Viva La Revolución: Tale Of Tales Kickstarting Sunset

By Alice O'Connor on June 17th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

Posterrific.

For a studio which makes such quiet and contemplative games, Tale of Tales have been bafflingly controversial. Along with the likes of Phil Fish and Jonathan Blow, the team behind Bientôt l’été and The Path have been Two Minutes Hate figures for people incensed that anyone might suggest video games aren’t perfect just the way they are. Tale of Tales have also become more video game-y, though. Luxuria Superbia had scores and all, and now they’re making a “first-person thriller” with influences including such–gasp–video games as Gone Home and Dear Esther.

Sunset is a fascinating idea. It’s set in an apartment in a fictional South American country going through civil war in 1972, playing as an immigrant housekeeper who revisits to clean then gets to know its resident by exploring his stuff. If you’re petulant enough doubt whether it’s a video game, look, it must be: they’re running a Kickstarter.

Sunset will have players poking around the swanky apartment of a mysterious art collector, who’s out during your weekly visit but is tied to the revolution somehow. What she does, what she changes, and what state she leaves the place in can build a relationship with him as he responds with notes and gestures or even draw her into the revolution.

It’s a lovely idea for a war game, where you’re simply someone living through it, and still sounds very Tale of Tales. Their interests in exploration, curiosity, communication, and relationships run all the way back to The Endless Forest. As much as Tale of Tales have become more video game-y, video games have also become more Tale of Tales-y. Michaël Samyn’s “not a manifesto” for ‘notgames’ from 2010 doesn’t sound nearly as unconventional today.

They’ve landed some arts funding and put in money of their own, but are looking for $25,000 to complete it. Pledging at least $15 will get you a copy of the game when it’s finished, which they expect will be next March. Though for $10,000 you can have Tale of Tales come clean your house.

[Let's have a giant aside where we talk about conflicts of interest. Hoo boy. So. I visited and stayed with Tale of Tales while they were filming the Kickstarter video. This is because I was travelling with my friend Leigh Alexander from a conference in Belgium where we'd both talked, and Leigh's consulting on Sunset. She's doing this together with Ste Curran, who I'm also pally with. All that aside, I am a professional with a professional history of gushing about their games since long before I met them. They're pretty great.]

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32 Comments »

  1. husainhz7 says:

    HYPE
    we need more non violent puzzle first person games. But not like gone home. Gone home felt like a waste to me. MY opinion

    • GameCat says:

      Pretty much this. For me Gone Home or Dear Esther were nice experiments, but the path (no pun intended) they took was just dead end.

      • The Random One says:

        Me, I think Gone Home was on the right path; it just didn’t walk as far as it needed to.

        E: In fact, after watching the pitch video, I think this game might be the one to go all the way. Very interesting.

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        SuddenSight says:

        Huh. I haven’t played the gone home, but I have enjoyed Dear Esther. As walking sims go, proteus was too impersonal for me, but the lovely narration and detailed, surreal setting of DearEsther made me happy.

        Either way, this game sounds interesting, bit I am too cynical (and poor) to back it.

        • CannedLizard says:

          Really if you’re looking for something like Dear Esther and Proteus, and you put value on having personable characters to react to, I can’t recommend Gone Home more highly for you. I had one or two issues with it regarding value, but if you get it during a sale I’d say you’ve got the perfect game for your tastes.

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        I think the path taken by Dear Esther could be walked down for many years and never cease to interest me. I just want to walk around an interesting place with narration and music. If that is a dead end, you will find me sitting at a bench on the very tip of it.

        That not more games have been made in similar vain bothers me endless. (I do not think Gone Home really offers the same type of experience.)

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      Klydefrog says:

      I loved Gone Home but that’s by the by, I just sincerely hope that when you say “non violent puzzle first person games” you’re not talking about games like Myst…

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      lurkalisk says:

      Not to insult these games or those who like them, but they’re all just a bit of a waste to me.
      I have limited enough time as it is, and there are plenty of reasons I play games like:

      1. Playing and finishing the best of the best from the past several years (I haven’t finished even the first Witcher game yet).
      2. Drunken splitscreen multiplayer with friends (as circumstance permits)
      3. Replaying classics to sate my nostalgia gland (VtM:B most recently).
      4. Brief online multiplayer bouts.
      5. Lengthy low stress but mentally challenging sessions (4X for example).
      6. Micheal Bay sorts of games. Say what you will about the shallowness of pretty colours and explosions but sometimes fireworks are just fun.

      …And there’s not enough time for all of it. So when some weird indie thing with nary 2 game mechanics comes trundling at the adorable speed of unjustifiable self import, my usual response is “I wish there was more to you, but as it stands, I’m busy.”

      Don’t worry though, these games are totally games. I’m not one of those petulant mongrels with the gall to have a differing opinion!

  2. X_kot says:

    So excited to see Tale of Tales go off in another completely different direction. This is one of the crucial differences between the indie and big-budget markets: indies aren’t usually shackled to franchises, so they can explore intriguing ideas. I’ve been let down by ToT before (Bientot l’Ete was an empty experience for me, sadly), but they’ll have my backing for this venture.

  3. steviebops says:

    ‘Hate figures for people incensed that anyone might suggest video games aren’t perfect just the way they are.’

    Wat?

    • SillyWizard says:

      Yeah, inflammatory commentary is inflammatory.

    • The Random One says:

      Agreed. There are many other reasons to hate either Blow or Fish. And yeah, there are other reasons to hate Tales, too.

