Straight out of the gate, there’s more to Lucas Pope’s new first-person mystery-solver than one might assume. The above image isn’t some stylisation or striking image meant to attract attention without explaining the game, but an actual example of how he plans for it to look. The man behind Papers, Please is building the tale of an investigation into an abandoned ship and planning an art style reminiscent of the earliest games, something he’s termed “1bit rendering.” We’ll play as an “insurance adjustor for the East India Company’s London Office” with the intent to “find means to board the ship and recover the captain’s logbook for assessment.” Interesting, original, but a little more standard than his previous fares. Have a click through for more details and a gif that makes the art style a little easier to understand.
Not the standard animation it may appear, this is actually a Unity-rendered start screen Lucas has put together. He details it in this post including a behind-the-scenes shot of how it was put together. Serving as a devlog, there’s a lot of interesting stuff chilling out in that thread, including how he plans to make the art style actually work. Early attempts were, to be kind, devastatingly uggo so more complex steps had to be taken to wrestle it into something ledgible. Taking the lowest of the low-fi and attempting to throttle it into 3D submission is exactly the sort of mind-bending task I’d set myself after managing to turn picture-matching into one of the most thought-provoking games of last year.
Story details are thin on the ground, naturally, though in his initial pitch Lucas mentions a “gameplay hook” he’ll reveal more about later down the line. I’d be willing to bet a full hold of tea and half my merchant vessels on there being a bit more to the final game than hidden objects to find. The ghost ship concept is rife with supernatural undertones, but my gut says the only ghost’s we’ll be seeing are of the Gone Home variety. We’ll likely have more to follow as Lucas’ outside estimates put completion within the next six months.