Harold Halibut, in the preview we discover the Slow Bros stop-motion adventure

Harold Halibut, in the preview we discover the Slow Bros stop-motion adventure

Harold Halibut

Harold Halibut's is a troubled path, but also a story of redemption. It is surprising to think that such an original game could have failed in its initial intentions, yet it is just like that: like many other development studios, Slow Bros embarked on the path of Kickstarter in 2017 to raise funds for the realization of the project. Of the 150 thousand euros requested, only a third were financed: a very strong burn, but not enough to demoralize the authors who the following year, on the stage of the Unite Berlin Keynote, announced that they had found in Curve Digital the publisher who would allowed them to complete the project.

What is particularly striking about Harold Halibut is the awareness that everything we see on the screen really exists: the game is in fact made in stop-motion and any element, from the characters to the scenarios to the single objects, is it was handcrafted by the developers and then scanned.

To give an estimate in figures, we are talking about at least fifty unique characters (including their clothes and accessories) and eighty scenarios. An incredible work that, again, surprisingly, did not find a greater response during its Kickstarter campaign. If developing a video game itself is not easy, doing it by building every single element from scratch is even less so.

So why choose such a complex path? The answer came directly from one of the founders of Slow Bros, Onat Hekimoglu, who admitted that at the beginning of the project there were only three of them and none of them were an artist: not having a designer, they decided that the "easier" way. it would have been to do the necessary directly. This happened in 2010, when despite the good will the trio realized that they could not proceed without an artist: as soon as Ole Tillmann joined the team, his artistic qualities were the springboard for Harold Halibut to start taking form.

We discover this very interesting project in the preview of Harold Halibut.

Life under an alien ocean

The story of Harold Halibut begins in the 70s: we are in the midst of the Cold War and people are convinced that the world is coming to an end. A gigantic spaceship is thus built, structured like a huge city, to fly to a distant planet that apparently offers itself as an excellent substitute to face the imminent tragedy. The entire crossing takes about two hundred years and the inhabitants of the spaceship lose contact with the Earth. Once they arrive, they crash into the planet and realize that it is actually entirely made up of water. In practice, we can imagine them as being stuck in an immense bubble of water in space.

Another fifty years pass before the situation stabilizes: a sort of underwater city has been created and the hope is still to leave a planet that does not seem so hospitable, despite the adaptability of who reached it. From this point our adventure begins as Harold, janitor, but also assistant to one of the ship's leading scientists, Professor Jeanne Mareaux.

Harold Halibut's narrative imagery goes hand in hand with the artistic one. , a retro-futuristic show that skilfully mixes future and past. The inspirations of the developers come from everywhere because it is an interdisciplinary team: there is a stylist, a carpenter, an illustrator, a biologist and Hekimoglu himself has knowledge in the cinematographic field - a team that cannot be more heterogeneous, In short. Furthermore, the architectural inspiration comes from a London architectural avant-garde group of the 1960s (therefore not very far from the starting point of the game) called Archigram: a quick Google search allowed us to discover that these people have never actually built something, however their projects had that creative madness that clearly explains how Slow Bros let themselves be guided by their ideas: the spaceship gives back the sensation of a megastructure impossible to explore in its entirety, a futuristic city but at the same time still very much anchored in the '70s.

The protagonists of Harold Halibut This as far as aesthetics are concerned. The staging, the idea above all of doing it in stop-motion, obviously comes from films of this particular genre but in general from cinema: for example, in terms of humor, the developers wanted to create a "Pixar" experience. Everyone can play and have fun, however there is also room for deeper topics that adults will understand more than children. Think for example of the fact that Harold is a fifth generation human being, far from the first pioneers who landed (or rather crashed) on the planet. He knows nothing outside of what surrounds him and has lived, which is why aspects that may seem banal and obvious to us represent a novelty for him.

There is an attention to detail and a desire to create something so multifaceted that it is impossible to remain indifferent. Fashion itself has had a major impact on development. The designer of the team looked at different uniforms taken from as many nations of the past to find the right representation of the inhabitants, as well as the type of fabric based on clothing - for example, denim is distinctive of the uniform of those who live in the spaceship. Again, the level of care infused into the project should be enough on its own to put it on the list of games to try.

In terms of gameplay, Harold Halibut is a far less linear adventure than it may seem. The exploration of the spaceship plays a key role in the experience, because in this way the players will be able to dictate their own rhythms. There is so much to experience, in this house by chance, a spaceship that is literally the edge of our world and hides many activities behind which to get lost. Or we can simply take some time and carefully observe the meticulous universe set up by Slow Bros, taking advantage of the zoom function that allows you to see more closely every single detail of the settings and its characters.

Precisely because of the non-linearity of the adventure, dialogue is another tool of great importance: it is through it that we can find out more about the inhabitants of the spaceship and about Harold himself, whose personality will be shaped by the our choices. In his irony, we must not forget that the game also aims to deal with important themes: the idea of ​​a utopia that has slowly gone to pieces is one of these, because behind the funny and bizarre facade Harold Halibut hides all the disillusionment of who believed himself to be the last bastion of humanity but, after more than two centuries, begins to no longer be so convinced of his own importance. There is a bitter aftertaste to this story and we can't wait to find out.

Harold Halibut is a gamble; a bet that has lived and breathed for eleven years, it survived a failed Kickstarter campaign and, just like the inhabitants of the spaceship, after a sharp landing decided not to give up, roll up their sleeves and return to the world for what we see today: a project that is the result of a deep passion, with attention to the smallest details and which goes against the tide of a market that enhances and exalts photorealism. It is precisely this being that he goes against the tide in such a particular way (not everyone makes a stop-motion video game in plasticine) makes him the proverbial red drop in the blue sea. We do not yet know when it will arrive but we are willing to wait for it, because in its bittersweet history hides the redemption of the development team and, perhaps, also that of its unfortunate protagonists.


The narrative premises seem to mix well irony and seriousness Incredible work done in the realization of each single model DOUBTS We do not know yet when we will be able to play it Have you noticed errors?

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