I'll be entirely honest, I joined this forum a few hours ago with making this thread as a sole reason. I have however read and made some post and will try my best to make this thread comprehensible and up to standard.
So, I recently had an interesting idea for a game. In this 2.5D puzzle/action platformer, you play as several characters stuck in one body. You can switch between the characters who each have their own strengths and weaknesses to help you overcome the obstacles you'll face along the way. At this point you might very well be thinking: "Sounds an awful lot like Trine.". And I'd have to agree with you, which is why I'll now get to the part that tells you why it's not like Trine.
The whole game is designed around the concept of permanent consequences for the characters. This means that if you jump or fall off a ledge that is a bit too high, the character you were playing with, might very well break his leg and spend the rest of the game with a limp. Or maybe he'll even simply die and you'll have to go on without him. The game auto saves over your only save file and without cheating, there is no way to undo your mistakes. The reason for this is because I wanted to have an extremely high penalty for mistakes without having to cause frustration or having to stop the game and break immersion.
I believe this has several positive effects:
The player has to be extremely careful and thoughtful when approaching an obstacle.
A wider range of feelings is accessible through gameplay (and not story).
The punishment for mistakes is neatly wrapped in within the world of the game and feels consistent with the rules of that world.
Your characters actually feel fragile and therefor more human.
The rest of the game is designed to amplify this effect. The characters all have their unique traits that make navigating the world easier and even make some content reachable that you could reach without them. (A very interesting and boring example could be a ledge that is too high to jump over for every character but one.). At a bunch of key point in the game, the way you handle certain obstacles will procedurally form friendships or hardships between your characters. Throughout the game you uncover a back story and each character offers a unique view on the events.
The back story as I currently see it works like this: The characters stuck in this body are actually several personalities of a person with dissociative identity disorder. The player will discover this rather quickly in the game as will the characters. The person these personalities belong to had a disinterested father who he desperately wanted to make proud. At some point the father left his mother without ever saying goodbye to her or their son. The son took this very hard and was sent to a psychiatrist who taught him techniques to shut out the pain. This resulted in a split personality.
From then on, the boy started creating new personalities for increasingly trivial and specific obstacles he faced in his life. He was however not consciously aware of doing this and at some point in his adult life, he noticed he seemed to black out sometimes and felt like he missed some parts of his life. Another visit to the psychiatrist reveals the many personalities. The therapist has the man relive the events that caused the creation of these personalities and tries to show his subconscious that these personalities are useless when it comes to overcoming obstacles.
This is what the player plays through, a physical manifestation of the memories of this man, with the added obstacles the therapist throws in to challenge the personalities.
So that's what I have so far. There are other things I've thought out but these are the ones I'd like feedback on.
I really like the core mechanic and would like to hear about other people's take on it and if anyone thinks it might be effective at all.
As for the back story, I'm not entirely sold on it but I believe it makes sense considering the core mechanics, it explains some weird aspects of the gameplay and neatly ties up all elements of the game into a consistent and sensible package. It is however rather cliche and has the overly typical twist.