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Ex-S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Devs Try Something New in Cradle

| 23 Jan 2012 20:01

The bizarre, beautiful Cradle trailer reveals a new "science-fiction first-person quest" about a Mongolian yurt, an amusement park and a mechanical girl named Ida.

"Cradle is built around the relations of the protagonist and a mechanical girl, who by enigmatic circumstances find themselves together in a yurt among the desert Mongolian hills. The player is to restore the lost functions of his companion's mechanical body parts and together reveal the mystery of the neglected entertainment park found not far from the yurt."

The above comes straight from the Cradle website and I put it out here so you'll have some slight idea of what lies ahead. Cradle is currently in development at Flying Cafe for Semianimals, a new indie studio made up of five GSC Game World veterans and one other guy, and like every good Ukrainian videogame, it looks weird as hell. Going by the debut trailer, it also promises to be dreamily, even hypnotically, beautiful.

The trailer does not, however, reveal anything particularly informative about the game itself. Project Lead Ilya Tolmachev was a little more forthcoming but even so, clarity remains elusive.

"We see Cradle as a virtual place, being at which gives you an unusual 'pleasure of presence', regardless whether you are working on a quest or just stand idling near the fence gazing at the green grass around. All the constituent elements of Cradle - the entourage, gameplay dynamics, story twists etc - have been thoroughly selected, all to ensure that very attribute of the game," he explained.

The story is built around two locales, a yurt and an amusement park, which differ dramatically from one another not just in how they look but in how they play. "The yurt is a placid and quiet place where every object is unique [can be seen only once in the game] and delivers a part of an old story inside. The gameplay in and outside the yurt is a slow-paced contemplative solving of logical tasks based on search of items and their application to other objects [and] conversations with the mechanical girl named Ida and modification of her body," Tolmachev said. "The in-game entertainment park is a completely different realm. Here we are talking volumetric physical brainteasers with arcade elements. As opposed to the dusty yurt esthetics, here everything is neon-shining. In the [park] pavilions you enter into a formalized, bright and dynamic atmosphere where you can take some rest from the logical tasks."

That the trailer evokes a strong Myst aesthetic is no surprise since Tolmachev said the two games are close in "spirit," but the real reward in Cradle isn't to be found in merely solving puzzles but also in the "analytical reconstruction" of the events that preceded the game based on the fragments of information found within the yurt. "Cradle is about searching for story fragments and putting them together," he said. "The casual part of the game was included as a place to take rest from the analytical efforts. It is designed to add emotional balance to the game, and not to let you get exhausted from unfolding the story tangle."

"The Flying Cafe for Semianimals team got together with the idea of making games to give the player two types of sensation - feel of 'ethical novelty' and feel of 'commonness'," he continued, explaining the twin-bladed approach to the game's design. "By 'novelty' we mean the principle of seeking new expressive methods in graphics and story-building, as opposed to exploiting the trite ones. By 'commonness' we mean the ability of our games to not only shelter you inside by its cozy reality, but keep that impression for you even after leaving the game, not letting it dissolve under pressure of real life."

Cradle is expected to come out in the spring, although pricing and other details have yet to be set. "At the moment we are keen on delivering the project's vision," Tolmachev said. "We are looking into all the available platforms and we'll do our best to release on as many as we can." To learn more about Cradle [although not much more, to be honest] hit up flying-cafe.com.

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