Neptune, Have Mercy Promises Deep Sea Adventure

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.

15 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    I have fond memories of Fountains of Paradise.

    • Paul B says:

      Got to be Rendezvous with Rama or maybe The City And The Stars. Fountains of Paradise was the Space Elevator one, wasn’t it, and if I remember was also very good.

    • phuzz says:

      I still have a copy of Of Time and Stars, which is a collection of his short stories that I got through the school book club when I was eight and I think it’s probably one of the books that first started me reading scifi. A Fall of Moondust is fun too.

    • Steve Catens says:

      Hmm. I’m seeing Canadian hard sci-fi author Peter Watts’s deep sea dystopian cyborg adventure Starfish , coupled with the cutaway sub from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

      Because I have to be That Guy.

      • Shaun Green says:

        Heh! I sincerely hope this game isn’t based on Peter Watts’ work because otherwise this will be an utterly miserable game in which everyone is a total bastard scraping out a broken existence on a shattered planet.

        I mean, I like Watts’ work, but I wouldn’t want to live there… or play there.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    The theme seems pretty deep. I hope the gameplay isn’t too shallow, though.

    • Aberration says:

      My favourite is probably Earthlight – I think there’s a window into the author’s mind as he describes a series of wonders only to ruin them with a grubby little war. But The Deep Range is very good. Hell, they’re all good.

      Edit: I appear to have replied to the wrong comment: Go go incompetence induced perplexity!

      • Shaun Green says:

        I cannot disagree regarding Earthlight. Although the bit where the, ah, super-weapon makes an appearance is pretty cool.

  3. Hyoscine says:

    I don’t get these pre-Kickstarter announcements; are we supposed to be marking these dates on our calendars? Why not wait till the thing’s Kickstarter-able , and interest is a little more likely to translate into pledges?

    • Tacroy says:

      It’s a way of testing the waters – you can probably assume that every news source that reported on your pre-Kickstarter will report on your actual Kickstarter, so you have a vague hint as to whether or not you’ll will sink or swim when the project is on the line.

      • Kempston Wiggler says:

        Testing who’s watching for bubbles before it actually surfaces. Interesting…

  4. karnak says:

    The trailer really reminded me of the video from Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song”

  5. Eggman says:

    Brilliant name.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    Looks a lot like Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, which is only a good thing.

  7. Viper50BMG says:

    Aaaand a longer, gameplay-oriented trailer:
    link to youtube.com

    (Apologies, I’m doing the shameless self-promoting thing) :)