"Dead Space 3": Is Narrative Integrity More Important Than Consumer Satisfaction?
I was once a man who valued narrative integrity, but "Dead Space" broke my heart with its consistency and staying true to its own hopeless narrative.— Kyler J. Falk
What is Narrative Integrity?
As it concerns storytelling, narrative integrity is a highly contentious phrase. It is highly contentious because many people believe that narrative integrity is unimportant if it means dulling down the story or otherwise bringing a narrative to an untimely end. Dead Space 3, for me, is a great example of narrative integrity leaving me feeling unaccomplished, empty, and resentful of the way the story came to a close.
You see, before experiencing the closure that the Dead Space series offered me, I felt that it was more important to maintain narrative integrity than it was to shoehorn in more content as a way to fill time in lieu of actual development of the plot. Take for example Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, both series are widely criticized for breaking away from advancing the plot so as to include an egregious amount of filler episodes. In Naruto you can find 90 filler episodes out of the 220 available, and within Naruto Shippuden there are 203 filler episodes out of the 500 available.
I would argue that filler episodes, the type to tear you violently away from plot progression, are a great example of breaking narrative integrity. This is because, more often than not, fillers are used as a way to press alternate story lines that don't always tie in to the main plot itself. As such, I came to loathe filler episodes and only sat through them in hopes they would grab interest at some point, but holding out hope for the time the main plot would be brought back front and center.
Dead Space has taught me to value filler, or breaking narrative integrity, in order to value the consumer experience.
From Dead Space, all the way to the very end of Dead Space 3, the writers perfected the art of blending hopelessness and a promise of a brighter future against impossible odds. Their use of foreshadowing through character and plot development was screaming for you to accept that every struggle was only managing to stave off the inevitable for a short time, but the victories you cherish would obscure your impending doom. I was at conflict with my values the entire time, saying to myself, "There's no way this is going to have a happy ending, but I really hope it does. Isaac deserves it!"
Well, to no one's surprise, Isaac never got the happy ending he had been suffering to achieve; and my heart is broken as I know this man struggled through what could be called literal hell, only to be consumed by it. Why couldn't I see this coming in earnest? Why couldn't I accept that Dead Space was not the, "Happily ever after," type of narrative at any point and I was just deluding myself?
I think that was what the creators and writers were going for, that empty feeling in my gut that knows I fought through the monsters and suffering only to have it all be futile. Nonetheless, I'm more upset that humans are now going to go extinct, eaten and absorbed by big fleshy balls, and I'm never going to get another Dead Space game that also maintains narrative integrity again!
You see, Dead Space was a masterfully delivered action-horror series that created immersion I had never experienced prior and, still, have never experienced to this day. I'm dying to spend money on more, and I can never have another game that could also maintain narrative integrity without being a 'filler' episode. Their gut-wrenching consistency with their narrative delivery, it has left me huddled in a corner questioning my tears of disappointment.
So, with all this said, I tip my hat to the writers for affecting me so damn deeply I could write about the topic ad nauseam. Cheers, you sadistic bastards!
Do you prefer maintaining narrative integrity, or contrivances for the sake of more content?
A Bittersweet Sendoff....
Despite the entire human race as we know it going extinct at the tentacles and gaping maws of fleshy balls of death, I can say that the confusion in my heart is as sweet as it is bitter.
I'm bitter that the story had to end, my favorite action-horror is something I can't look forward to in the future because everyone dies; but I find it sweet that the writers reached into my chest and tore my damn heart out! It takes a really special someone or something to get my cold heart beating, only to watch you crush it in your hands like some sort of sadistic BDSM master. For the elation you have brought me through pain, I am eternally grateful.
Though I wish I could hold out hope for what lies in the future for the franchise, I must let her go to fly free into obscurity. I'll never forget the times we had, dismembering monsters and corpses alike.
Rest in peace, Dead Space, you cruel, but alluring mistress!