Content Type: Gaming News
Date: May 2, 2020
I’m a writer, that is to say that I write both as a vocation and a profession. I like to think of myself as a competent writer, but the truth is, I’m much more of a storyteller. Which is why, for me at least, one of the most important aspects of any game, is the story. If the story is good, you can probably fit a game of solitaire around it and it will still be pretty interesting to play. That’s why I wanted to take some time to talk about a Kickstarter game I came across, and believe me, this game has a really good story. It’s not just building a game around it, either. It’s making the gameplay a part of the storytelling.
I recently got the opportunity to see some gameplay footage from The End of the Sun, a story based, atmospheric adventure game set in an absolutely beautiful fantasy world based on ancient Slavic folklore and culture. In it, the player takes on the role of The Ashter, a sort of mythical figure that has power over time, and secret knowledge of a place called Navia, where the fates of human beings are shaped. You are on the trail of an elusive fugitive, when you come across a village wherein the lines between myth and reality have begun to fade, dangerously.
The village seems deserted, and the only indication that anyone has been around for some time are the smothered fires that occupy each of the locations within the village. It’s these bonfires that are the catalyst for the actual gameplay. You must use your powers of divination to spark the fires, which billow otherworldly smoke trails that lead you to spots where key events in the lives of the people who live here happened – or will happen.
The player can then view these events and decide whether or not to alter them, and one must be careful, because situations are not always what they seem. Over the course of the story that the game lays out, you experience important events for the characters at different times in their lives and at different seasons. These events also take place during four major Slavic festivals.
The first thing that I can say about this game, based strictly on the footage that I was able to watch, is that it’s utterly beautiful. From the moment the we walked up a narrow, dirt path through a majestic and living forest, I felt earnestly in my chest “I want to live there.” The authentic historically inspired visuals, dynamic, natural lighting, and flawless seasonal visual transitions all come together to create a truly awe inspiring world. The time travel transitions from day to night are also, just frankly stunning.
I know, I started this off by saying that the story was the most important part to me – and it is, but that’s kind of the point. The stunning visuals, in and of themselves, are a part of the story. The developers (a team of only three, by the way) used ethnographic museum exhibits to not only get the structures, cultural artifacts, infrastructure, and character’s clothing authentically Slavic, but also the natural environment as well. The End of the Sun looks as close to a European, Slavic environment, complete with weather, as you can get without actually going there.
The only element of the game that I found at all jarring was the dialogue, which I honestly think is a matter of cultural dissociation, more than anything else. The way the characters converse with one another just seems off to a native English speaker, but this, in and of itself, might be considered another feature in a way. The words that are used aren’t always the only diverging aspects of one language from another. People of different cultures don’t just use different words, they say words differently. This is an interesting aspect of life to explore and The End of the Sun explores it, whether it means to or not.
Another amazing aspect of this game is the non-linear story telling aspect. The entire game world is completely open to you and you can go to any location you like from the start. This allows players to experience the story in any manner and at any pace they choose. Coupled with the time traveling element, which has decided consequences, the story can and will unfold in ways that are unpredictable to the player.
In short, The End of the Sun looks to be an amazing upcoming game. While I wouldn’t say that it’s for everyone, if you think that a solid story is a crucial element to a game, it’s definitely going to be for you.
Steam Store: https://store.steampowered.com/app/912840
Game Dev Blog: https://www.endofsun.com/blog/