into a fight, the game becomes a frustrating, chaotic scramble. There might be a reason I don't make games.

Murdock Mysteries (or Hell's Kitchen Noire)

Matt Murdock is a complicated character defined by his paradoxical position as both a criminal defense lawyer and a brutal vigilante. I think it would be a shame to miss that element of his character in a videogame. I mean, we can safely ignore Bruce Wayne because who really wants to spend time as a billionaire playboy driving fast cars, explaining away suspicious bruises, sleeping through investment meetings, and flirting with supermodels? Actually, that sounds like an amazing idea and I immediately regret throwing shade on it.

What if you had a game that focused on made Matt's identity as a lawyer? As an investigator and seeker of truth? I want to play “blind superhero L.A. Noire” if only as an excuse to say the phrase “blind superhero L.A. Noire.”

It would be an interesting experience to arrive at a crime scene completely blind. A black screen as the door shuts behind you or the car engine slowly cools. As Foggy Nelson, Matt's lawyer sidekick, describes the scene and known facts of the crime, a picture slowly comes together piece by piece. As Matt uses his super senses to take in the environment around him, more details emerge that you can follow up on.

The crime scene resolves based on not only the observations you make and questions you ask, but the way you interpret that data. Focus on the wrong elements and you may end up chasing down pointless leads and compromising your defense strategy (or worse yet, wind up defending a guilty man).

Interviewing clients and cross examining witnesses could also take advantage of Matt's senses. Small clues like a tiny quiver in a person's speech, a slight nervous tapping of the foot, or an increase in perspiration could help guide your questions. But again, it would still be on you to determine what that data means – did his heart skip a beat when you asked your last question because you caught him in a lie, or is he scared of something else?

If they don't answer your questions like you want them to, you can savagely beat them within an inch of their life later. Just like I always wanted to in L.A. Noire.

Fuck it, let's just blind the player

You want to know what it's like to live in Daredevil's world? Fine, just put out your eyes.

Well, okay, maybe that's going a step too far. But if we're going to talk about completely unmarketable ideas, a sensory-deprivation based game like Deep Sea that encloses the player in darkness and makes them rely on their sense of hearing might be the truest expression of the Daredevil experience.

If you've never heard (har) of it before, Deep Sea is an arcade game/art project of sorts made by Robin Arnott, one of the creative talents behind the mind-screwy Antichamber. To play it, you strap on a gas mask that has a pair of binaural headphones that provide excellent 3D sound, but no screen. You play the game blind. It simulates a deep-dive-gone-wrong experience, forcing you to listen for unseen terrors amidst the low rumbling noises of the unknown deep. You try to locate these creatures with echolocation and blindly fire at them hoping to hit your mark in the darkness.

It's a game about vulnerability, isolation, and oppressive fear. Daredevil has mastered those forces. He's the man without fear. Could you learn to master them too? To be so confident and sure in your sense of hearing and touch that you could live in that world as well?

Hell no! But it would be a great gimmick game to take to PAX and NARPS. I'm sure Marvel will see the wisdom in my decision and hand over the license immediately.

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Nic Rowen
Nic RowenAssociate Editor   gamer profile

(formerly known as Wrenchfarm) has been an active member of the Dtoid community since After toiling away in the Cblog mines and Recap Team workhouse for more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Action #Destructoid Originals #features #Top Stories

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