Archaeology might be coming of age. There was a time when the hunt for relics and the raiding of tombs and other forgotten places necessitated a thousand explosions and firefights. The Crofts, Joneses and Drakes of the world perform a very noisy kind of historical research and recovery. In The Valley of the Gods, the next game from Firewatch creators Campo Santo, looks like it’ll bring a quieter mode of exploration and excavation. You play as one member of a two-person team investigating a remote valley in Egypt, documenting the mysteries you uncover as you explore. Take out your shovels and unearth the first trailer. It’s right here.
I may have done a genuine little swear when that ‘2019’ popped up at the end, though that has as much to do with my excitement about declaring 2018 THE YEAR OF ARCHAEOLOGY as anything else. We’re probably getting a new Tomb Raider – though this looks much more like what I’d want from a Tomb Raider, truth be told – and we’re definitely getting Heaven’s Vault.
The Valley of the Gods probably has more in common with Heaven’s Vault than with Tomb Raider, but really the three of them are scattered along a fairly wide portion of the spectrum when it comes to what I expect from games about digging through the past. Alien languages and faiths in the weird worlds of Heaven’s Vault, presumably lots of shooting and stumbling and climbing in Tomb Raider, and something a little more contemplative and observational in Valley of the Gods.
My favourite moments in Firewatch involved talking over that radio into the night, wondering what I was trying to achieve by dancing with the voice of someone so distant they might as well be a ghost. The sunsets and scenery in Firewatch are wonderful and when the fire was like a second sun over in the forest, the nights became stranger and more beautiful.
The lighting in Valley of the Gods is an entirely different prospect. There are lots of hard lines, where man-made structures threaten to entomb you, and the trailer does great work with all kinds of light sources: the orange of the desert beneath the sun, the things revealed by a flickering cigarette lighter, and the beam of a torch washing across sarcophagi or blinding you temporarily as your companion gets your attention from across a chamber. Let’s not forget the campfire scene either, mostly because it makes me hope for rest points where the two characters can stop, talk and reflect. I love a bit of reflection and a change of pace.
I really want to know more about the actual documentation process. It sounds like a core part of the game will be making a film rather than simply recovering artifacts and dumping them in a museum/attic.
In the Valley of Gods is a single-player first person video game set in Egypt in the 1920s. You play as an explorer and filmmaker who, along with your old partner, has traveled to the middle of the desert in the hopes of making a seemingly-impossible discovery and an incredible film.
Remember, it’s not out until 2019 so there’s plenty of time to learn more as the weeks and months go by. For now, you could go and plunder the official site for more information, though it’s in scant supply. Unless I’ve missed some concealed chambers full of treasures.