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Dead Synchronicity: hope in a world on borrowed time

Tuesday, 25th March 2014 14:52 GMT By Dave Cook

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is the new dystopian adventure game from indie team Fictiorama Studios. It presents a new breed of apocalypse, one that sees the fabric of time dissolving while the populace lose their memories. Intrigued by the premise and the game’s bleak but impressive art style, Dave Cook spoke with the team to find out more.

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”Within about five minutes of starting the Dead Synchronicity alpha demo I witnessed a sick women being hauled into the back of a van by armed guards, before they turned around and shot her protesting husband dead without negotiation. It’s thoroughly depressing.”

Zombies, alien invasion, nuclear war, and World War III are common set-ups for post-apocalyptic games. While the shuffling march of the undead seems unlikely to go away any time soon, how does one come up with a game set after the downfall of man while skirting round these tonal preconceptions? That was a common problem facing the members of Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today developer Fictiorama Studios, but thankfully, it’s one that appears to have been solved.

The point-and-click adventure game is accepting backers on Kickstarter right now, and at the time of writing the campaign has made $13,947 towards the team’s $45,000 goal. With a tone inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s seminal novel The Road and the works of Joseph Conrad and Andrei Tarkovski, the game’s incredibly dark premise underlines the despair of humanity’s final days, and will see players thrown out of their comfort zone often.

It takes place some time after a cataclysmic event called The Great Wave has caused society’s infrastructures to crumble, stripping the planet of commodities like electricity and running water. To make matters worse, an illness is spreading through the ravaged world, erasing memories and turning victims into The Dissolved, beings with supernatural abilities.

Fearful of the disease’s true nature, the powers that be have established prison camps to keep the poor rounded up like cattle, executing anyone who turns dissolved. Then there’s the matter of strange anomalies breaking out at random intervals as the fabric of time itself erodes to a point of Dead Synchronicity.

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”Oliván dropped the game’s similarities to McCarthy’s The Road into our exchange and stressed the worlds of both properties are similar, in that they are both places where basic human needs cannot be fulfilled, and the terrible price men and women pay to get what they desire.”

Needless to say; the world is a total mess, and within about five minutes of starting the Dead Synchronicity alpha demo I witnessed a sick women being hauled into the back of a van by armed guards, before they turned around and shot her protesting husband dead without negotiation.

It’s thoroughly depressing, but the mystery that surrounds Fictiorama’s unique apocalypse keeps things interesting indeed. You play as Michael, a man whose mind has become erased by The Great Wave – dubbed ‘Blankheads’ – as he sets out into the world in search of an identity and purpose. Of course, that initial aim will grow complex as new problems present themselves.

“With so many titles featuring some kind of dystopian atmosphere, were we going to do one more?” Fictiorama’s Luis Oliván muses over email, adding, “we wanted to get a truly dark vision of the post-apocalyptic situation. In our game, the player will see how a new kind of day-to-day living has emerged, and it has nothing to do with the pre-Great Wave situation. Sickness, death, violence and some kind of inner cruelty has spread all over the New World.

“The player themselves, in order to finish the game, will have to do things that they won’t probably like doing. So, to some extent, we want to push the player to its moral limits and see if they understood that Michael lives in a world where rules have been changed.”

You will learn early on the true extent of the New World’s dog-eat-dog nature. Within Michael’s prison camp exist Moles – snitches who rat out the locations of potential Dissolved so they can be hauled off to a secret facility. It’s made clear that those who get dragged away never return, which comes to a head as you realise someone in your own midst is showing signs of the affliction. Early gameplay images show Michael walking through a forest where the trees are decorated with Dissolved singing from nooses, suggesting that suicide is favourable over such ‘processing.’

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