Until Dawn: A Corollary
So in my Until Dawn review, I mentioned that I have a few ideas about what may help to alleviate the plot armor issues many noticed in Until Dawn. It's worth noting that I am, by no means, a story writer. I'm just a guy who went to school for game design and who likes to share his ideas from time to time. Some of them stick, some don't. So take what I have to say cum grano salis.
Should we see more games of this sort from our friends over at Supermassive games, it would be nice if characters mortality was in jeopardy more often. By that I mean, even if a character has some major plot contribution they could make, they should be able to die before or after said contribution. Should they die pre-contribution, the cast will be deprived of whatever knowledge or help they could have offered. Their cohorts will have a much more difficult time without them, but as long as they are alive, their continual presence in the cast should yield additional options or bonuses
For example, if a character is described as intelligent, then while they are a surviving member of the cast, the player is able to choose concise, effective methods when presented with a choice. If they're around, they can warn the player if they start making bad decisions. If a persuasive character is around, they can offer the player guidance on decisions likely to be successful. Likewise, if a protective or strong character is around, they can protect the player if they make mistakes, covering for them if they miss QTEs or would otherwise get hurt.
Really, I'm proposing the use of game design to meet a narrative need. While a character may not get the same amount of dialogue or screen time during cutscenes as the rest of the cast, it's hard to argue that they lack overall presence if the player has tangible benefits from their literal presence within the game. If the player can interact with a character, it can be just as good as the character getting to shine in the cutscenes.
Obviously this is a rough idea, but what other ideas do you think would improve the dreaded plot armor we see in many stories?