I’m pretty sure each and every game developer in the world has considered making a game that exists within an unnecessarily large city. There are abandoned hard-drives, rammed with sketches and docs about making an open world and letting the player traverse it, taking missions that spill across streets and alleys and into tower blocks. You’re just another face in the crowd, one with a job to do. There are obvious reasons why this sort of complexity stumps developers: it could be boring, it could break, it could be impossible. But I still want to play something like it, and this first look at noir-stealth detective game Shadows Of Doubt is encouraging.
Even this early in the game’s development, there are a few things present in the below video to get me hooked. The world, though currently samey in the way you imagine a proc-gen city to be, is large and busy. It’s a game about connections: mission info is delivered via sets of polaroids and literal strings that link together clues and explain exactly who knows who. You start with a few facts and then start beating a path across the city to slowly, oh so slowly, reveal more people and places to investigate.
In the video, the developer is investigating the theft of a rare baseball card. He knows where the thief works, so jump-cuts across the city and sneaks into the management company, hiding from the patrolling proles under desks and poking through drawers, uncovering a list of company employees from a personal assistant’s drawer. The list doesn’t give anything more than a set of names, and he needs to uncover more details on each person.
The AI is the roughest part of the video, as the developer admits, but it looks like players can approach the game in different ways. You could spend ages doing everything methodically, sneakily, and figure everything out; or you could also flub it, break into every apartment you come across, and end up hiding in a kitchen cupboard. The fact that he tried to deliver the baseball card while the client was at work, broke into his flat, and found out where he was, is genuinely amusing.
There’s a lot more of the game still make, but it’s worth hitting the official site and keeping up with the devlogs, which have been regular and detailed over the past year. Developer ColePowered Games – largely one person – previously made the fascinating citybuilder-slash-deckbuilder Concrete Jungle. The only other time we’ve covered Shadows Of Doubt was to call it one of the most promising upcoming stealth games.