From Jane Jensen: Moebius
There are two themes running through my favorite games at E3 this year: Shadows and special powers.
Yesterday your faithful correspondent had to use one of his own special powers1 to secure a special meeting with JA’s old friend, legendary game designer Jane Jensen.
Jane’s dance card was completely full, but she very graciously agreed to meet me an hour before the show so that she could tell me about her exciting new game, Moebius.
Moebius stars a dashing, handsome, uber-smart leading man named Malachi. In fact, he’s not just smart, he’s a damned official genius. Unfortunately, at least at the beginning of the game, he’s also got a genius’s ego as well, and his arrogance might well be tested and tempered by the end of the story. Malachi has a mind that’s basically a database, and he exploits this special power by earning big bucks as a consultant for the authentication of ancient artifacts.
Malachi’s backstory is fetchingly presented in a comic book that’s part of the game.
After a run-in with a thuggy client who wasn’t too happy with Malachi’s evaluation of an artifact in Spain, he’s sent to Venice to investigate a young woman who was recently murdered for mysterious reasons.
The mythos of Moebius is framed on the premise that history is replete with repeating patterns, idioms… human memes, if you will. Malachi is probably one of these patterns himself, and his adventure leads him into delving deep into other historic echoes. Or, as I’m thinking of them this week, shadows of the past.
Fans of Jane Jensen’s other games2 will rejoice that the adventure waiting for the player in Moebius is positively soaked in actual historic events and people. In fact, the main meta-puzzle Malachi needs to solve in the Venice chapter is to compare the murder victim to other historic women to find out which one she fits best.
He accomplishes this by discovering data points, which his notebook keeps track of for him. These data points can be found through conversations, exploration, and puzzle-solving.
Other chapters in the game take place in Paris, New York, Cairo, and other entertaining locales.
Another major character in the game, who may also fit one of the mythos’s historical patterns, is a mysterious blond dude Malachi meets in the desert when his car breaks down. He quickly becomes a vital part of Malachi’s investigation, and the relationship between the men reminded me just slightly of Dr. Quest and Race Bannon. This is not a complaint.
The format of the game is third-person point-and-click. The graphics use a warm, vibrant palette, with a daring and vivid sense of color. The environments I saw during Jane’s demo very definitely made me want to spend time in the beautiful game world of Moebius.
Technical delights abound. All of the conversations are cinematically animated. The conversations themselves give the player some flexibility with how to play Malachi, and can lead to different paths through the story.
Malachi’s mobile phone essentially serves as the game’s interface. It’s where you keep track of your goals, data points, and characters. It’s also where you go to do research and analysis for the major puzzles of the game.
But I mentioned special powers, didn’t I? Indeed I did. Turns out Malachi is so damn smart, he has special powers when it comes to deduction. Using the game’s clever interface, the player uses the gathered clues and unleashes Malachi’s heightened powers of analysis to solve the puzzles.
Robert Holmes will be providing the musical score for the game, and Andy Hoyos, who has a Sierra resume about a mile long, is the Art Director.
The game was partially funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign and is about 40% completed. Jane hopes to see a release between December 2013 and Q1 of 2014, on PC, Mac, and iOS. She’s also interested in releasing it on the Kindle Fire and on consoles, but whether that will happen has yet to be determined.
So it appears that we have another chewy, smart, history- and metaphysics-focused adventure game from the ever-reliable creative mind of Jane Jensen! Moebius will be the first game Jane has designed and directed since Gabriel Knight: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned in 1999. I say, bring it on, Jane, and welcome back!
A game I kept going back to over and over during the show was an upcoming Sony downloadable called Rain. The premise of the game is that you are playing an invisible girl that’s only visible if she’s wet. She’s being pursued through a gorgeous, noir-esque cityscape by other, equally invisible beasts. If she can stand out of the rain, she’s invisible and can escape her pursuers.
Thus the game becomes a puzzle platform adventure, somewhat reminiscent of the classic Ico. The shadows and the rain protect and expose your character, and the environments themselves become the puzzles. I can’t wait to play this game later when it becomes available for PlayStation Network download.
It’s an HD World
Another frequent sighting at this year’s E3: Lots and lots and lots of HD remakes of beloved titles from the past. Were you a fan of Final Fantasy X? Final Fantasy X-2? Kingdom Hearts? The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker? Those titles and more will be released over the next year as shiny new High Definition remakes.
1Specifically, the Obnoxious Squeaky Wheel Special Power