What’s your favourite Arthur C. Clarke book, RPS? Mine’s The Deep Range, published all the way back in 1957. A mysterious time before even Spacewar!
I mention this as a tremendously roundabout way of introducing Neptune, Have Mercy, an in-development title with a Kickstarter campaign coming in February and the finished game intended for release mid-year.
See, I love The Deep Range because it’s all about exploring the mysteries of the deep sea. Clarke’s more known for looking upwards and outwards – 2001 and Rama and that amazing short story about all the stars going out – but he also spent most of his life living in Sri Lanka because he loved scuba diving. I also loved scuba diving, thanks to my parents essentially forcing their hobbies on their children, although it’s now years since I did any.
Anyway, The Deep Range is chock full of all the stuff that makes the best golden age SF stand up today: the sense of exploring the unknown, the excitement of encountering strange creatures, and the adrenaline-fuelled excitement and terror of something probably really dangerous lurking just outside sensor range.
This is very much the vibe I’m getting from Neptune, Have Mercy, the brainchild of fresh-faced independent devs Octopodo and Progpixel (aka. Jarrett McKenna and Tristan Nishimoto). It’s billed as a “sci-fi submarine roguelike”, which is already sounding like something people whisper in my ear when they want me to go home with them.
Among Neptune, Have Mercy’s promised features are procedurally generated environments, encounters and – intriguingly – puzzles. The creatures you’ll encounter include the obligatory sea monsters – a rather grand example of which you can spy in the teaser trailer.
I’m rather fond of the very stylised visuals on and off the sub – though I can see how the two styles might clash. Still, there is a starkness to both, with the ocean environment appearing gloomy yet colourful – a nice representation of what it’s like to be deep underwater (except for the visible reds outside your spotlight, but shh fellow sea nerds).
Aboard the sub, characters are represented in a style that makes me think of half-remembered French animation from the 1980s – and for some reason puts me in mind of another great submarine SF novel, Frank Herbert’s The Dragon in the Sea. Here’s hoping the game doesn’t ask you to deal with the psychological breakdowns of your crew, though. I’d rather poke around a coral reef and run away from really big fish.