InSomnia Has Old-School RPG Style, Modern Graphics

If you’ll remember, we’ve posted about InSomnia before on RPS – Adam because he came across the “dieselpunk” post-apocalyptic role-player’s Kickstarter page, and me because I never sleep. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter ultimately met its untimely end in the dank, art deco-rated tunnels of obscurity, pulling in only a small fraction of the $70,000 it needed. Part of that, developer MONO contends, is due to miscommunications on what exactly the game entails. It’s about to launch another Kickstarter, but before it does that, it wants to clear a few things up. New trailer and details below.

Due to a lack of clarity in the game’s original Kickstarter, many believe InSomnia to be some sort of MMO, which is apparently not the case. MONO explained:

“InSomnia is an atmospheric single-player\co-op RPG, set in the dieselpunk, apocalyptic universe, “living” open world sandbox & realtime, tactical gameplay. InSomnia will send you into murky retro-futuristic universe of metal jungles permeated by Noir and Dieselpunk. Young Noman awakes from the cryogenic sleep on a colossal space station travelling through space for about 400 years to an elusive Point of evacuation, a distant planet, where the residents of the station will be able to revive mankind. Either way, you will have to survive this tough world to learn the real reason for the mankind to embark on such a risky journey, and how mistakes of the past have influenced the present.”

Most of the game will function as you’d expect from this sort of thing, so there will be branching choices, dialogue options, a non-linear story, character progression, crafting, and other such RPG staples. At this stage, however, combat looks pretty barebones (though there is plenty of time for that to change), and I’m not entirely sure how co-op decision-making will work. MONO touts it as a feature, but they don’t elaborate beyond saying, “each player will need to make his own decisions and influence the storyline.”

Also of some concern: MONO says it’s planning a series of post-release campaigns to “tell the whole story.” Apparently there will be 20 additional chapters in some form or fashion. That’s, um, a lot by any measure. Also, will they be free? If MONO plans to take your precious, precious gas money in exchange for them, then how much will it charge?

So it’s still rather complicated, and I hope MONO figures out how to message it better before launching another Kickstarter. I really like what I’ve seen of its world, but everything else leaves me feeling uncertain. I can always go for a good open-world-ish role-player with a tastefully junked up setting, so I wish this project the best of luck. I just hope its many moving parts snap together nicely. Otherwise, all we’ll get is a pile of, well, garbage.


  1. Stimpack says:

    Well, it looks better than Wasteland 2. That’s… I shouldn’t be able to say that. Graphically, I mean.

    • memetyrant says:

      …and that’s shameful for inXile

    • fdisk says:

      Frankly I’m no into Wasteland 2 for the graphics; and it’s a lot easier to make the game look like this when all you have to focus on is dark hallways and pipes. I’m sure they re-use tons of assets, whereas inXile is crafting a whole world.

      I’ll agree that $60 is a ridiculous price point for Wasteland 2 though; I’m happy I got in at the $15-$20 backer level ( I forget but it was cheap)

      • epmode says:

        The final version of Wasteland 2 won’t cost $60. They’re charging a lot because beta access was limited to $55 Kickstarter backers and up. I suspect the final version will be $30 to $45.

        I don’t think Wasteland looks all that terrible, myself. It’s “serviceable,” like many of my favorite WRPGs. Most of the development resources are obviously going into content creation and writing.

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    I think they underestimate how much of a turnoff the online requirement is.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Oh it didn’t say so in the article. Well that’s an instant-fail for all single-players then. Nevermind open-world and Dieselpunk. And it’s not about miss-communication then – it’s just the target audience hating random disconnects and server downtimes.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Pretty much. The problem is that it sounds like they’re selling Diablo III. People didn’t want that from Blizzard, why would they want it from an unknown team?

      I like the artstyle and the setting.

    • MONO says:

      Hi guys, dev here.
      It does seem like we’ve got a lot of things to clear up for sure.

      Well, for starters, there’s no always-online requirement whatsoever, barring any standard distribution platforms practices. –ěnly thing that you’re going to need online for is coop.

      • knowitall011 says:

        you guys really need to list the features point by point.

  3. w0bbl3r says:

    If this trailer is anything to go by, it didn’t meet it’s kickstarter amount because it looks a bit shit.
    The combat looks terrible, the controls seem clunky, and aside from the nice graphical style, it has nothing going for it really.
    I mean, seriously, that gunplay just looks boring.
    I wish them all the luck in the world, but if that’s what the game is going to look and play like, they might need more than luck

    • tobecooper says:

      I would go as far to say that the whole gameplay looks underwhelming.

      It seems like you walk down these grey-brown corridors, look at long door-opening animations and shoot at pillars.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I dunno; the graphical Fallout-meets-Bioshock styling might be alright I guess (although honestly my rusty grey-brown fatigue still hasn’t recovered), but visually it’s a whole lot of dark and murky tedium. Eyestrain and depression: the game.

