The balance between style and substance is always a delicate one. Style’s a great way to attract a new and curious audience, but without substance, you’re often unable to hold them. However, sometimes, style draws you in, and then the substance hooks you harder than the style ever could have. This was my experience in finding the Kickstarter for LAST LIFE, a point and click adventure game being created by Sam Farmer, and being produced with assistance from Double Fine Studios. Initially attracted by a very modern style, heavy on the polygons, I was then hooked by the potential of a sci-fi noir story that I cannot wait to see come to fruition:
LAST LIFE is a sci-fi noir adventure game for PC, Mac and Linux about a transhumanist colony on Mars. When a murdered detective is 3D printed back into existence, he reopens his last case to uncover what he missed–a hunt that reveals AI corruption, corporate espionage, and the conspiracy that may have led to Earth’s doom…
Gameplay is inspired by modern point and click adventure games like Kentucky Route Zero and Telltale’s Walking Dead series. Like them, LAST LIFE focuses on atmosphere and storytelling, while also challenging the player’s detective skills of interrogation and deduction.
- You are Jack Parker, recently slain P.I.; Earth was destroyed 11 years ago; and no one is having a particularly good day on Mars. Yet, here you are: back for 4 hours.
- Race your way through the glittery mean streets of MarsTopia as Jack Parker hunts down his own killer.
- Wrangle deadly secrets out of an enormous cast of bizarre characters using whatever works: charm, bribes, or something less pleasant.
- Uncover the inner workings of the squeaky-clean United Corps, which run the planet like clockwork.
- Drink DNA-enhanced brewskis
- Break robots.
Okay, first, let’s just consider the fact that respawning is now being done through 3D printing. So good. Throughout the game play, trailers and bits of back story we have for LAST LIFE, there is a great sense of science fiction inspired by the era we are currently experiencing: 3D printing, bitcoin, mars colonization. It’s got the trappings of excellent science fiction, with just enough believable, no, graspable science that you can honestly believe that humanity might get to this point at some time in the future. Transhumanist philosophy and futurism have clearly informed Farmer’s creation of this world, and it makes for great setting that exudes potential for interesting points-of-view, moral choices and characterization:
For a long time, I’ve dreamt of creating a game that explores transhumanism. In it, one’s individuality is tested, the dark parts of one’s soul are exposed to the light, and yet hope and a chance at redemption may be just around the corner. Add to that my fascination with stories that build mounting suspense and evoke a pervasive creep-factor (think: Twin Peaks), along with introducing nuanced witty characters. And lurking amongst them…I have hidden Parker’s killer.
With the support of Tim Schaefer, Double Fine, and an incredibly solid sense of modern style, not to mention a story and setting with incredible potential, I’ve got little doubt that LAST LIFE will succeed in its Kickstarter endeavors, At the time of writing, LAST LIFE has raised $61,581 of its $75,000 goal, with 17 days to go.