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Ex-BioWare Devs Fuse Tribes And An Open World In Epoch

I hope they add a stretch goal that lets us vote for a better name than Epoch: Return

As long as this planet continues to spin, there will be a new Intriguing Kickstarter From Folks Who Used To Work On Major Triple-A Franchise X Of The Day. In this case, that Kickstarter is one for Epoch: Return, and the games that once – at least, in pieces, like so many tinker toys scattering from a bucket – emerged from developer Innate’s collective brain are Mass Effect and Dragon Age. But to be perfectly honest, Epoch doesn’t really bear much family resemblance to its distant BioWarian cousins. It takes place on a colossal, open planet that’s ripe for exploring, and you traverse it by way of high-flying momentum-based leaps that strike me as a midpoint between Mirror’s Edge and Tribes 2. It still looks rather floaty, insubstantial, and, well, early, but I definitely like the idea. Watch below.

The story focuses on a husband and wife explorer duo who end up stranded on – what else? – a world where everything is just hunky dory and also made of candy. Wait no, sorry, I meant a strange alien planet packed, jawbreaker-like, with layer upon layer of unknowable danger. Their relationship will apparently be put to the test as they attempt to repair their ship, escape certain doom, and all that good stuff.

The game will be an open-world explorer, but with a premium on mobility and traversal. Or, in short, this:

  • Moving, personal story designed by industry veterans of such titles as Mass Effect and Halo 4, where the player gets the final say
  • First-person terrain traversal gameplay – leap, slide, and slope-run across the barren landscape
  • Freedom to explore an enormous alien world and discover its secrets however the player wishes
  • Epic, symphonic-electronic soundtrack of haunting themes, using live instruments and analog synthesizers
  • Vivid and impactful visual design inspired by classic animation to encourage curiosity and inspire exploration
  • Narrative Design integrated across all disciplines to focus on immersion and emotional engagement
  • Launching for Windows on PC. ¬†We plan to make other platforms part of our stretch goals.

Looks solid, although I’m kinda sad that the wife seems to be removed from the action entirely and, indeed, might just end up a voice chattering in your ear every once in a while. “She’s not a princess who needs to be rescued,” they say, but out of sight, largely out of action isn’t much better. Here’s hoping I’m just misreading it all and she gets some good opportunities to push the plot forward.

Movement still needs some major polish, but I do love the idea of a freely explorable planet where I can ski around like the most carefree of Tribes super-soldiers frolicking in a hovering dandelion field. And the environments look just desolate enough to oppress with their atmosphere while also disguising a thick, nougaty center of secrets.

It’s also worth noting that the Innate team referenced Mass Effect 1 on multiple occasions, and this does seem kind of like an ideal version of that game’s planetary exploration. Hopefully this time it turns out a lot, you know, better.

There’s definitely potential here, but Innate unfortunately does not possess the innate ability to print infinite money. So of course they’ve taken to Kickstarter, where they’re seeking $150,000. Certainly not a modest sum, but not unachievable either.

What’s your take on Epoch: Return? Are you going to back it?

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Nathan Grayson

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