For a studio which makes such quiet and contemplative games, Tale of Tales have been bafflingly controversial. Along with the likes of Phil Fish and Jonathan Blow, the team behind Bientôt l’été and The Path have been Two Minutes Hate figures for people incensed that anyone might suggest video games aren’t perfect just the way they are. Tale of Tales have also become more video game-y, though. Luxuria Superbia had scores and all, and now they’re making a “first-person thriller” with influences including such–gasp–video games as Gone Home and Dear Esther.
Sunset is a fascinating idea. It’s set in an apartment in a fictional South American country going through civil war in 1972, playing as an immigrant housekeeper who revisits to clean then gets to know its resident by exploring his stuff. If you’re petulant enough doubt whether it’s a video game, look, it must be: they’re running a Kickstarter.
Sunset will have players poking around the swanky apartment of a mysterious art collector, who’s out during your weekly visit but is tied to the revolution somehow. What she does, what she changes, and what state she leaves the place in can build a relationship with him as he responds with notes and gestures or even draw her into the revolution.
It’s a lovely idea for a war game, where you’re simply someone living through it, and still sounds very Tale of Tales. Their interests in exploration, curiosity, communication, and relationships run all the way back to The Endless Forest. As much as Tale of Tales have become more video game-y, video games have also become more Tale of Tales-y. Michaël Samyn’s “not a manifesto” for ‘notgames’ from 2010 doesn’t sound nearly as unconventional today.
They’ve landed some arts funding and put in money of their own, but are looking for $25,000 to complete it. Pledging at least $15 will get you a copy of the game when it’s finished, which they expect will be next March. Though for $10,000 you can have Tale of Tales come clean your house.
[Let’s have a giant aside where we talk about conflicts of interest. Hoo boy. So. I visited and stayed with Tale of Tales while they were filming the Kickstarter video. This is because I was travelling with my friend Leigh Alexander from a conference in Belgium where we’d both talked, and Leigh’s consulting on Sunset. She’s doing this together with Ste Curran, who I’m also pally with. All that aside, I am a professional with a professional history of gushing about their games since long before I met them. They’re pretty great.]