Trüberbrook’s hand-crafted miniature world is a wonder

Truberbrook

That, up there, is a screenshot. It’s okay to stare. Now consider that it looks just as good in motion, if not better. After seeing some footage of the hand-crafted world of Trüberbrook in action, it’s easy to forget that this is a point-and-click adventure, rather than an Aardman-rivalling work of hyper-detailed miniature animation. But it is, and it sounds rather brill.

A production of German art collective btf, Trüberbrook is their first game project, although they seem to have found some degree of fame over in Germany with a pair of late-night TV shows to their name. Production seems to be going smoothly, with the game already fully funded on Kickstarter after just a few days. Take a look at the trailer and pitch video (featuring some great production scenes) within.

Aesthetically, there’s very little else like this. While some more avant-garde indies such as Dujanah and The Dream Machine and puzzle-platformer The Swapper have experimented with clay and miniatures as a medium for game graphics, these hyper-detailed miniature sets, filled with character models carefully textured to look like claymation figures are on a whole different level. It’s an enticing visual hook.

Beyond that, I can’t think of any other games set in 1960s rural Germany, which makes it an especially refreshing backdrop to an interesting-sounding story. You control Tannhauser, an American physics student visiting the hamlet after winning a trip in a contest, only to discover that things are a lot weirder than they should be, even by old rural town standards.

There’s apparently some world-threatening transdimensional weirdness going on in this sleepy little burg, and it’s up to an awkward nerd who’s good at inventory management and slightly sassy conversation to save the day, in classic adventure fashion. The developers cite a curious bundle of direct inspirations, from Twin Peaks to Star Trek, and of course some classic adventures such as Monkey Island.

Trüberbrook is already fully funded on Kickstarter, sitting at just under €120k at the time of writing, although still a ways short of the €180k stretch goal to begin making a standalone prelude chapter. €25 will be treated as a preorder, and the developers estimate that the game will be out in September 2018, assuming all goes to plan.

21 Comments

  1. Seafoam says:

    Fascinating.
    I don’t know what to say of the game but the character models do seem quite strange at times. The movement is smooth and the lighting doesn’t add up from time to time.

    I would have preferred a simulated claymation model, Aardman style you know. They even simulated fingerprints on their digital films and the outcome was stunning. There’s that slight dissonance between the real world and the obviously digital models. It looks claymationy enough but not enough, creating a fully unique uncanny valley situation.

    Instead of you believing it to be an animation happening in a miniature setpiece, it looks like bad CGI. Same as you expect there to be an actor in a real film but you can tell he’s CGI. It breaks the illusion even though there was no Iluusion to begin with.

  2. emertonom says:

    I think Lume & Lumino City deserve a mention here too, and maybe Dominique Pamplemousse too.

    “Miniatures Indie” is almost a genre of its own at this point, albeit a very eclectic one.

  3. NuclearSword says:

    Wow. (Pleasantly) Surprised this is fully funded! I remember seeing Harold Halibut in action, and thinking, “This is gonna get funded instantly – it’s AMAZING” and this game looks a lot like that. But Halibut failed… don’t know why why.

    Harold Halibut trailer: link to youtube.com

    I know there are a few indies exploring the medium of claymation, and doing amazing things with 3D scanning or digitized sprites, but I always love seeing more :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      Yeah, I immediately thought of that game when I saw this. Sad it didn’t get funded, although they were in DoubleFine’s Day of the Devs, so maybe they’ll be ok.

      Anyway, this looks amazing too.

  4. Kollega says:

    I don’t know if this is my kind of story, per se… but what it is is an amazing-looking gameworld. Using miniature models for your game’s art may be a “gimmick”, but it’s the sort of gimmick so awesome that the point of its existence is this awesomeness.

  5. mukuste says:

    This is stunning.

    But why, why if the devs are Germans would they choose a title that is obviously not a German word? “oo” doesn’t even work like that in German!

    • prostetnik says:

      While the spelling “-brook” certainly is uncommon (“-broich” would be the one I’d have expected, but “-brook” seems to be the Low German version of that), it’s not completely unheard of. A quick search didn’t show any place that ends in “-brrok”, but a few that are just called Brook (link to de.wikipedia.org).
      It basically just means “swampy place” in some northern German dialects.

