Jane Jensen, the mind behind the Gabriel Knight series, has returned to her roots with Moebius.
There are times when Kickstarter can seem like more of a burden than a boon, with every would-be developer lining up to try to fund their dream game. Naturally only a fraction of those who launch a Kickstarter actually make it, but on occasion it seems like the whole Kickstarter phenomenon has been worth it. Moebius, at least to me, is one of those times. Since being successfully funded in May 2012, Jensen has been hard at work crafting another masterful story, with rich, historically accurate details. This time, we’ll be following an antique appraiser, Malachi Rector, with an unprecedented IQ, and a photographic memory.
Described as a “metaphysical thriller,” the game takes on the entire concepts of reality and history. Armed with Rector’s photographic memory, you start the game on assignment to relate a murdered woman in Italy to an historical figure. The reason for this assignment is not made clear, which spurns the protagonist on to try to figure out just why the government cares that this girl was so similar to someone from history.
Over the course of your investigation, you’ll be rewarded for taking the time to thoroughly analyze people before you engage in conversation, since you can open up new dialogue trees by discovering certain things about them. For example, if you analyze a detective in Italy, you might discover that he’s been a detective for a long time, and he’s been losing a lot of sleep recently, which opens up conversation options that wouldn’t be otherwise available. Sometimes it just adds depth to the game, but other times, it will be required to analyze a person in order to gain access to the key information you’re looking for.
There are also some first-person puzzles, such as fishing an object out of a canal, but the focus is on inspecting the world around you, talking to people, and analyzing the data you collect. In that regard, I saw a couple of the data puzzles, which were seriously in depth, both in game, and in regards to the historical information they present. The first one you’ll encounter is the end of chapter one, while you’re comparing the murdered woman to figures from history. As you look at the twelve data points, you’ll see some figures that fit many, while others only fit a couple. You can read more about the historic women as you eliminate some options from the list. Once you narrow it down to three, you’re left to decide which one truly is the precursor of the victim in Italy.
The UI is kept pristine by hiding the elements at most times. You can see the item you have equipped, but that was the only always-visible UI element, which helps the game to really engross you in its story telling. Given how distracting a cluttered UI can be, this is going to be a boon for Moebius‘ ability to keep you immersed in the world. You can open up the other UI elements by simply mousing over them, such as the dynamic Action Wheel that lets you interact with the people and world around you. It’s dynamic in the sense that it will only show viable interaction options, so you never need to wonder if you can use an inventory item on an object in the world. If you can, it’ll be available, if not, then it will remain hidden. You’ll still need to discover just what item to use on which object, of course, but that’s all part of the fun.
Moebius is looking to be a wildly entertaining affair with a rich story to tell, historical accuracy in its details, and an uncanny number of possible interactions. It’s a blast from the past for gamers that grew up with point and click adventures, and will appeal to anybody with a tendency to investigate every nook, cranny, and interaction in their game world.
Moebius is being developed by Jane Jensen’s Pinkerton Road Studio, and is slated for a December 2013 or Q1 2014 release on PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS.