Epsylon is a game project based on the good old detective stories but taking it a step forward mixing it with an unconventional cast and a new game engine technology. Detective stories are in general static narratives with limited set of interaction and little replay value once the story is done. The player has next to no influence on the way the story unfolds. Here the Epsylon project hooks in and expands the game mechanics to allow the player to conduct investigation his own way. How the player conducts the investigation influences the world and people around him. An AI in the background reacts to the moves of the player potentially altering the course of actions. Besides the basic detective moves the player has access to some "characters" providing some special abilities that can be of help.
You are Georgo Valentino, a private eye. On your way looking to solve one of your longest standing unresolved cases you end up with a hunch leading to the parallel world Alpha-10. In this universe multiple worlds exist next to each other. Very little people know about this though. One of your friends, a scientist, does know. and he most certainly knows more than that. He has a special "friend" himself that he met while researching what is called the "Xendron", the multidimensional space. Arriving at Alpha-10 Georgo is quite surprised finding his "friend" having dropped off his little girl at his side as he has "own business" to take care off. You should learn soon that this little girl (Sean) has some special abilities that can be of help to you. And if that is not enough the organisation you end up with has two special "agents" (Odjin and Bahatos) at their disposal that have their own set of abilities to bring to the table. The interesting part? The little girl and these two special agents are dragons of different kinds. As it looks like they play an important role in the case to unfold.
Will you be able to solve the biggest case you ever had?
All your actions have large influence on the events in the world. It is better to conduct your investigation without force if possible. As you are a stranger in this world people tend to not tell you all they know so you have to find your own ways to gather the informations you need to crack the case. There are multiple ways to solve the case depending on how you approach the investigation and with whom. Be careful though with whome you talk and what you do. The underworld is watching you and will react to your snooping around. Counter measures can range from making "vanish" information you seek all the way to trying to silence you or people you got in contact with. Various features can help you on your way:
One of the key points is that the story is part of the game mechanics. It is not told to the player by hitting NPCs. The story is the main case in the investigation. So to learn the story solve the investigation. Depending on how you solve it you can learn more or less about the story. It is therefore useful to look sometimes deeper than requested. And who knows what influence your choices have on the outcome... or members in your team.
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The Dynamic Conversation system is an important part of the game mechanics so lots of time has been spend on it. One new feature is the Dynamic Directing system. This system allows conversations to be created with dynamic camera shots. In contrary to pure code based solutions this system here uses the Drag[en]gine Conversation System with a little help of in-game scripts (for collision testing). This gives the conversation artists full control over the dynamic camera shots. He defines the potential camera shots and uses the conversation system to decide what shots to use. This way all kinds of decision logic can be used. Doing the same conversation twice would not result in the same shots chosen. If required manual camera shots can still be used to get the best of both worlds.
Another change is the Topic Handling. The Dynamic Investigation System produced a complex Topic Selection which did not fit any more into the desired look and feel. The goal on the Dynamic Investigation is to force players to figure out what they need to know from NPCs to better simulate Detective Work. The many possible choices turned into a forest of UI buttons and lists and that's hardly player friendly. The solution has been a Keyword System. All entities in the game world the player can talk about have now simple keywords assigned. To talk about something the player enters it's name. For example if the player wants to talk about a person named "Harry" he enter "harry". And if he wants to ask instead where he can find this Harry he can enter "Where is Harry" or something similar. This game is not a connect-dots-on-cork-board detective game. It's about investigating. If you see, read or hear something try using it as keyword and who knows where this might lead you.
The video below shows the reworked system in action.
Besides the conversation system a lot of work went into the Security Park map. This place is where the ISG organization is found the player is affiliated with while be plays the game. Important characters are located here. The map composes of manually and generated elements. Most of the buildings are generated. To handle all this various stuff has been worked on:
The video below shows some impressions of the Security Park map at day and night and some new AI agenda routines to make the world more alive.
This time I will not disclose anything. Just be patient.
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