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The Soapbox: You Need This Key To Unlock This Door – A Rant about Keys & Key Items in Gaming

Posted November 5, 2013 by Claire in Editorials

In order to read this article, you must have the Golden Key of Gaming Precision, which you can find in the Swamps of the Jungles of Gaming after going through the trial battles of live streaming. Does this sound like something familiar to you? That is because this is the same format a lot of games go through. Half the time in our gaming careers, which I will call them for the gamers out there, we have played many games that featured amazing stories, wonderful characters, and beautiful locations. However, then the gameplay comes along and it requires you to grab keys or special items in order to continue on the path to reaching your next goal. I know a lot of you can understand where I am coming from considering most of us have at least played on game that had this element of gameplay involved.

Many games over the year have featured this gameplay tactic, often relying on it to not only tell the story of the game, but to also give gamers a more difficult feeling of gameplay along with more to the game in order to have replay value. Of course I am not saying I immediately hate a game that includes this tactic, but instead I am trying to convey how this tactic can actually get rather irritating. We all know that at least one point in a game we have all hated how we had to find an item or a key in order to unlock a door to continue the story. Often times, you may have found yourself irritated because you just see a point in the story that you want to continue and see more from because it may have caught your interest, but then that one little lock stalls all progress from moving onward. This long and drawn out tactic may seem fun at first, but can become quite an annoyance in a game after awhile.

While many games out there are responsible for those sometimes dreaded ‘Key Syndrome’, otherwise known as when keys are needed for almost every moment in a story, moments, let us look into a few examples of games where finding the keys is important in order to finish the story.

Our first example is the Fatal Frame, also called Project Zero, series created by Tecmo. The games are survival horror games based in locations where horrendous rituals and ghosts haunt the places and the only way to stop them is an exorcism camera. These games are practically made up of the ‘Key Syndrome’. They focus not only on ghost battles, but finding keys and objects that have been scattered throughout the village locations where they take place. In order to advance most of the stories, you need these keys in order to finish the games. This second game in the series, for instance, requires at one point in the game for you to find two keys to unlock the gate to continue to another portion of the village. You have to backtrack through the village, all the way to the beginning of where you started in the game to grab a key from a statue and then back track through the village to the other behind a building to grab the second half of the key. After grabbing these keys (and fighting a group of ghosts at each key location), you must go back to the gate and unlock it using the keys. To make matters worse, the character of the game is incredibly slow, even with running.

Our second game example is the game Resident Evil created by Capcom. While most of the first game revolves around shooting zombies, most location are only unlockable after solving a puzzle. Most puzzles however, require something special…can you guess it? Ding ding ding! Key or objects are needed in order to activate the puzzles to open locked doors. While some of the puzzles aren’t required to continue knowing what happens in the story, some of these puzzle offer access to rooms that hold special weapons or items. Luckily for gamers, half the of the puzzles aren’t really a hindrance and are more fun then obnoxious at times when playing the game unlike Fatal Frame.

However, the topic of keys does not stop at being just annoying or hindering. The ‘Key Syndrome’ topic also brings up other questions that I am sure gamers have questioned at least once in their times of gaming: How did these keys get these locations and well..why are they so far from their destination? For instance, going back to the second Fatal Frame, at one point in the game the location of a crest needed to unlock a door in one of the village homes is located halfway across the map in a cemetery. This made me question: “Why is a key that is needed to enter your home located in the cemetery across the village? Why is your house key not with you or at least in an area near your home?” Half the locations of keys and objects in video games are often in bizarre location that are nowhere near their used location. This brings the question  into mind of: “Who goes around hiding these keys and being so funny as to leave them across the globe? Why are your items not with you?!” Take a second to think about how many games you have played and keys and objects are in ridiculous locations.

While I can understand the gaming studios often pull this maneuver to offer a range of gameplay and to make gamers feel like they are getting their monies worth of a game, it often can become irritating, drawn out, and flat out stupid. I personally have fun sometimes having to find objects and things for games when it isn’t always in direct contact with hindering me from enjoying the story. Other times I find this maneuver tiring and often taking too long for me to just continue on in the game. However, all this is a matter of opinion. So, instead let me know what you think! Do you personally enjoy backtracking in games for thousands of keys and objects to see the next part in a story? Or do you agree that it can often be foolish and obnoxious with how often you have to backtrack for these key items? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time!!

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About the Author


Hey there! My name is Claire. I'm a fellow video game lover and a really great cook. I've been gaming since I had my first console being the NES back when I was about 7. I loved to play Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past almost constantly! From there I played Super Mario All-Stars and Donkey Kong Country 2 on my Super Nintendo! I currently play games on my PC, PS3, and occasionally my Xbox 360 and my Nintendo 3DS! I love games and I am so glad I go into them. When you need an escape, remember that games can take you anywhere! Want more games? Check out my gaming channel!

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