Dead Synchronicity: hope in a world on borrowed time

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

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”Regarding puzzles, we know there are a lot of likes and dislikes amongst adventure lovers. We find it plausible to include surrealistic puzzles in a crazy game like Day of the Tentacle, but we think they wouldn’t fit our game. So, our puzzles will be quite reality-based which doesn’t mean they will be obvious.”

Oliván drops 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.

He adds, “In our Kickstarter campaign we describe Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today as ‘Guybrush meets 12 Monkeys meets Mad Max.'” The comparison to Monkey Island is certainly apt from a mechanical point-and-click perspective, but a comedy this is not.

“One of our goals when creating the game was to get a distinctive, eye-catching art style,” Oliván went on. “Graphics are the first thing you usually experience in a video game and, furthermore, almost the only thing you can judge when you see a screenshot. When [artist Martín Martínez] joined Fictiorama, we spent quite a long time just trying, looking for the proper style that would fit the story’s mood. For characters, we wanted to get a tough, curve-less, angular style. So, we studied the two most powerful references we could think of: expressionism and tribal art.

“For locations, we wanted to achieve a rusty, shabby look. In fact, most of the palettes the game features include ochre, blue, green shades. In a nutshell; cold, oxidized tones. I’m not the one to say if we have achieved our goal or not, but the truth is that, according to the media, the users on social networks, and the comments on Kickstarter and Greenlight, the style of Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today leaves no one cold.”

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“We want to recover, to some extent, the ‘open-world’ experience of free-roaming that the adventures of the 90’s had.”

While Oliván has a point – that the art style is both warming and defining from a stylistic perspective – the images portrayed within are effective at establishing a miserable tone. This harrowing tone even enters into the game’s first puzzle, which sees Michael snagging the sole of his bare foot on a metal shard, prompting him to find a pair of shoes.

The footwear he finds is rotten and filthy, so to avoid gangrene you have to then seek a way of sterilising the shoes and your wound before proceeding. That’s real survivalist material, where the world is so broken that even finding something to cover your feet proves to be a puzzle.

“Regarding puzzles, we know there are a lot of likes and dislikes amongst adventure lovers,” Oliván explains. “We find it plausible to include surrealistic puzzles in a crazy game like Day of the Tentacle, but we think they wouldn’t fit our game. So, our puzzles will be quite reality-based which doesn’t mean they will be obvious.

“When players solve the puzzles of Dead Synchronicity we want them to wonder ‘how couldn’t I think of that before?’ instead of ‘who could have thought of that?’ Regarding gameplay, we have bet on a sure thing: items, an inventory, characters, branched conversation. If it works, don’t fix it. I would like to remark that we want to recover, to some extent, the ‘open-world’ experience of free-roaming that the adventures of the 90’s had.

“Unlike a lot of adventure games that seem made up of ‘tiny adventure games’ in a row, this open approach will give the player the chance to progressively interact with plenty of locations and characters, and to face different puzzles simultaneously. We think this is a key element to get an intense, immersive experience for the player.”

It’s assuring to see Fictiorama offering gamers an open-ended approach to adventure gaming, one that doesn’t take them through systematic locations that exist as puzzle-rooms rather than smaller parts of a larger world. While the freedom to roam is welcome, this could lead to many head-scratching conundrums that might challenge unseasoned adventure players. Either way, Dead Synchronicity will not be for the weak of stomach, but those looking to drink in a soul crushing yet inviting new spin on post-apocalyptic fiction.

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today is currently in development for PC, Mac and iOS, with Linux as a stretch goal. You can back the project on Kickstarter or vote for it over on Steam Greenlight.

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