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'In the Shadow of the Raven 2' Announced - Screens

by Rainier on Oct. 3, 2007 @ 12:39 p.m. PDT

House of Dragonflies, in co-operation with Cinemax, Ltd., is developing a sequel its 1998 adventure game In the Shadow of the Raven . It has an artistically conceived noir-cyberpunk stylization, derived from tradition of books of P. K. Dick, W. Gibson or movies of T. Gilliam.

The story takes place between two worlds – the medieval Europe (these motives were used also in the first Raven game) and a futuristic world that is ruled by a galactic government, based on principles of the Plato's ideal state. Main character, an unconventional monk Severin, will try to uncover the mystery of a man, called Kadmon, who is looking for his lost sons.
There is also certain Major Gletch chasing dangerous interstellar pirate Buxtrod. And our hero may find mysterious connections with the journey made by Joseph of Arimathea, who brought from the Holy Land something that should have never fallen into wrong hands. Severin again starts to think about the nature of his dreams, of his origin, and it wouldn't be him, if it didn't get to discussions
about the meaning of life, universe and all the related staff.

Concerning the genre, it is a 3D point-and-click adventure game with nonlinear storyline. Erik Šille and Boris Sirka, two talented Slovak painters, devised a unique look of the game. Together they have created an artistic concept exceeding classical compositions, which is in contrast to usual approach to adventure games as clones of pathetic detective stories.

Regarding musical aspect of the game, the developers try to preserve extraordinary stylization, too. Apart from incidental music, they plan to incorporate also songs of various European underground bands. Among the innovations is a system of non-obligatory education, which enables player not only to find historical connections, but also to uncover interesting topics from philosophy, religious studies, math or cybernetics. System of personal profiles that is based on application of certain “secondary skills” and karma (as it was used in Fallout for example) will guarantee nonlinearity of the storyline. Contrary to the common RPGs, these secondary skills will not appear in any statistics, but they will affect the possibilities of solving a certain problem, or in the behavior of the NPC.

Since the second part is only slightly connected to the first part, the player may immediately start playing even without knowing the details of situation, to which Severin got himself. Players that have successfully finished the first game can, of course, understand some aspects in wider context. The system of non-obligatory education that was already mentioned works completely on a voluntary basis. Various comments of the characters or the documents found during the game refer to additional literature, various short stories, or comics from the Raven world.

Some of them refer to external resources (scientific literature, movies or musical compositions) that may provide player with clues to understanding of less obvious parts. This method, often used in the literature of J.L. Borges or U. Eco, is reinforced by the nonlinearity of the game that widens scope for various interpretations of the story. All the NPCs are created with an emphasis on development of their own personality. The aim is to create the world of believable characters that have their own simple joys of life, weaknesses, fears or specific relationships towards the rest of the characters and the environment they live in.

On the other hand, it is not the intention of the authors to bore players to death and overload them with lot of useless information. Therefore there is always a possibility to ignore these clues and finish the journey as an entertaining adventure game with funny dialogues or hilarious looking characters, having witty comments. Despite all of the mentioned changes, the authors emphasize that they want to preserve the distinctive atmosphere of the first part, together with Severin's gallows humor. Crucial part of the game is to establish an intimate relationship not only with the main character, but also deeply emotional communication with NPC that enables player to believe in decisions he makes during the game. Nonlinearity of the story should not function as a simple autotelic decoration, but it should create an authentic personal testimony. Juraj Podroužek, the author of the first story, will take part in the creation of the storyline and dialogues. Miroslav Adamus, one of the members of the original studio Rainbow Rhino, who engaged in the development of Necromania and highly awarded indie game Gumboy, will participate on this ambitious project, too. The vision of the developers from the House of Dragonflies is according to their words to: "Bring an invention and individual expression to the video games. We think that there have come the time, when the medium of the video games should join theater and movie, which apart from mainstream have also strong artistic alternatives. We want to set a higher level of playing video games from the passive consumption towards the active approach and full-value experience."

Release date has been preliminary set on the second quarter of the year 2008.

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