Defiance: A Disconnect Between Game & Show
The TV show Defiance has recently hit Syfy channel after months of hype. While it may look like yet another run of the mill sci-fi show, it’s relationship with it’s licensed video game is what makes it stand out….sort of.
The video game itself released a few weeks back, in a bit of a messy manner. The MMO has been marketed as a link between television and video games in one neat bundle. The events of the TV show will be reflected in the game and vice versa. We’ve been covering the our experiences within Defiance (the video game that is) in a number of pieces, which can be found here. The general feeling on the game is that it’s rather bare bones, maybe even rushed. A number of theories could be chosen as to why the game may have been rushed to the market. The most likely reason would be for the game to be launched in time for the premier of the show.
After sitting through the first episode of Defiance it becomes quite clear that the games world is rather different to the TV shows world. This prompts a number of questions, mostly around the content, or lack of, found in the game. The environments shown in the TV show are both alive and vibrant. The video games environments are more desolate and rather one note. Defiance the video game is set around the San Francisco Bay area, the TV show is based in St. Louis. This creates a stark difference between the show and the game in both tone and visual aesthetic. The difference in settings also plays a large part how relevant the game is to the show. After personally spending over 24 hours playing the game, I found it hard to connect the show to anything I had experienced in-game.
At the moment the connections between the show and the game are extremely weak. The TV show introduces a number of races, characters and factions within 2 hours. This allows the universe to feel fleshed out, it also gives the world some life. The video game primarily sticks to showing a small section of races, and these are only represented by one or two characters. This results in the video game suffering a disconnected from the show that it’s been marketed as being so close to. There are some cases of rather timid links between the show and the game. These come in the shape of ‘episode missions’ and a few name drops here and there. They come off rather as forced and play little to no relevance in the grand scheme of the Defiance video game experience.
The TV show showcases a new earth, where aliens and humans live side by side. Their cultures have meshed together to create a sci-fi boiling pot. The video game lacks any aspect of this. Where the show expresses itself, the video game imposes itself. Players are nearly always tasked with fetch quests or straight up kill quests, there is no variety. The TV show provides a number of plot points in which the protagonists carry out various jobs or activities within the town of Defiance. The show sees it’s characters hunting for valuable items at a local Ark fall (after all they are Ark hunters). This would seem like a obvious idea for the game to draw inspiration from for quests. The problem is Ark falls in the game are merely just killing sprees that end with a boss battle. This leaves the player feeling more like a hired gun rather than the Ark hunter they are supposed to be. It’s yet another example of a disconnect from the game and the show.
There is a few differences floating around in terms of the weapons used within the show and the game. The video game tends to go with a vary traditional weapon set, shotguns, pistols, assault rifles, launchers etc. The TV show presents energy based weapons such as knives and fire arms. While this is a bit of a nit pick, it seems odd not to include weapons that are established in the show. It feels like a missed opportunity to add some nifty weapons for players to use that they recognize from the show. It’s a small thing that helps connect the game to the show in such a simple, but effective, manner.
Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom. The video game still has plenty of time to expand and bulk up its content. If Defiance is to truly be successful in what it hopes to achieve, it requires adding more of the shows content into the game. More of the aliens and their culture, more varied content, more familiar enemies, more content that reflects the show. I remain confident that this can happen and that the TV show and the game can reflect the same universe effectively. As for the concept of events impacting the game and show, we wont see this really happening for a while. The events in the TV show will certainly be included in the game. The game wont impact the show until at least season 2, after all season 1 is already fully filmed. Defiance remains a ambitious project that we wont see come into it’s own just yet. Lets just hope the connection between the TV show and video game is made stronger with each passing patch of new content.