Ghost of a Tale scurries out of early access in March

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Rat-avoiding stealth adventure Ghost of a Tale is finally scampering out of its early access bolthole on March 15, says the developer. You remember this mousey hero, don’t you? It’s Tilo. He’s very cute and sometimes wears clunky steel armour, which doesn’t make him intimidating but only more adorable. He’s been scurrying around under the development floorboards for five years but seems ready to poke his twitching nose out and make a panicked sprint towards the exit.

It’s an adventure game in the style of Redwall. Mainly, you explore the animalistic world and avoid rat guards by sneaking around in dark patches or distracting them in some way. I had a go at this rodent-centric take on “dungeon crawling” a couple of years ago and found the stone courtyards and skeleton-strewn jail cells gorgeous to look at, not to mention the blacksmith rats and pirate frogs who make up its cast (that’s what you get when the lead designer is a former Pixar Dreamworks animator). But I also found the fetch quests dull and the minute-to-minute sneaksing as antiquated as any PlayStation 2 era stealth-em-up.

That said, it’s been two years and only a quarter of the game’s world was open to me back then. Developers SeithCG have also shown off some visual differences between then and now in their announcement post. Here’s two images of a well.

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If the game’s strength is its beauty, then it makes sense to pump up the prettiness to silly levels. And it looks like they’ve done that. Hopefully, they’ve also given Tilo something more interesting to do than backtrack through previous areas, picking up generic wotsits for his new friends. That was my biggest complaint. Because I’m lazy, here’s a self-citation from my previous mousing.

… the real joy comes from just breathing in the place, the architecture, the shortcuts, the secrets. The fact that it has a day and night cycle, where the other characters go to sleep and you have to return to them when they’re awake to give them their shopping, is also old-fashioned. But, crucially, this is old-fashioned in the lovable way, evoking the days and nights of Zelda or Pokemon and granting the castle a life of its own. That’s the thing that has me conflicted about this game. I really want to see the other 75% of this world – its walls, its villages, its forests – I just don’t want to spend all my time there collecting mushrooms.

As for the game’s length: “[I]t should roughly take you around 8 to 10 hours if you don’t care much about the quests and story,” says lead developer Lionel Gallat, “but almost double that if you want to take your time and see (and do) everything.”

It’ll be out on Steam, GOG and Humble Bundle for $24.99, up from it’s usual early access price of $19.99. So I’m guessing it’ll also rise from £14.99 to £19.99 in UK prices.

12 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    It's not me it's you says:

    I’ve been following this game since early development. I never got into the Early access as I figured I really wanted to see the whole thing. Can’t wait to get started on this!

  2. Psychomorph says:

    So excited. Bought the early access, but wanted to play the full thing.
    2015 version looked already nice, but 2018 shows it was worth waiting.

  3. R. Totale says:

    They should have called it “Ghost of a Tail”.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      I know, right? It’s maddening! Maybe even Tilo could’ve had his tail chopped in half during the opening or something as well.

  4. Lodin says:

    Nobody should support this until they take out the lute boxes!

    link to i.imgur.com

  5. Shadrach says:

    I’ve been following since the Early Access, and it’s a fun little stealth/exploration game, with wonderful looking characters and environment.

    What I think is most amazing is what these technical wizards have been able to create in Unity, an engine which is not usually the first choice for high-detail 3D worlds. This game should really be a showcase for what Unity is capable of in the right hands.

    Looking forward to what will be coming in the final updates –
    and hopefully the game will be successful enough to warrant more stories from the same world, there’s a lot of potential here.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      The people who criticise Unity are usually people who don’t understand game development. Saying a game ‘looks like it was made in Unity’ is usually used as shorthand for meaning ‘it looks like it has cheap art/assets’. Unity’s capability as a game engine has nothing to do with that, of course.

      • Psychomorph says:

        There was a time you could totally tell games were made in Unity. Ghost of a Tale was totally one of them. The typical texture blur and reddish black tone. The colour palette in general had a specific look to it.

        Seen it in some games, but since the Unity developer is improving the lighting and rendering of the engine, those symptoms disappear. Thankfully.

        I think despite some performance issues Unity is shaping up real well.

  6. Seyda Neen says:

    That interview doesn’t even mention Pixar, but rather Dreamworks and Universal.

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      This is my fault for having a stupid brain. Fixed!