Arabian Nightstalker: Qasir al-Wasat

By Adam Smith on September 4th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

Arabian Nights meets Metal Gear in Qasir al-Wasat, a stealth adventure about summoning, spirits and secrets. Rather than being a soldier in a set of buttock-gripping trousers so tight that they render you impossible to spot from a distance of more than five metres, Qasir al-Wasat allows you to be an invisible creature capable of absorbing poisons and secreting them from your claws. Filled with mystery, puzzles and sneakery, it’s a thoughtful slice of eastern esoterica and I highly recommend taking a look. There’s a demo, for both PC and Mac, so you can decide whether it’s worth the $9.95 you’d otherwise spend on food/frivolity.

The video below might help, although the graphics somehow look much less lovely here than they do in the game itself. There’s a mixture of the classical and the cartoonish, which is best summed up by the developers.

In Qasir, we test an approach for representing his perception of our world through the graphics and sounds. Everything that he considers weaker than him are represented in a less realistic way.

The differences aren’t quite as extreme as that might suggest but the palace and its people are definitely seen through the lens of magical realism, and not simply in terms of their appearance.

The game begins in a forest that is not quite of this Earth. A between places sort of a place, like a Travel Lodge or a motorway service station. There’s no time to buy an overpriced egg sandwich though because a sorcerer binds you to his will and orders you to kill and steal. Sounds easy for an invisible poison-fiend, right? Unfortunately one blow from a guard can end your existence in the physical realm, so sneaking, hiding and backstabbing is the way forward.

Sidling up to humans and laughing at their fleshy faces while listening to their conversations reveals that there are all sorts of weird mystical goings-on in the mysterious palace that you are looting. Poison-spewing traps have been replaced with pressure-triggered clouds of pigmented dust, specifically designed to unveil the invisible. SOMEONE KNEW YOU WERE COMING AND ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS. Being covered in dust reveals your form and the only way to cleanse yourself and slip into unseeing again is to dive in a pool of water. Even the blood of slain enemies can spatter across you, revealing an outline of claw and tail as you run through the corridors.

There’s plenty to discover and the unspooling of the story through overheard dialogue and the discovery of diaries and letters works extremely well, mostly due to the strong writing. I’m surprised that there’s been no fanfare around this game. It’s an accomplished and individual piece of work, with a well-conjured setting and aesthetic, and it tackles the problems and promises of stealth as well as anything I’ve played in a good while. So, that’s my tiny fanfare. At least try the demo.

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18 Comments »

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  1. Hoaxfish says:

    Completely lost track of this game, but it still looks wonderful in both art and gameplay.

    It’s also up on Greenlight

  2. Torgen says:

    Does it have subtitles? Mission-critical dialogue is the bane of my gaming existence, since I’m hearing impaired.

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      Screenshots seem to suggest so: http://www.desura.com/games/qasir-al-wasat/images/pre-order-promotional-screens7
      But I don’t own the game so don’t take my comment as confirmation.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Absolutely. Dialogue pops up in box outs over a character when you are close enough to hear them speak.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Ooh, on the subject of subtitles, will it be possible to have Arabic dialogue with English subtitles?

      I found listening to The Witcher’s dialogue in Polish really boosted its otherworldliness (and also I find it harder to detect bad acting in languages I don’t understand)

      • lofaszjoska says:

        That would be delightful indeed, though i doubt it. At least i think they wouldn’t have left a mistake in the game’s title if they had the manpower to do a translation with voiceovers.
        Not to mention that i haven’t heard a single voiced line in the trailer.

        Still, game looks fantastic.

  3. caddyB says:

    I love the theme. I’ll buy it when I have a spare 10$ that I don’t need to save for college expenses.

  4. PleasingFungus says:

    Oo, looks lovely! I’ll have to remember to take a look after work.

  5. Gonefornow says:

    Interesting idea, seldom used visual style, 2D and it has a demo!
    Blimey. I’m all over this thing.
    Going to try it out…
    Tomorrow.
    Which is now and here are my thoughts.

    The idea and the style really make me like this one as they both compliment the gameplay.
    Unfortunately it has some issues on the controls front I find agonizing even:
    -No toggle for stealth. There could also be an option to switch the running/stealthing the other way around.
    -No mouse support. The moving around, apart from the aforementioned, works fine, but my goodness, the controls on the alchemy puzzle are really clunky with a keyboard.

    Also a few bugs:
    -If you rapidly wiggle left and right while running up or down the creature won’t make a sound.
    -If you rapidly tap any direction while walking on water it won’t splash.

  6. Vermonde says:

    My eyes!!!
    It’s so weird looking at this old trailer XD

    You can check the most up-to-date trailer at our GreenLight page

    Thanks for publishing us here RPS =D


    Anderson Vermonde Hamilko

  7. marcelpace says:

    LOVELY! =P

    indeed, there is a new official trailer that can be found here
    http://vimeo.com/aduge/anightinbetween

  8. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Ooh. Will definitely take a look at the demo. Thanks, Adam!

  9. marcelpace says:

    Aaaaand in the Indiecade 2012 nominee list!
    http://www.indiecade.com/2012/nominees/

    =PPPPP

    _
    Marcel Pace
    sounddesigner @ aduge studio

  10. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Wouldn’t super tight buttock-gripping trousers make you MORE visible rather than less?

  11. Charles de Goal says:

    I’ve played two thirds of this game and it’s really good. Gripping atmosphere (with delicious sounds), very nice graphics and a story that unveils to be more complicated than it seemed at the beginning. The stealth / action / adventure gameplay is quite cool too.

  12. Contrafibularity says:

    I tried voting, but it doesn’t seem to register. Also trying to place a comment on Steam Greenlight or any website related to “steamcommunity.com” just gives me:

    Sorry, some kind of error has occurred: There was an error communicating with the network. Please try again later.

    Although I’ve had this for about 4 years now (though steampowered.com does work). I really doubt it’s a firefox add-on causing probs because I whitelisted the entire site, still nothing. I’m not switching to another browser for steamcommunity.com, though.