      Also, it kind of doesn’t fit with being a space station. That’s a ridiculous amount of heavy-duty stuff to lift into space. Including what looks like a hotrod air-breathing car.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I guess it’s supposed to be to the mid-20th century what steam punk is to the 1800s. It’s not realistic that steam can do everything is depicted to in that genre, but it doesn’t really matter for the purpose of gluing cogs to everything as an aesthetic.

      • ncnavguy says:

        Yeah could definitely see the og fallout roots. They need to change the font on that picture as it looks like they ripped it directly from bioshock, which hurts it imo.

        • ohminus says:

          The font is typical for the period feeling it tries to invoke – Bioshock didn’t really invent it but used it for precisely the same reasons.

  4. plavski says:

    Well if they can’t be bothered to spell the title of their trailer correctly, what hope is there for quality control in the rest of the game?

  5. RedViv says:

    I did not back this because it looked like its alternate title could be DiabloShock: The Brownslowening. That did evidently not change.

    • socrate says:

      what i dont get is old school rpg….this just seem like an A-RPG and not at all an old school rpg…maybe i misread something

  6. jellydonut says:

    They have amazing art, but it doesn’t look like the game will be very interesting, unfortunately.

    It looks more like a 90s platformer/action game where you shoot objects and push buttons to get to the next shooty level than a game with a story and characters.

    • MONO says:

      Well, the video was planned as a proof of concept – basically, just to show that we already have some stuff done, that it works, and that we can deliver. I agree that it sucked as far as gameplay demonstration goes, but – well, this is one of the reasons we’ve cancelled our Kickstarter and why we’re working on our presentation right now.

      Content wise we’re planning on a fair amount of talky stuff, too – it’s more of a Fallout-like with real-time combat than Diablo with guns.

  7. Chaz says:

    Well I shall buck the general negativity here and go out and say that I think it looks and sounds rather interesting. The idea of it being playable in co-op sounds good too.

    Yes the gunplay looks a bit ropy at this juncture, but hell, talk about being a work in progress, the game hasn’t even been Kickstarted yet.

    The idea of campaigns being released in chapter format worries me though. I really don’t think it’s a format that works terribly well. They really have to come thick and fast for it to work. Otherwise, if there’s too much gap in between chapters, people will lose interest and the game will die unfinished as it were. See Sin and HL2; where are the rest of my chapters?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ritual fell apart and were bought up to churn out casual games. That’s why there were no more Sin episodes.

      ‘Tis sad. I honestly think they were as good as Valve. Sin was most of the things that were right about ’90s FPSes, and Sin:E about early ’00s.

      • HadToLogin says:

        I like Sin much more than Half Life.

        It was Duke Nukem to Half Life’s Quake. While Half Life was great “technological advance with good gameplay”, Sin was just FUN.
        “Hacking” PCs to learn Elexis account number and password to send all her money to yourself – funny.

    • MONO says:

      It’s not really released in chapter-format. Heaven forbid we’d go for that, it never works.

      The chapter system, such as it is, is just a matter of post-release support – the main storyline will be in the game from start to finish, together with sidequests and all the relevant mechanics – the chapters themselves simply provide some background for the setting, the factions, and the history of the Arc – basically, all the extra stuff we want to give some exposition.

      For example, one of the chapters deal with an army detachment from the opposing faction cut off in the middle of offensive during the Last War and desperately trying to survive in the trenches – just a little bit of exposition to show that your opponents are a bit more than a loot pinatas.

      That’s about an hour or two of gameplay, even if we’re going to charge for it, the fee is going to be nominal.

  8. Zallgrin says:

    As much as I like the aesthetic and the potential of the game, it still falls for the old trope of all-white all-male apocalypse. Would love to be proven wrong, though. It does look more or less like a combat demo at this point, maybe they just don’t have many character models yet?

    Also, I think the combat is fairly interesting and certainly looks new. Never been a fan of strategy in isometric games, therefore this approach is more up my alley.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Maybe the dark secret reason for the colony ship was eugenics and you are all space-nazis with amnesia.

      • Zallgrin says:

        Colony ships without women kinda make it impossible to actually colonoze any planets you meet or surviving past first generation.

        Maybe the men are grown in glass tanks. Or, since we are in dieselpunk universe, perhaps the babies with square chiselled chins emerge from benzin filled vats and from toddler-age participate in a brutal fight for survival.

        • Gap Gen says:

          USS Incel, travelling across interstellar space after being rejected by Earth, faces catastrophe after an online flame war ignites the ship’s fedora supply.

  9. Artea says:

    The real-time cover- based combat doesn’t look particularly ‘old-school’.

  10. Einhaender says:

    Been there, done that.

