Czech indie collective Amanita Design have revealed their next adventure game, the dystopian Phonopolis. In a handful of firsts for the collective, Phonopolis will not only be their first game with 3D graphics, but it's also going to be the first that has actual narration rather than fun, nonsense noises. There's no release date just yet, but have a watch of the teaser trailer below. It looks a real treat.
Phonopolis stars a young lad called Felix who actually has some thoughts of his own while existing in an authoritarian regime. Amanita say the game’s themes are individualism and manipulation, but that it’ll still somehow be “playful and light-hearted” in their traditional style. Exploration will also be as important to Phonopolis as the rest of Amanita’s back catalogue, they add.
The announcement goes on to say that Felix's main goal in Phonopolis will be stopping the city’s capital-L Leader from playing the “Absolute Tone” and scuppering everyone’s lives. It's not entirely clear what said tone will do to Felix and his fellow citizens, but it's no doubt something sinister. I’m not musical in the slightest myself – I lost my only instrument, a golden kazoo, in a forest while on a school trip years ago – but my understanding of absolute tone is that it’s an ability some people have to recreate a noise without a reference note.
Whatever the Absolute Tone ends up being, it's clear that both sound and music will be key to solving Phonopolis' mysteries, as you’d expect given the game's title. The Leader has used a system of loudspeakers and subliminal messaging to create an orderly and happy city, but ended up turning everyone into “mindless servants, mere cogs in an artificially shaped society," Amanita say. Amanita’s frequent musical collaborator Tomáš Dvořák, a.k.a. Floex, is back to score this one, too. He worked previously on Samorost and Machinarium.
In addition to those two delightful puzzlers, you’ll likely know Amanita Design from their bevy of point-and-click adventures, including Botanicula and Chuchel. Their most recent games, Happy Game and Creaks, have been fairly creepy. Sin thought Creaks was good but wasn’t “pushing the boat out”. “I shouldn't admit that I don't have the vocabulary to describe exactly how I can tell that Creaks is made by Amanita Design just by looking at it,” she said. I’m not sure I do either, but it’s certainly easy to tell an Amanita game from a mile off whatever they look like.
Phonopolis doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but Amanita say they’re not expecting it out "within the next year". When it does arrive, though, it will be doing so on Steam.