(UPDATE: They have recently posted update that the female playable character stretch goal has been taken out. Go to their Kickstarter page to check out the update for more information!)
Some of the more highly praised retro PC games of all time are the early PC Fallout games. They were known for being the pinnacle of how to do RPGs set in a post-apocalypse setting. I haven’t personally had time to play them, but they are on my laptop, and readily available when I have time to sink my teeth into them. Nowadays, people probably know more about the Bethesda made/published Fallout games, and while I have had more time with those games and enjoy them to an extent, I have an issue with how Bethesda tackles every game they make. They aren’t terrible games or anything, but this topic about Bethesda’s design philosophy is for another time and article. With the recent success of Wasteland 2’s Kickstarter, I thought about what a new Fallout game would be like if they brought it back to the isometric gameplay that the earlier games in the franchise had. Plus, the original Wasteland was the inspiration for Fallout. Well, I found this Kickstarter project, and it is what I was looking for. This game is called InSomnia, an RPG that takes place in a diesel punk apocalyptic setting. Let’s dive right in and let’s see if you might like this game.
The setting of the game takes place in a space station called “The Ark” that has been on a 400-year journey through space to reach a planet for the Noman, a race of people who escaped their home world after it became an unlivable wasteland due to a war between the Nomans and the SORG Regime. As time went on, more and more of the space station ended up abandoned, and in one area of the station, the remaining Nomans live in fear of the SORG Regime. You play as a Noman who has been in cryogenic sleep, and along with other awakened colonists, must find out what has happened to “The Ark” for the past 20 years. The plot will involve decisions that could change the way the story plays out, and moments where you must time travel to the past to hopefully change some things for the better in present time. I personally hope that the changes I make during the game will have notable results. Just because you advertise your game has drastic decision-making, it doesn’t mean it is well-implemented. The story will have to be told well enough for these decisions to make a difference, because if I forget that there is a story half the time, then the decisions I make won’t matter that much.
InSomnia is an isometric-real-time-tactical-action RPG. You will travel around this massive space station searching for better armor and weapons, fighting your way through enemies, meeting new characters, and from time to time, traveling back in time. Unlike Fallout’s turn-based mechanics, all the action in the game will be in real time. You can even go through this game without killing, for the most part. There are no classes in this game, which means that the longer you use a weapon or a skill, the stronger it gets. You can improve on skills that include ballistics, handguns, medicine, survival, and you get the idea. You cannot learn every skill, so choose wisely. A problem I always see with this kind of progression is that when poorly implemented, it leaves your character woefully underdeveloped for certain areas of the game, which leads to an unfair difficulty spike because the player didn’t choose the right perks. Your inventory will be small, so picking what loot to take with you will all depend on what kind of play style you want. You can also create your own character, and play this massive RPG with a friend.
I have to say, I love the diesel punk look of the game. The entire world you travel in is grungy and rust-filled. It gives you an atmosphere that reminds me of games like Metro: Last Light or the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise, where it’s really unsettling, and you don’t know if exploring off the path will give you rewards or get you stuck in an unfavorable situation. I know there are a lot of rusty browns and grays, a.k.a every gamer’s least favorite color palette in games these days, but I think it works in this situation. However, they could add in faded blues and reds, like the game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and still make it look like it fits the overall tone of the InSomnia’s experience. More bright colors are nice, but if it doesn’t match the tone, they look out of place. The music is mechanical and eerie. It’s the same kind of music you would hear in the first Oddworld game where it has a very industrial/atmospheric kind of vibe to it. I tried to find out who the composers are, but I couldn’t find their names. Anyway, the music fits the game perfectly.
Do I have some concerns about this game reaching its goal? Of course I do! First off, I find it a bummer that having a playable female character is a stretch goal. This is a controversy article waiting to happen, due to the recent flack that Ubisoft has gotten with not including female playable characters. It just seems like since you can make your own character, having a female character at the start instead of a stretch goal would have been something obvious. Listen, if the game’s story does not call for a female playable character, then that is fine. However, when the story is very much reliant on its lore and fictional history, and you having the ability to create your own character, I would like to expect that developers are going to have both a male and female archetype for players to personally customize. I also hope that this game’s difficulty is welcomed, but doesn’t shun a majority of gamers. Sure, games like Dark Souls have been successful at showing that you can have a difficult game and have it be successful, but having it cater only to a hardcore niche group will hurt the overall interest of the game.
Even with my concerns, I do love what I have seen. They have a solid look, gameplay, and a world that they have fleshed out and can show off. As of right now, the game’s funding is at a little over $28K, which isn’t close to its $70K funding goal. I hope it makes it, since it seems like a solid looking RPG. It would also be nice to see this game get made so we can get some variation among PC-oriented action RPGs that all have a Torchlight or Diablo-like feel to them. I wish the developer MONO Studios good luck!
(If you would like to support this Kickstarter, please go to this link!)