One of the core techniques I’ve been taught during my time in further and higher education is the technique of critical comparison. You’re probably familiar with it; the act of standing two pieces of media side-by-side, and critically comparing their themes and approaches to various aspects of the human experience. Having reached the eighth instalment of this series, I think it’s high time we dive into something similar. This time on A Narrative Lens, we will be critically comparing the opening segments of two PSP games – Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and Gods Eater Burst. Both games feature a similar form of gameplay, featuring a player-created character teaming up with friends (or in the case of Gods Eater Burst, AI partners as well) to tackle large monsters, harvesting the gear, then setting out to take on even bigger monsters.
The settings of these games could not be more different. Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is set in a world filled with monsters – soaring wyverns, hulking apes, titanic elder dragons, and anthropomorphic cats. The world is very much a fantastical one, with mystical blacksmiths and short weapons that commonly outsize their wielder.
Gods Eater Burst also contains fantastical monsters and over-sized weaponry. However, the world is Earth, years into the future and barely surviving a calamitous outbreak of an alien organism called the Oracle Cell. Beyond that, there is very little identifiable science, leaving this firmly in the realm of science fantasy.
This difference in setting evokes several core themes that set these games apart even before we approach the delivery of their narratives. The world of Monster Hunter is a burgeoning world of swords and high adventure, where the toppling of titans is an incredibly regular thing. The sheer optimism the opening video inspires contrasts heavily with the ruined world of Gods Eater Burst, where every fight between the titular beings, the God Eaters - humans augmented with a controlled exposure to Oracle Cells - and their prey is a life-risking and immensely dangerous operation.