Somerville, the preview of the new horror game from the author of Inside

Somerville, the preview of the new horror game from the author of Inside


We have only been able to see a few glimpses so far, but what we have seen is fascinating enough to push us to put together a preview of Somerville, potentially one of the most interesting indies of next year. Not a small thing, if we consider the quantity - and the quality - of productions of this type that we will see arrive in the coming months, also based on the materials that emerged from E3 2021. Starting from the new presentation that took place here, and specifically from the trailer with gameplay shown during the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase, let's try to rearrange the ideas on this adventure that seems to promise very well indeed. On the other hand, the pedigree of the authors is evident even only from the trailers: Dino Patti, ex-Playdead, and Chris Olsen, specialized in film animation, who together founded the new label Jumpship of which Somerville is the official debut.

Somerville stages a normal family in a totally abnormal situation The project seems to have started with Olsen himself and perhaps for this reason the first announcement trailer seemed clearly more set on a remarkable aesthetic research and a particular tone to be impressed through graphic style. Patti's touch began to emerge with the second and still enigmatic trailer released in the summer of 2018, always with a great atmosphere but which was starting to show some germs of the possible gameplay. Above all, it was easy to see the influences of Limbo and Inside in that particular setting and the sense of tension that emerged from even a short one and a half minute teaser. With E3 2021 we have finally arrived at the gameplay and the game seems to have taken on a remarkable consistency, while always remaining very attentive to the atmosphere and the artistic staging. There are no precise details yet, but let's try to put something in order.

A family in the apocalypse

A brief description is all we have to understand something of the strange setting of Somerville, which otherwise relies on teaser trailers, even more hermetic than the press releases press, mainly to convey impressions. We therefore learn, directly from the Jumpship team, that the game will catapult us in the aftermath of a global catastrophe, in a semi-destroyed world where a constant and mysterious threat still looms. In this situation we must find ways to reunite our family and try to survive, possibly by finding refuge somewhere, in case it is still possible to find one on Earth. It is a science fiction adventure that presents a large-scale conflict, a veritable apocalypse that is staged between wide-ranging panoramas that show the nightmare unfolding and the repercussions of this in the more intimate context of what it once was. a normal family in any city.

Somerville puts us in the shoes of a man grappling with a seemingly impossible challenge The protagonists are a man, a woman, their son and a dog, the classic standard family which finds itself projected in an absurd, upsetting context but under a real and constant threat, which forces to flee and find shelter in the face of an overwhelming force. Humanity has been defeated, or in any case is undergoing a large-scale invasion, probably of alien origin, without being able to counteract a technological power of a completely different level: this sense of danger that in the first teaser trailers was only felt, remaining however, out of frame until the last moment, it is finally revealed in the trailer of E3 2021. On the surface of the planet, huge dark monoliths have appeared, whose sole purpose seems to be to monitor and destroy any form of human life. The scale of the conflict is huge and recalls the most classic tradition of the most disturbing science fiction, from The War of the Worlds to the most modern derivations, playing on the same feelings and fears: being hunted by a force impossible to face on equal terms. In a situation like this nothing is more normal except the bonds between family members, which become all that matters in the universe.

Action adventure of some kind

In Somerville they alternate platform-style phases with more adventure moments The short game clips visible in the quick editing of the new video allow you to see only glimpses of the gameplay, which is difficult to frame. The reference to Playdead games, however, is clear, as is normal considering that Patti comes from there and has evidently brought her baggage with her made up of platform action and puzzles to solve. The gait seems rather linear rather than a platform one, perhaps closer to the setting of Inside, but Somerville seems to offer greater changes of pace and different situations, almost a multi-event trend, considering the diversity of the scenes that make up the video materials. In the various sections we sometimes see the whole family, but it seems that the only playable character is the man, who we see facing some situations alone or running together with the woman, the child and the dog, trying to protect them from enemy attacks. The Earth seems uninhabited, except for a few survivors, and the protagonists must use makeshift means to defend themselves but above all they must flee, find shelter and not be seen.

Somerville's world is in ruins, but something has remained standing The challenge is played above all on this aspect, on the need to move in a stealth manner by taking advantage of shelters and finding the most discreet ways to be able to move without being seen, in a level design that proposes environmental puzzles and the need to act with the right timing and making the best choices in moments of impending danger. For the rest, it is difficult to understand if the structure follows a standard progression between levels, or if it is a series of excursions into the outside world in search of something: there is a detail in the trailer that particularly intrigues, and it is the repeated scene. of the family on the sofa, in front of the TV. Although this may simply represent a moment prior to the upset of perspective, as the last evening of domestic normality, it is also thought that it could be a sort of recurring "base" for the adventure, which could therefore be structured in different loops or in progressive expeditions. starting from home.

A visual story

There are no moments of direct narration or dialogues between the characters, which once again brings us back to the style of Playdead, in which there is no text written or spoken communications and the whole story unfolds simply with the filmic language of the shots, animations and figures on the screen. In a solution like this, the ability to create an atmosphere through graphic style and music is also fundamental for narrative purposes and, from what we see, Jumpship seems perfectly at ease in handling such complex solutions in terms of storytelling and gameplay. The low poly graphics and melancholy piano music are not really innovative ideas, in this area, but Somerville has a truly unmistakable style, which also stands out among the many tendentially artistic products that emerge from the indie scene. This is partly due to the staged subject, since there are not many post-apocalyptic action adventures with this lyrical tone, and partly to the mastery in the management of 3D graphics.

In Somerville il contrast between an apparent tranquility and the underlying restlessness is constant In this regard, it is interesting to consider the blog opened by the team on the development of the game, in which it is possible to see the evolution of the project which, apparently, goes forward since 2014, at least as regards a first draft of the basic idea. The posts all seem to come from Chris Olsen, so the diary is mainly based on the graphic technique underlying Somerville, but it is still interesting to see how every little element of the aesthetic aspect of the game is designed to convey an emotion or have a value in somehow narrative. This concept also includes the sometimes exaggerated, apparently uncoordinated and somewhat caricatured, almost cartoon-like animations that characterize the characters. They serve to give an emotional imprint to every single movement, re-entering the almost expressionist style of the game, able to let us fall into its disturbing situations with a single screen.

The teaser of three years ago had arrived a little 'on the sly, yet it is impossible that it has not remained impressed on anyone who has seen it, with its evocative style and that sense of almost metaphysical restlessness, able to remain inside even after a brief glance. The new trailer shown at E3 2021, although more "traditional" in terms of communication, confirms that behind those fascinating atmospheres there is also an interesting game, whose proximity to great games such as Limbo and Inside only increases the interest. We have to try it and the wait may still be long, but Somerville certainly ranks among the most anticipated indies of 2022, with the added bonus of coming out directly on Xbox Game Pass.


The Playdead-style game setting is already a great starting point The apocalyptic alien threat setting is a classic, but always engaging Stylistically gorgeous DOUBTS Level and puzzle design is all to be evaluated Have you noticed any mistakes?

Powered by Blogger.