Narrative consequence in Baldur’s Gate 2: A game to play on repeat for 24 years

By | 13 May 2024

This commitment to consequence in Baldur’s Gate 2 has taught me an essential lesson about how to write narrative, that could be summarised in Newtonian terms: for every choice that the character makes, there is an equal and opposite reaction later in the narrative.

But perhaps more importantly than what it taught me, it created a story that can be revisited every couple of years over two decades. Baldur’s Gate 2 has created almost a perfect modular storytelling system, where the core plot moments, the spine of the story remains unchanged, familiar, and brilliantly told – but the ability to make different choices, different character decisions, means that consequence will always change how you get there, and the way you experience the story, new each time.

Rather than a game like Skyrim where I stay immersed forever in one story, I treat Baldur’s Gate 2 more like how I treat my favourite novels – something to revisit and to re-read, and to enjoy on repeat. Despite the fact that I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of almost every single line of dialogue, every character, every location, there is yet to be a single playthrough where I’ve gotten bored. That’s the consequence of airtight narrative, and is why Baldur’s Gate 2 returns to me when I have trouble writing. Plotting my story and structuring my narrative is no longer mysterious – instead of getting lost and confused in my own mind, I tread the familiar hallways of Irenicus’s dungeon.

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