There are many unresolved questions about the state of the world in 2017, but one of them is how we ended up in a situation whereby films about talking CGI apes riding horses are considered a high watermark of modern mainstream cinema. Sure, the recent Planet of the Apes films are fine as contemporary action movies go, but they are also films about talking CGI apes riding horses, and somehow our brains stop laughing at that after a few minutes of desaturated colour palettes and sad Serkis eyes.
Can a videogame spin off, set between the second and third movies, hope to maintain the same illusion? Or: can it instead embrace the inherent silliness and go monkeycrazy?
Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier [official site] has chosen, essentially, a Telltale-style story-driven path which – well, it’s not monkeycrazy, but it makes sense. As with The Walking Dead et al, the films have long ploughed an emotional ambiguity furrow, and so choosing be a dick/don’t be a dick dialogue options then rolling with the consequences is a pretty good fit. Seems the game will shift perspective from humans who hate every ape they see (from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z) to the intelligent primates they struggle to share a world with, with both factions trying to weigh up the value of diplomacy vs direct action.
Here’s a cutscenetastic trailer:
And, more usefully, here’s some in-game clips, as seen on IGN:
Looking at the videos, it seems it’s going even further than Telltale – no direct character control, putting it almost in the ‘interactive movie’ bracket, and what appears to be a Manichean choice of aggressive/pacifistic response to each dilemma. I guess that’s broadly the way the films go, but I could do with a little grey in between IT’LL BE FINE and KILL THEM ALL. These are just snippets, however, and perhaps the full game won’t be quite so breathless in that regard.
The worried ape character models look very good, I must say, and very close to the expressive faces of the films, although the humans look unfortunately glassy-eyed by comparison. Haven’t seen ape on a horse yet, but it’s only a matter of time, surely.
Planet of the Apes:
You’ll Never Make A Monkey Out Of Me Last Frontier is due this autumn from FoxNet, 21st Century Fox’s very new game dev/VR/theme park division, with support from Andy ‘Don’t Call Me Gollum’ ‘Gollum’ Serkis’s mo-cap outfit The Imaginarium Studios.