The Strange Dissonance Between the Defiance TV Series and Game

2 min

The story of Defiance is an interesting one, as the game has been in development since 2008 and since then it was scooped up to be a television show as well, airing on the Syfy Network. After years of waiting, Defiance was released on April of this year, with the tie-in show launching just a few weeks afterwards. The launch of the game was indeed marred by some pretty serious bugs and server issues, but when things were straightened out players discovered a fun MMORPG third person shooter that has a shared universe as the television series.

Over this weekend I made myself sit down and watch the first four episodes of Defiance to see just how bad the show would be, because honestly, a videogame tie-in series? It had to be bad. I’ve been a fan of science fiction for most of my life and knew to have low expectations for a series of this nature, especially one that was getting mediocre reviews across the board. The thing is, while some of the visual effects might look bad on a larger HD television, the show is actually pretty good. The characters are the same list of archetypes that you’d expect within this kind of show, but their personalities are fleshed out just enough to where you actually don’t mind them and begin to like them. The writing won’t be winning any major awards, but the episodes have cohesive, if not entertaining plots and the show really does win you over with time. I’m not sure that this will be the next Firefly or Battlestar Galactica, but it doesn’t have to be, because it is developing its own identity and doing a good job at it.

Even if this isn’t the most brilliant work of science fiction ever, what is clear after some time with both the game and the series is that they don’t pair up all that well together. In fact, if they didn’t share a universe and a few characters every now and then, I’d say they were entirely different things. That isn’t a slam against the game, because it is a fun, if not unremarkable MMO third person shooter with some RPG elements mixed in, but the tone and gameplay do not match the series at all.

The series focuses less on action and more on the political and dramatic aspects of living in a town built on the remains of a buried St. Louis where humans and aliens co-exist on the newly-terraformed beyond repair Earth. The game is more of a run and gun without much in the way of direction; you find an assignment, kill enemies and spend time at some sort of console in most missions, you do PvE events or you do some PvP for some mindless fun. There isn’t a lot in the way of direction and narrative, though, nor is there much in the way of character building or really making you care about the character that you are using.

The fact is, Defiance on its own is a very fun game and definitely worth your time, but this is a rare case where the product chosen to spin off from the main property, the television series, has made the game look a bit stark in comparison. I don’t want to be that guy, but a game more in the vein of a BioWare game would match up a whole lot better with the Defiance television series.

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  1. I love this game, I had low expectations coming into it and now I can’t stop playing. I am enjoying the show as well. Good stuff, I recommend a buy to anyone considering this game.

    1. I really can’t disagree. I went into both with low, low expectations and there I was last night watching the damned show at 9PM and the game is super fun.

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