In gaming circles, "linear" has become a dirty word indeed, a black mark against an otherwise fine videogame. In this age of choice and sandbox experiences, those games that stick to a more rigid path are often looked down upon by a sneering crowd who wish for every title to be about freedom and overwhelming possibility.
These people, of course, are wrong.
Linearity is not a bad thing, and can even be a most powerful tool in the right hands. Those who would accuse a game of being "too linear" often confuse a strength for a weakness. Indeed, the unwavering path can be as beautiful a route as the one with many winding branches, and I'm going to tell you why.