A few days ago Destructoid published (spoiler warning for Full Metal Furies) an interview with some folks from Cellar Door Games about the commercial failure of their new game Full Metal Furies. One huge factor blamed for the failure was their decision to keep a massive component of the game a secret. They presented the game entirely as a cooperative action-RPG, landing them in a hyper-competitive part of the indie-game market and putting off players (including myself) who don’t have regular co-op partners and expect solo play of co-op games to be a cut-down, repetitive experience. In their desire to surprise the player, Cellar Door hid the fact that nearly half the game involves intricate, grab-a-notebook style puzzles along the lines of Fez and The Witness. If I’d known about that, Full Metal Furies would have caught my interest immediately instead of turning me away! And I can’t be the only one.
That got me thinking: how can you sell a game built around a surprise without ruining the surprise? The interview mentions NieR: Automata’s “please keep playing” message after the first ending, which I believe was added because some people stopped at ending A of the first NieR, missing the bulk of the game. I was also reminded of a little platformer called Omegaland that’s also built on surprises. Anyone with enough genre savvy can read between the lines of how it’s presented and see the general shape of the twist (yo, it’s cheerful then it gets dark). But most of the fun is in clever specifics so seeing it coming doesn’t ruin anything.
I’m curious about what y’all think. What games have successfully teased secrets to catch your interest without giving everything away? Have you ever wished a game hadn’t been spoiled by marketing, or like Full Metal Furies, wished it had?