My favourite Marvel comic book character is Daredevil. He’s got an interesting double life as lawyer Matt Murdock that lends a courtroom drama tinge to many of his stories, he’s got an interesting power set in his enhanced senses compensating for his blindness which make for a compelling trade-off of physical strengths and handicaps, and, perhaps most important for me, he’s not a perfect hero. His desire to do good is offset by dangerous violent urges, his ironclad belief in the lawful justice is at odds with his vigilantism, and he’s often failed to protect his closest friends. Wives and girlfriends have died or been driven insane, the crime rife in his home turf Hell’s Kitchen always seems to come back like a weed, and he struggles with crippling depression. To me, Daredevil is the epitome of a flawed, tragic hero, often overwhelmed by the scope of his mission.
So, how do we set about creating the ideal Daredevil game? From the offset, we have the issue that when you create a game, you can’t help but empower the player- you need to succeed in order to carry on, whereas Daredevil often falters. If you can keep everyone you care about alive, through the whole game, something of the core of the character could be lost. The story needs to include an instance of loss. I’m thinking back to the excellent game The Darkness by Starbreeze, in which you violently lose a loved one that you’ve been racing to save for several hours, right in front of you eyes. As a side note, it’s important for storytelling mediums in general that the occasional story features a tragic loss or failure. If every story ends up with the protagonist saving everybody they love and swaggering carefree into the horizon, we start to lose the stakes. Every once in a while, someone needs to fail, and fail hard. With this in mind, Daredevil needs to somehow fail at something that he’s worked painfully for, because when he’s at his lowest is when he’s at his best.
Mechanically, Daredevil would probably best suit an open-world game set in New York. While his main focus of operations in Hell’s Kitchen, I don’t think just that small area would be large enough to be the sole area focused upon by the game. As well as moving between story mission objectives, there should be crime in the alleys that you can choose to intervene and stop, as well as side missions making use of Daredevil’s formidable rogues gallery. I picture an Arkham Games- esque combat and traversal system would best serve the game. However, representing Daredevil’s swinging style might be a challenge- his billy clubs kind of double up as grappling hooks that he can use to swing about. Even though I’ve read a lot of Daredevil, I’m still a little bit confused about exactly how he manages to get about. I think that a parkour system a’la Infamous paired with the grapnel system from the Arkham games, although one that lets you choose whether to swing or retract the line and pull you towards the grapple point, would be the best representation.
One of the great possibilities of a Daredevil game is the potential to exploit Matt Murdock’s day job as a lawyer. The main story of the game could be framed around a series of cases that Matt takes on, like LA Noire. You could interview witnesses and suspects, perhaps utilising Matt’s enhanced senses to listen to heartbeats and otherwise detect interesting details through hearing, sight, and touch. You could shake up suspects or shady figures as Daredevil to build further evidence, or sneak into crime scenes or restricted areas to find clues. Building up a case to represent your clients in court, Phoenix Wright- style, could make for a fascinating framing device for the game’s story.
The more I think of it, the more I want a proper Daredevil game to happen. I think that the character has so many interesting traits which would translate so well to storytelling in a video game format. Also, who doesn’t want to punch crime in the face while wearing armoured pyjamas in the rain?