Breaking the fourth wall is hardly a new concept in videogames. Games do it all the time, sometimes well and sometimes not so well. It’s something of a panic button to press if you don’t think you’re game’s being clever enough, and it can occasionally come across as a vehicle to be smug, self-referential and indulge in aren’t-we-clever idiosyncrasies.
That’s a shame, because when a game breaks the fourth wall well, it can be extremely memorable. I’m not just talking about the throwaway ‘gee, I think someone’s watching me’ line, I’m talking about proper commitment to the technique, going hell-for-leather because you can. When a game does that, it can be impressive, wild and ridiculous, because breaking the fourth wall can be a lot like going down the rabbit hole – you just want to see how deep it gets. Well make no mistake, it can get very deep indeed, and some developers have plumbed the depths with gay abandon.
It’s these moments I’m going to be talking about in this article. Be aware, there will be some SPOILERS in here, so prepare to duck out if you want your minds blown without prior knowledge. Otherwise, carry on.
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