It’s a hard question that so few cyberpunk games are willing to engage with or even think about; where are the children? In a grim urban hell where life is cheap and bullets are cheaper still, it’s a problem few want to deal with. Not so for Orphan Age, a currently-crowdfunding (and very nearly at its goal) strategy/management game about a band of kids surviving the neon-slaked streets however they can. There’s a playable demo, a trailer, and 12 minutes of developer commentary and gameplay footage within.
It’s all a bit This War Of Mine spliced with The Sims, albeit with a much more fragile cast of characters in a far more precarious situation. During character creation for your protagonist, the demo asks you to set your age, with some limits on it at this point, but characters in the full game apparently come as young as 4 or 5 years old, and thus needing a lot more looking after. It’s heavy stuff, and understandable because the developers cite Grave of the Fireflies and Lord of the Flies as inspirations, alongside Blade Runner and Shadowrun.
In the gameplay footage below, you can get a better idea of the kind of things you’ll be getting up to in Orphan Age. Also, don’t worry too much about the creaky framerate in the footage – while the demo admittedly isn’t running silky smooth here, it’s definitely running better than in the video. It seems that your little gang of high-tech ragamuffins will be asked to defend themselves at times, too. Why do I get the feeling I’m going to end up running a horrifying hybrid of kindergarten and Outer Heaven? Will this be my Frostpunk?
Developers Studio Black Flag are going to be running a live stream where folks can ask them anything tomorrow morning (17 hours from the time of writing). Check the Kickstarter page to see the countdown and tune in if you reckon this particularly piece of gritty sci-fi pseudo-realism tickles your fancy.
Orphan Age’s Kickstarter is in its last few days, and is within inches of its remarkably low £22,040 funding goal at the time of writing. £16 pledged gets you a copy of the game when it’s done. You can download the demo here, and check out the official site here.