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Sonder trailer presses all our indie experiment-lovin’ buttons

Tuesday, 12th November 2013 05:37 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Guys, guys, look at this: Sonder is a third-person action adventure game, apparently set on a space station, with no protagonist “or (if you wish) every character is the main protagonist”. What does that even mean? The tag line is “no heroes. No villains. Only choices” and the music in the announcement trailer through the break is all kinds of rad.

Gameplay is carried out through third person exploration, dialog and object interaction – all in real-time, as events “proceed with or without the player’s intervention or cooperation”. The idea is to have players – alone, or in multiplayer – constantly questioning their choices and the consequences, and so it offers a “rewind-anytime” mechanic, even all the way to the beginning, allowing you to see how other paths would have played out.

“Usually, the characters that are not the main protagonist are merely a backdrop for him, existing only to fulfill a specific role within the narrative arc of the main player. Not so in our game, where you are free (and indeed encouraged) to play as any other character, and perceive the single game narrative from their perspective. You can do this any time during play, as many times as you wish,” developer Kamai Media wrote on the game’s website.

“When you play as a specific character, you make the choices for him – and they have direct consequences on the game world, other characters or even himself. The choices you make determine who, if anyone, survives the adventure that transpires in the game.

“The goal of the game is to illustrate that judgment is heavily influenced by perspective- acts that seem random, irrational, malicious or even generous or noble, may register differently when you are put in the position where you have to choose to make them. Ultimately, it is a question whether any action, in itself, is intrinsically good or bad or is it simply perceived as one or the other.”

Sonder is in a pre-alpha state, and headed to PC and next-gen consoles, with single- and multiplayer modes. Kamai Media is actively pitching the project to publishers with a prototype.

Thanks, Blue’s News.

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6 Comments

  1. Djoenz

    Here I was hoping to see some real next gen experience, but I was left with an useless teaser. Its really interesting though. Need to keep an eye on this one.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. TheWulf

    No heroes. No villains. Just choices.

    Get out of my head. :I

    No, I mean it.

    I’ve long been tired of the one-dimensional goody two-shoes mass-murdering psycopath that gaming seems to have so much love for as the protagonist, building them up as this example of supreme purity whilst going to ridiculous efforts to demonise the villain who seems no worse than supposedly good player character.

    I’m really fed up with this obsession with Good and Evil, to be honest. The only time I’m okay with it is in superhero stuff — but at least there I’m not a mass-murdering psychopath.

    So a game that purports to do away with the notions of heroic player characters and villainous everyone else?

    Okay. Good.

    Then there was that music. That music was pretty rad.

    Yeah, this pushed a lot of my buttons, too. I have absolutely no idea what I’m looking at or what this is, but they seem to understand how my mind works enough to actually make me want to be interested in it.

    The non-generic use of technology is immensely pleasing, too. I’m tired of soulless, desaturated industrial grey and technology that looks like it stopped being widely used in the 1990s (I’m looking at you, Star Citizen). The future should actually look like the future, and if it’s going to look like the past, then at least give it a cheesy mod/retro vibe so it’s got some character to it.

    So I’m into this aesthetically as well.

    And I still have no idea what it is.

    I do know that the earth seems to be dead in it. Very dead. As in completely devoid of resources. That much I got from the music and the intro. So this is apparently a colony ship? It’s a colony ship that’s heading to a new world and people just have to stick it out until they get there? And it’s the story about their journey? Okay. I’m down for that.

    I guess. If that’s what it is.

    I want to know more. I really do. It isn’t often where I’m shown so little and I get so drawn in.

    What of the other character aspect, too? I know I’ve played other games like that, or watched something like that, but I can’t place what it is for the life of me. Where you’ve taken on roles concurrently of other characters, been one person, then another. So I think I can see what they’re doing with that.

    I like things like that, though. Where someone might seem like an irredeemable jerk until you find out what’s really going on with them. That approach reminds me of that one Aeon Flux episode, which was such a hilarious head trip. I think it was the first Aeon Flux episode. The one where you’re not supposed to know who the hero is, and they play around with how it’s human nature to want to pick out one person to root for as the hero, to cheer on.

    Is this person the story of the piece?

    It also played with the idea that instead of just faceless hordes as we’re used to in video games, that each soldier, that each fighter had their own personality, their own presence. And that any one of them could have been a hero, that indeed, all of them were in their own way, so each loss was this tragic thing. It gave the idea that war is pointless and just a big loss of life where no one wins rather than glorifying it. Totally okay with that.

    You can probably find it by searching Æon Flux War on Google.

    But yeah, the way they talk of this really reminds me of that episode of Æon Flux and just how I feel about video games in general. There’s a sort of objectivity to games that’s thrust down your throat, even if you don’t see it that way. Like the goodness of your character, and their continued goodness no matter what action they take. Other games have played with that, too. Including the Japanese RPG Moon, which I’d recommend looking into if you have the interest.

    It’s just that we accept this.

    Many gamers sit in front of their TV, accept their position as good guy, and then proceed to kill thousands in cold blood.

    I can’t do that. I can’t stop analysing.

    So, yeah. This game is very interesting to me, because it feels there are other people out there who understand what I do. It’s oddly vindicating. And despite knowing so little about this, I want it. I want it because I feel it would be a cathartic experience.

    I guess I want to see more people asking these questions because I think they’re important questions to ask — they tell us much about us, the entertainment we like, why we like it, and who we are. It’s intrinsic to the nature of humanity. I want people asking these questions because they’d learn more about themselves.

    I’ve been called narcissistic before but I don’t think that’s it. It’s just that I’m able to distinguish between a person who’s self aware and asks questions, and one who isn’t and doesn’t.

    Is this character really a good guy?

    This person doesn’t seem like a villain, just someone who disagrees with me. Do they deserve to die for that when they’ve done no worse than my character has (and will)?

    Is this game fun or just addictive? Why do I play it?

    What am I actually achieving by slaughtering all these people? Do I just do it for the dopamine rush provided by looting corpses?

    Why do I accept this — just to continue the game?

    So many people would rather stick their heads in the sand than actually ask interesting questions. That’s depressing. And for being one that asks such questions, I’ve had no amount of bad labels attached to me.

    Maybe it’s just that I don’t have sociopathic inclinations, whereas gaming can be very cathartic to sociopathic inclinations.

    I don’t know.

    Topics like these make me thinky.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. PeroColera

    The Wulf, my name is Petar and I am one of the developers of sonder.

    I had to register and post this comment because I simply could not believe that someone got the AEon Flux reference, something that has been the core of our inspiration from the beginning.

    Your analysis is great and it describes some of our motivations in coming up with the concept for our game. We knew there were gamers like you out there, and we are making this game for you guys!

    Thanks for writing this.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. TheBlackHole

    @3

    Nice – Always god to hear from the devs.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. YoungZer0

    Too bad I can’t watch it.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. PeroColera

    If you cannot watch the YouTube link, try this:

    https://vimeo.com/78622244

    #6 1 year ago

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