This 3D visual novel offers you choices that matter… Just not in the way you think
This has become a kind of trope associated with interactive stories in games: supposedly, to be good, all the decisions the player makes must radically affect the story itself. If not, some people go so far as to pretend that the choice “doesn’t matter”, leading to an unsatisfactory experience. We thought a lot about this when we were designing Accident, and decided to try something hopefully a bit more sophisticated.
The conflict we had to resolve was this: on the one hand, we wanted to tell a special story, a story of resilience, redemption, and blossoming, in which a character who starts out in the worst situation works his way to the solace he deserves. But on the other hand, we also wanted to create a video game that would respond to the player’s input, give them answers to their questions, and convince them that they have a role to play in the story we’re telling.
The first tool we used was giving the player access to the thoughts of Juno, the main character. Whenever she has something on her mind, her thoughts are displayed on the screen for you to read. Better yet, when she’s faced with a dilemma, like when she doesn’t know how to respond to her sister Diana’s suddenly serious tone, you choose a strategy on her behalf… and make her face the consequences.
This “thought choice” is not decisive in the sense that it will not completely redefine history. At best, they would shed light on an aspect of Juno’s personality that had been kept a secret until then. But they allow you to form a strong bond between the player and our main character. Because you are literally inside her head, and because she will think what you want her to think, you gradually feel more and more attached to her – and involved in her destiny.
Additionally, prompting Juno to think about something opens up new dialogue options to choose from, so the player also has an influence on Juno’s conversation with the game’s NPCs. Here’s where AccidentThe user narrative becomes non-linear: each encounter consists of several different pieces of dialogue, but we’ve written them in a way that’s malleable enough that you can encounter them in many different orders. Once you’ve completed an encounter with an NPC, we’ve made sure you have all the information you need to unfold the overall story while still feeling like your influence on Juno is real and direct.
Take a look at these flowcharts: As Juno progresses through the game’s “levels,” the plot structure becomes progressively more complex. And yet, to the player, it feels smooth and linear, as if there was no other way to reach the game’s inevitable conclusion. Of course, this design choice is risky, as some may complain that the choices they make don’t have enough impact. But we hope that for most players, this concern won’t weigh much against the strong bond they’ve gradually developed with Juno, and their desire to know how her story of redemption ends.
For every thought the player puts into Juno’s head, he is rewarded with a new piece of information. They learn a little more about why she is the way she is, what traumas she is hiding, and how she succeeds in her fight to get her life back on track. Through your choice, you commit to a relationship with her, and when she is finally able to remember an important – and dark – part of her story that redefines her entire relationship with her mother, you know her enough to help her make her final choice. The only thing that really matters.
This final choice will lead you to three very different endings that will redefine the tone Accident fully. Usually, when games do this, it can feel a bit clunky: there are endings that seem natural, “canonical”, and then there are others, “lesser”, that you might even regret. We really wanted to avoid that. That’s why this last choice isn’t about how the story ends – in fact, the story ends right before that.
In fact, this choice, this final commitment by you, the player, is about what Juno will do with everything that has happened to her. By choosing one of these three possibilities, you determine what kind of woman she will become. You invent a new Juno, one ready to start living again as soon as you turn off the console. And that’s only possible because, choice by choice, you’ve invested in knowing her.Accident available today on Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One S and X.
At the age of 36, Juno’s life is falling apart: her career has stalled, she is emotionally numb, and her personal life is falling apart. The case comes to a head when she is called to the emergency room to find her mother in critical condition. This is the most important day of Juno’s life, and if nothing changes, it could be her last. Relive the past. Experience Juno’s memories and piece together the story of her past, including the tragic secret that lies at its center. Change the present. Use your understanding of Juno’s trauma to change the way she experiences the day, opening new dialogue options and healing broken relationships. Embrace the future. When you’re at rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up. Help Juno find peace with herself and discover the humor, beauty and hope that hides even in life’s darkest days.