An upcoming game about taking planet-wrecking corporations to court hopes to go beyond its onscreen battles by raising money for real-life environmental aid. Behind All Rise is a team including both climate experts and top-notch games talent with credits spanning Horizon Forbidden West, Thirsty Suitors, League of Legends and Paradise Killer.
All Rise emerged from the legal efforts of Dutch climate activist group Fossielvrij - ‘Fossil Free’ - to get pension fund giant ABP to divest €15 billion from investment in fossil fuels. While preparing to raise support for its court case against ABP in 2021, Fossielvrij began to explore the idea of a video game about climate law as a way of generating wider interest in its campaign.
Ultimately the ABP case never reached the courtroom, as the company dropped its backing of fossil fuels in late 2021. Still, Fossielvrij stuck with the idea of making a video game inspired by the Ace Attorney series in which players could fight on the side of environmental campaigners, gathering a stacked team of indie and triple-A developers including Horizon Forbidden West producer Niels Monshouwer, 80 Days writer Meghna Jayanth and artists with credits across Thirsty Suitors, League of Legends and Paradise Killer. Joining them was sustainable fashion designer Meghna Nayak, whose use of reused fabric influenced characters’ outfits in the game, as well as a number of environmental researchers.
The result is a game that Fossielvrij’s Dr. Joost Vervoort describes as a combination of Phoenix Wright’s comic take on legal proceedings, Disco Elysium’s narrative world-building and Slay the Spire’s deckbuilding cardplay.
Gameplay involves the player assigning members of their team to different missions to obtain evidence and develop your case by gaining new cards for your deck, with the decision of who to send on what mission influencing which cards you’ll receive in return based on each combination.
Conversation both in and outside of the courtroom takes the form of card battles, with different cards and effects being able to target people’s sense of justice, empathy, logic or absurdity through different suits: gut, heart, mind and weird. Even losing a battle can result in a possible benefit, with the outcome of each battle earning a selection of different cards.
The cards gained through exploring the world and meeting with locals all then feed into a showdown in court, which can itself have a variety of possible endings depending on the choices made and cards played.
The game spans a number of chapters focused on different regions of the globe, albeit with what Vervoort said is a ‘sideways speculation’ rather than one-to-one reality to show what might be possible with different efforts. Each chapter is said to be fairly short, encouraging it to be tackled again with a different approach.
Opening chapter The Murdered River is set in the Indian state of Kerala, following lawyer Kuyili as she follows up a successful case to grant the Muziris river legal status as a person with a murder charge against those who led the polluted river to catch fire. Kuyili will encounter corporate executive Rishabh, who may end up anything from a direct rival to more of an ally based on the player’s decisions.
All Rise is currently in development, with a playable prototype looking for funding from both game publishers and philanthropic organisations to bolster the current support of the Dutch government’s creative industry fund. Vervoort said that the team hopes to follow The Murdered River with additional chapters, characters and locations around the world, with the potential to look at new sets and expansions of cards in the future.
The aim is ultimately to use money and interest raised by the game to feed back into supporting real-life court cases against corporate polluters and others working against stopping the climate crisis. With what sounds like a promising game from some talented folks in return, that sounds like money well spent to me.