Warp Frontier is a New Sci-Fi Aussie Adventure Game that Feels Like LucasArts Meets Mass Effect
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 10:54pm 28/06/21 | Comments
With the Australian voice-cast giving the passion project from local developer Andrew Goulding (Brawsome) a feel all its own…
The traditional point-and-click adventure is one with a long and storied history, going back the earliest days of PC gaming. From Sierra’s King’s Quest series through to the genre's pop-culture peak in the 1990s with The Secret of Monkey Island and other LucasArts gems. Over the years the genre has continued to thrive, most recently in the indie space. Elsewhere bigger budget titles took the story-driven approach of the classic point-and-clicks, bringing story and characters to the forefront of single-player games.
Warp Frontier, from local indie Brawsome, is a new sci-fi adventure game currently in development for PC with a story set on the relatively new extrasolar colony of Cetus in the year 2215. As Police Captain Vincent Cassini, players will investigate a crime that brings to light events from a devastating war. With themes of identity, family, and conspiracy it’s all brought together with a soundtrack from acclaimed composer Thomas Regin (Unavowed) and an evocative painterly art-style.
Vincent Cassini, decorated war hero, but still just a Captain in the police force he started, is patrolling the orbital slums of his home planet Cetus, when he stumbles across a lead in a war crime that resulted in the mysterious disappearance of thousands of Cetans, including his first wife and best friend. Captain Cassini and his robot partner MAC, must ally with morally questionable characters to stop an old enemy before their crimes are erased forever.
Warp Frontier is at its core a puzzle-driven point-and-click adventure game, though one with two very cool elements. First the narrative will be choice-driven and feature multiple endings, and second, the characters will be primarily Australian.
“With the setting, Cetus, being humanity's newest extrasolar colony, I wanted to parallel Australia's identity as a relatively new country and a place with multicultural diversity but an Australian identity.”
“With the setting, Cetus, being humanity's newest extrasolar colony, I wanted to parallel Australia's identity as a relatively new country and a place with multicultural diversity but an Australian identity,” Andrew Goulding tells me. “Looking back, the game is influenced by my recent experiences working in the tech industry in the US, living in the US and UK, growing up in Australia in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and balancing an ambitious working schedule with the commitments of family.”
“I was adamant about having the lead voice be Australian,” Andrew adds. “I really wanted the Australian accent to shine through, and thought it was time for a proper Australian adventure game that wasn't cheesy or gimmicky.”
No doubt the Aussie accents stand out when you watch the announcement trailer, mainly because of the fact that it’s such a rare thing to find in a slice of interactive sci-fi. The local flavour extends beyond the lead character, with Andrew giving the majority of the cast the Aussie treatment -- with characters of European, Vietnamese, and African ancestry sporting our local twang. Joining them are characters with US, UK, and Serbian backgrounds too, reversing that sci-fi thing where there’s just the one token Aussie thrown into the mix.
The Australian identity not only informs the world and story being told, but that of Andrew’s own journey as a developer. Since the release of his first adventure games from nearly a decade ago, Jolly Rover and MacGuffin’s Curse, he contributed to the Quest For Glory spiritual successor Hero-U in addition to joining Amazon Game Studios in Seattle for a stretch. Doing all of this whilst raising a family, his subsequent return to Australia saw the idea that would ultimately form Warp Frontier take form.
“I was primarily motivated by the writings of Ray Kurzweil, especially his predictions of a singularity, and the novels by Alistair Reynolds, in particular Chasm City,” Andrew recalls. “I also was quite taken by Mad Max: Fury Road, and went back and re-watched the series from the start, and it really cemented my idea to tell an Australian influenced story.” Another key influence on Warp Frontier is the sci-fi TV series The Expanse, and how it presents spacefaring factions as diverse groups.
“Many of the conversation decisions and actions you take affect characters' mood towards you. Which are then intertwined with the actions you must take to solve certain puzzles and the dialogue trees you can explore."
It’s the multiple endings and choice-driven tale that is perhaps the most ambitious element here, which is something that Andrew was eager to explain how it all works - from a development perspective. “Many of the conversation decisions and actions you take affect characters' mood towards you,” Andrew says. “Which are then intertwined with the actions you must take to solve certain puzzles and the dialogue trees you can explore. Some parts of the game can be locked off entirely because of the way you approached a situation. I keep all character moods in a spreadsheet, which have a min/max of +-5, and balance how they affect beats in the game. It's a very manual process of taking a little from here and giving a little there.”
And from here, decisions made early on can even impact who you get to meet later on or add a degree of challenge to certain goals. The branching narrative has a quality not dissimilar to the classic role-playing games from BioWare, which is exciting. Which makes Warp Frontier a decidedly Australian sci-fi adventure that’s a bit like LucasArts meets Mass Effect - and with that we can’t wait to play it.
The Warp Frontier Steam Page is now live, with a 2021 release date planned.