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I want to create a top-down rpg kind of game. It doesn't have the turn-based battles, for the most part, as it's more of a puzzle type game with an overarching mystery to solve, with not much action. However, I've been playing with the idea of adding different kinds of gameplay from other genres that mixes well with this top-down perspective, such as Zelda-style melee combat, fast "kill 'em all" shoot 'em up action like Hotline Miami, and stealth like the Metal Gear series.

Lets say I have ten chapters of around two hour length each. The distribution of each gameplay element would, for example, go something like this:

  • Chapter 1: regular top-down
  • Chapter 2: regular top-down (small stealth segments)
  • Chapter 3: Zelda
  • Chapter 4: regular top-down (small rpg turn based fight)
  • Chapter 5: Metal Gear
  • Chapter 6: Hotline Miami (small stealth segments)
  • Chapter 7: regular top-down
  • Chapter 8: Zelda
  • Chapter 9: Hotline Miami
  • Chapter 10: mix of Zelda, Hotline Miami, Metal Gear and turn based rpg fight

These gameplay styles fit with the narrative, which would've previously only been cutscenes. The Zelda parts for example are flashbacks to medieval times, where it shows how the evil bad guy was born and how the first few attempts at destroying him went for an order of knights (spoilers: not too well, but they did manage to slay many of the bad guy's monster army and weaken him a bit).

Now, regardless of whether or not you think I could pull something like this off (I have my doubts as well, but that's not the point of the question), could this be a bad idea? Variety is the spice of life after all, but I feel that maybe the player could be overwhelmed or annoyed having to learn different mechanics from different genres. Could it be disruptive to the gaming experience if you suddenly play a different kind of game? Or does it not matter as long as it's integrated well with the rest of the gameplay and story?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question looks very opinion-based to me in its current formulation. "Could it be disruptive to the gaming experience?" Well, sure, every mechanic could be disruptive to the gaming experience if you do it badly. Whether your design and implementation is able to pull this off successfully is something we can't evaluate with the limited description here. If this is a direction you believe in, own it, try it, prototype and evaluate it to see if it can meet your goals (and budget). Is there something you need from us internet strangers before you can start this investigation? \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Feb 20 '18 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory I was hoping I could get some pros and cons of altering gameplay like that, maybe with some good and bad examples of past games, if there are any. Usually in a game like mine, different gameplay is reserved for small throwaway sidequests (fishing for example), but in my game, it's gameplay that persists for chapters. \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 21 '18 at 9:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nier: automata comes instantly to mind when reading the title. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian H. Feb 21 '18 at 11:21
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The interplay between the game designer and the player is very important. By introducing a piece of gameplay to the player, you're making a promise to the player. In particular, that by investing time in mastering this gameplay, their time will be rewarded. They will be better able to play through the later stages of the game.

By radically shifting gameplay styles for relatively long periods of time, you are reneging on that promise. Whatever time investment they had in your Chapters 1 & 2 is lost for the entire next chapter.

This is different from the case of a game like Mario Party, where there is an up-front expectation that the game is composed of mini-games. This is also different from things like stealth sections of games or mini-games within a game. Those are used simply to break up the monotony; 90+% of your gameplay is still in the style you were using before.

In your case, you have given the player consistent gameplay for a reasonably long period of time, and then you take that away from them. Without up-front notice, I would consider that perfidy.

What you need to do is choose a general gameplay style that can fit into all of your time periods. Different periods would have different weapons, which influences your play styles. But the core root gameplay should still be the same.

For example, consider a top-down perspective, where you move the character with the arrow keys and attack by clicking with the mouse in a particular direction.

Such a system is amenable to multiple styles of combat. Melee-style sections means getting close to targets. Shooter-style sections can involve cover, since you have some control over your locations. You can even do stealth-shooter sections.

But they're all using the same perspective and same core gameplay. Lessons learned in one style map to others. Melee teaches you to avoid getting surrounded, which is also an important skill in shooter sections. Stealth sections teach you how to use terrain, which can be important for shooter sections where you may need cover. And so forth.

While the dynamics of any particular chapter can and should have their own unique flavor, the totality of your game still needs to have reasonably consistent gameplay.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This isn't to say that it can't work. There's one game I'm remembering (but blanking on the name of) that explicitly did what the asker is talking about and it works for that game because it was intended to be a "through the history of video games." The art style and mechanics would change as the game took place in different eras of video game history. But yes, in general, DO NOT DO THIS THING unless you know exactly what you're doing. \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Feb 20 '18 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Draco18s Was it this one? store.steampowered.com/app/233470/Evoland \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 20 '18 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @noClue That's the one. \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Feb 20 '18 at 18:46

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