Sure, supernatural detective stories are a dime a dozen these days, but they’ve never looked like this before.
When you think of noir detective fiction, odds are that the imagery in your head involves black-and-white graphics, scene-chewing monologues, trenchcoats, and lots of fog. It’s probably safe to assume that brightly-colored silhouettes and supernatural goings-on aren’t really all that common. However, that’s just what March 32nd, an upcoming independent adventure game from developer Chromed, contains. After spending some time with the game at PAX this past weekend, I can safely say that this is one of the strangest, most intriguing titles I’ve seen in quite some time.
The game’s story follows Jake Deschler, a private investigator, as he investigates two different mysteries. The first case involves a missing teen girl Deschler’s been hired to find, while the second involves a series of supernatural events that are causing the world to literally warp and possibly unravel. While these two mysteries initially appear to be separate, the two of them gradually intertwine over the two seasons that are planned.
The game is scheduled to be self-published by Chromed, with two six-episode seasons, and will be playable via a web browser interface, meaning that it will work on PCs, Macs, and Linux systems. Each episode is planned to be roughly one to one-and-a-half hours in length, featuring point-and-click gameplay.
As you can see in the trailer, different choices (even minor ones) dramatically change the course of the game’s plot. These decisions will carry over from episode to episode, and eventually players will find themselves experiencing incredibly different plotlines. Additionally, the game features some of the trippiest-looking graphics around.
What’s really impressive, though, is that these visuals are largely rendered in real time. On the floor at PAX, Chromed had a booth that was actually a massive green screen, with monitors on either side showing attendees who entered how they would actually look in the game: as chromatic silhouettes standing amidst desaturated environments. While there was a little roughness that would need to be cleaned up in post production, the game looked surprisingly good during the live demonstrations.
Additionally, the game’s creators are hoping that their title will bridge the gap between television and videogames. While the surreal narrative, episodic content, and open plotline don’t hurt, the on-screen action is directed by Matt Vancil, who has proven experience behind the camera. Vancil is a part of Dead Gentlemen Productions and many of the group’s actors appear as characters in the game (like Brian Lewis, who plays Deschler).
At the moment, Chromed has yet to announce a specific release date for March 32nd. That said, the developer is promising that it’ll come out “midway through next year,” so stay tuned for more information as the launch date draws closer.
If you’d like to learn more about March 32nd, feel free to visit Chromed’s official site.