Skip to main content

Now Steaming: FMV Fighting Game Stay Dead

A weird thing

The blurring between video and video game is a weird history of technology. The storage space of CD-ROMs enabled FMV cutscenes and interactive movies. 3D graphics pushed out FMV as the new novelty. Motion capture let real actors mime basic actions for 3D models. Faster 3D hardware led to more-detailed character models able to perform more and more-intricate actions. Now we have dead-eyed glossy mannequins who are kissing why are they kissing this is so weird.

Stay Dead [official site] seems like it's from another time, with footage of real actors fighting strung together into something between a turn-based fighting game and an interactive movie. It first came out in 2012, but a surprise Steam release yesterday reminded me of all this again.

It's such a strange thing. It mimics the wacky characters of fighting games, with huge 'tribal' facial tattoos and Nazi regalia galore, and even has actors ape the bouncy idle animations of fighting game characters. But it's not like Mortal Kombat, where men simply become sprites. Fights are broken down into turns where attacks are performed with quick-time events, and different scenes play depending on how well you do. It's definitely from the interactive movie side of the video/video game divide.

You can have a crack in the browser-based demo, and here's a trailer:

Watch on YouTube

It's baffling yet fascinating. It'd be super exciting in the nineties (though not much better) but is so out of place in the tensies. Now called Stay Dead Evolution (I don't know what's evolved), it's arrived on Steam at £3.74 thanks to a launch discount.

Of course, that's a very quick and simplistic history I gave up there, missing out chunks and skipping over more causes and consequences and all that. What about the rotoscoping of The Last Express, Alice? Not to mention odd throwback blips like the video-captured faces of L.A. Noire. Strange things happen when video games and movies play together.

Addendum: This post didn't seem right without mentioning the charming FMV of Roundabout.

Read this next