      • Lomaxx says:

        Here is an example:
        Hammerbrook -> link to en.wikipedia.org

      • montfalcon says:

        This is true, but then I think of Niedersachsen place names like Osnabrück, where the ‘-brück’ is pronounced pretty closely to the English. I suspect they were both keen to avoid too many Umlauts, so as not to scare people away, but also to make sure the name scans immediately as a place name, which sets a certain tone and genre expectation. Thimbleweed Park would be a great example here.

        For bilingual bonus the word ‘trüb’ means murky, dim, bleak, gloomy or somber. Welcome to Gloomsville?

    • TehK says:

      “Trüberbrook”, while fictional, could absolutely be a German place name. As a German, my first association with the word was: “this is probably a town in rural northern Germany”.

      As others have mentioned before, “brook” is the low German version of “Bruch”, meaning “marshland” or “moorland” and is likely related with the English “brook” (link to en.wiktionary.org)

  6. Bananadana says:

    Presumably, most of the non-german audience doesn’t get the joke at 2:00 min in the Kickstarter-trailer. Jan Böhmermann istn’t just a supporter, he is maybe the most prolific german late-night-host today and I think nearly all of his shows to date were produced by the bildundtonfabrik (short btf).

    There are already two (very short and silly) lucas-arts-like point-and-click-adventures (called Game Royale 1 & 2), but these two are only entertaining in the context of Böhmermanns late-night-show “Neo Magazin Royale”. For an german audience though, an adventuregame from the Böhmermann/btf-ecosystem doesn’t come out of nowhere :) Like to see it!

    • FFabian says:

      FYI: Böhmermann is the guy insulting Erdogan on live TV, calling him a pedophile goatfucker.

      • Bananadana says:

        Not to forget he mentioned that Erdogan presumably has a small dick that smells worse than a pig-fart.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        That skit had some arguably questionable overtones but it was so 100% tongue in cheek that I don’t know how anyone could take it seriously and honestly Erdogan’s hysterical reaction only served to demonstrate he is incapable of tolerating dissent of any kind. Mocking leaders with dictatorial tendencies is a fine and good thing to do.

        I thought their “Varoufake” thing was pretty funny: link to youtube.com

  7. Lars Westergren says:

    This looks great.

    And I’ll plug the RPS forum thread for Kickstarters/crowdfunding while I’m here, if you forgive me.

    We have for instance another good looking adventure game where Arthurian immortals are hunting Jack the Ripper.
    link to kickstarter.com

    Or a cyberpunk management game, where you are in charge of an ruthless global corporation in the vein of Deus Ex or Android Netrunner. Do unethical research in human ascension projects, spread media propaganda for fun and profit, and assassinate your rivals. That sort of thing.
    link to kickstarter.com

  8. poliovaccine says:

    Sooo this looks awesome. Though as awesome as this looks, I always get the feeling that games or movies like this are even more fun to *make* than they are to play (or watch)… nothing against em innately in saying that, of course they may still be fun to play indeed, but do you know what I mean? That just strikes me as the most fun part, and I almost wish the game got into that part of the process somehow. Like, if this game launched with a level editor, I’d probably crack into that before the game proper.

  9. Ddub says:

    Did you know, to make the letter “Ü” you have to press numlock+alt+6+6+6 on the number pad? This game is obviously about demons and satan.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      Ddub: “Did you know, to make the letter “Ü” you have to press numlock+alt+6+6+6 on the number pad? ”
      —–
      Hmmm, I just have to press the “Ü”-key on my keyboard.
      ;o)

      • April March says:

        That’s because Germans are the devil!

        Oh wait I forgot that I can do that on my Brazilian Portuguese keyboard as well. Whüps.

  10. TehK says:

    This is the first game in about four or five years that I backed on Kickstarter. While it’s the first game from btf, the company already got some reputation for its tv productions – they’re not a “new” company that was just founded for the Kickstarter. At least this should mean they can manage the monetary part of the development.

    On the other hand, I have no idea what this means for the game design (and story/plot/riddles). But I like the art style and the whole “we’re using actual models for the scenery” is just a lovely idea.

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