Mafia III and the Linear Lessons of The Last of Us

Due Date: Pending

Note: This entry is based solely on my impressions of the game’s first act (recently released as a broken demo on the PlayStation Store), the story trailers released leading up to release, and a desire to see a well-executed crime drama told in a linear format (as opposed to chasing Grand Theft Auto’s spot on the throne of open-world titles). 

  • An open setting does not necessitate the creation of an open world.


  • Think about The Last of Us where Bill and Joel are pushing the truck, with Ellie trying to kickstart the ignition — players do not drive the truck, nor are they driven to use the open landscape and run away.
  • The short set piece pressures the player to help Ellie escape whilst hinting at a flat, desolate, rural landscape. You never perform a similar action in the game again, and the sequence is more memorable because of it.
  • The excellent characterisation in Mafia III – such as Sal Marconi spluttering at the whiskey offered him by Sammy, the leader of the black mob – is wasted by having to throw open-world conventions which are ultimately a disservice to the serious narrative Hangar 13 have constructed.
  • GTA is a satirical slice of Americana, where the absurdities of contemporary America are part of its charm. The chaos of open-world gameplay is factored into its narrative, hence it gets away with having characters like Trevor Phillips.

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