Non-verbal storytelling

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September 13th, 2009

It goes without saying that we would like to tell a compelling story in Overgrowth. But how do we convey dialogue to the player? Should we have animated, voiced cutscenes like in Metal Gear Solid? Subtitled click-through chittering like in Lugaru? Narrated comics like Infamous or Max Payne? There are so many options! However, recently I've been thinking of another possibility -- not having dialogue at all. Here's an example of effective non-verbal storytelling:

By removing dialogue, we can strictly enforce the old fiction-writing adage, "show, don't tell." This makes scenes more focused and active, and helps avoid long-winded exposition. On the other hand, telling is much less work than showing, and it can be difficult to convey complicated stories without dialogue. The animated short '9' had no words whatsoever, but when it was expanded into a feature film, the creator decided to add dialogue in order to convey a more complicated plot. Here's the original short, for reference:

I can think of many other great examples of non-verbal storytelling in film, such as the short film More, and almost every Pixar short film (e.g. Geri's Game, Lifted, and For the birds). However, I can't think of many examples in games, besides Ico and Another World. Do you think we should consider telling the Overgrowth story nonverbally? Can you think of any other games that tried to tell their story without words?