Published on March 24th, 2013 | by Andy Astruc5
Money Shots: CONSORTIUM
[Money Shots showcases (in our humble opinion) the best games currently asking for crowdfunding on Kickstarter, RocketHub and other sites across the internet. If you have a project you'd like see featured here, feel free to contact us!]
Video games are often simultaneously bleak and shallow. Most game worlds are static backdrops on which the player puppets an avatar for a set period of time while things just sort of happen. Usually bad things, because the world is a terrible place and there’s basically no hope. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the science fiction genre, where post-apocalyptic scenarios in which nuclear war, zombies, alien invasions, economic turmoil and class warfare outnumber utopias ten to one.
It makes sense from a design standpoint; a terrible world full of sad people is just itching for some big damn hero to jump in and save the day, which is the plot of almost everything. That said, I always yearn for functional sci-fi universes; places that follow Star Trek’s optimistic line of thought and assume that time, technological and sociological advances, and the standardisation of all clothing will make a better world. The world does get better over time anyway, no matter what old people say. Games like Mass Effect tap into a sense of wonder and curiosity rather than fear and a perverse desire to expect the worst. So when I stumbled upon CONSORTIUM and their associated Kickstarter campaign I broke into an undignified fit of giggles.
CONSORTIUM is being developed by Interdimensional Games Inc, a company which purports to “push the boundaries of interactive, narrative driven, single player entertainment”. Which sounds as close as a game developer can get to offering me a casual sexual encounter and a chocolate sundae. The game, as described on their Kickstarter page, goes a little something like this:
CONSORTIUM is a first-person story and character-based role-playing shooter set in an interactive world defined by your choices.
Rather than endlessly exploring a huge, expansive and ultimately static world, you’ll find yourself within a dynamic, bustling, interactive and alive micro-environment: the Consortium Command Vessel, C-3800-D ”ZENLIL.”
If you’re foolishly concerned about the idea of an entire role-playing game set inside one rather large, futuristic aeroplane, I would remind you that all of Die Hard happens in one office building. And if you don’t like Die Hard you are wrong.
The plot is simple enough — for something fiendishly complex. You are you. As you, you have access to a parallel universe where you control the actions of Bishop Six, a peacekeeper on the ZENLIL. Soon after glancing past the quantum curtain, someone is murdered on the ship, possibly by a traitorous member of the crew. On top of that, a rather proactive mercenary has brought an entire fleet to destroy the ZENLIL and everyone on board. Players will control every action of Bishop Six as he works away on the ship, from conversations with the crew to confrontations with invading forces.
iDGi seem to be doing their best to live up to their own lofty goals as a company, with loads of fascinating features peppered all over the game. Your conduct in dialogue with other characters will be monitored by the individual, changing their view of you for better or worse. Characters will also react to you based on your other actions — for example, carefully employing non-lethal methods will make people see you differently than killing every monkey plucker in the room. The ability to break the fourth wall — you are playing yourself, playing the game, after all — is actually built into the system, meaning you can choose to uphold the status quo or mess with things as you see fit.
What really excites me about CONSORTIUM is that the team behind it are clearly massive nerds. They are disturbingly passionate about what they’re doing and have put a ridiculous amount of effort into putting it together. Even the world the game is set in (of which you only experience the inside of one ship) has a three year long ARG fleshing it out, the entirety of which you can play even now. CONSORTIUM is the result of people that went too deep into their own rabbit hole. And that’s what I want in my creative projects: insane geeks with no boundaries.