At the beginning of January, Disney announced the reactivation of Lucasfilm Games and in the same breath announced the return of Indiana Jones: So after what feels like 100 years, a new Indiana Jones video game will actually be released once again. Bethesda’s development studio MachineGames, which is best known for the modernized Wolfenstein series, will take on the task. What does this trigger in you? Three contributors from WALL JUMP have chosen the announcement as their topic of the month and have addressed this very question.
Indiana Jones! Can be glorified as a childhood hero. Casual one-liners, exotic locations, spectacular action sequences. Hat and whip, of course. Viewed dispassionately, Indy is probably the same as Captain Jack Sparrow for a later generation: Alright. Actually, only one of the films is really good, but the combination of Ford, Lucas and Spielberg probably brought a certain magic to the franchise and made Indy become a legend. And pop culture legends spawn plenty of video games. 18 in total were developed between 1982 and 2009.
However, it was neither the obvious platformers nor action games that got stuck in the collective consciousness. Of all the genres, Indiana Jones is remembered first and foremost for the two point & click adventures that emphasized the series’ love of adventure and humor.
Since 2009 and after a few mediocre titles, there have been no Indiana Jones games at all. Lara Croft and Nathan Drake are the action archaeologists of these days, obviously inspired by the legendary role model. Considering the mega blockbuster titles of these series, many have wished for Indy to appear in all his glory on their modern consoles and computers.
Today, 12 years later, it looks like they’re going to get their wish. A teaser of the next Indy title was shown with lots of fanfare. Under the old new label Lucasfilm Games, the whip will be swung again. A point & click is not to be expected. Modern, corporate Indiana Jones probably also wants a slice of the pie that Croft and Drake have been sharing so far. However, I don’t expect the game to reach the quality of these copycats/predecessors. And I don’t even want a game like that. Indy is rightly famous for his point & clicks, because what is he? He’s a university professor. He fights for things to be in a museum. In between, he gets a fist in the face, but he’s not Nathan Drake. He’s better. And I want to have it stay that way.
Machine Games are apparently taking a creative break from the Wolfenstein universe and are developing a completely new Indiana Jones game on behalf of the reopened/renamed Lucasfilm Games. But what could it be? A point-and-click adventure game like the venerable Fate of Atlantis? Would probably be too small for a Bethesda project. A first-person shooter like the acclaimed Wolfenstein? That would be interesting, but wouldn’t really fit in with Indiana Jones. Admittedly, both concepts don’t really appeal to me, but I’d prefer them to what the new Indiana Jones is likely going to be like, and which would probably fit like a glove at first glance: Uncharted + Tomb Raider = Indiana Jones.
Exactly, with bombastically designed worlds, atmospherically lit caves and tombs, with the finest CGI and the latest motion capture technology. With a rousing story, a young Harrison Ford and with Machines Games’ trademark enemies: the Nazis. But at its worst, we can also expect the hand-holding cruelty of the ever-popular Naughty Dog games. Five minutes of running, ten minutes of cutscene, five minutes of running, ten minutes of in-game chatter. A continuous film sequence that only deserves the title “game” because Indiana Jones is at least allowed to move at a snail’s pace in the in-game sequences. Without access to any weapons or skills, of course.
My personal gameplay hell: An interactive movie that restricts and almost hides its already limited playability at far too regular intervals in such a way that I would like to bite into my sofa cushion in frustration at the latest when it once again clears all the game-of-the-year awards of an industry that would prefer to be something it isn’t: Hollywood. Fortunately, Bethesda isn’t Sony either, and Machine Games isn’t Naughty Dog, so the likelihood of this horror scenario might be even lower than the consideration of a Game Pass exclusive for an award.
Lucasfilm Games is back! Zak McKracken? Monkey Island? Loom? Indiana Jones! The joy of speculation-loving nostalgia fans knew no bounds after the reactivation of Lucasfilm Games was announced, and was further enhanced by the simultaneous announcement of a new Indiana Jones video game. I was also kind of excited about this announcement – probably because it triggered some memories from childhood and teenage days: I saw the first three Indy movies so many times back then that I can speak along with the films. To this day, I consider Fate of Atlantis to be one of the best point and click adventure games of all time. What a story,… and how wrong George Lucas was when he denied Atlantis the necessary “MacGuffin potential” for a screen adaptation.
Actually, it doesn’t matter,… but it does matter, because the announcement of a new Indy video game makes me reminisce about the past instead of looking forward to the new game! I’m pretty sure I won’t like the game. And probably won’t play it at all. At least if it really is a 3D action adventure. For one thing, I just don’t like this genre, no matter if it’s with Lara, Indy or Nathan. For another, I think it’s simply the wrong choice of genre for a product like “Indiana Jones”. The cinematic originals are too big for me – you just don’t get that Indy feeling adequately transported with an action-adventure. Because an Indy controlled by me can – even if I really try hard – never be more than a sad copy of the screen model. Ambition and reality are simply too far apart. To illustrate with another example from the Lucas Disney universe: Also virtual lightsaber fights will always remain a tired copy of their cinematic originals. At least for me, an Indy action adventure will therefore almost certainly never work.
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