It may not have been anywhere near perfect, but 1997’s Blade Runner point-and-click adventure left me with an itch that no game has scratched in decades. My latest hope is Tales of the Neon Sea, a cyberpunk noir detective adventure from Zodiac Interactive.
So far signs are good. It’s got a brooding synth soundtrack, a dystopian sci-fi cityscape, a trenchcoat-clad detective and some sort of giant cyborg grim reaper lurking in a future city’s sewer system. Within, a great many pretty neon pixels arranged in the form of a moody debut trailer.
Murder, mystery and menace abounds. The pixel art is lovely, of course. While there’s no combat shown, it looks like there’s at least some danger involved in your investigation, with the protagonist wounded and clutching at his side for a good chunk of the trailer. Hopefully this doesn’t mean Sierra-style death around every corner, but at least we have autosaves and merciful undo buttons these days, so there’s less need to completely crush a player’s soul.
My one real concern about the game is the writing. Publisher Zodiac Interactive are a Chinese outfit, and while the game is developed by Palm Pioneer, Zodiac include it in their list of Chinese-developed games on show this year at PAX. It’s not an easy language to translate into English at the best of times.
Combine that with the added complications of channeling a noir thriller vibe, the detail-oriented scripting of a detective story and the complexities of the cyberpunk setting and you’ve got a potential recipe for disaster, script-wise. I hope I’m wrong though. Great thing about being pessimistic is that when you’re wrong, it’s always a reason to smile.
Tales of the Neon Sea is due out sometime this Summer, although Zodiac haven’t got a date quite pinned down yet.