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Spooky Ooky: Roguelikelike Immersive Sim Gloomwood

“What ever became of…?” I’ll often wonder in this garbage brain filled with jumbled memories of thousands of games. Today: what ever became of A Crimson Searchlight? A Blade Runner-y detective interrogating suspected artificial humans and searching their homes for evidence sounded grand. The answer: not much, as its page was last updated in January 2014. However!

This led me to discover Gloomwood [official site], an upcoming roguelikelike first-person explore ’em up with a splash of combat and slug of mystery. Created by a Searchlighter, it’s set in a procedurally-generated Victorian-ish city filled with masked people who live out different roles.

Gloomwood’s an odd city of winding alleyways, murk, and masked citizens going about their business, lead chap Dillon Rogers explains. A constable will search for criminals, priests heal good people, necromancers necromancify, and so on. Each group wear their own masks, but not all members are equally good or bad. The latest blog post talks about expanding the procedural generation to include things like street games and crime scenes, which sounds great.

What do you do? Poke around and get up to shenanigans, it sounds like. Dillon says it’s “is altogether more focused on atmospheric/narrative elements than purely goal-based”. There are people to meet, stuff to stare at, items to find and buy, things to fight, things to avoid fighting (holster weapons or folks will be unhappy), and whatnot. I’d be tempted to call it a roguelikelike ‘immersive sim’, that term folks seem to be settling on for games in the vein of System Shock and Deus Ex and all that. (Even I have given up on 451 ’em up – it’s not going to happen.) We don’t say ’emergent’ nearly enough any more so: I anticipate splendid emergent antics as systems collide.

I also really dig the idea of mysterious trinkets with unknown functions, some of which may even fiddle with the world generator. Part of its roguelikelike heritage is that each death brings a new city, of course.

There’s no talk of a release date yet as it’s still clearly being fleshed out, but I’ll be keeping a closer eye on this one. Garbage brain, you’ve done me right for once.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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