    Games like that are like a “best of the 80’s” tv show. At first you’re interested but then you realize that there’s a reason everyone moved on.

  11. XhomeB says:

    Real time combat, and rather terrible as far as implementation goes at that? No, thank you – I’d be extremely interested if it was turn-based.
    Shame, because the graphics are really pretty for starters.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Turn based and tactical with multiple little duders and / or dudettes would be nice.
      Also, cornish accents.

  12. Audiocide says:

    I know nothing of this project, but it looks absolutely beautiful. As with films, looks and sound to me are just as important as the story and direction. That and I’m a sucker for the *-punk genre. I’ll be backing this one.

  13. OpT1mUs says:

    If this was the best they could do for a trailer , then let it die. Shooting at pillars, seriously…

  14. almostDead says:

    It gets my vote simply for not using inception music in the trailer.

  15. fenriz says:

    can’t someone just make a puzzle adventure game(like Stasis) with some kind of combat action crap?

    How hard was it to think this? It is the game/genre of the future, an evolution from monotonous onesided genres and a sure hit for any game in any setting, it took me 10 seconds for god sake and ppl struggle to explain their messy intricated ideas? Whhhhy???

    I mean can someone say no to a game that’s Dead Space + Stasis?? Cmon.

    I suppose my clarity of vision is not the normality tho, and i shouldn’t pretend it off the commoners. I am a Commodore 64 rotten grunt

  16. memetyrant says:

    looks very pretty and I love the generation-ship setting but their content rollout scheme implies that this will be a sort of a one-time online D&D game, with the devs being the DMs

    and once it’s concluded (in several months?), that’s it. can’t replay it

    what if I want to play it for a few weeks and then I need to leave for antarctica on my scientific expedition? I miss out on the game I paid for

    interesting concept but I don’t think it will fly

  17. Philomelle says:

    Rather than not backing it because it’s some sort of MMO, I didn’t back this because I believe it’s some sort of a mess. It has the making of a decent dieselpunk RPG, but instead snipes for a content list that feels like it was lifted from six games at once.

    It wants to be like Fallout in that it’s an isometric post-apocalyptic RPG with choices and consequences. It wants to be like Diablo with real-time combat. Like Bioshock with its dieselpunk aesthetic and art deco-ish posters. Like Dark Souls and Diablo III with its co-op integrated into the single player campaign.

    It’s basically every popular feature from a recent popular franchise, wrapped into an isometric RPG because hey, these are popular right now. They tried very hard to figure out the formula for success there while not trying to do their own thing.

    • ohminus says:

      You might just as well say that Bioshock stole the Dieselpunk from the original Fallout… sorry. Don’t see it. Dieselpunk IS a genre, and they have as much right as everyone else to make a game for that genre.

      • Philomelle says:

        Neither Bioshock nor Fallout were dieselpunk though. They had some of the aesthetic, but that’s it.

        This, on the other hand, screams “We liked Bioshock and Fallout a lot”. Hell, I remember running past that broken down car in the header image a million times while playing F2.

  18. Crainey says:

    I really love the aesthetic of this game and I’ll never turn down a decent post-apoc RPG game. The planning and execution of a Kickstarter campaign is half the battle, the other half being the actual game.

  19. Moraven says:

    Oh god their website has sounds on mouseovers.

  20. fdisk says:

    I think the graphics and atmosphere look fantastic, but that combat looks awful. Either go for the Diablo style or for turn-based, this hybrid thing is a bit of a turn-off (I prefer turn-based).

    Also, always online? Really? No thanks.

  21. imralizal says:

    I love the way this looks, and the story and gameworld sounds very interesting. I’m sold.

  22. tumbleworld says:

    Incoherent blurb, brown 2005 graphics, utterly tragic combat, 20 chunks of DLC threatened, and always-on to boot?

    I really think not.

  23. Keyrock says:

    I like the sound of the concept… well, everything apart from the 20 additional chapters bit, but watching the video left me with an overwhelming feeling of “this looks boring as ****”.

  24. racccoon says:

    Even though the game presentation looks the part, the game play falls short of any action. It needs more umph, it seems to lost that part through graphic creation. Get back to the drawing board and make this game punch, whack and move faster.
    On a funny imaginary note: old school batman would be suited for this game with a BIFF! SMACK! SOCK! & BAM! added in.

  25. Hardmood says:

    Oh yeah a game with some good portions of ClockDVA stylish soundtrack. awesome :D

  26. asense says:

    I dont know, maybe its just me, but i never ever had a good experience with isometric real-time gunplay. If this would be turn-based i would seriously think about backing this. Someone got a good game to recommend (warm up for isometric gunplay)?

  27. MkMax says:

    that combat desperately needs to be turn based, it looks horrible as real time

    also if its always online im not touching that with a 20m pole (edit: seems a dev is answering posts saying that its not, good)