I discovered a new game from the creator of Limbo, Somerville

Game news I discovered a new game from the creator of Limbo, Somerville

The co-founder of the Playdead studio (Limbo, Inside) released a new game called Somerville and plans for Xbox Game Pass. I played there for a few hours.

I’m dying to get my hands on Somerville. After leaving the Playdead studio somewhere in 2017, co-founder Dino Patti revealed this new project developed in the Jumpship area, its new headquarters. The creator of the cult Limbo himself shared only a few fragments of the images. So far, I don’t know much about the game, except that it depicts a sci-fi universe after a disaster. In the shoes of a father, the challenge is to rebuild your family during a narrative experience that takes place in a rural landscape that for me is very beautiful.. And even if the images suggest it, Dino Patti makes sure the experience is nothing like Inside. Even on Steam, the information surrounding the game remains vague: “Our commitment is to bring unique experiences that treat people with respect and help expand the meaning of the concept of interactive media.“. Can’t wait to find out how the last part of this sentence works out. There are still some details dropped in a gameplay video released a few months ago: we know that our protagonist must manipulate the lights to release the extraterrestrial materials. Using the light to defend yourself has a bit of an Alan Wake feel to it that I like.

Halftone experience

So here I am, joystick in hand, discovering Somerville. First row: father, mother, toddler and dog sleeping on their couch. Only the glow of the TV illuminated the living room. But outside, the strange purple waves are disturbed and indicate the beginning of a disaster that will quickly disturb the cocoon of the family. Surprisingly, it is in the skin of a small child that we take our first steps. A small, short-lived subtlety that, we hope, illustrates good game design ideas. The boy does as expected, that is, he misbehaves and wakes up his beloved parents with alarming cries as he accidentally falls into the kitchen trash can. Then the story speeds up: huge alien ruins crash into the earth, mother and son disappear and the father wakes up alone in the basement with the dog (already my favorite character). Ah, let’s add that he also inherited a strange power that seemed to amplify the light sources he found and that he collected by throwing a strange dying character that was crushed by the ruin. Lots of weird situations (again) that set a framework that I really like. But what really impressed the first minutes of this experience was the sound design. No one speaks, there is very little music, but every action happens in a big crash. There is great care given to the sound effects that alone make up the particular atmosphere of the title, which can also rely on licked shots.

As promised, it is a question of manipulating the lights to free oneself from the environmental puzzle. Very simple mechanics to assimilate. There are issues though: the handling is frankly bad, the visuals remind me of the difficulties I encountered in Little Nightmares and the game lacks intuitiveness at all. In an hour of playing, I got very little done; mainly because I can’t fully position my character easily enough to maneuver such a thing, or simply because I don’t know which mechanism to approach to move the story along. For the first experience in this fascinating universe, I want to be well guided. As I speak to you, I’m about to dive back into a part of the game where I’ve been stuck for several minutes. I am ready to endure for Dino Patti, for this attractive atmosphere and then to find out if the wife and child were kidnapped by a flying saucer or the coward left me in the cellar of my house. See you later.

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