      • SillyWizard says:

        For some reason Blow is the only one of these people that I find endlessly entertaining and wonderful. He gets a free pass for all of his ludicrous commentary.

        (I think it’s because he and I exist on the same wavelength of pedantic assholery.)

        • Geebs says:

          Totally. I don’t know whether it’s just that I’m a total nerd and wannabe programmer, but Blow only ever seems to be controversial because he’s told it like it is. I have to assume that all of the hate comes from poncey types that he’s upset by demonstrating his relative excess of intelligence and talent.

          (I actually also think that Tale of Tales are rather sweet, perfectly self-aware and are nowhere near as up themselves as the press likes to pretend they are.)

          Edit: and that was before I watched the video! I like.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Surely no reason to hate anyone because of the opinions they express?

        • Smion says:

          Eh, I hate a very big number of people for the opinions they hold and express, as someone who isn’t actually victim to physical violence very often, it’s actually among my number one reason for hating people.
          Edit: Despite that and my slightly irrational dislike for ToT (I think it’s not because they’re so full of themselves but rather because they seem to be so incredibly full of some obscure italian anarchist poet who really, like, talks to them and stuff), this actually interests me quite a bit sonce my big problem with Gone Home wasn’t its lack of traditional gameyness but rather the lack of a main story that is even remotely engaging.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      It’s a misreading of the criticism directed at art notgames. It’s not that people think games are perfect, and it’s not that people think all games need explosions (like the Kickstarter video suggests). It’s an issue of game design and play affordances; many people criticise these “games” because they don’t think story choices is enough to make a “game”. I think it’s mainly a defensive reaction to the implication that Gone Home et al are “the future” or “the maturation of the medium” or whatever they are hailed as. That reaction often manifests as a dismissive and exclusionary attitude, but advocates of those art notgames are often equally dismissive of other kinds of games. (See Mattie Brice calling for #deathtosystems, for example.)

      If Alice and others really think “gamers” only want shooting and explosions, they need to explain why a mostly nonviolent puzzle game like Portal was so popular among that same audience.

      • tasteful says:

        because you shoot the portals

        • tasteful says:

          (my first serious rock paper shotgun post maybe?[someone can google it for me if theyre curious] but here goes)
          i think tale of tales makes not very fun games, i think games arent “meant” to be fun, i think tale of tales has advanced the dialogue on games tremendously, and that theyve advanced games themselves tremendously, i think this looks great. im worried that my post that im replying to is on the wrong side of jokey. that is all

          • Jack Mack says:

            ” i think tale of tales has advanced the dialogue on games tremendously, and that theyve advanced games themselves tremendously”

            Could you explain how? I’m not being argumentative here, just curious. It’s a bold claim.

      • Josh W says:

        I don’t have a problem with gone home, but I do feel like gone home makes good on certain trends that were already damaging other games I liked; the emphasis on art assets and storytelling over designing systems and gameplay well, pushing things towards linearity.

        To be honest, I feel like a few of the really enjoyable indie games have resulted from the programers and the art team parting company, and each making their own games, low fi procedural games on one side, finely crafted but low interactivity games on the other, both satisfying in their own domains. It makes me wonder whether in a few years time we’ll see indie “supergroups” recreating AAA games, bringing together the various skills they’ve learned on their separate games.

  4. Michael Fogg says:

    Looks interesting. I wonder if there will be an option to steal the guy’s silver cutlery?

  5. forddent says:

    Oh man I am super-into this whole thing. Guess they’ve got my money.

  6. Lanfranc says:

    Well that looks rather interesting.

  7. PopeRatzo says:

    they’re running a Kickstarter.

    Of course they are.

  8. Runs With Foxes says:

    Looks like an interesting piece of interactive fiction.

  9. bigjig says:

    “If you’re petulant enough doubt whether it’s a video game, look, it must be: they’re running a Kickstarter.”

    Well I’m convinced lol

  10. Frank says:

    Honestly, that sounds great. I’m glad to see them working with a small, detailed area and taking hints from Gone Home. A lot of my hate for their other games is based on their being shallow walking simulators (sometimes with collectibles). There’s little worse than a long-distance walking simulator with pretty graphics (like many modern RPGs), and the fact that ToT thought that was a good medium in which to do *anything* spoke strongly against them.

    And, no, the people that hate ToT (like me, up until now) are not the same people who hate Blow and Fish. Fez was one of my favorite games of recent years and I’m really looking forward to The Witness. I think those two have just suffered from having their every word scrutinized by internet mobs. Blow is lucky to have a thick skin and careful speaking style, but it must have sucked for him too, back when.

  11. Laurentius says:

    Of course you like it, it’s a game for game journalists. Game to talk about and then extensively write about for months, while confiriming your status as a special caste (akin to Egyptian priests and priestess ) of gaming population. Game for playing ? Maybe but not necessarily.

  12. Arkki says:

    As someone who really liked the storytelling and atmosphere in Dear Esther and was moved to tears by Gone Home, this project got me very excited. I’m curious about how they are aiming to take the mechanics further and split the narratives, hope it works out well.

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    Sinomatic says:

    Intriguing prospect. I very much liked Dear Esther and absolutely loved Gone Home (being a teenage girl in the 90s myself, it hit many nails on their heads). I’m looking forward to seeing where this project goes.

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    cpt_freakout says:

    At last, a game in/about Latin America where you’re not some US goon or where you don’t control a bunch of US goons (or are a conquistador, for that matter). Given Tale of Tales’ track record, I guess we can also expect a sensible, smart understanding of the politics of such a setting… or something very pretentious in its stead, but I really hope it’s the earlier.