Sci- fi slice of life

Val­halla uses a bar­tender’s point of view to sub­vert tra­di­tional sto­ry­telling tropes.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY - B ASS EE M SE

BUILD­ING a world can be a chal­leng­ing task. It re­quires an­swer­ing ques­tions, many of which will have been un­fore­seen prior to writ­ing. What con­di­tion is your fic­tion’s world in? How does the char­ac­ter re­late to it? What sets it apart from sim­i­lar sto­ries or gen­res?

The way a story goes about build­ing this world is of­ten as in­ter­est­ing as the fic­tion it­self, and VA- 11 Hall A – or Val­halla, as it’s most com­monly known – uses one of my favourite story jus­ti­fi­ca­tions in re­cent mem­ory.

Us­ing the back­drop of a postapoc­a­lyp­tic world, Val­halla, by Venezue­lan de­vel­oper Suke­ban Games, places the player in the seem­ingly mun­dane and rou­tine job of bar­tender for a run- down dive bar. drip- fed in­for­ma­tion, piec­ing to­gether the ideas and el­e­ments of this world in an en­tic­ing man­ner. Some char­ac­ters are bet­ter de­vel­oped than oth­ers, but ev­ery­one present re­mains valu­able as part of the larger story.

Sto­ry­telling meth­ods such as this tend to be my favourite. Rather than guid­ing the reader step by step through te­dious ex­po­si­tion dumps, Val­halla in­stantly launches the player head­first into the world, trust­ing their de­duc­tive abil­i­ties and choos­ing to help them un­der­stand the world through con­text.

It’s an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of show, don’t tell, and it works won­der­fully. to sat­isfy the wants of sur­round­ing co- work­ers.

Fail­ure is pos­si­ble, but prac­ti­cally every­thing is stacked in the player’s favour.

Val­halla doesn’t judge, it merely asks you to be at­ten­tive to your cus­tomers and your work. There are no order timers, no an­gry cus­tomers with mood me­ters, no end- mis­sion rush to spend all of your re­cently- earned money on build­ing the busi­ness.

It’s there if you want it, but Val­halla won’t pun­ish you for a lack of pre­ci­sion and strat­egy. Af­ter all, you’re a bar­tender. You’re the per­son one may need to see the most when they’re at a low point and in need of an es­cape. In mo­ments like this, it’s sin­cer­ity that mat­ters.

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