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When I beat the absolutely wonderful Thirty Flights Of Loving over the weekend, I had precisely one immediate reaction: “Wait, what just happened?” I cannot even begin to tell you how much that excites me. But then I decided to write an article about it, largely because one of my greatest passions in life is defying nonsencial figures of speech. At any rate, Thirty Flights Of Loving packs loads of information into not-even-30-minutes with hardly any dialog or exposition. But, in some ways, it’s even more of a supposed “un-game” than, say, Modern Warfare 3. I mean, all> agency is illusory. Without spoiling anything (note: that’ll happen a little bit after the break), you’re along for the ride – and that’s it. In a couple bits, it doesn’t even matter where you walk. The game will just jump-cut you to your intended location.
So why is it one of my absolute favorite games – and yes, I one hundred percent believe it’s a game – of the year? Because it made me think about what happened. No, scratch that. It required> me to think.
Dear Esther‘s brilliantly amorphous plot made me feel like I’d hit my head and – for the same reason that television’s left me deathly afraid of light flicks on the forehead or especially hard rainfall – acquired horribly debilitating amnesia. That, however, is probably where the similarities between Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and Dear Esther end, so thechineseroom’s also giving its more experimental spirit room to breathe with Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. It is, of course, about the end of the world – as these things so often are. But this is far from typical videogame pre/post/postmodern apocalypse fare.
Indie developer thechineseroom's experimental first-person adventure Dear Esther was a runaway success, despite the fact that wonderfully moody and atmospheric experience wasn't exactly what one might consider a game. Now that they've set the mood, it's time to add in a bit more game with Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, the story of the end of the world and the inconveniences that might cause.
In keeping with the isolated nature of Dear Esther, this isn't the end of the world on a global scale. Rather it's the end of the world in a tiny English village in Shropshire. It's a tight-knit community that keeps to themselves, so when God starts calling everybody home they aren't exactly at the front of his little black book.
Speaking to Beefjack, the game's creative director explains the inspiration behind Rapture:
"The concept of it is this almost '60s-'70s Brit science fiction – this John Wyndham, John Christopher kind of thing – of how the end of the world would be responded to in a rural English location," explains creative director Dan Pinchbeck. "It's kind of like that film that was made after the Second World War about what would have happened if the Nazis had invaded – and actually, the film was so controversial because not a lot would actually change for the vast majority of people, or they'd just accept it really, really easily."
There's definitely more game here than there was in Dear Esther, which really just featured a lot of walking. In Everybody's Gone to the Rapture the player will be given an hour to explore the village, interacting (or simply watching) six different characters (or memory traces of those characters) going about whatever business they might have at such a time. The player will be able to affect the story through interaction, opening and closing doors, discovering hidden places, or by simply standing there, letting events unfurl.
Whether you choose to or not is a different matter. It's perfectly feasible, says Pinchbeck, to play Rapture by standing still in the middle of the world. The game's characters will continue to follow their own path, and their actions will still change the world, so you'll still get to experience a story even if you decide not to participate in it.
With only a single real-time hour to experience a slice of humanity's end, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is the sort of game you'll want to play again and again, sharing your experiences with other players.
It all sounds very transcendent, much like Dear Esther, only with more freedom to shape your personal experience.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is coming to the PC in 2013. Hit up the link below for more screens and info.
Last week, I ran the first half of my recent chat with Steve Gaynor, formerly of Irrational and 2K Marin, and now of indie studio The Fullbright Company – who are working on mysterious, ambitious, suburban-set non-combat first-person game Gone Home. Being as I am an investigative journalist par excellence>, I decided that it would be appropriate to spend the second half of the interview forgoing questioning entirely in favour of simply shouting the names of other games at him. Games like Myst, Amnesia, Jurassic Park: Trespasser, Journey and Dear Esther. Rather than hanging up in disgust, he offered fascinating, thoughtful replies on the limits of interactivity in games and the sort of scale Gone Home is intended to operate on. (more…)
Bundles, crowdsourcing – these are not the only ways to bring in suitable monies for an independently-developed videogame. Fascinatingly strange IGF Technical Excellence award-snatcher Antichamber – as experienced by one John Walker here - has been signed up as the seventh beneficiary of the Indie Fund. That’s the investment initiative arranged by the likes of 2D Boy, Jon Blow, Capy and thatgamecompany. It follows in the proud footsteps of Dear Esther, Qube, and Monaco, and is to receive the funding necessary to push it over the finish line for a PC and Mac release later in this year of our endless, ursine lord, 2012. If it works out as well as it did for Dear Esther, both developer Alexander Bruce and the Indie Fund team will be terribly happy. (more…)