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Mass Affect: Ambrov X Boasts BioWare Talent

I hope that bottom choice means I can always solve my problems by poisoning somebody.

If I had to guess, I’d imagine that the Mass Effect series probably cost EA and BioWare somewhere in the realm of $17.53 to produce. That said, I am terrible with numbers and am willing to allow a slight amount of wiggle room up to, say, $999 quadrillion. It comes as a bit of a surprise, then, that developer Loreful hopes to achieve similar (though decidedly lower-fidelity) scope in Ambrov X with a mere $500,000. On the upside, it’s working with the exceedingly fascinating Sime~Gen sci-fi universe and may well manage to procure the services of former BioWare senior creative type Jennifer Hepler. But there are a few bumps on the lightspeed wish-upon-a-(kick)star(ter) highway to completion – not the least of which is the fact that Hepler won’t be on board unless this non-legacy game franchise can beam up $750,000.

Yeah, it looks a little rough at this point. Then again, Loreful’s been very upfront in pointing out that this is pre-alpha footage, so it stands to change pretty massively before its planned 2015 release date. But still: that running animation. Yikes.

The game’s universe – which is set in the decades-old Sime~Gen saga created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah – sounds exceedingly intriguing, however. The story is an ambitious multi-chapter effort that spans all sorts of worlds, ideologies, and political systems, but the pulsating fissure at the heart of the universe is one of a distinctly personal nature.

“Our character-driven story is fueled by yourself, your companion and the unique bond you share. It focuses on a single but incredibly deep relationship that varies depending on your race and gender. As a Sime, you play a character of tremendous power and driving need. You depend on your companion to feed from their life energy, and gain incredible power from doing so. But there is violence in your very nature – can you refrain from the thrill of the kill?”

“As a Gen, your power over your companion is both absolute and terrifyingly fragile. What are the limits of your ability to give of yourself to strengthen your power as a team?  The bond between Sime and Gen is a powerful one, but far more dangerous than anyone admits. Failure to maintain this delicate bond may risk losing yourself, your companion and peace amongst your people.”

The rest sounds like the stuff of fairly standard BioWare-inspired space opera role-playing, so think action-based combat, choices that boast a lack of good/evil binaries, and lots of objects that hum with a soothing blue glow for no apparent reason.

For obvious reasons, Hepler’s talents would be quite useful in orchestrating this space opera, but she’s currently off in the far-flung reaches of Stretch Goal Hyperquadrant II. You might remember her as the BioWare employee who dared to suggest that RPGs don’t always need combat, which prompted unending, utterly gross harassment from gaming’s nuttiest of peanut galleries. Recently, she left BioWare “for family reasons” and to pursue freelance work, and now here she is. Will she actually join the Ambrov X team full-time? It’s tough to say at this point, though the Kickstarter’s (as of writing) total of a bit more than $30,000 doesn’t bode particularly well.

Still though, the universe sounds interesting, and I’d love to see a less EA-ified take on the galaxy-trotting outer space contemplaction genre. Think you’ll end up backing it?

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Nathan Grayson

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