Premise Duplication

Given that video games tend to draw their inspiration from a fairly limited number of sources, it shouldn’t be surprising that from time to time games will share similar premises. The canonical example from a couple years back is inFamous (intercaps…ugh) and Prototype, which had the misfortune of not only having very similar premises, but also being released contemporaneously, with competing marketing and PR. There have been a couple more incidents of this that I’ve recently come across that I don’t think as much attention has been paid to.

First, there Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor and The World Ends With You. One features a group of teenagers locked into contemporary Tokyo for exactly one week, who develop magical powers are forced to fight demons, and have a number floating above their heads indicating the number of days they have left to live. The other features a group of teenagers locked into contemporary Tokyo for exactly one week who develop magic powers, are forced to fight monsters, and have a number inscribed on their hands counting down how long they have left to complete a daily task (or else die). Obviously, some of the details don’t match exactly, and demons attack the modern world is not an unusual premise for a JRPG. But the parts about being locked down in Tokyo, and about the obsession with the deadline of one week, was uncanny.

Then there’s Final Fantasy 13 and Resonance of Fate, which were actually released within a month of each other in North America. Both feature shells of civilization, technological advanced, isolated and fearful of the wilderness of the rest of the world. Our characters have their destinies controlled by mechanical gods, and their human representatives that rule the world. The central metaphor of this premise is pretty easy to read, but again, the similarity of the details is amusing (All Hail the Space Pope).

The last pair I’ll mention is The Witcher and Dragon Age 2. I haven’t actually played Dragon Age 2 yet, so this is largely speculation on my part, but from what I’ve heard it sounds like the central Templar vs Mage conflict of Dragon Age echoes the Church vs non-humans conflict of The Witcher. Of course, The Witcher is old enough that this could well be less a case of synchronicity and more one of direct influence. Or, I could just be talking out my ass. That happens from time to time. We shall see.

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