In most story-based games, you play as one character from beginning to end. This makes it easier for the player to assign skill points, keep track of inventory, and build a connection to the body they’re inhabiting. Sometimes, though, one body just isn’t enough. In Double Fine’s Headlander, for example, your disembodied head jumps from robot to robot to open doors and fight enemies.
But that’s not the first game to let you play around with multiple bodies. We took a quick dive through gaming history to unearth a few other times when all you needed to solve a problem was a new perspective.
Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey
Being able to control enemy Slags by chanting is just one of many weird things about Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey. It has a strange sense of humor, its characters are extremely quirky, and it takes place on a series of interconnected screens instead of distinct levels (which was a little strange back in 1997). You can read Joe Juba’s review of the updated New ‘n’ Tasty edition here.
Geist’s premise has a lot of potential. Scaring humans into a vulnerable state then possessing their bodies to solve puzzles sounds unique, and taking on the bodies of other people can lead to some great story moments. Unfortunately, most of the puzzles in Geist are fairly simple and rely on simple lock-and-key mechanisms, turning the ability to possess other people into just another way to open doors instead of letting you experiment however you want.
Destroy All Humans! 2
In the original Destroy All Humans, alien protagonist Crypto can create holograms of humans to impersonate and distract his way to his goals. In the sequel, he can body-snatch them proper, using them for mostly the same purposes. Here, again, it’s mostly used as a way to get into otherwise restricted areas. But as one of multiple tools in your arsenal to wipe out humanity, it adds some flavor instead of making things boring, and “body-snatching” felt more in line with the vibe of the series than creating holograms.
Much like Destroy All Humans! 2, Prototype lets you become an ordinary person in order to infiltrate places you aren’t supposed to get into (in this case, military bases). It’s not exactly body-swapping (rather than take control of a person’s actions, you transform into the last person you consumed for energy), but it’s close enough. Besides, it has the same effect: for a few moments you became someone else, taking on their traits and using them to your advantage.
In Ghost Trick, you can’t swap bodies, but you can do the next best thing: possess objects in the world around you to solve adventure game-style puzzles. You manipulate doors to get people to move around, to notice certain things in the room, or prevent someone from dying. A lot of this involves figuring out how to get from one end of the room to the other using moving objects in tandem with each other, like using fan blades to swing a rope. You can also travel through any phone line instantly — an ability most of us wish we had.