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It’s been a good four years since the remake of Dear Esther [official site] took us to a spooky-ooky Hebridean island but we’re going a-wandering again soon. Remastered audio, an audio commentary from its makers, and more are coming our way thanks to a new version created for Dear Esther’s console release as a ‘Landmark Edition’ – which will be a free update on PC.
The next game from the creators of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and Dear Esther will be a systems-driven isometric adventure, inspired by tabletop RPGs and wargames. I spoke to The Chinese Room’s studio director Dan Pinchbeck about the game, Total Dark, and he explained that he’s wanted to make a game driven by RPG-style mechanics for a long time.
As well as providing us with some of the first details about Total Dark, he discussed the continuing influence of Esther, and the ways in which ‘walking simulators’ are returning to their first-person adventure roots.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture [official site], the latest from Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs developers The Chinese Room, is finally heading to PC. I spoke to studio head Dan Pinchbeck earlier this week and he told me that the completed PC port has now been delivered to Sony, who will be acting as publishers. Sony’s role means they’ll be responsible for selecting a release date and marketing the game, as they did with Helldivers when it came to PC late last year.
But it’s coming. The rapture is coming.
It always seemed likely that The Chinese Room’s The-Archers-Do-The-Apocalypse follow up to Dear Esther would get a PC release eventually, both given that it was originally planned to before Sony waved a bunch of cash at them and because PC is surely its most natural home. However, the extent of Sony’s involvement created a great deal of doubt about whether they’d possibly de-exclusify it.
Earlier rumours that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture [official site] had showed up in the Steam database are now being compounded by more apparent evidence, though absolutely nothing is for certain until there’s an official announcement. I really, really hope it’s true, though. … [visit site to read more]
1) Passivity makes me fidgety. Even in a film, TV show, gig or novel I’m hugely enjoying, my mind will at some point drift to the clock, wondering how soon until it ends, how soon until I can stand up or talk or check something or eat something or go somewhere. Awful, I know. Games, broadly, need me to be doing something most of the time, and that is the greatest weapon I have against a propensity to boredom that I am not at all proud of. This is also why I start to go spare in something like StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, as it spends so much of its duration pummelling me with particularly low-grade passive storytelling, and my frustration that I have to watch this nonsense instead of do things for myself goes through the roof.
Warning: in this piece I’m primarily talking about Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, which isn’t out on PC as yet, though I’ll willingly devour at least one item of clothing if it doesn’t walk this way eventually. Anyway, I talk about STALKER and Dear Esther too, so everything’s OK.>
Playing The Chinese Room’s new game, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, what strikes me almost immediately is not the mystery, the science fiction trappings or even the extreme prettiness. It’s that I’m in England. A very particular England. … [visit site to read more]
Perhaps the prototypical walking simulator, Dear Esther is a source of some division among the RPS Hivemind – John’s not at all taken with it – but I often catch my mind’s eye returning to its maudlin Hebridean coast. … [visit site to read more]
I’ve discovered a novel way to conduct interviews: tweet vaguely about something you’re interested in, then wait for two game designers you like and respect to have a chat about it and send you the logs. I carefully laid my bait: “I use ‘walking simulator’ warmly and earnestly. I adore walking around looking at stuff and reflecting. Walking is great! Sim it to the max.”
The trap snared my chums Ed Key and Ricky Haggett. Ed created walking simulator Proteus while Ricky is working on Hohokum, a dicking-about sim for PlayStations which might, with fewer puzzles, be called a walking simulator. Unsuspecting, they discussed Proteus, the ‘genre,’ exploring and wandering, and what a “walking simulator” even is. Afterwards they decided “Just email it to Alice,” rather than blog about the chat themselves. “She can turn it into ‘news,’” they said. Suckers!
As I watched early but surprisingly polished footage of The Old City, I was stricken by a few standout qualities: 1) it’s a very handsomely atmospheric game, wreathed in glittering flecks of Dishonored and Half-Life, 2) there are dying whales and I feel very bad for them, and 3) the narrator delivers his lines with the stop-go car crash thunderstorm cadence of William Shatner. The narrator in question is very clearly not> good ol’ Captain Kirk, but still. Phrasing much of what you say such! That it reads like this! Evokes the famed starship captain/lawyer/Priceline mascot! Whether you intend it to or not! The whole package really does seem quite lavishly produced, though. It’s a story-focused exploration game about… well, an old city, presumably. Also philosophy. Developer PostMod Softworks is being pretty vague beyond that, but there’s plenty to watch, if nothing else.
SOMA didn’t scare the scuba suit off me, but I did find a creeping sort of potential in its soaked-to-the-bone corridors. Amnesia: The Dark Descent 2 this ain’t. Or at least, it’s not aiming to be. Currently, it still feels a lot like a slower-paced, less-monster-packed Amnesia in a different (though still very traditionally survival-horror-y) setting, but Frictional creative director Thomas Grip has big plans. I spoke with him about how he hopes to evolve the game, inevitable comparisons to the Big Daddy of gaming’s small undersea pond, BioShock, why simple monster AI is better than more sophisticated options, the mundanity of death, and how SOMA’s been pretty profoundly influenced by indie mega-hits like Dear Esther and Gone Home.>