We have only just ushered in the third month of 2017, and already it has proved to be a wacky year for great game releases. Reverse-chronologically, there's Horizon Zero Dawn, For Honor, Nioh, Yakuza 0, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Gravity Rush 2 and more.
And who can honestly, hand on heart, say that they achieved 100% completion on all of these releases, top to bottom, side to side, inside out, distracting side quests and prolific collectibles?
I envisage gamers everywhere buried under the big titles of 2017 thus far, one arm outstretched, gleefully awaiting the Switch — which is like, literally hours away now. For some of us, it's made our heads spin attempting to give the attention each of these high-octane, epic storylines deserve, avoid spoilers and gear up for the next game queued for a midnight download. Oh, and sleep too.
The Chinese Room's previous work includes #DearEsther, #EverybodysGoneToTheRapture and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and the developers pride themselves on their collective talent for high quality, artistic, standalone games. So Let Us Melt is their first interactive undertaking incorporating VR, more specifically it is a partnership with Google's VR platform Daydream. With all this in mind, what could this new title be about?
Taking a look at the first image and tagline could glean a few theoretical insights:
What stands out to me most is that this shows an impressionistic, loose art direction. Compare that with Dear Esther and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, which have realistic environments and detail hidden in every nook and cranny.
Along with that, there are floating objects, upside-down structures and some kind of sparky, energy trails around them. Whether these would be connected to the ones in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, where they symbolized the remnants of last moments on earth, will remain unanswered for some time. Rounded, geometric, futuristic objects suspended in space radiate puzzle or physics-manipulation vibes - which links to the game's tagline:
So Let Us Melt is the story of Custodian 98.
It's a story about getting lost, and being found again.
"Custodian 98" is a rather distant and utilitarian name. It connotes a utopian or dystopian setting, and maybe Custodian 98 has similarities to Stanley of The Stanley Parable. Perhaps they are a character who has their monotonous duties and responsibilities but a stroke of luck disconnects them from their station, and onto a path where the world they know is warped beyond recognition. Without their designation, they are lost, but by transcending their self and melting the natural laws of reality, they find something far more valuable than a paycheck.
Of course, all of these ideas are simply ideas! Their games always promise engaging experiences, but the complement of VR functionality adds another dimension of tactile interaction with their creative narratives.
Mobile VR carries the assumption that the game will be dipped in and out of by the player, so this means that we could be expecting a game that is relatively short but packs an emotional punch, or a game that has individual puzzles and layers to it that can easily be revisited.
Finally, it could spell the addition of VR in their other project Total Dark, and I think VR would augment the spirituality and mystery of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture very well. (It would prove for an even more horrifying playthrough in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, however.)
We shall wait with baited breath for more news and a release date soon. Are you a fan of The Chinese Room's previous games? What do you think of So Let Us Melt?