The Signal From Tölva [official site], the new sci-fi open-world FPS from the makers of Sir You Are Being Hunted, launched today. Tove Lo explores an alien world where factions of robots skirmish endlessly as they follow their own plans and goals, taking over robots to roam around, join in their scraps, and poke at the secrets of the eponymous strange signal. It's a lot like West Side Story, only in space, full of emergent AI battles, with loads of sci-fi weapons and equipment beyond switchblades but no love story and no singing unless you sing to yourself while playing. Basically that. See:
Our John recently chatted with Big Robot co-founder Jim Rossignol, who also co-founded Rock, Paper, Shotgun in an earlier life. Between breaking out the Jägermeister and stoking a three-engine bantferno, they talked about things like the (optional) impossible spaces of Tölva.
"They were a bit of a whim at first, but they ended up being rather good at underlining the theme of spooky weirdness that runs through the game. The initial world design was 'alien highlands', which I think we achieved fairly well across the various regions of the game, but as we got further in we realised that contrasting that with some interior spaces would be fun and interesting. Initially James prototyped some obstacle-course things, so that the interior spaces would be a break from hiking and shooting, but that didn't quite sit right with us. Eventually he began to use clever seamless portaling stuff to create impossible mazes, where you would drop down and down and appear at the top of a tower, for example. I found that thematically pleasing (not to mention consistent) because the story of Tölva is about a world that isn't quite right, and where things are glitchy and inexplicable, in a way that disturbs even AI intelligence. And so the interiors underline that. They are strange and difficult mazes. Not puzzles as such – as we were discussing just this morning – but challenging and impossible spaces that you can explore if you want to. None of them are crucial to the game or the plot, and I like that many people won't even see the secret in one of them."
[Disclosure: As mentioned, Big Robot co-founder Jim Rossignol also co-founded this very website. I've not seen him in yeaaars. For all I know, these days he's little more than a shell piloted by a robot on an alien world.]