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Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates opens up on 4 Oct

This soul hath been alone on a wide wide sea

Neo-Victorian isometric RPG, Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates [official site], now has a release date for those interested to lord it up over the sea gates. It's October 4. I am already a lord of the sea gate but by that I mean that I own a Seagate external hard drive and make it do my bidding rather than having any special status in an alternative American timeline where New York is flooding and I need to lead a bunch of companions through a story.

"Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is a top-down isometric RPG that takes place in a Neo-Victorian New York circa 1911, in which the entire city is flooded by rising oceans and the citizens must learn to live in a new reality where there is water everywhere, but none of it possible to drink."

I mean, everyone's always focusing in on the "Water, water, every where/Nor any a drop to drink" bit of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. You don't see many people picking out the other theme which is a long-winded stranger banging on about their terrible gap year while you have somewhere to be.

Anyway, looking at the art on the official website I find myself thinking of Bioshock Infinite's Columbia. Thaty's not surprising as the two are both taking place in alternate timeline versions of the 1910s and thus are both using particular fashions, architecture and so on to create the sense of that specific moment in time as well as using them to as touchstones while creating the anachronistic or imagined elements so the latter look natural in the world.

This is the concept art they're using as the main page image here so you can see the shared set of period influences and what I mean:

Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates

An interesting point here is that the story was written by writer and comic artist Paul Noth who is a cartoonist on staff at The New Yorker. I'm wondering whether his background in information-sharing via cartoons (which is a really interesting discipline) will manifest in his game story writing in any interesting ways.

Here's a touch more information:

"Although set in a fictional, alternate history, the game pays homage to historic accounts by adding authentic items such as patent medicines including poisons or tonics made from dangerous ingredients. Many of the games' objectives and side quests will tie directly into the experiences that someone in the 19th century would have. The game’s authenticity reflects scenes from New York circa 1900, while tying the storyline to current day themes such as global warming and the rising of the oceans."

But yes, October 4.

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About the Author

Philippa Warr


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