The “quick time(r) event” (QTE) is most probably my personal biggest gaming grievance.
For those that are not aware what a QTE is, please allow me to explain…
The QTE is an element of gaming where an animation/cutscene is interrupted by button/direction icons on screen while playing, then the player would have to press the corresponding button/direction for the animation/cutscene to advance. Failure to press the right button/direction in time or pressing the incorrect button/direction as to what is displayed on screen could result in a loss of life or even game over.
The QTE is the bane of gaming. It’s lazy, unimaginative, needless and superfluous.
The QTE is a poor excuse for lazy developers to pad out a game when they have run out of ideas. I quite enjoy watching cutscenes, I enjoy a developing story and interesting characters. What I do not like is when watching a cutscene and taking in the story…suddenly having a prompt appear on screen telling me to press a specific button which then allows me to see the next part of the story if I am quick enough. Just let me watch the cutscene.
Most people will (erroneously) attribute the creation of the QTE to Yu Suzuki, director of the game Shenmue (1999). Shenmue most definitely featured QTEs, but it far from the first game to have them. Back in 1983 came Dragon’s Lair which was arguably the very first game to feature the concept. Dragon’s Lair opened the doors to several other games that utilized the QTEs like: Cliff Hanger (1983), Space Ace (1984), Road Blaster (1985) and many other titles including sequels to both Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace.
There was also an influx of the QTE based games for the home market in the early 90’s due to the introduction of CD-ROM technology in gaming making it easier to display video quality images and animations.
The fad began to die off in the mid 90’s with people seeing the shallowness of the concept and just not buying into the idea, paying for a newly released game at full price with little/zero interaction. We gamers were finally seeing the laziness of the developers and the QTE looked like it was going to die.
Then SEGA released Yu Suzuki’s game Shenmue (1999) and the QTE was back, only used in a more narrative/action based way. Since then the QTE had been popping up in gaming on and off for the last 15 years. Sometimes used in small amounts, sometimes used for a whole game.
While I really dislike the QTE as a game mechanic I can admit that used sparingly they can add some tension to a game or scene within a game…but they are most definitely not “needed” or even welcome. I’d much rather not have them at all thank you very much.
I can even just about put up with the even more pointless QTEs like in the infamous: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. When during a cutscene, you the player attends the funeral of a fallen fellow soldier and you are given the chance to press a button to mourn the soldier…why? I put up with it yes, but why is it there? It makes zero difference to the game and is 100% utterly pointless.
Now, while I can tolerate the sparingly use of the QTE (even if it’s pointless), if there is one aspect of the QTE I really despise then it is when an ENTIRE game is nothing but a QTE.
I bring to the witness stand: Heavy Rain (2010).
If Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue can be credited with re-introducing and popularizing the QTE in modern gaming from 1999 onwards. Then Heavy Rain by David Cage has to be blamed for overdoing the QTE and taking a great story and characters (Heavy Rain does have a great story and amazing characters too), then putting them into one of the dullest, most uninteresting games ever created…”press X to JASON!”
These QTE lead games were bland and pointless in the 80’s with Dragon’s Lair and they still are today. Stop making these lazy cash-ins.
At least other games offer alternate gameplay options and mechanics so even with pointless QTEs, there’s still something else to enjoy.
But when a game is nothing but QTEs…
The QTE needs to die out again as it did in the mid 90’s and the sooner, the better. Only this time with no resurgence.