Please stop using these meaningless words in your video game and movie titles: Origins Edition

The next entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise is going to be subtitled 'Origins'. On its own, it's a fine descriptor, especially if this upcoming game explains the roots of the Assassin/Templar conflict. One problem: according to IMDB, it would find itself in the company of over a dozen games released in the past decade with the word 'Origins' in the title. 

The English language is a beautiful work of collective human art. Its rules and constructions have evolved over centuries of literature, theater, and other forms of linguistic expression. It contains millions of words that can be attached together to in an infinite array of combinations to express a wealth of human thought and ideas. And yet so many titles are overflowing with the same small handful of words. It's not just games, either - movie titles are rotten with all kinds of nothing words, padded with syllables meant to designate its status as the brand new thing and little else. Let's all agree that we should take these superfluous subtitles and bury them somewhere deep so we never have to say them again.  


Definition: (noun) a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement 

Used by: Alien: Covenant, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, a half-dozen movies just named Covenant 

Please stop: 'Covenant' was a spooky word, once. It conjured up images of illicit deals with demonic powers beyond our understanding, and if you saw a movie with the word Covenant in it, you knew you were in for some real darkness. Now it's just a thing you say when you need some filler sounds to follow another word. Was there even a covenant in the most recent Alien movie? Can you make a covenant with an alien? How would that even work? On second thought, I'd rather not think about that.


Definition: (noun) the act, process, or an instance of redeeming 

Used by: Red Dead Redemption, Terminator 3: Redemption, Headhunter: Redemption, The Raid: Redemption, The Shawshank Redemption, The Redemption: Kickboxer 5  

Please stop: 'Redemption' is a very serious word, and when used sparingly, it adds a nice, subtle layer of humanity to a title. Red Dead Redemption is about a cowboy trying to repent for his past actions; The Shawshank Redemption is about a man falsely accused of murder trying to get out of prison with his soul intact. These things are fine. But when you're mindlessly throwing it on your video game tie-ins, PS2 ports of Dreamcast games, or the fifth entry of your direct-to-DVD B-tier martial arts film starring a Jean-Claude Van Damme wannabe, the word tends to lose its meaning. 


Definition: (noun) ancestry, parentage; rise, beginning, or derivation from a source 

Used by: Dragon Age: Origins, Batman: Arkham Origins, Silent Hill: Origins, Rayman Origins, Final Fantasy Origins, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Assassin's Creed Origins (rumored)

Please stop: Easily the worst offender on this list, 'Origins' is now a meaningless bit of nothing thanks to the endless franchise-ification of entertainment. Every popular thing has to get its beginning somewhere, and if you need to pad out the bottom line and placate fans' never-ending thirst for All The Answers, slap the word 'Origins' on it and you're good to go. I mean, look at that list of names. Dragon Age: Origins is the first game in the series - it doesn't even need the subtitle. What are they going to do if they actually decide to make a prequel? Rayman Origins and Assassin's Creed Origins (if that is its final name) are now canonically set in the same far-reaching Ubiverse in my head. Hell, the only thing on this list that actually deserves the name is Final Fantasy Origins, because it's just a collection of the first two Final Fantasy games - quite literally the origins of that franchise.


Definition: (noun) recompense, reward; the dispensing or receiving of reward or punishment especially in the hereafter 

Used by: Resident Evil: Retribution, Ride to Hell: Retribution, Dead to Rights: Retribution, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 - Retribution, Resistance: Retribution

Please stop: Oh look, the word 'revenge' went to college and got a degree in creative writing. You know, I don't think I've ever seen the word 'retribution' anywhere other than directly after a colon. It's the kind of word that shows up several entries into a series that had been flagging since its inception, when the final remaining B-list actor realizes the role is a career vampire and decides to take a SyFy original movie gig instead. It's a thing you slap at the end of a title once you've completely run out of other nouns to use. Stop it.


Definition: (noun) a settling of accounts; an act or instance of reckoning 

Used by: Hunter: The Reckoning (and its sequels), Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Dead to Rights: Reckoning, WWE Day of Reckoning, movies featuring any combination of the words 'Reckoning' and/or 'Day'

Please stop: 'Reckoning' is definitely a fun word to say; it just sort of rolls off the tongue, allowing you to savor its consonants each time you read it aloud. Thing is, it's just a worn-out cliche. Oh, so the tough-as-nails action star has arrived on the scene, and he's come to collect? That's basically most of pop culture. If the word can be added to roughly half of all of the world's entertainment and still make sense, maybe you can just drop it, because it's basically assumed at this point.


Definition: (noun) one that returns after death or a long absence 

Used by: Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom, Final Fantasy 12: Revenant Wings, like a million movies called Revenant, with or without an attached 'The'

Please stop: This is just pretentious. Sure, the word can make sense when used properly (like that movie where Leo gets left for dead in the wilderness and fights a bear… eats a bear? A lot happens in that flick), but 'revenant' is the kind of word that just sounds fancier than it really is. Look at the title for Final Fantasy 12: Revenant Wings and tell me what that game is about from its name alone, I dare you. 


Definition: (noun) an act of revealing or communicating divine truth; something that is revealed by God to humans

Used by: Assassin's Creed Revelations, Myst 4: Revelation, Resident Evil: Revelations (and the sequel), Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Dragon Quest 6: Realms of Revelation, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, Hellraiser: Revelations

Please stop: Just as bad as Origins (and equally abused by Ubisoft), 'Revelations' is a word that simply isn't used for what it actually means. What once pertained to a special message of the Biblical apocalypse delivered to John the Apostle, it's now thrown on something whenever there's a second or third sequel offering a middling plot twist.  Unless your game or movie has some kind of earth-shattering development that fundamentally changes your perception of reality (virtual or otherwise), avoid using this word ever again.

David Roberts
David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.