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Only An L Short Of Infamy: Sonder

SONDER

Edit – fixed video

How awful of me to immediately force this Choices In Space game to be compared to the notoriously broken SOLDNER. It’s like I’m accusing Sonder of being rubbish before we know anything about it. I’m not doing that, I promise, the name’s just unfortunate. Here, let me make up for this insult by bestowing upon the game’s excellent announcement trailer RPS’s prestigious ‘Best Use Of The Alan Parsons Project On A Tuesday Morning’ Award.

PROG ROCK IN SPACE GO:

That’s an Alien-inspired spaceship if ever I saw one. And that’s a good thing: much as vidjagams borrow liberally from Aliens, the stark, minimalist set design in Alien is something far less exhausted. Its whiteness and fusion of the futuristic with the humdrum is so refreshing against the metal corridors and grey-brown dim that abounds. Obviously Moon’s a touchstone there too.

As for the game itself, it sounds very ambitious. It plays out in real-time, with your choices and actions – or lack thereof – affecting the outcome. You can also switch character at will, for this is not the tale of a specific protagonist, but an ensemble piece. Changing perspective might make chosen actions when playing as another character suddenly look very different.

“The goal of the game is to illustrate that judgement is heavily influenced by perspective,” explains dev Kamai Media. “Acts that seem random, irrational, malicious or even generous or noble, may register differently when you are put in the position where you have to choose to make them. Ultimately, it is a question whether any action, in itself, is intrinsically good or bad or is it simply perceived as one or the other.”

Exploration, chat and mucking about with assorted on-ship items are the order of the day in terms of core mechanics, and there’s a plan to have that happen in multiplayer too, with players presumably co-operating or working at cross-purposes as they so choose. More details on how this may work are here.

By the way, the devs say Sonder is also know as ‘The Station’, which I really do think they should officially rename it to. Because Soldner. ‘Sonder’ itself is Tumblr-made term intended to express “the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” SONDER.

The Station – please, let’s call it that – is currently ‘pre-alpha’ and looking for industry funding, so we may not see it for a while. Certainly looks and sounds promising, though. The most important thing is that I’ve spent the morning listening to Alan Parsons, of course.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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